Christine Drinan, Founder
I read somewhere that One White Street’s mission is to be your neighborhood Tribeca restaurant. Well, it is located on a prime corner spot that took over a cafe and family’s townhome. But from there, One White Street is anything but a random neighborhood joint. The original family just happens to be John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who crowned the location as the country of Nutopia’s embassy. As a British citizen, John had some pesky immigration issues, and creatively established his own country, Nutopia, to stay in the U.S. Several decades and owners later, the private quarters have been refurbished into a restaurant, spanning three floors. So yes, One White Street is disguised as a neighborhood Tribeca restaurant, but it’s a fine dining institution.
There’s something almost rustic farmhouse about the vibe of One White Street, with the large-plank oak floors and wood-beamed ceilings. But from there, just like the restaurant, there is a clearly refined finish. The furniture is contemporary design, with velvet chairs, banquets and a deco finish with the gold accents. However, this feels like a neighborhood place, as there are no hushed tones amongst the diners. While the restaurant spans three floors, it’s actually tiny. That explains why you can’t drop in like a neighborhood joint and reservations are a challenge.
The first floor is the casual lounge, where there are less than a dozen tables plus bar seats. The top two floors are the tasting menu dining rooms, with open kitchens. If you want a prime view of the meal prep, third floor at the counter gives you the best view of the action. No matter what floor you sit on, atmosphere is lively, and the crowd is filled with foodies. Which now brings us to the food.
You have high expectations for any Tribeca restaurant. The chefs met in France, and one came from Frenchie. The pedigree of the chefs pretty much sets the stage that while the atmosphere is “neighborhood” the food is going to be top notch. The downstairs menu allows you to order your favorite dishes in heartier portions, like white truffle gnocchi and their famous focaccia. For the tasting menus, they start the party with two cheddar gougeres to amuse the bouche, topped with a very generous serving of caviar. If they served this a la carte, we would ask them to keep this dish coming all night. Smoked vegetables of some seasonal sort are also brought out as starters.
From there, you have fun cards to mark your preferred selections, for the remaining four courses, plus that famous focaccia. On the night I went, there was a chilled foie gras, that famous potato gnocchi and a braised lamb. There was also a soft poached egg with carrots as a main that reminded me of Frenchie. It was served with a barley porridge. While it wasn’t the best thing I’ve eaten, it was interesting and reminded me of when Frenchie was in residence at Intersect by Lexus. Overall, the amuse and starters are super strong, and mains were a tier down. But all of the food was expertly executed.
While the team is dressed casually, the service is locked down Michelin-level. Chefs fastidiously work behind the counter and open kitchens, meticulously placing herbs with tweezers before presented to diners. It’s almost like a ballet, where servers swoop in and out with perfectly timed dishes. You likely won’t need to pour your own wine, as they are attentive without being overbearing. In the neighborhood theme, they give off a genuine vibe, versus the robotic hospitality school approach.
One White Street is absolutely worth a visit. Try the tasting menu once, and come back for the casual a la carte again and again.