New York City Restaurants – Dish Buzz: Lantern

Lantern - Gramercy
Lantern - Gramercy

Hope you’ve all had a great beginning to the new year, full of lots of fabulous culinary delights! To get back into full swing for 2009, I thought I’d start with sharing one of my low-key favorites, Lantern.

Compared to the flashy Manhattan restaurant scene, Lantern in Gramercy is very much a quiet neighborhood contender when it comes to Thai food. If you come at an off-peak time, you may even find the children of the owners in the restaurant as well. It’s not pretentious, the service is good and prompt, and it just feels welcoming.

They have a wonderful appetizer menu. I’ve oftentimes gone here and just had appetizers for my meal. Their calamari is quite good, coming paired with what they call a mild spicy honey-mint sauce. I’d say mild and spicy shouldn’t be in the same explanation, as this one leans more towards spicy, but it is a sauce rivaled only by that of the Sunburnt Cow’s as far as calamari goes. Their spring rolls are also excellent. Something I’ve never tried elsewhere is their dish they’ve named “Lantern’s Angel Shrimp”. The dish includes 5-6 large shrimp wrapped in crispy rice noodles served  with a spicy honey chili sauce. It’s my personal favorite. Appetizers range from $4-$6 or you can do an appetizer tasting menu, which includes three appetizer selections for $12. Warning: Portion sizes per selection is definitely less than if you order the appetizer itself.

Pineapple Fried Rice, Lantern
Pineapple Fried Rice, Lantern

My favorite main course is their chicken pineapple fried rice: eggs, cashews, golden raisins, onions, scallions, and diced pineapple – the perfect mix of savory and sweet. I find portion sizes here to be fairly generous, so usually a main course is good for another meal’s worth of leftovers for me (which I find to be quite the power buy at $9). The chicken panang curry is also good, served with bell peppers, string beans, and carrots. The curries don’t tend to come with a lot of rice, but that’s something I find an issue in general oftentimes in Thai restaurants.

As an added bonus, if you come between 4-6pm for their Happy Hour, you receive bottomless refills on drinks (sodas). Hey, you take what you can get in “no refill land” Manhattan. They also serve brunch both Saturday and Sunday for $8-$9, which includes a mimosa, bloody mary, or soft drink. Not bad, not bad! Lantern also has a Brooklyn branch located at 101 Montague Street if that’s a closer option for you.

Lantern – 311 Second Avenue (at East 18th Street) – 212-777-2770

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