Manhattan, New York – Prune

Restaurant: Prune
Cuisine: International/American/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: September 13, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (East Village)
Address: 54 E 1st St
Nearby subway stop: 6 line to Bleecker Street, or F or V line to 2nd Ave
Price Range: $10-20 for brunch, $20-30+ for dinner

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6Tres Excellent!!

Food: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 3.5
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Since 1999
  • 2011 Best Chef in NYC (James Beard Award)
  • Casual atmosphere
  • Modern American food
  • Some gourmet comfort food
  • Innovative/eclectic menu
  • Seasonal menus
  • Local favourite
  • Popular for brunch
  • Moderately priced
  • Long waits at peak hours
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Cocktails/wine
  • Brunch Sat-Sun 10am-3:30pm
  • Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-3:30pm
  • Dinner daily 5:30pm-11pm

**Recommendations: Brunch is popular, but expect a line up. Apparently the sweetbreads are great, but I didn’t come for dinner.

So what is the bloody big deal about Prune? Simply put, it’s the hottest thing since The Spotted Pig. Well, it’s one of them at least. The Fat Radish is another one, but I liked Prune better based on what I tried. Apparently to some foodies and food enthusiast in New York, The Spotted Pig is so yesterday and this is so today, but I enjoyed The Spotted Pig most. Being the band wagoner I am in a city I’m not too familiar with, I jumped on and made it a point to try them all. As a tourist everything was new to me anyways, so yesterday or today, it’s all the same.

Prune actually opened in 1999, which is over 10 years ago, so it’s definitely not new. However its recent popularity and boom of success is due to the fact that the owner and chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, was just awarded Best Chef in NYC for 2011 by the James Beard Foundation. She was nominated in 2009 and 2010 as well, but never won the category until this year. Well leave it to the winning of an award with the James Beard Foundation, or earning Michelin Stars (The Spotted Pig), or appearing on Food Network (Big Gay Ice Cream) to bring you to fame, but in New York or almost anywhere, it works!

Anyways it was my last lunch in New York and I was contemplating Prune or Clinton St Baking Company. Both are located in East Village and are supposed to be stellar restaurants with long line ups during brunch, but it was one or the other. Or both!

My original plan was to go to Clinton St Baking Company for their famous blueberry pancakes after my lunch at Prune, so I only ordered one dish here. I know, how rare right? I can’t tell what a restaurant can do based on one item, so I can’t speak for the rest of the menu or style of the chef.

The sad thing is, is that I never made it to Clinton St Baking Company. I ended up squeezing in Chikalicious and Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery before and after Prune, and after those I just had no more room to enjoy Clinton St Baking Company before dinner, so I didn’t. That’s okay though, I won’t know what I missed until I have it, so it’s on the itinerary for Follow Me Foodie to New York City round 2!

Okay, so I semi-lied. I really did roll my way to Clinton St Baking Company after, but I didn’t get anything. I just wanted to see it. I waited until 4pm to get hungry again and went back a second time to actually try their pancakes… and scones, but discovered it had just closed until dinner 🙁

On the table:

Complimentary Crudités

  • Celery, olives and salt.
  • This was cute and a bit random, but the gesture was appreciated since it was only lunch.

Cold Salmon, Soupy Rice and Peas with Fried Salmon Skin4/6

  • $15
  • The description did not sound good, besides the “fried salmon skin” aspect, and for me that was the hook. It was also a recommended choice.
  • I would have preferred if the soupy rice was a risotto, but this was a lighter choice.
  • The rice was luke warm and a bit hard and slightly like Uncle Ben’s in texture which I wasn’t keen on.
  • The peas were smashed into the rice and the whole ones were a bit starchy, so the soupy rice could have been better overall.
  • The rice was a bit herby with chives, parsley and mint (?), and the broth didn’t have much of a flavour besides carrying the ingredients I listed.

  • The salmon was melt in your mouth buttery, medium rare and moist and almost sashimi like.
  • It was as oily as toro (tuna belly) which is rare for salmon, but I’m not complaining one bit.
  • The salmon wasn’t really cold, but it was room temperature and slightly on the colder side of it.
  • It was poached and infused with lemon, but it wasn’t sour and just aromatic with some spices and herbs.
  • It didn’t have a crust, but it was basted with a sauce that tasted like ground coriander seed, lemon zest, and perhaps mint.
  • It wasn’t bland, but the flavour was mild.
  • It seemed inspired by Middle Eastern or Indian flavours, but it wasn’t nearly to that degree, and I wouldn’t categorize it as that either.
  • It was a very light and summery dish and I enjoyed the salmon part the most, but I still wasn’t quite convinced of the dish entirely.
  • This actually reminded me of an Olive Oil Poached Snowpass Coho Salmon I had in Vancouver from Bacchus.

  • The salad was the next best thing following the salmon.
  • The fried salmon skin was placed on top of fresh pea sprouts so I did love the two forms of peas in the dish.
  • I love it when the salmon skin is served. It has the most flavour.
  • The salmon skin was salty and crispy and almost like bacon and they made for sophisticated croutons on the salad which was lightly drizzled with fruity olive oil.
  • I would have loved if there were some dried wasabi peas in this, and even a sweet pea puree showcasing a third and fourth form of peas, but I’m not sure if that goes with the theme of the menu.
  • The portion was just right for a light lunch, but it was all slightly under seasoned and I think I was just expecting more.

Complimentary Candied Ginger

  • It was freshly made, soft and chewy with a sugar coating and heat to follow.
  • Again, I only ordered one item because I had eating plans before and after Prune.

Prune on Urbanspoon


  • vivian says:

    HI Mijune, I’ve been following your posts on NYC and kudos to you,and your stomach, for trying to get a taste of as much food as you can during your visit there. NYC simply has way too many choices!! I think you need to make a monthly visit!lol

  • Laura says:

    And Gabrielle Hamilton is a writer…her book Blood, Bones and Butter came out earlier this year.

  • Mijune says:

    @vivian – thanks vivian!! I’m so happy you’re still following because I was worried Vancouver might not be interested. Do you go back often? I wanted to do as much research as I could… I’ve only real eased 1/4 of my posts lol

    @Laura – yes! Thank you for that Laura! Have you read it?

    @lynn – yum!

  • Bow says:

    I love the rare salmon…it’s texture can be upsetting to those who never eat anything but overcooked fish. Prune really maximizes their space..the seats are really close together; very cozy but difficult for large people sitting cheek to cheek. Surprising that a restaurant of this fame can’t cook rice properly.
    Try this take on a shioyaki style of salmon: Sprinkle some Maldron sea salt over a piece of sockeye, place skin side down on a pan(stainless) which has been on low heat for five minutes. Cook til salmon turns colour(from red to white), about 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Mijune says:

    @Bow – u need a cook book!!! I’d buy it! Good point on the set up of the restaurant too! I think that’s the first time you’ve commented on something like that! Thanks for the tips!

  • Linda says:

    mmmm.. i love rare salmon too! people always get squirmish when they see it sometimes thinking that the rawness of it is really unappealing but I LOVE it! i like how they added the crudites but what was the salt for? did you use it with the celery? seems kind of redundant since the olive was there 🙂

    i LOVE pea shoots, i never understand why its not used more often.. that and watercress too!

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – I love it too!!! I think the salt was to dip my celery into? The celery was just to eat plain lol. I think you might find this place interesting for brunch or dinner!

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