A Little Whimsy with Dinner

| 02 Mar 2015 | 04:58

Peels NYC brings the magic with colorful drinks and tasty summer eats

There's no question that Peels NYC (325 Bowery) is a great place to take a date. Its chic, country charm is warm yet modern, and the entire place is bathed in golden light during sunset. Candles are lit by 6:30 p.m., and there's just something about it that makes you want to lean in close and hold the hand of the person sitting across from you.

Sadly, I was with my friend Lindsay, who, after concluding that it was a "romantic summer place," said that she felt like she should be wearing "a cute, fancy little magical hat."

You'll see what she means when you get there.

Peels NYC may have inherited the space from a Chinese restaurant three years ago, but there's really no trace of it now. The space is open, earthy, and filled with natural light. It screams "third date," with its warm woods and intimidate green leather booths.

It's also a place to see and be seen, according to Manager Evan Briggs, formerly of the infamous Balthazar.

"We've gotten a lot of high profile people in here. Lots of models and lots of celebrities," he revealed surreptitiously. The main floor used to feature a communal table, but their fabulous, famous customers decided that they preferred to lounge in intimate booths. You can also eat at the bar, if you'd like - but why would you?

The drinks are clearly where they shine. Lindsay's watermelon gimlet was her favorite part of the meal - the tequila was subtle, but the drink itself wasn't overly sweet. There's an entire summer drink menu based on the ROYGBIV color scale (the blue drink, for example, is coconut water, pisco, and blueberry). For the men, there are always seasonal beers on tap, and non-alcoholically, the hibiscus iced tea or blueberry lemonade are the most refreshing offerings.

Halfway into our tuna and avocado appetizer, served on a wooden board with a side of fresh cut potato chips, Lindsay announced that she didn't even realize she was eating tuna and thought it was just guacamole. In all fairness, it was a very posh, tasty tuna guacamole.

The biscuit bites and the shrimp and grits are also popular, and they do an adorable corn dog in "creole" mustard. The devilled eggs are a cool treat for summer, creamy, fluffy, and chilled.

The 21 bean vegetable chili is not a soupy hot mess but a fresh bowl of whole ingredients: beans on the bottom, pepper, sliced avocado, sour cream, cheese, and cream fraiche on top. It's one of the freshest takes on a dish I've seen this season.

Peels knows that it's trendy and that the Sunday brunchers and high profile clients are a long way from thinning out. The food is decent - not spectacular, but good. Still, let's be honest: you're going because it's fabulous, and you know that you are, too.

And, you want to show off that cute, fancy little magical hat you thought you'd never get to wear.