I happened upon Peasant a few blocks from one of my favorite restaurants, Public. I was immediately impressed by the space as we walked in, with a large wine bar at the entrance and rustic wooden tables in the back framed by a big brick oven. We couldn't get a table actually, they were booked full, but there is another bar in the basement that serves food. It was one of the coolest dining experiences I've had in New York.

The dynamic at Peasant interesting because of the unfinished peasant-like atmosphere combined with fancy food and wine. The basement bar is even more rustic, with distressed wood paneling on the walls, almost rickety handmade tables that were knotted and bumpy and bench seating. The space was dim and candlelit, and cramped. But I liked it. It is amazing the things you'll pay for in New York: dinner at a rickety table in a dark basement. The menu is Italian, with some good pastas, seafood dishes and some more unique offerings like quail and of course pizza. The food was good, not stellar. I really enjoyed the various olives that were set out in the bar areas that we munched on before taking our table.

I really was impressed by the atmosphere and the overall experience at Peasant. It was a little expensive, which is typical though oxymoronic for something whose name basically means poor, but I guess it goes to show that with simple ingredients you can make great things, and even in what might be though of as grungy a great space can emerge.

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