The Lower East Side's Contra was a critical smash when it opened last year, gaining raves from the Times for its "expressive cooking" by Chefs Fabian Von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone. Now the duo, along with partner Thomas Martin, have opened up Wildair practically next door, a new restaurant aiming for a casual vibe with an a la carte menu that contrasts Contra's set tasting menu. The restaurant makes its grand debut Wednesday, June 10th, but they'll be offering a limited menu this weekend before regular service begins.

Classic bistro dishes like calamari, radishes with butter and beef tartare are turned up with inventive applications like squid ink aioli, seaweed butter and smoked cheddar, respectively. A stack of asparagus ($13) comes drizzled in smoked chile vinaigrette with a scattering of hazelnuts while potatos darphin ($14), a shredded potato cake, is kicked up with jalapeno and sea urchin. Large format options include pork shoulder milanese ($24) with an egg and mustard sauce, skate ($21) with mushrooms and white wine and finally a steak for two ($75).

The natural wine list focuses on European styles, specifically vintages from the Loire valley and "old rare varietals," but beverage director Jorge Riera plans to bring in ciders and sherries as the months go on. Desserts include a chocolate-hazelnut tart sprinkled with salt and a panna cotta scented with maple.

142 Orchard Street, 646-964-5624

Wildair Menu