One of my favorite things about Wolfert’s Roost in Irvington isn’t a menu item (more on those later), but a decorative touch: a row of well-thumbed, flagged cookbooks. From The Joy of Cooking protrudes a crumpled note: “leeks.” A book about Irvington opens to a page about the original Wolfert’s Roost, which Washington Irving named his estate (as well as a short story collection), after the previous owner, before changing it to Sunnyside. With little touches like these and modest renovations, Chef and Owner Eric Korn turned the old Cupcake Café—where he occasionally held cram-jammed pop-up dinners—into one of the most talked-about restaurants of the past year. Yet, with its folding chairs and open kitchen, it’s as laid-back and unassuming as Korn himself, who still runs Best-of-Westchester-winning catering business Good-Life Gourmet a few doors down.
Photo by Leslie-Anne Brill
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At one of those pop-ups, everyone fell in love with Korn’s fish tacos. Now we long to work our way through the menu, just as someone worked their way through those cookbooks. Stops might include sweet-tea-brined fried chicken with preserved lemon, basil, and raw honey; short rib pho; and bloomin’ broccoli with apricot jam and Humboldt Fog cheese. Or go directly to what stands out on the small, reasonably priced menu like Ayers Rock: The $129 Dope Effin Steak, a 38-ounce, 28-day dry-aged Pat LaFrieda tomahawk with roasted garlic, herbs, and olive oil, which you are forbidden to request cooked more than medium. Omakase (chef’s tasting, $65) is also available, and when is that ever not a good idea?
General Jennie’s Admiral’s Feast puts a seafood spin on “traditional” General Tso’s Chicken (quotes because General Tso’s is about as traditionally Chinese as are fortune cookies).
Korn and Co-Chef Jennie Werts have just added several new dishes that play to their strengths with seafood, ribs, and Asian flavors. General Jennie’s Admiral’s Feast—fried bay scallops, shrimp, clam strips, and white fish with broccoli in General Tso’s sauce; New England clam chowder with black pepper oyster cracker; and, in the Big Bowls menu category of shareable items, Korean-ish Baby Back Ribs with tamarind, gochujang barbecue sauce, and house kimchi (half-order available).
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Wolfert’s take on New England clam chowder is pepped up with a black pepper oyster cracker.
The 34-seat restaurant takes reservations for 6-6:30 or 8-8:30 pm. When they’re open for lunch, it’s a safer bet but a smaller menu, and the sun streaming in makes it an almost entirely different place. A blackboard tells you to “shout out your order” (one might be the warm bacon salad with winter greens, apples, spiced pecans, and maple bacon vinaigrette, with coffee served in a French press). They plan to continue the pop-up tradition with occasional themed nights.
100 Main St
(914) 231-7576; wolfertsroostirv.com