We’re the first to admit that eating out at fancy restaurants isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. You have to wear real pants, carry yourself like the kind of person who reads the dictionary for fun, and limit your wine drinking to maintain composure.
For a different kind of fancy night out, head to Nat’s On Bank. Unlike other West Village spots with big seafood menus and long wine lists, this place will give you tons of unexpected moments that’ll make you want to come back again and again. Their dinnerware features birds and tiny squirrels modeling massive floral headpieces. And the bright yellow menu lists a caviar-lined seafood platter as a “!BALLER SHOT CALLER TOWER!!” Nat’s On Bank might look like a quaint spot tucked between tree-lined streets filled with brownstones, but this party restaurant couldn’t be further from a sleepy neighborhood hang.
After making the tough decision to close popular LES restaurant, The Fat Radish, owner Natalie Freihon opened this seafood-focused spot in 2021. Much like The Fat Radish, Nat’s On Bank is perfect for sharing cocktails, seafood towers, or bottles of wine with a group or a date. But no matter how you use Nat’s, a meal here feels like an intimate dinner party full of oyster-slurping regulars who live nearby.
There’s a loud scene inside and out, you’ll have to squeeze by a stranger to settle your tiny marble table, and we recently overheard twenty-somethings at Hart’s making plans to come here. These are all good signs that there’s something exciting about this place. And that’s confirmed the moment you step into the bathroom. It’s got a wall-to-wall mural, a motorized disco ball, and a big round mirror trimmed in gold finishes. If we ever made a guide to the best restaurant bathrooms in the city, Nat’s On Bank would top the list.
Then, there’s the food. Saying no to any seafood tower opportunity is bold, but the aforementioned tiers of sea life at Nat’s are especially important to order because you’ll be able to try every luxurious raw seafood option all at once. Whether you go for the small or the large, you’ll get oysters, tangy shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, snow crab claws, and scallop aguachile. And if you’re here for a special occasion, you can add caviar for $85.
For your main, prioritize the fried red snapper with horseradish creme fraiche when you’re in the mood to tag-team with a date. The forearm-sized entree comes out whole, but the middle has already been cut and fried into perfect chunks. The result is a plate of crispy cubes covered in basil and ready to be dipped in a side of horseradish crème fraîche. For an extra briny evening, go for the uni bucatini. The crunchy, creamy pasta is full of bread crumbs and pickled chilis that balance out nicely with a dollop of slightly sweet sea urchin on top.
The wine at Nat’s On Bank is also excellent. The list includes helpful headers that tip you off to flavor notes to expect. From a section of full-bodied bottles ‘Serving Opulence & Realness’ to skin contact picks labeled ‘The Diamond Dogs of Funk,’ this is one place where anyone will feel comfortable chatting with the sommelier.
Even if you’re introverted and/or bald, dining at Nat’s On Bank will make you want to let your hair down and shout profanities. In other words, it’s one of the most fun seafood spots in the city right now.
This is an assortment of fresh seafood you won’t want to miss. We’re talking two tiers of oysters that smell like the ocean breeze, vinegary shrimp cocktail, briny-sweet snow crab claws, tender tuna tartare, and refreshing scallop aquachile. A small order will cost you $65 and the large is $110. You can also add a tin of caviar for $85 if that’s your kind of thing.
If you want to eat a whole fried fish without feeling like a paleontologist at dinner, you’ll love this dish. A forearm-sized snapper comes with the middle pre-cut and fried into hunks and tangled up with fresh herbs. On the side, you’ll get tangy hot sauce and plenty of horseradish crème fraîche for dipping. This dish is crunchy and herbaceous, and it’s basically an adult version of fish nuggets. We absolutely love it.
The excellent sea urchin-topped pasta comes al dente, covered in breadcrumbs, and sprinkled with pickled chilis. It’s a creamy combination that gives the simple dish a satisfying crunch and a kick of spice. We would return alone just to eat this pasta in a corner.
This frozen dessert is set aflame tableside, so the whipped and creamy meringue exterior browns before your eyes. When you open it up, you’ll find three layers of pistachio gelato, raspberry sorbet, and almond meringue waiting patiently to be consumed. It tastes like a giant toasted marshmallow filled with a tangy combination of ice-cold fruity flavor, and you should absolutely end your meal with this.