The West Village of NYC will always be considered one of the most iconic neighborhoods in the world. De Santos, located in the lower floor of a 100 year old building, provides an old school vibe with exposed brick and a very nostalgic and rustic decor. An outdoor patio open year round and a garden beyond that transports you out of the dense metropolis that is Manhattan. Music legends Janis Japolin and Bob Dylan each took turns living in the apartments above Des Santos and the basement of the restaurant provide homage to the Joplin with a extra dining room and private dining space named simply “Joplin.”
In addition to great food, the Joplin room offers free poetry reading — the only place in the west village with poetry reading outside of Cornelia’s. The owners and many of its patrons are artists, actors or just simply committed to the arts. The back patio even shows short animated movies on Wednesday nights all year round.
The cuisine at De Santos, as explained by co-owner Sebastian, is Contemporary American, as he wants the restaurant to be an expression of NYC and showcase all of what modern American food has to offer. I was extended an invitation to a press dinner to try at De Santos and here is what we ended up eating…
We all started off with a tuna tartare and avocado with a soy ginger dressing. Subtle flavors and the light dish were a great start to the meal.
We then moved to a beef carpaccio with potato gnocchi with truffle sauce. The beef was tender and melts in your mouth. The gnocchi were soft pillows of goodness. My only critique is that there was a slight over abundance of truffle oil. Each part of the dish was delicious on it’s own, and may have been better served apart.
Next we shared some creamy, truffle mac and cheese. Decadence? This mac had it. I would recommend sharing this dish as a side — it’s so rich it should be in the highest tax bracket. It was darn good though.
For my entree, I selected the pork chop with Israeli couscous, broccolini and a mustard sauce. I really am a sucker for a well cooked pork chop, and this one had me at first bite. It was cooked medium rare to perfection and it was pretty gigantic, no small portions to be found here. The sauce on a pork chop is also key and they nailed it, as you can never go wrong with a mustard and vinegar reduction/glaze.
As if this wasn’t enough food, three deserts for sharing were brought to the table. Bananas Foster with cinnamon ice cream, Chocolate Lave cake and crepes with dulce de lece with vanilla ice cream. The standout was the crepes, but if you have a chocolate addiction, the cake will give you your fix.
De Santos shows you that you can still find both an interesting setting and atmosphere coupled with delicious food. Sure there are plenty of restaurants in the west village, but De Santos offers a very unique environment that is riddled with history. The restaurant is a bit louder later on in the night, but I think it would serve as a great date-night restaurant. Maybe just not the first date if you’re trying to do a lot of talking. If you’re in the neighborhood on the weekend, the restaurant also serves brunch.