There is a New York City circle that begins and ends with Brooklyn brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave (of “hOmE” design firm fame) No one is exactly sure how they met the brothers, but the circle of their influence is ever-widening:
Annie Novak, farming savant who maintains Greenpoint’s Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, thinks she met them through Van Leeuwen ice cream proprietors.
Nick Morgenstern, owner of the East Village restaurant Goat Town, thinks he heard of them through a “friend who owns a swimming school.”
Paul Giannone of Paulie Gee’s restaurant, also in Greenpoint, met the brothers when they offered to turn his pizzeria dream into an impeccably-designed reality.
No matter how people meet the Haslegraves or how they are affiliated with hOmE (an acronym of the brothers’ names along with sisters Hadley and Morgan), these associations have, in more than a few instances, served to connect multiple businesses and individuals around the city.
The brothers hOmE designed the interior of Goat Town, which opened last year on East 5th and Avenue A. Brilliantly realized, the restaurant is stunning, with subway-tiled booths, sturdy wooden fixtures, and a giant industrial bar — all designed and installed by the brothers. Along with creating an urban barn environment in Paulie Gee’s restaurant, full of contrasting re-salvaged wood and antique fixtures, they also designed the interior of the innovative Alphabet City speakeasy Elsa and constructed a practical chicken run for Eagle Street Rooftop Farm.
Eagle Street, the 6000-square-foot farm, educational center, and pop-up farmer’s market, sells a portion of its weekly bounty to area restaurants, including Paulie Gee’s. Novak also helped install and continues to maintain a backyard garden in Goat Town, from which the restaurant sources many of its dishes.
Last Monday night, each party joined forces in a hOmE-organized dinner benefit for Eagle Street. The evening, hosted by Paulie Gee’s, featured a produce-centric meal with vegetables straight from the gardens of Eagle Street, Goat Town, and a couple other farm affiliates.
The meal was another exercise in (delicious) collaboration: Paulie Gee’s wood-fired pizzas were topped with garden kale and herbs. Small plates were prepared by Goat Town chef Jessica Wilson: crostini topped with fresh pesto, roasted fennel, arugula, and slivered almonds; skewered eggplant and pickled tomatoes; grilled summer squash topped with lemon jam; and a tomato-watermelon salad made with some of the freshest, most flavorful heirloom tomatoes found in King’s County. Goat Town also supplied homemade ice cream from one of their roving ice cream carts.
Elsa served delicious sangria and lemony cocktails; other friends of the Haslegraves – Pete Lengyel, Lorcan Precious, and Oliver Burkat – provided the beer.
The event – not only the food, which was just perfect – but the entire evening’s execution, only furthered the notion of wanting a place like Eagle Street Farm to succeed. It’s not about “urban farming” being trendy. It’s about “urban farming” actually working, and succeeding in an incredibly collaborative and unique manner.
While plucking basil the day before the event, Novak made the comment: “When people buy food for reasons other than taste is when things get interesting.” From the looks of Monday’s sold-out benefit, neither has to be sacrificed.