Very Pithy

May 25, 2018

“I’m a curator not a chef,” says Jonah Reider of his supper club, Pith.  “All the plates – even the music – were done by friends of mine.” 

You may remember Jonah as the Columbia student who captured the imagination of the entire city by running a restaurant out of his Columbia dorm room.  At one point he had a waiting list of thousands. 

Jonah’s a few years out of school now, and running his supper club out of a very ritzy Brooklyn home. (The owners, he says, “are like the rich parents I never had.”)  It’s an ideal set up – beautiful dining room, great kitchen, really lovely back yard near the Brooklyn Naval Yard. What he’s offering is more than dinner: it’s a great party (that you happen to pay for). In a lonely city, it’s also a perfect evening out.

There are seats for just ten people at the table. But first you gather in the garden to get to know each other over simple hors d’oeuvres.  A couple of nights ago there was grilled lamb, sardines, pickled fiddleheads and ramps, an airy foie gras mousse with a hint of maple syrup, steak tartare…. And these beautiful radishes topped with shredded dried scallop.

The group was one you’re happy to sit down with.  Here was the former Executive Chef of Nomad (he’s about to open his own restaurant), and his wife. Like Jonah, James Kent started early; he says he was working at Bouley at fifteen. A former Twitter executive. A woman working at a tech start-up.  A couple of on-line editors. A writer…. Every one of them was someone I wanted to know better.  The conversation, as at any lively party, roamed widely as each guest picked up a thread and embroidered the evening.

Jonah’s food tends to be light, very seasonal, relying more on the combination of interesting flavors than on tortured technique.  This starter – lovely young peas in a puddles of tangy sheep’s yogurt, trout roe, crisp pistachios and a little curl of rhubarb – is a perfect example.  The textures sizzle, the flavors are gentle.

Wahoo with a burnt-onion miso sauce. Sturdy fish, righteously powerful sauce.

Halibut with asparagus and almond milk. A few fennel fronds, a few blossoms. The essence of delicate.

Duck with dandelion and black currant. A little sweet, a bit bitter.

Maybe my favorite course of the evening – rhubarb, figs, and meringue dusted with fennel pollen. Such an unexpected and joyful mix of flavors.

A bit of chocolate with frozen milk.  Ice and fire.

There’s an optional wine pairing.  The wines were all new to me, but the evening was extremely well-lubricated, making all that wine a $45 bargain.

 

You have to admire Jonah.  He’s certainly press savvy – you can read about him here,  and here – and that’s just for starters. But he knows what he wants, and he’s figured out exactly how to do it. Good for him. As for the rest of us, it’s nice to be along for the ride.

 

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1 Comment

  • norma willis says:

    just got your book MY KITCHEN YEAR . i grew up on ranches in montana, am almost 80 and still{just for fun} make my own butter, just so i can have REAL buttermilk. which is NOT thick and has a bite. it is thin and sweet. that’s why i do it . i love to drink it . I always wondered who the moron was that decided that it should be thick
    . i know you didn’t , it seemed to happen a long time ago.

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