| 13 Aug 2014 | 01:10

    Over the last few decades, there have been countless major changes in my neighborhood?the East Village, as it is now called?but few have startled me more than the transformation of a nearby rundown Laundromat into Apiary, a sleek and happening restaurant. Chef/partner Neil Manacle and managing partner Jenny Moon brought in the French luxury furniture design team Ligne Roset to fabricate and furnish the now-roomy rectangular space. The dramatic results are sophisticated and comfortable, with ebony wood trim accentuating the long austere lines throughout the bar and 50-seat dining room and ruby red upholstered chairs stabbing into the mostly black-and-white décor. Cylindrical chrome overhead lights are echoed by silhouetted antique chandeliers pressed into the walls over the banquette tables. It?s by far the most poised and hospitable restaurant in my immediate neighborhood. Apiary opened in September and is now negotiating for a full liquor license; meanwhile, the wine list is especially satisfying, with 35 wines available by the glass. I especially enjoyed a glass of 2006 German Riesling, Mosel Saar Rower, with its pineapple nose and unique sweet/dry finish. Apiary also features 24 mostly domestic microbrewed beers. Chef Manacle spent 16 years by the side of venerable chef Bobby Flay, serving as chef de cuisine in all three of Flay?s wildly popular New York restaurants: Mesa Grill, Bar Americain and the late, great Bolo. As a result, you would expect to encounter more than a scintilla of Southwestern or Spanish influence in Manacle?s cookery, but I found little. Many of the most popular ingredients in Manhattan are on the seasonal American menu, including a pork belly appetizer. A jiggling three-by-one inch slab of belly (which is nothing more or less than unsmoked bacon) is parked on a bed of braised red cabbage kissed with balsamic. Green apple stick slices adorn and enliven the rich dish. Carefully grilled octopus tentacles yield that great texture and tangy grill flavor. Soft baby fennel fronds, plump green lentils and pickled red onion rings complete this appetizer quite nicely, offering a panoply of textures and flavors. A generously sized New York Strip steak is crowned with crumbles of smoked Oregon blue cheese?the perfect partner for nearly any grilled beef?and topped and sided by green peppercorn sauce. The steak comes with a wonderfully creamy garlic, thyme and potato gratin. At just $26, this is one of the best steak deals in town. No less generous a portion of grilled Long Island duck, a descendent of the Peking duck with characteristic dark and juicy flesh, is offered with soft and cuddly brown butter spaetzle and sautéed shiitake mushrooms. The fairly salty meat is cooked perfectly at medium-rare, and the breast is sliced into large fat coins while the leg and thigh are left whole. Full-flavored Brussels sprouts love to be paired with bacon, as they are here, and they should be served while they?re still fairly crunchy, or else they take on that musty flavor that has turned off diners for decades. Manacle gets it just right. ?Apiary? means a collection of beehives, and honey accents three of the desserts. The goat cheesecake tart was a bit too lemony, but honey helped and so did a tart apple compote. A chocolate-cashew brownie tart had a nice firm crusting, but it was slightly overcooked and dry. Lovely cashew ice cream and a drizzling of caramel ameliorated the problem somewhat. Needless to say, we?re thrilled to have this handsome new neighbor, but Apiary is also well worth a detour if you live Uptown. -- Apiary 60 Third Ave. Between East 10th and 11th streets 212-254-0888 Entrées: $21 to $28 -- [](mailto: