It takes quite the flair to impress a couple of food writers, and yet the founders behind Endless Hospitality never cease to amaze us. The team behind The Wayland, Goodnight Sonny and The Wild Son Lunch Counter have a consistent track record of creating welcoming spaces, imaginative cocktails and delicious bites. Our visit to one of their newest locations, Bar Lula in the East Village, turned out to be a welcome three-hour feast.
Bar Lula opened in 2022. The corner restaurant and bar is right near other neighborhood favorites, The Wild Son Lunch Counter and Goodnight Sonny right across the street. Located on one of NYC’s famous street, St. Marks Place, this corner location has probably seen it all. St. Marks Place is legendary, and that alone makes it an exciting destination.
First things first—make sure to order a cocktail or two because Endless Hospitality is known for their out-of-this-world cocktail menus. From the famous smokey “I Hear Banjos?” cocktail at Wayland, to the inventive Mezcal menu at Bar Lula, you will never experience cocktails like these anyplace else. Bar Lula has an extensive Mezcal menu, which means we will have to come back to taste them all, but during this visit we ordered the Golden Paloma and Camotli Sour. We recommend the Golden Paloma if you prefer a refreshing drink with a kick, and the Camotli Sour if you prefer richer textures.
Chefs Petrocelli and Arias worked together to combine their knowledge of French technique with their love of Mexican ingredients to create something novel and striking. At the helm that night was the charming Chef Ricardo Arias, who personally made sure to familiarize us with his culinary imaginings. Bar Lula’s seasonal menu receives fresh facelifts, according to what Arias discovers at the Union Square Greenmarket. (Arias mentioned a few new dishes in the planning stages: a BBQ cabbage wedge dish with roquefort and sunflower/guajillo salsa and a sweet and savory blood orange cast iron cake.)
We opted to try dishes in all categories, combining seafood, meat, and veggies. To start we tasted the classic Potato and Pepper Croquettes (photo above). It was the perfect way to start and warm up.
For the garlic bread lovers out there, the Mussel Escabeche, was served with soubise (a French onion sauce), saffron, with the oversized baguette.
Next up was our absolute favorite. Out of all the dishes we tasted, we highly recommend you try the Mushroom Masa Crepe. Combining the French crepe with Mexican ingredients, Oaxaca and manchego cheeses, this has to be the most obvious and delicious combination of the French and Mexican cuisines. You can see and taste the careful combination of dishes borrowed from two different continents. Loved the extra zing from jalapeño rings. Did we mention that there is a spicy twist to most of the dishes?
After, we were promised an inspired Market Salad; and the chef delivered: Market lettuce salad, with apricot chamoy, chicharrin, blueberries. The fresh ingredients sits on top of a blueberry puree, which might seem like a surprising choice, but tasting it, we never want to eat a market salad without it. Photo, right, the facade is quite unassuming, defying the highest culinary standards inside.
As dedicated seafood lovers, we had to sample the Scallop crudo. The dish is light, but satisfying, and lovely to look at.
Veggie lovers need not fear, there are an assortment of unusual selections on the menu. We ordered the mysterious Celeriac next. Topped with Brussels sprouts, poblano and tomatillo, it was one of the more interesting dishes we’ve ever had. The nutty flavor came through and we are still thinking about it.
Chef Arias, seen above with Ellen Swandiak, Hobnob’s founder, made a couple of surprising dishes for us that are still in development and not on the menu, making us wonder where he draws his creativity from. He told us that he has enjoyed cooking since his teenage years in Puerto Rico, but that he really became passionate about ingredients and techniques in his 20s. In fact, his love of cooking made him give up pre-law studies. As far as inspiration, the chef tells us that he brainstorms creative dishes on his walks back from the market. His signature is the ever-changing crudo. He has a deep love for seafood and enjoys changing the seafood options on the menu depending on product availability. If you had the luck to enjoy Arias creations when he was running Dinnertable in the East Village, you will recognize a certain boldness in his cooking style.
When it comes to creative dishes and cocktails to match, Bar Lula truly rolls out the red carpet. We think it is the most ideal place to impress a foodie date. Speaking with co-owner Jason Mendenhall, we found out Endless Hospitality has a new non-New York location for you. The hospitality brand opened High Hope Tavern in downtown Westerly, RI. The bar and restaurant uses ingredients from local farms and fishermen. Needless to say, we know where our next trip will be.
Bar Lula , 132 1st Ave (SE corner St. Marks Place)