‘Asian Gastropub’ Replaces Mara’s, and These Owners Are O.K. With Bike Lanes

In one of The Local’s most commented stories of 2011, the owner of Mara’s Homemade blamed bike lanes for the closing of her restaurant. The owners of The Toucan and The Lion, which quietly opened in the former Mara’s space on East Sixth Street last month, say they’re just fine with them.

“Having a bike lane on First Avenue creates a lot of order,” said Craig Dagata, 33. “It makes the neighborhood so much more convenient for everybody traveling.”

Mr. Dagata – who has worked in the restaurant industry as a manager, bartender, and events planner – and his partner, Tabitha Tan, 29 – a freelance food-and-lifestyle writer turned events organizer – gutted the old Mara’s space and built a marble 6-stool bar and communal table on one side of the room. On the other side, a small dining room holds 30 seats.

Mr. Dagata, who lives in Brooklyn, said he aimed to “bring a Brooklyn vibe to the East Village,” as well as an outer-borough price point. The bar is decorated with a terrarium and birch logs; the tables are dotted by “growlights” by Carmen Salazar, a glassblower.

Justin Fertitta, formerly a chef de cuisine at Jane in Greenwich Village, created a menu of shareable comfort food incorporating techniques from Malaysian, Indonesian, and other Southeast Asian cuisines. Ms. Tan, who was born in Singapore, said the name and logo of her “Asian gastropub” was in part a reflection of the menu: “The toucan is exotic flavors, taste profiles, and colorful spices, and the lion represents the robustness of our food.”

To insure the cocktails also had exotic touches, the owners hired Michael Cecconi, the mixologist behind the drinks list at Back Forty on Avenue B, to create drinks inspired by the colonial era and the spice trade.

The Toucan and The Lion is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Saturday. It is closed on Tuesdays. Brunch is coming soon.

In the meantime, the dinner menu is below.

Sticky pear and arugula salad – $10
Spiced pecans, pork crackling, sake vin

Scotch eggs – $12
Soft boiled with five-spice duck sausage, kaffir lime aioli

Fig and green mango salad – $12
Radish, baby carrots, chili, Thai basil, kumquat vin

Meatballs – $9
Curry dijon, cilantro

Beef short-rib tacos – $14
Aromatic dried curry, queso fresco, pickled shallot

Duck confit mofongo – $14
Crispy taro root, Chinese sausage, salsa verde, fried egg

Pork ribs – $12
Espresso glazed, pumpkin seed brittle

Drunken Manila Clams – $16
Lime leaf, Thai chili, lemongrass, young ginger, toasted Bao buns

Chili tamarind king prawns – $21
Feta vinaigrette, thyme

Roasted chicken breast – $20
Choy sum, cashews, citrus, chili sauce

Goat pot pie – $22
Massaman curry, seasonal vegetables, roti

Farro risotto – $16
Squash, goat cheese, yuzu, pumpkin seeds

Burger – $17
Applewood smoked bacon, cashew nut butter, fried pickles

Roasted Brussels – $6
Chinese bacon, lemongrass

Whiskey sour pickles – $6
Fried Brooklyn Brine Co., kaffir lime aioli

Patatas bravas – $6
Smoked chili aioli, purple sweet potatoes

Toasted bao buns – $3
Garlic lime butter

Araka waka – $6
Curry pickled vegetables, toasted peanuts

The Toucan – $10
Yamazaki whisky, house rendered vermouth, Angostura bitters

The Lion – $10
Kaffir ginger infused rum, lime, simple syrup, Sriracha

Shiso Julep – $12
Rittenhouse Rye, simple syrup, fresh shiso leaves

The Thai Fighter – $11
Ezra Brooke bourbon, Thai basil leaves, lime, yuzu, simple syrup

Eastern Hospitality – $12
Gordon gin, lemon, house made pineapple shrub, vanilla essence

La Isla – $12
Genmaicha infused rum, Velvet Falernum, fresh coconut water

Crimson & Clover – $12
Tequila, lime, fresh muddled raspberries, green peppercorn, simple syrup

The Toucan and the Lion, 342 East Sixth Street (near Second Avenue); (212) 375-8989