Let me first start by saying – if you want to go out to dinner, have a great time, sip on some nice craft cocktails and enjoy great food, The Stanton Social is the place to be. But, if you and your friends are big fans of splitting the bill on a who-ordered-what basis, this place is really going to complicate your life.
But, let me start from the beginning. Friday night was my roommate, Kate’s, birthday. Most Friday nights end up with me going home after work and binge-watching Breaking Bad on Netflix, so we decided not to plan anything too elaborate on her actual birthday. Instead, we were waking up early to see our friend Chris play rugby at Randall’s Island, getting blow-outs, and heading to The Stanton Social for a late dinner and hitting a bar somewhere nearby on the Lower East Side afterwards.
Sidenote: If you’re going to Stanton Social, be on a keep a close eye out for the entrance – had I not been tagging along with someone who had been there before, I would’ve walked straight past the place. My friend Meghan did walk straight past the place. It’s an easy mistake. The entrance isn’t very grand and the sign is small, so be on the lookout as you’re heading down Stanton Street.
While waiting for our table, we headed upstairs to the bar to grab a cocktail, hang out, and wait for the rest of our friends to show up. The bar itself has a very cool, very Lower East Side vibe. Orchid wallpaper, dim uplighting and a dark leather banquette gave the space a very upscale-yet-accessible atmosphere. The cocktails are on the pricier side, coming in at $14 each. But I will say, you get what you pay for with a nice cocktail (AKA something that’s actually tolerable to drink, instead of the $6 “whiskey sour” I’ve been known to get elsewhere). I opted for the Cranberry Flower – a gin cocktail with cranberry compote, fresh lemon, and lemon syrup. The cocktail tasted great and was a nice start to the evening.
Once we all arrived, we headed back downstairs to sit down for the meal. The crowd in the restaurant area was a little rowdier than up at the bar – we were greeted by many larger parties, loud (really great) music, and an overall upbeat and boisterous vibe that was perfect for a birthday celebration. For those who have never been to The Stanton Social before, the menu is comprised of small plates, all served to the table for sharing – think tapas style. While this concept is great because you get to sample a bunch of items off of the menu, it makes ordering for large groups a little complicated. Our crew opted to each pick one thing, start there, and see where the night took us.
First up, we went with the chicken arepas and the potato and goat cheese pierogies, both which came at the recommendation of our waiter. The chicken arepas were a bit on the spicy side for me – the jalapeño on top was a bit too much (because I’m a wimp) . Moving on to the pierogies – I’m all for a good pierogi – being from Pittsburgh, good pierogies are a quick way to my heart. And these weren’t just good. They were delicious. They were topped with fantastic caramelized onions and served with a side of truffle creme fraiche that I want to eat on everything for the rest of my life.
Next up – a dozen oysters. And, though I don’t consider myself a picky eater, I’ve never had an oyster. They look slimy, smell fishy, and generally just don’t seem particularly appealing. But in the name of the blog, I figured I had to try one. They came with a selection of sauces, but I stuck with plain ‘ole cocktail sauce because I knew I would like it. Plus, I was hoping it would mask any gross oyster flavor. And so down the hatch it went, and was caught on camera for posterity. I’ll be honest: it really just didn’t taste like anything except cocktail sauce, so that was a pleasant surprise. But the not-chewing-before-swallowing thing was weird and I don’t understand all the hype. Overall it tasted fine, but I won’t go out of my way to ever have another.
The final round of food consisted of some really delicious Kobe beef sliders and the French onion soup dumplings. The sliders were delicious, just the perfect size, and served with a side of what tasted like salt & vinegar chips which happen to be one of my favorites. But the real star here was the dumplings – I have never tasted anything so delicious. They stole the entire show of dinner. They have a delicious onion soup filling and are also topped with tons of melted cheese and a bite-size crouton. These dumplings have left a lasting impression with everyone and anyone who has ever eaten them – they’ve even gotten a mention on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate.” If you’re ever in New York, and want to taste the most delicious thing, head to Stanton Social and order yourself these dumplings. You will not regret it.
Now, back to the check scenario I mentioned at the beginning. Since everything is a share-your-plate dish, having 6 people for dinner, plus cocktails, plus 1 person who didn’t eat and another who didn’t want oysters, made life a bit (read: VERY) complicated, though it was our own faults for being particularly bad at math – shoutout to BU’s College of Communication for that one. Anyway, my recommendation would be to go into the meal and split it evenly – just do it. Otherwise, you’ll be like us, the crazy group of 6 kids scribbling numbers down on napkins trying to figure out it out for 30 minutes. Not a good look.