139 West 10th Street
New York, NY 10014
Reviewed & Photographed by: Hazel Sy
At first glance the entrance to De Santos is inconspicuous, a typical New York City brownstone home with a warm glow flickering through the large window. Then as you walk by, you notice the menu and chalkboard sign saying “De Santos Dinner Inside.” This seems appropriate for a Contemporary American restaurant that features a former speakeasy downstairs. The Janis Room was named in honor of Janis Joplin, a former resident of this historic brownstone along with Bob Dylan, Edward Albee and Jean Michel Basquiat.
The warm candlelight beckoning through the window had set my expectations, and I wasn’t to be disappointed. The rustic décor with French vintage chairs, antique oak tables, distressed wood paneling and exposed brick walls was cozy and welcoming. Past the marble bar and the main dining area is a year-round patio and seasonal garden for al fresco dining. With its exposed wooden beams and perfectly placed foliage, the enclosed area still gives the feeling of dining outside even as Fall rolls into the chilly months of Winter—a unique, private dining area for parties.
I settled in with one of their new cocktails, Grusha…a bright, fruity cocktail made with pear vodka, pineapple and cranberry soda. Kentucky Cider was also recently added to the menu, featuring Bourbon, St. Germain, lemon and apple cider. This clever concoction fit right in with the décor and the Fall season.
I rarely comment on the bread and butter at restaurants, but the sweetened butter was so enjoyable that I could have eaten the whole bread basket even before our three appetizers arrived.
De Santos’ Truffle Mac & Cheese with aged cheddar and herbed bread crumbs was buttery and not overly creamy. I liked the crunch of the bread crumbs and the hint of tartness from the cheddar cutting through the richness of the dish. It didn’t feel too heavy and was a well-executed, sophisticated version of American comfort food.
I was intrigued by the Beef Carpaccio, served with homemade potato gnocchi and truffle cream. The beef was very thinly sliced, and the truffle cream delicious with the gnocchi, but I thought it overpowered the freshness of the beef.
The Tuna Tartare was a wonderful fusion of flavors. The tuna was fresh, and the creamy avocado balanced the tangy spiciness of the soy ginger vinaigrette. It was served on tortilla chips, which brought just the right amount of saltiness to each bite.
Our table shared the appetizers and engaged in animated conversation. Maybe a bit too animated, as I accidentally knocked my fork off the table! I picked it up, casually placing it back on the table while I continued to talk. Within seconds, a server silently replaced my fork with a new one without interrupting. When I later commented on this to the person sitting next to me, she said that she didn’t even realize that had happened – a nod to the level of service at De Santos.
I ordered a special for the evening; Pan-seared Scallops with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Parsnip Chips. The scallops were flavorful, although a bit overcooked. The risotto was delicious with an earthy mushroom flavor. I especially liked the sweetness of the parsnip chips with the saltiness of the risotto, but would have preferred them to be crispier.
At this point a live band had started playing for the evening. De Santos is heavily influenced by art and music, with Alex González, drummer for the popular Mexican rock group Maná, as one of its three owners. De Santos restaurant often uses the Janis Room downstairs as a performance space for live music, poetry readings, art exhibits and even movie nights with short films.
When you visit De Santos you’ll most likely see owner Sebastian Gonella who defined the concept and sets the direction of the restaurant. Owner Luis Miguel Amutio travels the world preparing to open locations in Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires to round out their restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and NYC.
The wine list has about 35 offerings, spanning the globe from California, to France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand and more. Thirteen of these bottle choices are offered by the glass as well, and both options are fairly priced.
We ended our meal with an assortment of desserts, including Chocolate Lava Cake with Strawberry Sauce, BananasFoster with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Crepes with Dulce de Leche with Toasted Almond Cream. Executive Chef Angel Vela, formerly at Pastis and Waverly Inn, stopped by for a quick chat as we finished our meal.
We were here on a Wednesday night, and the restaurant was full. Even though the place was bustling, it still maintained a relaxed vibe throughout. De Santos has the perfect ambiance to catch up with friends over drinks and shared appetizers, and be sure to enjoy their happy hour.
If you prefer mornings and mid-day, they also have a brunch special including one entrée and unlimited drinks for two hours. Get together with some friends and experience this quaint New York City restaurant for yourself soon!
Happy Hour is 6 to 8 pm every night!
Dinner is served Sunday -Wednesday: 6PM-11PM and Thursday -Saturday: 6PM – 12 Midnight
Brunch is served – Saturday and Sunday 11AM – 5PM
Note: Tuna Tartare picture is from De Santos Google Images
Hazel Sy is a writer and photographer always in pursuit of the next culinary adventure. From Dai pai dongs in Hong Kong, a yacht galley in the Maldives, her NYC backyard to her small apartment kitchen, she shares her love of food on her blog TastyPursuits.com. When asked why she started her blog, Hazel says, “I started this blog to explore why the flavors work well together in recipes from my cookbook collection, friends and websites. I then experiment with creating my own recipes based on the flavor principles that I discover along the way.” Please check out Hazel’s great Twitter page at -> @tastypursuits
Message from the Editor in Chief: DinnerReviews.com is pleased and honored to welcome Hazel Sy to our Internet Magazine. Her love and knowledge of food, and excellent writing ability is already evident in this her first review. We feel lucky to have her contributions.