In his continued, quiet quest to conquer the East and West Villages' drinking and dining scenes, restaurateur and bar owner Ravi DeRossi has opened another plant-focused restaurant, serving globally-inspired vegetable tapas and innovative cocktails on Macdougal Street. Ladybird opens today in the space where DeRossi used to run the Bourgeois Pig, which closed its doors for good earlier this year.
The kitchen's being headed up by Daphne Cheng, a vegan chef who's also served as executive chef at DeRossi's newly-vegan Mother of Pearl restaurant. The tapas menu includes cold dishes such as a gazpacho trio, seared peach caprese, and vegetable charcuterie; warm plates like Shishito peppers with heirloom tomatoes and miso butter, coconut quiche, and caramelized artichoke heart; and desserts like saffron and chocolate semifreddo and churros with crème fraîche, dukkah and cinnamon chocolate.
Meanwhile, patrons can booze up on bird-themed cocktails such as the Red Rail (beet juice, Niepoort tawny port, bitter amaro, and lime), the Himalayan Quail (tangerine juice, French dry apple cider, Thai chili and lime salt), and the Dodo (a slushy of avocado, shiso syrup and sparkling wine). Those drinks are the brainchildren of Ariel Arce, who's crafted cocktails at other loosely bird-centric establishments such as Birds & Bubbles and Chicago's The Office at The Aviary.
DeRossi's focus on plant-based cuisine is a relatively new development—when Mother of Pearl first opened, it had items such as hangar steak and whole black bass on the menu, and Bergen Hill, opened in 2013, still showcases seafood. However, DeRossi has said that he eventually intends to make all of his restaurants vegan, even if that requires renaming and reconceptualizing places like Bergen Hill.
"I compromised my morals for 10 years in the business, selling meat, then it finally just caught up to me," he told Women’s Wear Daily. "And I thought, I'm in a position now, with owning some of the hottest, really great restaurants in New York City, and that if I were to make this change, I could not just make the change for myself, but influence other people as well."
Accordingly, DeRossi will also be donating a portion of the proceeds from Ladybird to his BEAST Foundation, a nonprofit animal advocacy group he launched last year that offers grants to other non-profits in support of animal welfare.
127 Macdougal Street, (212) 475-2246; website.