A/C/E Train to 42nd Street
I was graciously invited to a food and drinks tasting at a cool surf bar in Hells Kitchen called Reunion. Intrigued by its incognito location and its fun, imaginative menu of nibbles and drinks, Reunion did a great job of transporting you to a beachy setting in the midst of a big, busy city.
Located on the corner of 44th Street and 9th Avenue, you'll recognize Reunion bar by its big yellow surf board and its rustic, wooden signs that display the names of beachy locales such as Malibu and Montauk. After you spot these, head downstairs where you'll see another cool surfboard (this one's red with a yellow lightning bolt) and a very unique, tiki-esque lounge with long wooden, bar tables, stools and cabana-like seating areas, suitable for large groups. Edgy, abstract artwork hangs on the walls as well as whimsy tongue-in-cheek items such as bathing suits on a clothesline. The whole atmosphere has a good sense of humor - something that's much needed and welcome after a long day of work.
Just like its playful atmosphere, the menu at Reunion portrays fun and adventure, with nosh that puts an innovative spin on comfort food classics. We tried a little bit of everything including:
Shark Fry Tacos - This was the first thing I tasted and it stood out to me even at the end of our meal. Consisting of two mini fish tacos on a crunchy fry-bread shell, I loved the juxtaposition between the tender fish and the crispy tortilla. Overall, the dish was very refreshing, topped with vegetable slaw and a side of guacamole, onion relish and lime to give it more zing.
Hanboa Sliders - Highly recommended by our friendly waitress, the sliders were also a home run. Unlike the tacos, they were a lot heartier, incorporating slow-cooked short ribs and once again some crunch from vinegary kimchi, topped with a creamy (and slightly spicy) siracha mayo. They certainly went down easy and the flavors reminded me of a banh mi. Yum!
Sandy Clams - Oh my! I love me some fried clam strips that when I saw these on the menu, I just had to have them - and Dan had the exact same thought. The last time I had my beloved fried clam strips was over a year ago in the North Fork of Long Island, and I surely missed them. Reunion's version more than delivered with panko-crusted strips, fried to perfection, served with a side of combava - limey tartar sauce that made it that much more indulgent. See the heaping pile above? We finished that entirely!
Cari Pork Buns - My least favorite part of the meal, I simply wasn't in love with the stuffing that consisted of small pork cubes doused in a strange soy-like gravy. The buns themselves were fluffy and delicious but I just wasn't crazy about the pork. It lacked the imagination and balance of flavors that the other dishes excelled at.
Coconut Mofos - We still had room for something sweet, and with a name like Coconut Mofos, how could we not experience them first-hand? They were poppable, mini chocolate donuts that were topped with toasted coconut--although it didn't look or taste toasted to me--and a side of two rich dipping sauces including chocolate and vanilla bean creme anglaise. The latter dipping sauce was just divine, and you could see a speckling of the wonderful little vanilla seeds, peeking their heads out. It was a nice way to end the meal and whenever anything chocolate is involved, I'm almost never not satisfied.
Reunion Sunrise - In the mood for a fruity, frozen drink I got this cold, refreshing option with tequila, mango puree, raspberry puree, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice. Although it was strong, it didn't feel heavy and was the perfect thing to sip on at the end of a long, humid day.
Service and Cost:
The staff at Reunion matches its laid-back, cool surroundings, as they sport comfy clothes, long hair and very chilled out attitudes. Despite their laxness which is so not New York, the service is on-point. Our waitress was not only attentive but went the extra mile by getting us delicious garlicky bread after we needed something to tone down a spicy sauce that came with one of our dishes.
Costs are very affordable:
Drinks: $5 - $10
Nibbles: $9 - $14
Desserts: $4 - $6
3 Gnarly Mmmms