Sprawling over two floors, nearly 12,000 square feet and 300 seats, Vandal (199 Bowery St.) is every bit as OTT as Tao – down to a gigantic centerpiece, this time a purple break-dancing rabbit. The whole space sounds a bit Alice in Wonderland, though it’s said to have been inspired by the world’s streets and alleys.
Guests enter through a flower shop into a tunnel that branches off into various rooms; on the walls are works by British graffiti artist Hush and Shepard Fairey among others. There are two lounges, one on the main floor and another in the cellar (depending on how much bass you like with your cocktails?)
Every city needs some green space, however, and this small restaurant metropolis has a “secret garden” dining area with real plants and flowers, walled in by glass garage doors that will open onto the sidewalk when the weather warms up.
The menu is decidedly more upscale than what you’d find out of a cart in any corner of the world. Chef/owner Chris Santos (Stanton Social) paired a New York-style pretzel with Kobe beef tartare, the dumplings are made with lobster and sweet potato, and Chilean sea bass fills the tacos.
There are also kati rolls, various Chinese buns and shawarma as well as a rickshaw-mounted espresso machine, which frankly sounds like a great idea outside of the restaurant.