June 6, 2005 | Ask Gael

Where are all the pretty people?

        The Stanton Social is a clever scheme to net nighttime hotties. Chic and whimsy by AvroKO’s design team, cocktails front and center, prices that don’t wobble a thirtysomething’s budget. But once word gets out how good chef Chris Santos’ small sharing plates can be, the darling brats may be shouldered aside by determined foodies. We go overboard ordering. Soupy dumplings? Yes, Shanghai, only it’s French onion soup and they are luscious, as are four good-sized dry-rubbed chipotle shrimp on corn-tomato-feta salad. It’s easy to wile away a while, rolling squid in lettuce wraps with assorted adornments - 'til two savory barbecued pulled-pork sliders arrive. After zucchini chips to dip in tomato jam, the Peking-duck quesadilla that could have been cheesier and duckier, soft tacos to fill with lamb shank and refried white beans, and luscious pea-crusted salmon, sanity intrudes. We try to cancel a dish or two, but happily, it’s too late. We’d have missed the evening’s triumph: pink and tender ancho-caramel-glazed pork tenderloin. “Just one dessert,” we agree, then go for two - refreshing lime semifreddo with lime granita and lime au naturel and Jaime’s cookies. That would be dessert cook Jaime Sudberg, whose irresistible goodies come warm from the oven. I’d scoop up the leavings for breakfast, but alas, only crumbs remain.

99 Stanton St. nr. Ludlow St. 212 995 0099

Providing a continuous lifeline to homebound elderly New Yorkers