Confession: I binge-watched the first two seasons of Queer Eye in ONE DAY (that's about 16 hours of TV, people)—and I've been in love with Antoni Porowski ever since. Not just because he's a foodie like me but because he makes food that would otherwise be labeled as “fancy” or “unattainable,” well, attainable. Oh, and he looks damn good while doing it (see below).
Despite my adoration, I hadn't made it down to Greenwich Village to try his restaurant The Village Den until just recently. Soon after arriving, I quickly learned what I was missing out on. First, let's talk about the vibe. The space sits right on the corner of 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue and has huge windows looking out onto the park across the street. It has an adorable, quaint feel to it, and almost every table was taken (however, I did go around lunchtime). There were all kinds of people enjoying the food: bigger groups having meetings, a couple of friends meeting up, and those sitting alone working on a laptop or reading a book. Although I never stepped foot inside until that day, it felt comfortable and familiar, like I had been there a million times.
Now, onto the food. I sat down with Antoni's business partners, Lisle Richards and Eric Marx, to chat about a few signature dishes and the inspiration behind them. I was most impressed by how the menu caters to so many different diets—paleo, vegan, even keto. “We all eat healthy, but we have different lifestyles,” Richards said. “It's hard to find somewhere that can cater to them all, so that's where it all started.” A few standout dishes are the Thai Chicken Bowl (my personal favorite and the restaurant's best-seller), the “Den Mother” salad, and the Chicken and Apple Scotch Egg.
The restaurant is also on the heels of launching its new spring menu, which will include vegan cauliflower mac & cheese. While Richards and Marx didn't spill a ton of details, you can expect to see even more items (at least seven) that are healthy and hearty. So, if you're in New York City and need a yummy meal to eat while
watching crying happy tears during the new season of Queer Eye, there's really only one choice.
Not in NYC? Antoni recently announced his first cookbook, so you can make his recipes at home! It's available for pre-order now on Amazon: