Jell-O Shots & Ricotta Dumplings: Hill & Dale Opens in LES

The specialty at Hill & Dale, new to Allen Street, is a peach and vodka Jell-O shot called the “Dot & Dash.” Our waitress told us it was the house signature, so I suggested we all take one together. She declined, saying she didn’t like the feel of Jell-O in her mouth, and neither do I, so instead of the Jell-O shot, I drank just about everything else, and just about everything else was lovely.

A whole daisy came floating in the “Floozy,” one of eight other cocktails (all $12) fashioned by co-owner Elliott Carlson of Le Bain, which mixed muddled strawberries with Ketel One. Drinks like the Bourbon Negroni and The Berliner (rye, sweet vermouth, cherry, and Ramazzotti bitters) were plenty aromatic, and didn’t mask quality liqueurs with needless sugar. “Flip the Frog,” made with Plymouth Gin and St-Germain, sees its highball glass stacked with half a dozen cucumber slices. I approved.

Décor is themed around early home audio systems: an old brass phonograph rests atop a shelf behind the bar, and kitschy radios line a beam across the dining room. The 1920s-speakeasy thing treads lightly at worst. Beatles tracks played over the PA for a solid hour, with no dips into that “Hello! Ma Baby” schlock. Behind a metal grate in the back, a 30-person lounge with cushy sofas and potted ferns is well suited to quiet sipping.

Hill & Dale calls itself a “gastrolounge,” meaning they serve dinner. Ricotta dumplings are served with a mushroom medley, and a very juicy wild boar sausage wraps around three fantastic cabbage salads. Fried things come in all shapes. One of my housemade chicken nuggets (brown meat) had the form of a heart, while another looked like a man holding a basketball between his legs. For those keeping score in the New York pickle game, Hill & Dale’s current versions are golden baby beets, spring onions, celery, and cucumbers.

The Jell-O shots are not pickled.

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Pickles for Charity

Last week I gave you some events going on that were raising money for various charities and Hurricane Sandy relief. Well, the fundraising and humanitarian work hasn’t stopped and many people, restaurants, and bars are still on the bandwagon, thank goodness.

Aside from the awesome #dineoutNYC movement, you can hit up the Second Annual Peck Slip Pickle Festival on Sunday from 11pm to 5pm at the New Amsterdam Market. This vivacious market is located in the South Street Seaport, which, as you may have guessed got wrecked during the storm. Luckily, the market’s offices are fine and they are able to host the festival.

So, while you get your pickle fill with cukes from Brooklyn Brine, Guss’ Pickles, Sour Puss Pickles, Rick’s Picks, and a handful other East Coast purveyors, do so knowing your $3 suggested donation will go towards the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund. Plus, you can learn about Persian pickles with cookbook author Louisa Shafia and make kimchi with Lauryn Chun from Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi. At the end of the day, this is one pickle New Yorkers will feel happy to be in.