Hot Spot: New Yorkers in lower west Manhattan have a secret eatery that we’re just about to pull the lid off.
Ready To Eat Café
525 Hudson St. At West Tenth
New York, NY 10014
Ready To Eat is a charming café in the heart of the West Village (on Hudson near Bleeker) that serves as a virtual food lab for new dishes from chef Guy Mishani, who learned his cooking chops at storied Cipriani.
Upfront is a small sit-down restaurant, whose décor is being newly updated, and with a substantial refrigerated counter for “ready-to-eat” gourmet take-out. In back and downstairs are kitchens for creating dishes for the cafe, and his extensive catering business. (He was just planning a special surprise meal for the cast & crew of the latest “Spiderman” film to celebrate the midway completion of the production.)
Mishani comes from a Mediterranean background with an emphasis on the Levant but with nods to Italian and North African cooking. An exquisite Moroccan Fish is delicate white fish stewed in a savory tomato sauce richly spiced and served with onions and peppers.
The substantial potato latkes are quickly deep-fried with sides of sour cream and apple sauce. Oversized pasta shells are stuffed with ricotta cheese, fresh herbs and served with a piquant traditional marinara sauce. Sides like sweet potatoes, sautéed kale, eggplant and squash come alive with a palette of spices, favored by the chef, that includes top notes of cumin, cilantro and harissa (a complex chili paste of the Middle East and North Africa).
And he is justly proud of traditional carrot cake with pecans and sour cream frosting and his no-butter delightfully rich cream-cheese-chocolate cupcakes. At only 23 years old, Mishani is still spreading his culinary wings, which makes this place fun.
The menu’s daily specials reflect the seasonal availability of fresh ingredients and the chef’s own mood. He loves nothing better than to cook with his Young Turk chef compatriot, absorbing new trends and techniques that they share with each other. On Monday you might get exquisite lobster rolls, on Wednesday, a southwestern cumin-spiced meat loaf and on Friday, a Madras Salad of curried shrimp, avocado, orange and greens with curried yogurt homemade dressing.
Ready To Eat is comfort food for foodies, taken to a sophisticated level with an international and cosmopolitan savoir faire.