In any family it’s important to be supportive of each and every member, and while that sometimes means keeping the couch open for that ne’r-do-well brother of yours, you eventually might be able to see or experience something really special. Luckily for us it’s the latter: Soho Grand Alumni Paul Gerard has gone on to open a fabulous restaurant/bar dubbed simply Exchange Alley in the East Village, and we popped in to check it out.

The Scene: Exchange Alley hits the nail on the head by marrying a warm unpretentiousness with a feeling of storied permanence. The intimate space feels as if it’s been there all along, which years from now will truly be the case. It doesn’t hurt of course that we found the waitstaff to be attentive and helpful, but never overly so. Expect to find a healthy mix of regulars at this spot as it gains momentum in the neighborhood – we have a sneaking suspicion that as the temperature drops, people will flock to Exchange Alley’s open arms.

The Food: The menu turned out to be just as unpretentious as the clubhouse vibe – we wanted to try everything, and we nearly did: Fried Pickled Okra, Big Easy BBQ Shrimp, Greek fries with Crumbled Feta, Charred Kale, Red Snapper with amazing caramelized garlic with a perfectly cooked hanger steak. Oh, and don’t even get us started on the Duncan Hines-esque chocolate cake that rocked our world…

The Chef: Paul Gerard has been around the block, hanging his chef hat on many great kitchens including our own. A Brooklyn native who’s spent his fair share of time in New Orleans pulls no punches when incorporating cajun flare in his new New York home. We’re confident that Gerard’s got the chops to break the curse of the space, which has previously been home to three failed restaurants in as many years.

Exchange Alley
424 E. 9th St
New York, NY 10009

Currently open Tues through Sun 5:30-10:30pm