The narrow space at 147 Front Street in Dumbo is easy to miss, especially if you’re distracted by the high-rise condos that have sprung up in the area in the past decade. But next week, it will debut as Pearl Street Supper Club — a ten-seat tasting counter that will specialize in “modern New England cuisine,” a description that, we should clarify, does not mean high-end chowder.
Instead, chef de cuisine Chris Cote — who grew up in Connecticut — says his menu will pull inspiration from the region’s beaches and forests, employing techniques he honed while working as chef de cuisine at Aska in Williamsburg for the past five years. “I’m trying to bring forth this cooking style that’s very light and fresh,” says Cote.
When the restaurant opens on August 31, the ten-course menu will focus on vegetables and seafood. “We start with a little snack parade,” Cote says. “Live surf clams, live scallops. Lots of crunchy, juicy elements.” There will be, as well, a chilled-oyster course served with tomatoes, basically a must-have given the restaurant’s name, logo, and theme.
One course that has Cote particularly excited is bluefish that’s quickly cured and seared with a blowtorch. It’s served with a salad of fruit and opal basil, a purée of cauliflower, and a sauce of buttermilk whey and asparagus. “That’s the first dish we developed where we felt like we really cracked the code,” the chef says. “There’s so much fat on bluefish – they’re like big anchovies. When it’s handled properly, it’s this incredibly umami experience.”
The kitchen team has also developed a dish of monkfish tails that are roasted on the bone and served with a sauce they make with otherwise-discarded lobster shells. “A lot of purveyors have extra heads and stuff,” Cote mentions. “So,” he says, “we have a dish of so-called poor man’s lobster” — that’s the monkfish — “in a sauce of cheap man’s lobster.”
Grub Street has recently questioned the utility of luxury cooking at a time when the economy has gone more or less bonkers, but within the rarefied world of New York tasting menus, dinner at Pearl Street Supper Club is a relative bargain: $125, which is hardly cheap but is also less than the $295 charged at Aska or the $280 starting price at Momofuku Ko. One reason for this is that the restaurant is new, of course (it also plan to waive its corkage fee while it awaits its liquor license) and has yet to acquire any kind of reputation. There is also the location. For all the obvious development and wealth on display in Dumbo, the neighborhood has until now lacked a fine-dining destination, which is what inspired Pearl Street owner John Coppola — a chef and Dumbo resident and the owner of the sandwich shop Bread and Spread next door — to build one in the first place.
The open kitchen will be a showcase for Cote’s cooking, which features some ingredients that were prepped months ago, like linden flowers, which went out of season earlier this summer. Cote turns them into a tea, which is then frozen into sorbet and served with melon. Where did he work while waiting for the new space to be ready? “My apartment until recently,” he says, “was very much a potions laboratory.”
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