Monday, January 26, 2015

Bayou Brew

Beer cocktails by way of N'awlins at Exchange Alley


If there are two mottos to live by, they are "bronies before hoenies" and "all food tastes better in fried-ball form." Right?

The EV's Exchange Alley is with us on that last one, at least.

Memories of the mellow, well-lit Zi'Pep space are obliterated by this narrow speakeasy, a bit of NOLA mixed with old New Yawk. (The chef-owner did stints in New Orleans, Brooklyn, and SoHo.)

That eclecticism extends from the cozy, vintage interior — open for only six days, this place looks like it's lived on the block for decades — to a menu that's every which way but bad.

The bar's short selection of domestic and imported bottles isn't nearly as interesting as the sweet potato sochu-and-beer concoction called the MapleTap. There's a BBQ'd beer brew, too.

For eats, you've got your old school with steamed clams casino, and hanger steak gussied up with green herbs from the back garden. The apple pie? Served with sharp, sharp New York cheddar, naturally.

And as for those balls: they're jambalaya, they're gigantic, and they're dunked in dirty gravy.

Oh, let's add "dunk everything in dirty gravy" to that list of adages.

Exchange Alley
424 E. 9th St. (Ave. A), East Village
(212) 228-8525

Price: 2 (out of 4)
Noise: 3 (out of 4)
Subway: L to 1st Ave.
Scene: Laid-back East Village sorts out to relax over a glass — no high-pressure cocktail types here.
Best bets: Jambalaya balls; hanger steak; MapleTap cocktail
Hot seat: We're partial to sitting next to the Alley's giant painting of a towel-clad babe clutching a T-bone
Period interior: The whole place is a bit of a antique heap, from the collection of Maxfield Parrish prints to the candelabras and the inky leather seats — bonus points if you spot the black-and-white Lou Reed photos
Nearby: Death and Co.; The Bourgeois Pig; Cienfuegos

Rundown's restaurant reviews are based on anonymous visits from reporters, not press releases.

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