My grandmother is an amazing cook, and her food veers towards southern comfort without going hog wild. Peels, on the border of New York’s East Village, delivers a similarly comforting dining experience, but with a city twist.

There are two main spaces here to explore — the bar upstairs, and the dining room downstairs. I came here for dinner for a friend’s birthday, and we waited upstairs at the bar while our table was readied downstairs. There’s no “see and be seen” vibe here, though there were handsome hipsters and pretty street style starlets aplenty. While there are tables upstairs as well, I thought the dining room downstairs was a bit more intimate and laid back.

The style is industrial and natural, with wood being the dominant theme. There’s a bit of patina to the edges of things that makes it comfortable, but the atmosphere is likewise effortlessly chic. Perfect for a celebratory dinner, or even a date or two.

Now let’s talk about the food, because really, that’s why you’re here.

The fried chicken was deliciously moist, with a crispy crunchy outside. Served with buttermilk biscuit and honey, this was an experience unlike any other I’ve had in the city. (Be sure to drizzle everything with honey. And then do it again.) The serving size was ample without being too much, although I was rather full upon our exit. But that could also be due to the fact we started with the Parker House rolls, which tasted like homemade Amish bread, aka old school out of this world delicious. Light and fluffy with a bit of texture to the top, this is how dinner rolls should be made, served, and enjoyed. Well, that and with butter. The presentation was elegant, and the service was friendly and attentive.

As for drinks, I’d have to go with the Watermelon Gimlet. Tequila, watermelon, basil, and a bit of lime juice — this has my name all over it. Refreshing in the summer, and a great start to your night.

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