Wildair NYC – That Wine Bar on the Lower East Side

Co-founding chefs, Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske launched Wildair on Orchard Street in the summer of 2015, next door to their other venture Contra. The 40 seater was heaving every time we tried to get a table, which was three times in total. The first two were failed attempts as the wait time was three hours, I don’t care how good it is, I’m not waiting that long to get fed! The third and final attempt, we agreed to put our names down with the friendly front of house, who was brilliant at softening the blow each time by telling us sweet nothings. I read that people come here for the comforts of good food and natural wine, with great ingredients served at their best, with a simplistic menu with unfussy dishes. We couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

The Meyer pinot noir $60, was an elegant drop from Canada. 

I have a real weakness for good sour dough and the one here is no exception ($4). It came warm from the oven with a wonderful crisp crust and dense interior ideal for soaking up the salted olive oil.  

Next up we had potato darphin, maine uni with jalapeño $23 (MP). The crispy grated potato was a well seasoned stunner with no hint of sogginess, made extra luxurious with the blobs of creamy uni. For me, this was the star of the show, and it would be a dish I’d come back for.   

The beef tartare $16 was made extra sumptuous with grated smoked cheddar, horseradish, sharp seasoning and the crunch of toasted buckwheat offering the textural component. It was a winner for us.  

Shishito peppers, nama yuba $8, were akin to padron peppers, where one in ten is the heavy-weight champ of heat and fire with the evil intent of giving your tongue a 1st round KO. It won in my case and boy did I need that cooling effect from soy nama yuba.   

The pork milanese $20 was a good sized golden, crispy thing with a dollop of egg, sharp gribiche and dressed bitter mustard greens. It was fresh from the fryer and a joy to eat. 

The skate with maiitake mushrooms and savoury, creamy sabayon sauce was the weak link of the bunch. The teeny piece of fish was no where to be seen and we felt hard-done by, for having been charged $22 for it.   

The verdict:

When did I go? November 2016
The damage: $50-$60 per head with a bottle of wine
The good:The potato darphin was a thing behold as was that delicious tartare and there’s enough sumptuous wine to get anyone excited. It’s evident that there is some really nice cooking here, that can be enjoyed in this buzzy 40 seat cover restaurant.
The bad: Considering the ridiculous queues and pricing, I can’t help to think that Wildair isn’t for the money conscious nor is the wait worth what we had as we all walked away a little surprised. It went into the “not worth it” pile sadly.
Rating: 3/5
Would I go again? Maybe
Address: 142 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, USA
Phone: +1 646-964-5624

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