Here’s what people think of ‘Queer Eye’ Antoni Porowski’s new restaurant
Antoni Porowski, the 34-year-old food guy on Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” is a makeover pro. So it makes sense that he’s behind the reboot of Village Den, a health-conscious fast-casual eatery that replaced a 36-year-old diner of the same name that closed in March.
Along with his business partners, restaurateurs Lisle Richards and Eric Marx, Porowski reopened the space on Monday, with millennial-friendly interiors and a menu that focuses on healthy comfort food.
“I work out a lot [and] I like good food,” Porowski tells The Post. “I wanted to have a place where you can eat during the week that you can feel good about.” Many of his dishes are compatible with vegan, dairy-free and keto diets, and creatively swap out unhealthy ingredients.
His chicken-and-apple Scotch eggs ($6.50), for example, ditch the usual sausage for ground chicken, and replace a deep-fried crust with a shell made of almond flour. Meanwhile, virtuous riffs on junky TV dinners pair proteins, including turkey meatloaf ($15.50) and macadamia-crusted fish sticks ($18), with sides (price included) such as mashed peas with mint, lemongrass brown rice and sweet potato wedges.
The Monday-night dinner rush brought a variety of patrons, including locals in search of healthy to-go options and fans of “Queer Eye.” West Village resident Andy Cohen, whose Bravo network aired the original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” series, even popped in while walking his rescue beagle, Wacha.
“[This] place is going to be a huge hit,” Cohen tells The Post, noting the Equinox directly across the street. “It’s going to be a cafeteria for people coming out of that gym.”
The neighborhood certainly seems to be clamoring for lighter fare.
“We don’t have that many healthy options,” says 23-year-old media professional Catie Flatley, who ordered a $14 Vegan Crunchy and Creamy Bowl with baba ghanoush, sweet potato, lentils and kale. “I don’t eat gluten or a lot of red meat. It’s the perfect place for me.”
Another Village resident, 36-year-old physicist Miles Stoudenmire — who tried a $13.50 Thai chicken bowl to go — says the area needed a fast-casual option for healthy dining.
“A lot of [local eateries] are fancy sit-down places that are kind of expensive,” he says.
Some diners found out about Monday’s opening on Porowski’s Instagram account, which has 2.5 million followers.
“I think it’s smart from a marketing perspective,” says 25-year-old Bruno Solari, who works at a nearby public-relations firm. “He’s a household name now.”
According to Porowski, his menu items have gotten the “Queer Eye” seal of approval.
“I made the fish sticks for Tan and Jonathan,” he says of his castmates, Tan France and Jonathan Van Ness. “And they loved them. I made a version of the meatloaf for Tan recently — and he loved it. I cook for him more often than anyone else [on the show]. We’re the homebodies,” he says, adding that the pals enjoy bingeing “30 Rock” during their downtime.
Does that mean Porowski cooks Village Den-style TV dinners for Tan while they watch?
Says Porowski: “That would be a really adorable ‘yes’ answer if true.”
The Village Den, 225 W. 12th St.; 212-691-0303, TheVillageDen.com