YetiYETI

240 E 9th St
January 27

KEYWORDS: THE WENDIGO / THE WENDIGO
/ I SAW HIM JUST A FRIEND AGO*

 

Arctic explorers eat food in a way that we do not. Their bodies work overtime to burn calories in sub-zero temperatures, like coal in a furnace, so they can eat pillowcase after pillow case of deep-fried nachos, followed by deep-fried King Cones without gaining an ounce of fat or shame.  

And yet, as the January winds howl outside my window, and the snow plows grind along the asphalt, it is not quite cold enough for me to eat a pound of french-fried potatoes and an entire beef stew pie. Although at Yeti in the East Village, I am sorely tempted to try.

The longstanding dish of choice at Yeti is the Shooter's Sandwich. It’s an entire loaf of bread, cut in half and then loaded with steak, mushrooms bacon, swiss or cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions. All of this is then compressed, putting as much weight as possible on the bread loaf, overnight.Yeti has its own pressing room which could easily double as a gym given how many weights are pressed upon each sandwich.

But Yeti’s antithesis of this compressed sandwich is equally delicious; spaghetti with pasta, breadcrumbs, sausage, whole cloves of garlic, capers, and black olives. One imagines a group of explorers who are unable to collect their shipment of canned tomatoes and have decided to improvise—with delicious results.

This fare would seem a bit much even in New York's bleak mid-winter, but Yeti has created an atmosphere to justify any appetite. “I like snow,” says chef Pete Armstrong, “I like it better than TV, books, and my pets.”

And so, the windows in the restaurant of Yeti are frosted with fake snow. When guests enter the restuarant, there is a gust of snow that blows in with them, thanks to a small chute that sends the stuff rushing in whenever the door is ajar. It’s always a bit chilly, and boxy electric heaters are scattered throughout the restaurant, glowing an orangey light. They are props, and provide no heat. Hidden speakers play the sound of wind howling, more prominent speakers play actual music.

And the growling sound you hear periodically isn’t your stomach, it's the titular Yeti, sounding a bit like a snoring tiger, an impression that Armstrong is happy to perform on cue. It sounds a bit like the MGM lion with a deviated septum.

It will surprise almost no one that Armstrong's wife is a talented stage set designer, and Armstrong's favorite movies all have a snowy setting: The Empire Strikes Back and The Thing, both movies where completely horrible things happen to people who have wandered just a little too far from home. Why, umm, make a restaurant about that?

“I think you’'ll find that there are a lot of sacrifices and ingenuity in those movies," says Pete, “People trying to survive. If you can wait an hour for a table at Yeti, you're definitely in that category.”

*Thank you Ogden Nash


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