The name Wicked Jane does not bring to mind a minimalist, sparsely decorated restaurant with time to spare and room to breathe. But here you can enjoy the calm and perfectly prepared bites with lovely wines and cocktails to match. The restaurant happens to be named after Chef Zod Arifai’s rock band from his youth, and is a tribute to that time. In keeping with the theme, all the cocktails are named after songs you may recognize and the check is delivered in a plastic CD cover. 

The chef is self-trained, which makes him even more impressive, and you can feel his passion and discipline in all of the dishes. In my opinion, the sauces are the star of the show, enhancing each well chosen ingredient in the most beautiful way. He had a streak of popular restaurants in New Jersey, and this is his first Manhattan enterprise. 

Wicked Jane does have a great soundtrack, a mix of 70s and more, played at the right level. Though the food is considerably upscale, the place invites casual diners, may of whom come to sit at the bar solo.

The facade of the space is unremarkable, and minimalist, almost defying the treats inside. (as seen in the photo at the top of this post) Right, if you are looking for a light summer cocktail, this is the one: the Sprezzatura Spritz with Martini Bianco, Pamplemousse, Elder flower Liqueur, and Prosecco, had a lovely grapefruit-forward flavor. 

Left, the Wicked Jane, made with vodka, hibiscus, Cointreau, and citrus, was fresh, fruity, and not-too-sweet, with a proper slow-melting, oversized cube to enhance the experience. Right, the main dining room off Eighth Street seen from the bar, which is in the center of the space. As you can see, very simply laid out. 

The bar divides the front and back dining rooms and did welcome single diners. Right, Raw Live Scallops were recommended by a fellow diner, and I have to say it was a fantastic recommendation. The sauce was incredible, and I loved how they served the slippery, cool and tasty bites in a scallop shell. 

The sommelier, Alvaro Mondaca (formerly of Gramercy Tavern), was extremely knowledgeable on the wine we ordered, and did enlighten us. Right, Roasted Beets came with orange, almonds, in a bed of greens. 

Loved this dish for its beauty in color palette and taste. The Lightly Cooked Salmon arrived with a dollop of edamame puree on top and an extremely thin slice of pickled radish. The spicy ginger sauce, again, stole the show, so do save some bread for lapping it up. Our wine of the night: Domaine de la Tour Penet Macon-Peronne 2019, Chardonnay, Burgundy, which is also available by the glass. The wine was perfect with all the dishes we ordered. 

The front dining room featured a plush, comfy banquette along one side. The spacing of the tables in this room were quite generous, which you rarely see in NYC. Right, a work of art: the Duck which featured a brick of duck confit, accompanied by a thin slice of the breast, with a beautiful red cabbage, tiny turnips, in a fig-red wine emulsion. The sauces really do shine here.

The ceiling in the front dining room’s point of interest added a nice touch. Our second entree: the Monkfish served with fresh green peas, pearl onions, and plops of carrot puree. A lovely nod to spring. 

There were two desserts on the menu, and though we don’t usually go in for dessert, we tried them both. Left, we both preferred this one for its lightness and creaminess: Basil Custard & Fresh Strawberries. Right, this is the one to order if you like rich, thick, ultra chocolate-y things: the Chocolate Truffle with Caramel & Chocolate Crunch. Though we did not order a dessert wine, we were gifted a pair that worked perfectly with each. Life is good. 

Wicked Jane, 15 West 8th Street (betw Fifth/Sixth Ave). Instagram @wickedjanenyc