New Kid on the Block: Mehtaphor

My partner and I used to joke about having dinner some night at ‘Beca, as the restaurant in the Duane Street Hotel used to be known—it just didn’t look like someplace anyone would go other than for breakfast, and only then if you were staying in the hotel. It was a tough little space, not helped by being below street level. (That arrangement always reminds me of when I was walking my pug on Chambers one day, and he squatted right in front of the McDonald’s—which has sub-street-level counter abutting the window. But I digress!) ‘Beca is gone, replaced by Mehtaphor, named after chef Jehangir Mehta.

Before opening his own restaurant, Graffiti, in the East Village, in 2007, Mehta logged time at some fantastic restaurants: Union Pacific, Virot, Aix, Jean-Georges, and Compass, to name just five. He started out as a pastry chef, which he says will inspire Mehtaphor’s cocktail menu: “The cocktail bar is the pastry station. Cocktails will have sorbets and ice creams in them.” Mehta describes his style of cooking as “Jehangiresque,” having a French/American base with an infusion of spices from India and Persia. Hence the spiced lamb shank, garlic cumin crab pizza, and the chili ribeye on Mehtaphor’s menu. Only one dish—the Graffiti burger—is available at both Graffiti and Mehtaphor.

The room, meanwhile, has been warmed up with a light touch: Bright red pillows and mini-chandeliers divert the eye from the rush of Church Street, and a high communal table adds texture.

Because it’s a hotel restaurant, Mehtaphor will also serve breakfast (and eventually lunch). I asked Mehta if this was the first time he had cooked breakfast professionally, and he shared an amusing anecdote. He had handled the pastry side of breakfast while at Jean-Georges (which is in the Trump International Hotel), but it was at the Dylan where he first handled the full breakfast menu: “After 9/11, the Dylan’s restaurant [Virot] closed, and the hotel asked me to do breakfast. They gave me a huge suite to use—I was there all alone, cooking. I didn’t leave for months.”

Also of note: Mehtaphor will soon debut a menu called Gastro-Kids, available from 2:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. “It’ll be all things kids love to eat—and of course adults like stuff like mac and cheese, too.”

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  1. Looking forward to eating here . . . did you notice anything for vegetarians?

  2. You can get to the menu (PDF) from here:

    It says at the bottom they’ll tailor the food to vegetarians and people avoiding gluten

  3. now that looks much more like somewhere we’d like to go… we’ll try it out soon!

  4. Graffiti was great. I am looking forward to having something closer to home from Mehta

  5. There is a whole vegetarian menu. The vegetarian dumplings were amazing.