BOWERY | Even as a born-and-bred New Yorker, it is apparently still possible to discovery new things about this city. Recently I went to catch the opening of a Gordon Parks photo exhibit, in a gallery located on a street called Freemans Alley, which either I've never heard of or had no recollection of. That being the case, I, as I usually do when venturing to less traveled neighborhoods, did some research to find a decent place in the area of the gallery to have in which to enjoy a late afternoon lunch.
That (online) research turned up a place called Freemans, which further piqued my interest by offering a ground lamb-based sloppy joe sandwich on its rustically ideated menu.
Deceptively quaint-looking from the outside, the interior boast two spacious, country-ornate floors of room and seating options. The lamb sloppy joe, it turns out, delivers the same welcomed surprise, taking a simple, homey dish and making something grander out of it, while retaining all of the sandwich's comfort food charms, making the experience of eating it—and the well executed potato salad wit fresh tarragon—evocatively familiar and soothingly delicious.
I had no plans to order dessert, but was so impressed with the sandwich and side that I decided to "sample" an order of Freemans' bananas fosters dish, served with a rich, hot, butterscotch sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream from premium ice creamery il laboratorio del gelato nearby in the neighborhood.
Suffice it to say that my intended sampling finished as a bowl-licking-worthy experience, as I joyfully consumed every pearl of the dessert I could navigate onto my spoon.
I can't remember the last time I've had bananas fosters that wasn't just a version or flavor of some other dessert (doughnut, cheesecake, etc.). And using ground lamb in a sloppy joe did add welcomed depth to a lifelong favorite sandwich of mine.
Proving in a city where dining options and culinary ideas seem to repeat themselves in food trends and chain restaurant mentality, there are still wonderful gems of surprises that can be found and enjoyed—if you just know where to look.
Freemans Alley might be a "road" less traveled, but Freemans at the end of it is well worth the trip.
FREEMANS | End Of Freeman Alley, off of, Rivington St, New York, NY 10002 | (212) 708-7414 | freemansrestaurant.com