Suzen and I have lived in Tribeca in lower Manhattan for twenty-three years. By coincidence, I first walked the streets here over thirty years ago. In that time, countless changes have truly transformed the once isolated and quiet neighborhood. Many changes have been good, some definitely not, and the rest still ambiguous. The population has increased by a factor of almost a hundred in just 40 years.
That increase has led to many more stores, restaurants, and recreational areas. I like that part. But, now, at any time of night when I go out, the streets have serious traffic and other people on every block bopping around for God knows what reason. The all night restaurants and delis are open for just one reason: people here are active 24 x 7.
I miss the quiet of an empty street, with me the only one on it, at midnight. Still, I can’t deny the value of the changes. What astonishes me now is the pace of the change.
Last week, a very interesting new restaurant opened just two blocks from us. TerroirTribeca is a wine bar with lots of wine and an intriguing list of food. Your closet is bigger than the kitchen area, but a small galley kitchen can, with expertise, produce exceptional food. The chef at Terroir does produce just that food. Simple appetizers and sandwiches are quickly executed and on your table. There are full main dishes, too, like a double loin steak of Colorado lamb, but the top of the menu was just too seductive to me to get more than halfway down.
The tapas at the top of the menu come with some twists. The pickled veggies include potatoes, which was a personal first. They were soft and delicious. The chicken liver was creamy, not overpowering, and just a sensational start to the meal. It was only after we ordered it that we noticed servings of chicken liver scattered across many tables. Suzen and I shared the House Smoked Ham Fontina with Mustard. The operative word is “house” and yes this ham told us it was personalized from the first bite.
The restaurant has a very distinctive flavor palette. The chef is not into sugar. Neither is the bartender. Everything is excellent, but it was an experience for me to have a non-sweet cocktail while consuming pickled veggies that were harmoniously sour, thanks to the herbs and spices, but held out not one atom of sweetness. I wouldn’t know how to cook that way, but I enjoyed each bite.
The restaurant was packed. It was as crowded as a morning subway. Mostly young, and I asked Suzen who these people were. Because they did not look like neighbors. I could not understand it.
Here’s the best part. We were in Terroir on a Friday night. The place had only opened two days before on Wednesday. Where did all those people come from? How did they know?
Twenty years ago, a restaurant could open and build to being full after months of effort and PR. How did Terroir do it in just three days? Well, a solid, splashy piece praising Terroir in eater.com the day after it opened probably brought in the crowd, one that was young, vibrant and noisy. I should mention that Terroir has a hard, flat ceiling and little soft fabric. As we sat down, next to a couple more our age, the man leaned to me and said, “If you wanted a romantic dinner, this isn’t the place.” He laughed, I smiled and shrugged.
What the hell, I thought. You have to experiment. I’m glad Suzen and I did. If you are in New York City, in Lower Manhattan, want a great choice of wines, and superior food, then come to the far west side of Tribeca. TerroirTribeca is at 24 Harrison Street. Harrison is only two blocks long, so it’s easy to say Terroir is the best of Harrison. It may grow to be the best of Tribeca.