The Stanton Social
 
 

Making the classics cool again in a chic LES space

By James Oliver Cury

From its start, this club-like restaurant was a supergroup of sorts, conceived by chef-owner Chris Santos (you’ve seen him on Food Network’s Chopped), Richard Wolf (who owns TAO and LAVO), and the design team from AvroKo. The resulting diversity of influences carries over to the menu, and may be the very reason Stanton Social has been able to stick it out—they’ll celebrate their 12th anniversary this year—while other places in the neighborhood have come and gone. Where else can you order high-end sliders, arepas, pierogies, pizzettas, oysters… whole branzino, tuna poke wonton tacos, and mac-and-cheese—and expect them all to be good?

The space wows from the moment you walk in; your eyes go to the sky-high tin ceilings and the glowing wine wall at the back, displaying 2,000 bottles in a herringbone pattern. The sexy interior, mercifully, is neither too dark nor too loud for easy conversation, and the booths and banquettes, surrounded by candles along the walls, have enough elbow room to feel luxurious. Cocktails like the Notorious F.I.G.—Bulleit bourbon, fig, pear-cinnamon syrup, and fresh lemon—show they have a sense of humor too.

When seeking out new dishes to prepare, the chefs here look back in time for inspiration. Take, for example, the house-cured salmon pastrami, a mini lox-and-bagel that combines whipped horseradish cream cheese and pickled mustard seed on rye bread. It’s delicious, of course, but it’s also an homage to the Jewish community that thrived in this neighborhood 100 years ago. This is Stanton Social’s schtick: creating mash-ups of old and new, borrowing from an international culinary vocabulary to create globe-spanning gourmet.

The menu also features its own “classics”—fan favorites like the French onion soup dumplings, an ode to the ubiquitous soup but served in an escargot dish with toothpicks for each of six morsels. Then there’s the potato and goat cheese pierogies, which sounds like something your grandfather might have eaten, though he certainly didn’t have it with caramelized onions and truffled crème fraîches. And beware the sesame-grilled string beans with smoked shallots and lime; the gochujang—hot pepper paste—turns up the heat considerably.

You could get lost in a menu this ambitious, but the servers seem to know every last detail, pointing out a beef broth in an otherwise vegetarian-sounding dish and gladly separated the lamb merguez from the rest of the charred octopus salad. The best dessert is another one of those hidden gems tucked between crowd-pleasers (such as the warm doughnuts): the oreo cookie cake pops. Two elegant round lollipops on sticks, it’s a finale mixing high and low culture in what is clearly Stanton Social’s signature style.

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hours

Dinner: Mon–Thu 5 PM–midnight; Fri–Sat 5 PM–1 AM; Sun 5 PM–11 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11:30 AM–4 PM
Light Snacks: Sat–Sun 4 PM–5 PM

price range

$14 (Cobb salad bites) to $48 for (New York strip steak frites)
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