Noho Star, East Village, New York

After our very full day of visiting both the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Centre, we were ready to sit down, relax and eat well.  The Noho Star on the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette Streets in the East Village had been recommended to me by my sister who lived in the area for seven years.  You can’t go wrong with a local recommendation!

We freshened up in the apartment then walked through Washington Square and up past NYU to walk along Lafayette Street until we found the restaurant.  It was of no surprise that this venue too was covered in scaffolding – third consecutive dining experience where the premises are obscured with metal bars.

Noho Star - can you see it behind the scaffolding?

Noho Star – can you see it behind the scaffolding?

Compared with other places we had eaten in, this is a large restaurant.  You can’t book and so on this Friday night we were relieved they had a table available.  In the warmer months you can sit outside beside rows of pretty flower boxes but we wanted to soak up the inside atmosphere and so asked for an table indoors.

Outdoor dining

Outdoor dining

The restaurant is very ‘New York’ with a bar where you can sit while enjoying a drink; banquettes, booths, low-lighting and with a relaxed, informal vibe and great atmosphere.  The building is old and full of charm with pressed metal ceilings, lots of floor-to-ceiling glass and a polished marble floor.  The diners look like smart-set creative types who are dressed stylishly but casually and most are sitting in groups.

The bar

The bar

Arabella, Pete (yes, he was still with us), and I were shown to a banquette and seated at a table for four.  Our young and good-looking waiter approached and he had a formal air but was very knowledgeable.   He asked us what we’d like to drink and when Pete ordered a gin and tonic and I ordered a glass of wine, he said he’d need to see some ID.  I just sat there while Pete pulled out his passport but then the waiter turned to me and said, ‘And I’m going to have to see some ID from you too, mam’.

I was shocked but thrilled and said, ‘Oh, aren’t you lovely’.

‘We need to see ID from anyone who looks under 35’.  Now I’ve said there was low-lighting and that the waiter was formal and knowledgeable but clearly he was also blind.  After being forced to disclose my true age I was very ready for my wine which I hoped was a generous pour.

A great interior

A relaxed and casual dining experience

The menu is American nouveau with Asian dishes.  This is not a blend of cuisines; the two styles sit side by side on the same menu.  Although we weren’t sitting at the bar, we asked if we could share one of the bar snack items as an entree and ordered the buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce.  For the price, this was an enormous serving and I was glad to be sharing it between the three of us.  The wings were piping hot, juicy and flavoured with a spicy sauce that was cooled by the ample sauce.

Buffalo wings from the bar menu $10.00

Buffalo wings from the bar menu $10.00

There’s a lot more to the menu than burgers but that’s what Pete and Arabella wanted.  Pete ordered the Noho Burger with guacamole, tomato, watercress, 2-year old cheddar and maple bacon.  This was another very generous serve but Pete managed to get through it, loving the height of the meat pattie and how it was cooked as he ordered it, rare.

Noho Burger $15.00

Noho Burger $15.00 with plenty of condiments

Arabella ordered the Dublin burger with curried sour cream, bacon, scallions, and cheddar.  She said this was the best burger she’d had in New York.

Dublin Burger $14.00

Dublin Burger $14.00

I ordered one of the specials, Crispy Spiced Chicken with Peanuts and Chillies.  I asked our waiter how the chicken was cooked and he launched into a lengthy and detailed description of the entire cooking process including telling me the chicken is put into a 300-degree wok with all the spices, peanuts and chillies so all of the main ingredients become infused with the spices.  I was impressed.  He also recommended a glass of Californian Rose to compliment the dish (now that we’d established I’m older than 21).

Crispy Chicken with Peanuts and Chillies $19.00

Crispy Chicken with Peanuts and Chillies $19.00

This chicken dish was the best dish I had during the entire time I was away.  It was amazing and as I looked around the room I could see it was a very popular choice with other diners.  The chicken has some heat (from being infused with the chillies in a ‘300-degree wok’), but you can leave the chillies to one side if you don’t want to take the heat to a new level.  I managed a few of them but as you can see, couldn’t quite clean my plate.  The chicken wasn’t dry or rubbery, was definitely crispy and had incredible flavour from all the Asian spices like star anise, cassia bark and five spice powder.  I could go back to New York for this dish alone.

Couldn't quite finish the chillies

Couldn’t quite finish the chillies

During our meal we had seen beautiful looking desserts being placed in front of other diners and so we knew we wanted to try them.  Pete ordered the affogato that never photographs well and was very reasonably priced at $8.00.

Affogato $8.00

Affogato $8.00

Arabella went for the Hot Fudge Sundae that was beautifully presented in an elegant glass with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, hot fudge and toasted hazelnuts.  Because of the Chinese influence, it was topped with a couple of fortune cookies.  I don’t know how but Arabella managed to finish this.

Hot Fudge Sundae $11.00

Hot Fudge Sundae $11.00

I ordered the Passion Fruit Sorbet that was also served in an elegant glass and arrived with lots of colour from the fresh fruits and berries.  The sorbet had a strong passion fruit flavour and was very refreshing after the heat of the spicy chicken.

Passion Fruit Sorbet with Fruit $8.50

Passion Fruit Sorbet with Fruit $8.50

When our waiter came to clear our table we started chatting and he mentioned he had only recently moved to Manhattan.  I asked him where he was from and he said, ‘I’m from a small town; it’s near a place called Wisconsin but you probably haven’t heard of Wisconsin’.  I said, ‘I certainly have heard of Wisconsin; I’ve even heard of a town called Racine’.  And he nearly fell over.  That’s exactly where he’s from; a town of around 75,000 people on the edge of Lake Michigan.  He couldn’t believe someone from all the way downunder had heard of Wisconsin, let alone Racine.  We thanked him for looking after us so well (he could describe in detail every dish on the menu and give you the notes on every wine on the list) and asked for the check.

Fabulous interior

Wooden tables with marble inserts

As we walked back through Washington Square on an incredibly warm summer’s evening, Pete said, ‘that’s the best food I’ve had since I left Sydney’.  And I had to agree with him.

Noho Star is situated in the very trendy part of Manhattan known as the East Village.  The restaurant confidently serves American Nouveau alongside modern Asian cuisine in a stylish, upmarket and comfortable setting within a great atmosphere.  The food is interesting, well-executed and very reasonably priced.  With the beautiful walk through the park to get there, the stylish setting, wonderful service and exciting menu, this was my favourite night out in Manhattan.

Verdict:  Why did we only dine there once!

A welcome star at the entrance

A welcome star at the entrance

The Noho Star:  Cnr Bleecker and Lafayette Streets (330 Lafayette Street), New York 10012

Ph:  (212) 925 0070

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Comments

  1. Sounds divine – especially to one who has missed lunch and is eagerly anticipating a highly recommended meal in Ho Chi Minh City tonight! I’m making notes from your trip for my own trip in a few weeks time!

    • That’s great, Amanda, I’d be so thrilled if you went to some of the places I’ve mentioned. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Enjoy your travels and I can’t wait to read your posts about New York.

  2. Your waiter sounds like a charming young man and with his pleasant personality, I’m sure he’ll be getting lots of tips. 🙂 All the menu items you chose were winners … my goodness there were a LOT of chilis in your dish. I can understand why you asked for the sorbet. Though the afogato also appealed.

  3. Oh my all of that looks rather delicious. I’d happily eat any of those dishes right now, and I thought I’d already had dinner (clearly not enough).

  4. G’day! What a delicious feed but reminds me of oh my goodness HOW BIG the portions are in the States!
    I am happily enjoying reading your travels….are great!
    Cheers! Joanne

  5. That all looks amazing. I remember the meals were always huge in our time in the U S. And that weird thing of putting sweets with mains!

  6. Our dear friends have a lake house in Wisconsin! Never thought I’d ever want to go there before they bought their house but as luck would have it, we’ve been several times and will be going back.
    I’m definitely putting this place on our NYC list, yum!

  7. Great find! The food all sounds interesting but it is the hot fudge sundae that I would really love to gobble up – your waiter sounds charming (glad you had some ID on you!) and I particularly love pressed metal ceilings – so elegant

  8. How fantastic to find such a great restaurant AND a great waiter!! The food sounds truly amazing.

  9. I do like it when restaurants seat a party of 3 at a table for 4 instead of 2 – it sets the scene for good service, and it seems like that is what you got here! Good food to round it off makes for, by the sounds of it, a great night. I love the look of Arabella’s dessert in particular – excellent presentation!

  10. It’s a small world after all as in Racine, Wisconsin. Charlie, next trip to the U.S., you must visit the Midwest.

  11. Bobby and I are hoping to go to NY in 2015, so I will be referring back to your posts. What a perfect travel guide! Would love to go to this restaurant. Great find!

    • I hope you do go to Noho Star, Mj and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you do go. I hope you have a great time in 2015 and I hope to hear all about it.

  12. Hi Charlie, that’s the part of traveling I love the most, talking with others in the area.

  13. How lovely to find staff who know how to pay a compliment valid ‘present-day’ 🙂 !! Methinks you have enthused a number of your Oz or US readers to try eateries in the Village come next visit to the Great Apple! Great!! I have to be honest and admit that bar ‘Lüchows’ [yes, well, once in a lifetime :)] ! I had probably never been south of about the 40th!!

  14. The food looks very nice Charlie, and the prices are very reasonable indeed. Your waiter must have thought you very knowledgeable indeed, a lot of our overseas friends would be hard pressed to find Sydney on a map 🙂 xox

  15. Your Crispy Chicken with Peanuts and Chillies looks so delicious and kind of similar to a dish they do in the Canton region of HK with crab. Love your trip you guys have seen more than I have and I used to live in the States. It is so funny how you usually are not a tourist in your own place. Have a super week. BAM

  16. Hehe now what a charmer that waiter was! And that chicken dish sounds amazing. I can never go past American burgers. They do them so well!

  17. That chicken with peanut and chillies look so good! I may not be able to finish the chillies either, but I would love them there. I want your dessert, Charlie!

    Julie
    Gourmet Getaways

  18. Seriously where does Arabella put her food? I am impressed! Don’t you wish we had service like that in Australia?

  19. Wow, I miss US serving sizes! 😀
    That sundae (and waiter) is calling my name!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  20. MMmmm, everything look wonderful!

  21. The Crispy Chicken dish looks amazing … making me hungry … and it looks like you had a lovely meal compete with a charming waiter! I can’t believe the amount of scaffolding that you encountered everywhere you went!

  22. Oh that Sunday! That restaurant sounds like a real treat. I loved that the waiter was so informative! US portions are huge….as are many Americans. It’s a good thing you didn’t stay much longer, one more burger and Sunday and Arabella would turn into one of us! 😉 Ha

  23. So happy to hear some American waiters are doing a good job! Looks like a fun meal.

  24. What a pleasant experience for the three of you, and it sounds like the waiter joined in an enjoyed serving you! I’ll definitely make a note that this is a restaurant we might be able to visit in the future. I don’t think I’ll be asked to show my I.D.-but I’ll get over that! 🙂

  25. This place sounds wonderful and I hope I get a chance to try it out!

  26. Wow I’m impressed too that you’ve been to a small place called Racine because I honestly haven’t heard of this place before hehe
    Hmmm i’m having serious cravings for buffalo wings!

  27. I must have been busy wringing my hands when this was posted. I love the way some American servers really get what service and a great dining experience is all about. I don’t like hovering but don’t let my drink run out and if I’m looking around, ask me if I want some hot mustard or something. 🙂

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