Remember Etats-Unis, the Upper East Side restaurant with an improbable Michelin star? I never quite bought into the star, but for what it was — straight, up-the-gut comfort food — it was certainly well above the neighborhood average.
I’m not sure why Etats-Unis closed (it was always reasonably full, in my experience), but close it did, nearly four years ago. The chef, Derrick Styczek, has resurfaced at Domain, a new restaurant in the space that was formerly Vareli in Morningside Heights, a short hop from the Columbia campus. The name might not be the best choice. Search on “Domain restaurant,” and you’re liable to get back a list of Internet domain hosting services.
There’s room to spread out here, in a roomy two-story storefront that was nowhere near full on a Wednesday evening (the Jewish holiday week, to be fair). It’s an attractive, romantic spot, with dark wood, low lighting, and acres of exposed brick. Not that you haven’t seen it before, but you haven’t seen it here.
Styczek’s cooking is more dainty and precious than I recall at Etats-Unis. There are hints of the former comfort-food style it’s not quite as pleasurable here. Prices are calibrated to the neighborhood, with only one entrée (lamb) abouve $29.