Friday night, I ventured down to the Lower East Side after work instead of heading straight home, getting into my bed, and putting on the next episode of Breaking Bad (my traditional Friday night agenda. No shame). My friends Haley, Meghan, Kate and I all had scheduled to have dinner together because somehow our schedules just never seem to match up. So, in true New York fashion, we penciled in “being friends” and bought a Groupon for drinks, apps, and dinner at Hotel Chantelle. I’d never been to Hotel Chantelle before – though it seems to be a semi-popular weekend bar spot among friends and acquaintances. So we headed down to Delancey and Ludlow to check it out.
Side note: Advanced apologies for the poor quality photos – my terrible iPhone camera combined with the nonexistent lighting in the restaurant didn’t exactly lend itself well to photographs. I also was way too self conscious about using the flash because the tables are so close together and, well that’s awkward, so I worked with what I had.
Though the exterior of the building leaves a little to be desired, I was excited based on the online menu. Any menu that has giant soft pretzels and fresh burrata in the same place sounds pretty great to me. Once we got inside and upstairs into the restaurant area, we were immediately plunged into darkness. Now – I’m all for the dark, dim romantic ambiance in restaurants, but this place was downright DARK. Like reading-the-menu-with-my-phone-backlight dark. The park bench and streetlight decor theme throughout the space was cute and homey, but they could’ve used a few more (read: a boatload more) candles. But, aside from that A+ on the decorations and the overall vibe.
Now – to the food. I was skeptical of the quality of the food, considering this place has of a reputation for its nightlife. But, let me tell you, the burrata appetizer that Kate and I had was DELICIOUS. It came with fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, a huge ball of burrata and these weird-but-awesome balsamic vinegar pearls. Meghan got the $10 pretzel which was absolutely delicious and gave me major order envy, and Haley got a yummy and (and way too healthy-looking) citrus salad.
Onto the mains – I had the fish tacos. In my mind, it’s hard to go wrong when you deep fry fish, put it in a tortilla, and top it with chipotle mayo. And Hotel Chantelle didn’t disappoint. They topped everything with a nice cabbage coleslaw concoction, and I left the meal happy and full. Everyone else chose different entrées and seemed satisfied – minus the gross-looking wilty bok choy that came with Haley’s fish special.
As for the drinks, the cocktails were good and fancy-sounding on the menu, but no standouts here. Not much about the cocktail/drink menu or service would draw me back there for a night out on the weekends unless I had a really gung-ho friend dragging me along.
Overall opinion: Worth a trip for the food – if you can, grab the Groupon. The menu is a little pricey in my eyes for what you get, but the Groupon gets everyone a cocktail, appetizer/salad, and entree for about $45 with the tip, so it ends up being a pretty good deal. In my un-expert opinion, it’s worth a visit.