What Happens When, NYC

What Happens When

Executive Chef: John Fraser
Cuisine: Global, Fusion
Neighborhood: Nolita
Price: $58 prix fixe dinner, no alcohol is served pending a liquor license
Address: 25 Cleveland Place, NY, NY 10012
Phone: 212-925-8310

The dining scene in New York City, much like its residents, is capricious, competitive, and ever-evolving. It seems sometimes that it’s not enough to just be a restaurant that serves good food. At the very least, most restaurants have adopted a seasonal menu.  Park Avenue reinvents itself completely on a seasonal basis. Torrisi Italian Specialties metamorphoses from deli to restaurant every night. Apt4 Food and Wine serves up gourmet dinners at a private apartment. There is even a restaurant where you eat in the dark, Dans Le Noir, supposedly to focus on all your other senses. The iterations of creative dining are endless.

So when I found out about What Happens When, a new restaurant creation of Dovetail owner and chef John Fraser whose premise is a thematic monthly metamorphosis, my curiosity was piqued. Not only is the decor and menu changed each month, but the sounds played at the restaurant go along with the theme, or “Movement.” The whole project is temporary restaurant installation that will to cease to exist after a 9 month span (Feb – Oct 2011).  The restaurant was funded via the platform kickstarter, which gives the restaurant a micro-financing/start up/cool yuppie allure.

So far What Happens When has been a host to four movements: New Beginnings, Where the Wild Things Are, French Impressionist Painting, and Jazz. The categories are broad enough to give the creators flexibility and creative freedom, but also are familiar enough so that any regular patron can appreciate the interweaving of the ambiance, food, and sound. Jen and I went to the latest movement inspired by Jazz. Photographs of old New Orleans wallpaper the walls. The light fixtures are reminiscent of jazz instruments, and menu has distinct notes of the South, where the music form was born.

Bread – Cajun Spiced Cheddar Garlic Knot
Cheese, garlic, and bread cannot make a bad combination

Bolt Po’boy – Bacon, Oysters, Lettuce, Tomato with  a Hama hama Oyster
This bad boy had mortadella, salami, ham, provolone and a little skewer of okra, asparagus and olive and cornichon. Loved the mini layered sandwich especially because it was heavy on meat and cheese. I was not too crazy about the fried oyster, probably because I prefer them fresh.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Deviled Eggs, Toast
Loved these little spinach artichoke dip bites and always a fan of deviled eggs

Jambalaya – Cornish Hen, Cajun Shrimp, Andouille Sausage
The chicken was well prepared, but honestly I expected more flavor

Pork Chop Etouffée – Spring Onions, Collard Greens, Tasso
I love meat and chops, but this dish, just like the chicken was lacking flavor and the meat was not as juicy as I would have liked

Bitter Chocolate Bread Pudding – Strawberries, Root Beer

Cheese – Monte Enebro (pasteurized goat) Castilla y Lyon ,Spain and Tomme Crayeuse (raw cow) Rhone-Alpes, France

One Response to “What Happens When, NYC”
  1. woopriscilla says:

    Such a cool idea for restaurant!!

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