By Christopher A. Pape
As a food critic, it is easy to spot the restaurants that will be truly successful and ones that have remarkably innovative ideas. Wading through all the dining options can be exhausting and so it is a breath of fresh air when one truly finds a restaurant that excites.
Recently, a friend and I happened upon such a restaurant. CO-OP Food & Drink located in the Rivington Hotel in the Lower East Side is a modern American brasserie and sushi bar serving globally inspired cuisine that is locally sourced and meant to be shared. And from the moment we walked in, with its dim letting, chic lounge and elegant dining room, we knew we were in for a treat. For even if the food had been no good (and trust me it was excellent) we would have been happy enough. So just imagine, how great CO-OP must be, since the food is some of the best I’ve ever had.
By combining the quirky and delicious food of Executive Chef John Keller with a Manhattan attitude that indulges the senses and one’s appetite, the team of CO-OP has created a truly unique experience that needs to be savored and must be praised. To enumerate each dish we had - as if giving a play by play – seems almost an injustice, but I suppose it must be attempted. So let us begin.
We had the omakase, which means the chef chose for us; he only made the right choices. We started off with the mini ceviche tacos which were served with Aji Amarillo sauce and a mango-avocado salsa; lobster shots with truffled celery root puree. We loved both, but there was something about those tacos that were truly different. The creaminess of the avocado melded harmoniously with the mango and the Aji Amarillo sauce was truly sublime.
Moving on we had the black cod butter lettuce with sweet miso and shredded filo. It was a pocket-sized treasure. The fish was perfectly cooked and the miso gave depth and sweetness to the dish; both my friend and I devoured the dish. Next on the menu (no pun intended) was the Lower East Slider. With braised pork belly, short rib, aged beef on a house-made potato roll and sriacha mayo – it was a revelation. In fact, Mr. Keller had told us he has just put this on the menu and I begged, cajoled and pleaded with him to keep it on. It was that good.
Mention should also be made of their interior decorating, specifically, their series of celebrity photographs that adorn the walls. Created by the photographer EJ Camp they added a touch of elegance and sophistication to the room and also made for a great topic of conversation.
But what became ever clearer throughout the meal was that CO-OP Food & Drink has successfully welded together both food and fashion into a winning combination. And beyond being hip, it is a restaurant whose food is extraordinary and whose concept is winning.
107 Rivington Street