The Beagle is a rare bird in the East Village. A jewel box of deep blues and creamy white set into a grubby stretch of Avenue A, this sophisticated, cocktail-centric restaurant contrasts with the neighborhood's abundance of twee take-out shops and casual cafes. Named for the sloop Charles Darwin embarked upon, The Beagle is not specifically nautical yet is armed with a few oceanic details: an industrial water spigot for filling pitchers and subterranean loo portals labeled "Charles" and "Emma" in tribute to the naturalist and his wife. One evening beneath soft yellow lighting (whose fixtures, had they swayed, could have evoked an airy ship berth), an olive oil poached halibut ($25) arrived in flaky form atop well-salted fingerling potatoes and a fish-infused aioli. A tart and sprightly Airmail cocktail ($12; light rum, lime juice, honey and Champagne) was a good match for it. Sitting against a bunny-dappled landscape of William Morris wallpaper, we also enjoyed plates of plump grilled quail framed by bits of endive and scallop ($12) and a salad of crisp radicchio with farro, chunks of bacon and blue cheese ($13). Skewered baby grilled corn dressed in mayonnaise, lime, and cilantro ($6) and bags of salty boiled peanuts ($4) spoke of summer as did cocktails like the gin and ginger-based London Buck ($12) and sherry  cobbler with fresh berries ($12). The spare and sensible wine list includes pairing suggestions, such as a caramel-like Pineau des Charentes ($17) with foie gras, olive shortbread and sweet, browned shallots. In a survival of the fittest restaurant world, The Beagle's convivial service, stellar cocktails, and thoughtful food leaves the impression it will be docked in the East Village for some time.
 
The Beagle
162 Avenue A
(212) 228-6900