Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 10 March 2011
CLOSED: Top Chef’s Angelo Sosa Openz Social Eatz

CLOSED: Social Eatz
232 East 53rd Street, near Second Avenue, Midtown East, (212) 207-3339
Getting There: 6 to 51st Street

 (This restaurant has since CLOSED)

Former Top Chef runner-up Angelo Sosa has refused to rest solely on his laurels with the opening of his brand new restaurant Social Eatz- a surefire midtown hot spot that gives a nod to the energetic lower east side.  Partnering with the good folks behind Ember Room (Chace Restaurant Group) and Circle Hospitality, Sosa’s concept is to deliver American style fast food fused with Asian and even Mexican flavors.  Perhaps best of all for patrons, is that the prices are so reasonable- the $12 “bibimbap burger” is currently the highest priced item.

The portions are not terribly huge, but then again this restaurant is not trying to necessarily gorge you.  And the flavors mix together just right.  Top Chef Sosa brings ample experience and a big name to this eatery and fans of the show might even catch a glimpse of Sosa making the rounds inside.  But even if he’s not in the house, the savory fare and the lively crowd will be enough to send you home satisfied.

Inside, Social Eatz has grabbed onto the concept of being a restaurant that looks cool first and also serves food- the eatery could easily be mistaken for a lounge.  The entrance leads to a long bar area, fully equipped with two flat screens and every liquor imaginable.  The shared tables are placed relatively close together for a cluttered but not cramped feel, as you are seated on the orange, padded benches.  Because of the narrow space, servers are always hustling between tables to the back and front of the house, but again the frenzied pace inside is a compliment rather than a distraction.

The menu is distinctive in and of itself because of the tastes fused together and because two people can actually dine out together in New York City without breaking the bank.  The restaurant has taken traditional Americanized comfort foods like tacos, hot dogs, and burgers, and infused them with new life.  Several of the menus standout items include the “noodle salad with plum ponzu” ($6), a sweet, citrusy plum dressing dousing a smattering of chilled, buckwheat soba noodles, mixed with sugar snap peas and scallions, the “imperialist hot dog” ($8), a deliciously flavorful chicken and apple sausage topped with fresh sweet and spicy relish and served on a toasted bun, and perhaps our favorite- the “chili kissed tilapia” ($8), a thai chili smeared tilapia, seared and cut into a taco, topped with a green tomato salsa and creamy avocado.

Social Eatz officially opens for business today, and word is that Top Chef Angelo Sosa will be on hand all week giving out free tastes starting at noon.  For a glimpse of modern dining in New York in 2011, Social Eatz encompasses it all- a young energy, a head celebrity chef, a cool new locations, and a delicious menu.  And yes, the price is right too.

- Jane Van Arsdale

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