We always like Jimmy’s — the Belgian beers, the sausage plates, the occasional bacon tasting. But nothing could have prepared us for our recent discovery of a living, breathing young chef working gastronomic magic in Jimmy’s ultraprimitive kitchen. Using only two hot plates and a toaster oven, Philip Kirschen-Clark, the former fish man at wd-50, is making surprising, inventive dishes every night at the East Village bar.
Kirschen-Clark, 26, claims he’s never made the same thing twice in his three months at Jimmy’s. Last night we had The Slab, a heavy piece of braised bacon served with a sherry vinaigrette; some seared Spanish mackerel plated with cured concord grapes and some kind of amazing Asian starch purée; and a five-cauliflower bucatini with crisped salumi that had us rethinking our attitude toward that unlovable vegetable.
Sunday night we bumped into Gilt’s Chris Lee there; if chefs are starting to show up late, that’s a good sign. Expect a regiment of toques to be walking the stairs down to Jimmy’s to check out the place’s real-world Top Chef challenge: Just how much serious food can a talented cook produce with no budget, no help, and no oven? As it turns out, the answer is “a lot.” And that’s also the answer to how much we plan on going to Jimmy’s. Something this good, this crude, and this heroic can’t last long.