The very adult Flatiron district restaurant Alison Eighteen has undergone some changes during these past few months. Despite a glowing review from the NY Times last spring, perfectionist proprietor Alison Price Becker recently brought in a new chef, Roxanne Spruance (Cafe Tallulah), to revamp the menu. And the restaurant now has an oyster and Rose bar, with a Happy Hour offering $1.50 oysters from 4 to 7 p.m. (You can also get six oysters & a glass of Rose for $18.00, which doesn't seem like such a mind-blowing deal, but considering their cheapest glass of Rose is the $15 Cotes de Provence Rose 'Reservée' Chateau Rouet, maybe that's not bad.)
Spruance specializes in seasonal French-influenced food, and like most of her contemporaries she's obsessed with locally-sourced ingredients. During a press preview of the new menu last month, we were really into the incredibly fresh and unique appetizer of White Asparagus Tartar with lemon, dijon, goat cheese, hazelnut, and smoked salmon roe ($12). And the Label Rouge Heirloom Chicken, served with chicken liver, dandelion greens, maple shallots, jus ($28) was unbelievably succulent.
If you've never been to Alison Eighteen, it's definitely worth a visit, particularly for a big date or important gathering. Not that it's overly romantic or seductive, but the atmosphere there is as subdued as the food is refined—it's not stuffy or excessively formal, but you feel like you're in a restaurant that takes everything seriously, where grown-ups enjoy sophisticated conversation without having shout over the din.
15 West 18th Street // 212.366.1818