Social Eatz. Asian Inspired Bloody Mary Goodness.
*UPDATE: Social Eatz is no longer in business.* Once again, the Buzzed Assassin, your helpful guide to the world of The Drunken Tomato, is at your service with another review! Today's travels brought me to Social Eatz, a self-billed Asian gastropub on East 53rd, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. I admit that Midtown East is not a neighborhood I go to very often. In fact, this was my first visit in about a year and only my second visit in about two and a half years. But, with its location in the middle of some of the busiest real estate on the island of Manhattan, 53rd between 2nd and 3rd Avenue represents a potential gold mine to those restaurateurs who feel brave enough to risk the high commercial rents. I counted no less than seven different restaurants on this single street, catering to the mix of high powered business types, lower level corporate employees, diplomats, lost tourists and, of course, residents that plow along the asphalt looking for some flavorful food to ease their appetites.
Arriving for a Saturday brunch reservation, my companion and I were seated very quickly by the amiable hostess and soon began perusing the menu. Social Eatz is a venture by Angelo Sosa, a well-known chef and author who has appeared on two cycles of Top Chef. As our server so kindly explained, Sosa adds an Asian flair to the food served at Social Eatz and uses Korean cuisine as an inspiration for the entire brunch menu (including a good twist on the standard steak and eggs breakfast entree and the addition of kimchi home fries, which were absolutely amazing). But while the brunch food items and most of the cocktails are Korean inspired, the Bloody Mary has some more Southeast Asian flair. It was presented well, with a bamboo skewer bearing a pair of olives and a pair of unseeded longan fruits. After a quick stirring with the provided garnish, I dived into this refreshing beverage.
It had a healthy pour of standard well vodka and the lemongrass calamansi infusion added a slight citrus flair. The tomato juice was fairly standard, however an exotic addition in the form of a small amount of nam pla (a lightly fermented fish sauce of Thai origin) brought out additional flavor from the tomato juice. With a slightly fresher tomato juice, I imagine this addition would be an absolute joy of heavenly proportions. If you're feeling brave, please try this at home. The cocktail also had a small helping of freshly grated horseradish and a spicy kick that was mostly provided by a splash of the (in)famous sriracha (AKA rooster sauce). While I prefer my Bloody to have its kick provided by horseradish, this version worked well with a level of spice that was not at all overpowering. Tackling a mix that combines both the standard and the exotic has cursed many promising cocktails to the cemetery of the undrinkable, but at Social Eatz, the balance has been achieved. The addition of a lemongrass calamansi infusion, nam pla, sriracha and longan fruit garnish make this imaginative Bloody Mary an Asian inspired treat.
For providing a good addition to the collection of Bloodys my liver has helped me process, I give Social EatzCelery Stalks.
Social Eatz 232 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022. T: (212) 207-3339.