I feel compelled to note for the record that I tried 71 Clinton Fresh Food a couple of weeks ago. It’s part of the gaggle of high-end Lower East Side eateries that have opened in recent years. Star chef Wylie Dufresne made his name here, but Dufresne hopped across the street to the award-winning WD-50.
71CFF is now under chef Jason Neroni. I never visited the restaurant during Dufresne’s tenure, so I can’t make comparisons. However, I was underwhelmed. I have already forgotten the appetizer, and a duck entree seemed unimaginative.
Mind you, I didn’t consider myself ill-served at 71CFF. But with appetizers in the $11-19 range, and main courses $19-27, it’s not a cheap evening out. The city, and indeed the neighborhood, has better to offer at that price.
Postscript: Not long after our visit, Frank Bruni reviewed 71 Clinton Fresh Food in The New York Times, re-affirming its two-star rating. The restaurant closed in March 2006, after the chef, Jason Neroni, left to cook for “some kind of billionaire.” The billionaire must not have been smitten, because by November Neroni was back in New York, helming the stoves at an “unpretentious Italian bistro,” Porchetta. That’s now closed, too.
71 Clinton Fresh Food (71 Clinton Street between Rivington & Stanton Streets, Lower East Side)