Saturday, August 20, 2011

Move Over Barneys, There is a New CO-OP in Town

Co-op, noun: a cooperative store, dwelling, etc.  
The etc. I am referring to is the new Japanese/American restaurant CO-OP in the Rivington Hotel on the Lower East Sideonce again my hood breeds a hot spot. Another work dinner put me in charge of picking a fun, hip place and CO-OP immediately came to mind as a place I wanted to try. Since I have not reached the financial means to shop or live in a co-op, I settled for the next best thing.

The Cheat Sheet

Entering through the hotel, we made our way past the lounge and bar areas through the first dining room to the ultimate dinning mecca. I had especially requested to sit in the grander of the two rooms for one reason and one reason onlythe portraits by famed photographer EJ Camp (the long dining room table and 30 ft high ceilings with a massive skylight came in second). On the wall hung 50 or so portraits of people of all genders, ethnicities, styles and looks. This decor lead to a game of "Guess Who," which turned into a drinking game for every person one guessed incorrectly. Little did we know that not everyone who was lucky enough to grace the wall was indeed famous. The owner had put pictures of friends, neighbors and loved ones (his girlfriend included) on the wall as well.

The Tray of Goodies
So enthralled in the game we almost forgot our whole purpose of visiting CO-OPto eat! Small buckets of truffle popcorn a.k.a crack in a can (my words, not theirs) were passed around as appetizers as we studied the drink menu. Once again, I faced a tough decision and narrowed my choices down to the Pink Boozka, a Grey Goose, watermelon, hibiscus cocktail and the Light, a Belvedere, passion fruit, red peppercorn dust concoction. The Light came out victorious on the account of my love for passion fruit.

Gotta Think Pink
CO-OP's concept is small plates to share as their menu reads "Share. Your life depends on it." Putting our waiter to the test, we asked for recommendations as the menu was too much to stomach (pun intended). His long list of recommendations turned out to be our long list of orders. One by one our selections came and one by one they were gone. For starters, the whole table, minus me, took lobster shots (as ifI only do shots of liquor but apparently they are very popular) followed by Watermelon Salad and Papercut Salad. The latter was delicious with hearts of palm, asparagus, salsify (whatever that is) and jalapeno dressing (not wanting to be left out, the Watermelon Salad also included hints of jalapenosolé!).

Tokyo Lobster Roll
Moving on to our taste of Japan, we ordered the raw Hamachi Crunch withyou guessed itjalapeno, a Tokyo Lobster Roll and a CO-OP Roll which was comprised of spicy tuna topped with rock shrimp tempura. (How do you say delicious in Japanese?)

Lollipops & Buns

America's turn came next with chicken lollipops (surprisingly not bad despite the odd name), beef sliders (disappointing) and truffle mac & cheese. The m&c was one of the best dishes, and I don't even really like cheese. I suspect the truffle lured me in, but then again you can add truffle to almost anything and I'll eat it.

On a different note, I wanted to comment on the music. Not sure why I am compelled to mention it this time as I rarely comment on this matter (maybe it's the rock n' roll feeling this place gives off), but the roster of music was fantastic. Classic rock and oldies like Jim Morrison, The Beatles, & U2 blasted over the loud speakers with everyone feeling it. When Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" came on it took all the common decency I possess not to jump on the table and start busting a moveplease recall that I was with my boss and a major account. If I was with friends, said action above would have most likely occurred in a heartbeat.

So who needs a fancy store or fancy building to say they've been to a co-op? I have the best kind in town right in my backyard. After all, I'm gunning for a spot on the wall so I need to devote all my time to this co-op.

Places of Interest:
CO-OP, 107 Rivington St, 212-796-8040

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