Eat and Drink Sardines: the cool new fish swimming onto NYC menus By DEVORAH KLEIN LEV-TOV/Special to amNewYork May 6, 2014 2:38 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email Diners are used to seeing salmon and tuna on menus, but there's a new popular fish in town: sardines. Though the word usually conjures images of oily little fellas in retro tins, several restaurants are sourcing fresh sardines and complementing their naturally mild but bright taste with equally fresh ingredients like herbs and vegetables, rustic bread and creamy butter. "People like sardines a lot more than I thought they did," said French Louie co-owner Doug Crowell, who has a smoked sardines dish on the menu. "Growing up, one of my favorite snack was always canned sardines on Triscuits. It turns out I'm not the only sardine lover out there." Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can eat too, thanks to all those omega-3 fatty acids, which are "known to promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk for heart attack or stroke," said Daniela Neman, a senior dietitian at Mount Sinai Hospital. "They also promote healthy brain function." And while omega-3s are found in all fish, fatty fish like sardines are an especially good source of the nutrient, said Neman. "Because sardines are a smaller fish, they carry less contaminants like mercury, making them safe to eat more often -- even up to two to three times per week," said Neman. With that incentive in mind, dig in to these five sardine dishes from around the city: 100 Sardines Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle Aldea chef George Mendes has always been a fan of sardines, which are hugely popular in his family's native Portugal. And at his Mad Sq. Eats pop-up, he even imports them from the homeland. The sardine toast features a mixture of fresh and tinned sardines with garlic mayo and yogurt, diced cucumbers, parsley, cilantro and lemon atop broa, a rye cornbread made at Aldea. It's Portuguese perfection. $8; Mad Sq. Eats, running now through May 30 at Worth Square, W. 25th Street and Broadway, Urbanspacenyc.com/mad-sq-eats French Louie Photo Credit: David Brinn Williams Crowell may be pleasantly surprised at the popularity of the dinner dish at his newish Brooklyn restaurant, but it's easy to see why it's become a hit. The lightly smoked Rhode Island sardines are served with a seaweed-flecked dulse butter and slices of rye ficelle from Bien Cuit for a combination that is deliciously comforting. $10; 320 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill, 718-935-1200, frenchlouienyc.com All'Onda Photo Credit: Nathan Rawlinson At All'Onda, sardines are transformed into a work of art at this modern Italian restaurant. Cut into diagonal chunks and served as a raw crudo, they are accompanied by pickled pearl onion, pine nuts and fennel puree. And yes, the dish tastes as good as it looks. $16; 22 E. 13th St., 212-231-2236, Allondanyc.com The Shakespeare Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales This is British comfort food at its best. Fresh sardines are grilled and served on toasted sourdough and buttered baby-leaf spinach, and the whole thing is topped with a perfectly runny soft-boiled egg. Did we mention it's dripping with a warm bacon vinaigrette? $17 (dinner special this week only); 24 E. 39th St., 646-837-6779, Theshakespearenyc.com Achilles Heel Photo Credit: Bryan Smith / Bryan Smith Fresh sardines are healthier since they're not packed in oil, but we couldn't resist including this sandwich, which uses the tinned variety. The sardines, a saffron-packed rouille sauce and peppery arugula are layered between two thick pieces of She Wolf Bakery sourdough. Don't forget the pickle! $12; 180 West St. in Greenpoint, 347-987-3666. By DEVORAH KLEIN LEV-TOV/Special to amNewYork Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.