East of 8th | 254 West 23rd St. (east of 8th Ave.) | 212.352.0075 | www.eastofeighthny.com

SOMETIMES, A GOOD eating experience is not only about the actual food. Sometimes, food can simply be a compliment to to a whole other event. Kind of like a more fully realized version of hors d'ouevres. In this case, the event was a therapeutically pleasant lunch with "Trixie" (who, if you don't know by now, is a long-time friend and PHUDE partner), and more so, the fact that we got to meet for a lunch that we could actually enjoy outside.

Kismet, really, how that came to be. My friend, Amy, had emailed me a PDF listing a whole slew of great places to eat, drink, and be seen, and I earmarked all the cool looking places that offered outdoor seating. Then there was this week's review of a restaurant called Gascogne in Chelsea that was accompanied with such an appealing photo of their open-air dining space that I made a To-Do in my iCal app to prioritize soon choosing a outdoor seating resto for an upcoming post.

Then, leaving Trixie the responsible of choosing where we would lunch, she, at the last minute, came up with a place I had surprisingly never heard of called East of 8th. She didn't even know it had an open backyard for dining until she met me there; I had done some quick Googling to know this before arriving, though I myself was surprised by the small pool.

As you can tell, it's a very quaint—and very quiet—area, as Trixie and I easily and quickly settled into an in-depth and entertaining conversation, the items listed on their otherwise appealing lunch menu becoming more of an afterthought.

Trixie ordered the grilled chicken wrap of the regular lunch menu. (Yes, this is the same girl that ordered the chicken at Hill Country, but her food choices have a lot more to do with ordering healthy food, and in no way shows any lack of adventure in her appetite.)

I ordered the soft shell crab, one of their lunch specials, with fried and layered over sautéed vegetable, and topped with a tomato and corn salsa.

This dish was, yes, pretty—how could it not be with that background?!—and tasty as well, with enough of the vegetables' flavors complimenting the crab, which, in this very common preparation, tends to be more about the novelty of eating crab shell then letting the crab meat's true flavors sing.

Again, though, this place, with its almost Alice in Wonderland ambience, is a place where the food supports a bigger idea. It's located right next to a megaplex and conveniently located near several large and small office buildings. You would celebrate birthdays here, or grab a quick plate before catching that 8:10 movie. This is a place where you bring the one you like on the date right before you get serious. It is the theoretical appetizer for what should be the meal of a greater, good time.

Trixie and I don't get to catch up with each other as often as we would like, and this lunch was much more about our fun hour together than about anything we were eating. Sitting and eating outdoors was the dessert to the main course of our just hanging out together. And the food of East of Eighth was the accurately figurative "icing on the cake" afterthought.

Oh, the cherry on the icing on the cake. The live fish and fresh water turtles in the backyard pond...!

Bun Apple Tea!


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East of 8th | 254 West 23rd St. (east of 8th Ave.) | 212.352.0075 | www.eastofeighthny.com