Last night the ever elusive Peter Serpico turned tables at Southwark for a one-off guest chef dinner. With the dining room booked with mostly food media folks and industry insiders, and bar seats held for walk-ins, the onetime right hand to Momofuku master of ceremonies, David Chang, presented a menu of five small plates and three large ones. Among them, the smoked eel croquets with grated apple, lime, and eel broth, and the shaved Brussels sprouts, and anduja served on grilled bread with fresh water chestnut proved the most popular, according to our informal polling. “It will be similar in style,” Serpico told Grub Street when asked if this was a preview of what we can expect at his forthcoming South Street restaurant. “This was a little more rustic than what we’ll be doing there. We’re working a little more free form tonight.”
He added the evening served two purposes: While guests got a taste of some things similar to what he may be serving this spring around the corner from Southwark, he and a skeleton crew labored through a full shift of working service to get their kitchen mojo all together ahead of fast-approaching staff training.
“When we open, we’re going to have a lot of people who’ve never worked together before,” he explained. “So as a team, tonight was very important.”
Other dishes served included steamed egg custard, herbs, and brown butter; clams, fennel, chive, basil, and lemon; chicken, braised snail, garlic, parsley, and parsnip puree; and slow roasted pork shoulder, shaved radishes, jalapeño, and cilantro. A salty pretzel panna cotta that capped the meal served as both a salute to his new hometown and future restaurant, and a tribute to his storied past.
“We did it a little bit differently tonight, but I kind of stole it from (Momofuku pastry chef extraordinaire) Christina Tosi,” Serpico explained. “She used to do it at Ko when I was chef there.”
As far as when his Starr-backed eponymous restaurant will debut, he was vague.
“Maybe another month or so,” was all he said.