While certainly not a new restaurant, as is the customary theme of this column, Restaurant North has nonetheless gone through an important transition. After all, it can be a heck of a challenge to follow up on a four-time James Beard Award–nominated chef like Eric Gabrynowicz (who departed in fall 2016). But owner Stephen Mancini, after interviewing maybe two-dozen candidates, believes he has the toque for the task.
As of last fall, the executive chef at (the all-things-local-and-sustainable) North is John Poiarkoff, previously of The Pines and Willow in Brooklyn and a former sous chef at Danny Meyer’s The Modern. He succeeds Matt Casino, the initial replacement for Gabrynowicz.
Close partnerships with area farms remain, but fresh is Poiarkoff’s thoughtful and innovative cooking style, evidence of which can be seen in the use of miso in the sweet-potato filling for the tender house-made agnolotti or cooking celery root in whey for a dip that’s used to complement a delicious bread-service boule.
The snacks menu has a number of memorable dishes, including fried hen-of-the-woods mushrooms with a grilled scallion ranch for dipping, and tempura shishito peppers standing in a mini-crock of delectable New York State cheddar sauce. On the regular menu, there are starters such as striped bass crudo and soul-warming cauliflower soup, plus mains of duck breast with braised beans and four pasta dishes (including the aforementioned sweet-potato agnolotti).
According to Poiarkoff the menu will change often, though he likes dishes to evolve with the seasons, as opposed to changing completely. “We’ll develop a focus or theme for a dish that could stay consistent for months, with the garnishes and presentation changing much more frequently.”
“I never want Restaurant North not to feel approachable or comfortable,” says Mancini. “I believe in the recent past we might have compromised that a little with some menu decisions.”
With the addition of Poiarkoff, signs point to a move back toward its original high form.
386 Main St