There’s something very elegant and thoughtful about the way the restaurant King in Soho does things. For some reason, I can picture a woman, perhaps an English major, carefully crafting the menu and making sure that each word really counts. This is why she would use the word onglet as opposed to hanger steak, giving this usually masculine sounding dish a daintier feel. And this is why the drinks on the cocktail menu never veer towards the overly dark and smoky. They are citrus-y and herbal, the antithesis of the Don Draper whisky. In fact, the attention to detail is paid even to the operational stuff, like payment processing. King is the only NYC restaurant with outdoor dining I’ve been to that has implemented a truly contactless checkout system.
On a perfect summer evening, we ordered two cocktails, the Silver Charm and the Berto Spritz. We were happy to receive the complimentary plate of pane carasau, a Sardinian flatbread that is a King signature. They seemed to have changed the recipe slightly from four years ago. Before it was so thin, it almost seemed like we were eating wonton wrappers. I preferred this more substantial version that is being served now, more cracker than wrapper.
One of my favorite dishes came early in the meal, the clams with zucchini. Again, the distinguishing trait here was the restraint. Clams tend to be doused in butter or wine, and the resulting brine-y runoff can be very heavy, but the clams at King were treated with just a light touch. And no, you don’t sop it all up with bread (as much as you want to), the only carb here are pieces of zucchini.
Even normally heavier dishes like pork and meat could get away with being called light. And they pair them with side accompaniments that you normally wouldn’t expect. The onglet is not served with potatoes or spinach, as it tends to be, it was served with beans and tomato. I thought it was a smart way to add some sort of a starchy component with a little finesse, without pushing things into hypermasculine meat and potatoes territory.
Dessert that night was a black fig galette. It’s definitely a thinking woman (or man’s) dessert. It looks a little ugly, and understandably you might be hesitant about eating figs as opposed to the more accessible strawberry or blueberry. But give this dark horse a try, and you’ll win big. That’s the general theme at King. Their approach is unexpected and different, subtle and never heavy handed, but the end result is very enjoyable despite lacking the obvious fireworks.
18 King St (between Varick St and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10014
Make reservations here.