Everyone who has studied economics or business knows about the benefits of vertical and horizontal integration. In the restaurant industry, horizontal integration and expansion is the norm. In today’s food crazed society, it’s perfectly acceptable for a chef to own various restaurants, put himself down as the executive chef, and hire talented chef de cuisines to execute the cooking. Vertical integration on the other hand does not happen nearly as often, though the economic benefits of such action could be tremendous.
One successful case of such integration is Wild Edibles. Founded as a seafood wholesale distributor for some of New York City’s finest restaurants, the company has since expanded into retail (in Grand Central Terminal), and on 3rd Ave a restaurant/marketplace.
The restaurant space, which originally opened in 2001 purely as a market, began serving meals following a renovation in 2007. The menu was designed by Gavin Citron, a renown chef who works today as a restaurant consultant only. You should not expect to see Chef Citron in the kitchen.
Working with the Blue Ocean Institute, each seafood ingredient is color coded for its natural sustainability. The restaurant does serve items that are labeled yellow or orange, nobody will lecture you or scold you, it’s merely a guilt thing.
With a fairly basic menu, the restaurant relies on freshness and wide selection of seafood. The main attraction here is definitely the raw bar and oysters. Outside of the Grand Central Oyster Bar, I have not seen a selection that diverse, and all in stock. Wanting to sample the best of the East Coast, I asked for two of each. The shucking process took much longer than expected, but the freshness was indeed spectacular.
After the raw fare, I thoroughly enjoyed the clam chowder, which had excellent flavor and some seriously large chunks of clam, fresh. However, the fried calamari, and tilapia fillet were all slightly disappointing. These are dishes that could easily be made by at home, and does not live up to expectations when dining out in NYC. The prices are not cheap either, most entrées are $20.
I’ll definitely return to Wild Edibles for some more oysters, and the excellent soup. However when it comes to seared or grilled fish, I’ll buy a few fillets from their marketplace, and fire up my stove at home.
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535 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016