2004_08_0080.JPGGothamist hadn't been to Prune in well over two years, and we remember being impressed with it the first time we went. A few of our favorite foodie friends suggested it for a Monday night dinner, and we happily joined them. Despite our miscounting the size of our group when we changed our reservation, they seated the five of us at a four top rather than make us wait or turn us away -- thankfully, we like each other, because it was a bit tight, and we were close enough to the bar to have a close-up view of the bar condiments.

But as the wine started to flow, our worries about having enough space at the table were quickly supplanted by making sure we had enough room for dessert while tasting as much of the menu as we could.

Our waitress was great -- very patient with us when we were negotiating how many appetizers and entrees we wanted, when she didn't know something about one of the wines we wanted, she quickly asked and returned with information, and rushed over with club soda when she saw one of us absentmindedly dabbing at a stain on our shirt with a napkin (we're a little sloppy). Once the menu negotiations were over, we ended up with a varied selection, allowing us to get a good sampling of Prune's simple, yet elegant menu.

sweetbreadsOur appetizer course provided a variety of flavors, and textures. Luscious heirloom tomatoes in sweet butter with sea salt; a silky, creamy pasta kerchief with French ham, a poached egg, parmesan, and pine nuts (or tasters noted that the poached egg could have been runnier); Prune's crispy and light version of shrimp toast, a far cry from anything we'd seen in a mall in New Jersey; and sweetbreads. Now usually we avoid sweetbreads, but in an attempt to broaden our gastronomic horizons (which we are constantly trying to do -- inspired by Julia, perhaps?), we dove right in. And they were fantastic -- poached, then deep fried with a panko crust, and served with brown butter, bacon, capers, and a squeeze of lemon.

2004_08_food_lentils.JPGStill keeping our goal of dessert in mind, we settled on one appetizer and three mains for the five of us. The grilled lamb kabob with a rhubarb, mint and cucumber salad, served with yogurt cheese wrapped in a grape leaf. Grilled flank steak with chipotle cilantro butter, and jerk chicken with tangy pickled vegetables and habanero peppers. The server kindly warned us about the heat of the habaneros ("second in hotness only to the scotch bonnet," he said, "so be careful.") We, of course, took this as a challenge, and not only finished the two served with the chicken, but somehow ended up eating the three more that appeared at our table. We rounded out our main course with creamy yellow lentils with spinach and purple scallions -- colorful as well as tasty.

2004_08_0083.JPGFinally, we made it to dessert, and had enough room to sample two -- a peach cobbler, and a chocolate souffle. Strangely enough, because we truly adore chocolate, the peach cobbler was our favorite of the two -- the freshness of the summer peaches shone through without being over-sweetened and wasn't overpowered at all by the biscuity topping of the cobbler.

Gothamist would recommend Prune for a meal with friends who appreciate food, or with a date -- it's small and cozy, but if you don't mind knocking knees with your dining companion (at the table, that is), Prune is the place to go. We've also heard amazing things about their brunch, recently dubbed "Best Brunch with Parents." Sounds like a phone call to the 'rents is in order.

Prune, 54 E First St, between First & 2nd Ave., East Village, (212) 677-6221.

Prune in New York Mag