Remember when we could linger lavishly on the streets, taking the long way through the park, playfully meandering in the sunshine? Though summer was just a couple of months ago, it never fails to seem ancient when the icy wind hits you with a slam, and the word “playful” seems almost insulting as you scurry with all your might from the door of your building to the stairs of the subway.
That is until you scurry your way through the welcoming doors of Apartment 13, a two story, East Village restaurant and bar that opened this past summer and seems to have kept the warm vibrancy of those early days flourishing by the cozy hearth. It’s rare to find a place that can be so seasonally cozy for winter (afore mentioned fireplace) but still keep the playful, carefree fun of the summer. Apartment 13 not only atmospherically encompasses these traits, but harnesses their joy across the menus as well.
Let’s start the best of ways: with cocktails. During our last visit, we left our drinking entirely in the hands of the man behind the bar—none other than Mike Flannery (who won this year’s Heering Sling competition in Berlin)—and a better decision could not have been made. Though Flannery took great consideration in working with the Apartment 13 owners to create a most excellent cocktail menu, it was when he got out a bottle of Xante that truly delicious playfulness was poured.
A terrific, intense pear liquor from Sweden, Flannery expertly showcased Xante’s sweet, luscious taste of summer with the warm spice of ginger in his pear ginger martini. To be honest, it was hard to keep track of the fabulous ways in which Xante was showcased in cocktail after cocktail that Flannery mixed up, demonstrating the liquor’s versatility, but the end result was nothing short of true love. (After having sipped so many fantastic pear-infused concoctions, I now have not one, but two bottles of Xante in my own personal collection).
A fine compliment to the incredible cocktails, and similarly playful in spirit, Apartment 13’s menu is a true standout. Thanks to the magnificent inspiration of Chef John Keller, dishes with names like “Fish Sticks” are transcendently re-imagined using fresh, local ingredients and a particularly deft hand. In this case, the fish was a sumptuously miso marinated black cod topped with crispy phyllo shreds and wrapped in fresh butter lettuce, and the stick was the toothpick neatly pinning the wrap into a perfect bite.
As the continuingly shorter days remind us that winter has only just begun, we look forward to getting our fair share of the cozy welcome and summer-like sunshine infused into Apartment 13, its people, its Xante cocktails and its menu.
— Written by Ava Fedorov
Photographs by Jeff Owens for Socially Superlative.