Whether or not the new executive chef (29-year-old executive chef Travis Flood of the Fifth Floor), revamped interior (a la Michael Brennan of Circa, Cortez and Bruno’s) and less formal layout of this Washington Square Park mainstay draw a hipper, more local crowd, I’ll venture to say that there’s been a definite shift. The restaurant reopened in December and already feels less like a special-occasion-only brunch and dinner spot. There’s way more of a hangout-type vibe, thanks in great part to the 20-seater communal table that commandeers the lounge/bar area (if you’re wondering: jeans are OK).
I headed over to Moose’s last week to check out the space and sample chef Flood’s goods. His carnitas risotto, a Mexico-meets-Italy combo, was rich and filling without the heaviness of traditional risotto (the trick’s in using less butter and cheese and adding whipping cream instead). The gnocchi with a rabbit ragout reflected what I’m thinking is a growing trend—is it just me or is rabbit showing up on more and more menus these days?
Anyway, the most memorable item of the night was the brussels sprouts “salad.” (I put salad in quotes to make sure you don’t get the wrong impression—the sprouts, along with the capers, are deep-fried.) If you’re craving the fried brussels sprouts at SPQR, you’re sure to like chef Flood’s interpretation. His version is tasty, and there’s no wait… at least for now.