Nestled in the heart of the East Village at 424 E. Ninth St., Exchange Alley offers delicious food, friendly service and a wonderful ambiance. This gem of a restaurant opened on Aug. 15 and offers classic New York, Italian and French dishes with a touch of New Orleans flair. The chef, Paul Gerard, formerly of the SoHo House Kitchen, has been cooking for 30 years and offers a unique menu and dining experience.
According to Gerard, Exchange Alley is not a Cajun restaurant or New Orleans fusion cooking but rather, it is a restaurant that reflects his Brooklyn roots and the places that have influenced his cooking.
“I want to take all my years of training and focus on the neighborhood,” he said.
During Hurricane Sandy, Exchange Alley remained open and offered free meals for people to enjoy. Gerard decided that because the food in the fridge would go bad eventually and considering many people in the neighborhood did not have access to cash, it was the best solution for all.
The menu has an extremely unique composition, offering a wide variety of flavors that has something everyone can enjoy. It is seasonal and uses fresh ingredients. The food reflects the way Gerard likes to eat and shows that high-end and gourmet food can be shared family style.
While the main dishes range between $18 to $27, they are big enough to split between two or three people. Try the popular Priest Stranglers pasta with pork sausage and vodka cream sauce ($18).
“The Priest Stranglers pasta dish with vodka cream sauce is my version of penne a la vodka,” he said. “This dish reminds me of my childhood.”
In addition, the appetizers, snacks and a la carte vegetables and grains are an affordable option to taste different things and split between friends. If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, try the Roasted Peanut and Caramel Tart topped with Vanilla ice Cream ($9).
CAS sophomre Ryan Waddoups greatly enjoyed his dining experience at Exchange Alley.
“I really enjoyed the atmosphere,” Waddoups said. “The restaurant itself gave off the vibe of a characteristically East Village eatery with relatively inexpensive and unique options. The waiters spoiled us with excellent service and overall seemed like they truly enjoy working there.”
Here are a few great dishes to try when you go:
Jambalaya Balls with Dirty Gravy, $10
The Jambalaya Balls is among the most popular items on the menu. This rich and decadent appetizer contains great spices, rice, seafood and sausage, fried to golden-brown perfection. With the addition of dipping it into the dirty gravy, it offers an awesome punch of flavor that will melt in your mouth.
Burrata, Pears, Brown Butter & Saba, $16
This dish is a great balance between salty and sweet. Served in a mini black pan dish, the pears are cooked in a brown butter, with delicious and fresh Burrata cheese on top and served with a great piece of toast on the side. For the leftover butter in the dish, Exchange Alley will offer you pieces of bread to dip.
Greek Fries, $7
This item is a delicious way to enjoy vegetables. The potatoes are soaked in a brine to give them a salty bite and are fried to crisp perfection and topped with feta cheese, parsley, oregano and spicy red pepper. You can either enjoy these on your own, or pair it with two other vegetable dishes for $18.
Paige Brott is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]