Fall Dining: Dirty French

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The hottest restaurant of the early Fall season is Dirty French. I know this not just because I read Eater — although its coverage certainly offers plenty of hints — but because of my inbox, which at this second contains emails from three separate friend groups all plotting ways to convene at Dirty French as quickly and frequently as possible. In this, I wholeheartedly support them.

The restaurant is the latest from the Torrisi/Carbone team of Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone; the duo are taking a divide-and-conquer approach to their expansion, so Rich is in the kitchen at Dirty French while Mario plans to take the helm at their long-awaited restaurant adjacent to the new Whitney at the High Line. Dirty French is situated inside Sean MacPherson’s new Ludlow Hotel, which finally animated the deserted high-risk husk of a building at the top of Ludlow Street that’s sat vacant and unfinished since the real estate downturn. The vibe is classic MacPherson, more similar to the Bowery Hotel than one might expect given his triumph at The Marlton; wood beams wouldn’t have been my move on the Lower East Side, but hey, this is the new new Lower East Side and if wood beams are the thing then wood beams are the thing.

I’ve dined at Dirty French twice, once walking in and sitting at the bar, and last night at a full-fledged, fuck-yeah-it’s-Tuesday-Night dinner. I loved both meals. The trick, of course, is getting in.

Though I am hesitant to contradict something Eater wrote just yesterday, it should be noted that the walk-in dine-at-bar move can be pulled off right now at Dirty French, if you know what you’re doing. (I dined in this manner on Saturday night, and had two friends successfully echo the move on Monday night.) The trick is to play nice with the front of house staff manning the podium by the door, then make your way past them with minimal fuss and settle in at the surprisingly uncrowded bar. Then ask for a menu — the barstaff seems particularly nice for a restaurant this hot, which is a huge bonus — and get going. Your bar order: the ham (served Momofuku-style), a plate of oysters, and then take it from there.

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If you’re amused that I explained the how-to-eat-at-Dirty-French move as essentially “dine at the bar” — well, you’ll see it’s not quite that simple or assured if you give it a whirl. And in a few weeks, when the restaurant is totally overwhelmed, it won’t even be a remote possibility. So now is the window. Go.