FEATURES : FOOD / DRINK

Battersby Brooklyn

By Sarah Williams

Published December 13, 2011

Left: Chef Walker Stern Right: Chef Joseph Ogrodnek

Photo: Tuukka Koski

Left: Chef Walker Stern Right: Chef Joseph Ogrodnek

Left: Striped bass with braised fennel, tomato confit, and olives Right: Crystal Valley Chicken with autumn vegetables and foie gras sauce

Photo: Tuukka Koski

Left: Striped bass with braised fennel, tomato confit, and olives Right: Crystal Valley Chicken with autumn vegetables and foie gras sauce

Preparation before the opening

Photo: Tuukka Koski

Preparation before the opening

Joseph and Walker at work in the open kitchen

Photo: Tuukka Koski

Joseph and Walker at work in the open kitchen

Battersby on Smith Street

Photo: Tuukka Koski

Battersby on Smith Street

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At Battersby, it’s all personal. Chef-owners Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek have a long-standing friendship that’s taken them through culinary school to stints at some of the city’s best restaurants. Their résumés read with names like Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Jean-Georges’ The Mark, The Vanderbilt, and Anella—but they were keen to break away and do it on their own. Their refined creativity and flinty discipline have brought them to the ultimate hands on collaboration—Battersby is completely their vision from floor to ceiling.
 
Stern and Ogrodnek literally built out the space themselves with the guidance of family friend and carpenter, Steve Perillo. From their open kitchen, the two chefs have a nightly, eye-to-eye view with their guests. With a diversity of influences and constantly changing menu, even dedicated regulars can expect new discoveries each time. “What we do here is really personal and I don’t think there’s any way to label it. We just come in and do what we do, and try to have the best experience for everyone that we can” says Stern. This drive and focus has allowed them to nimbly avoid clichés of local-seasonal Brooklyn restaurants.
 
The most personal way for guests to experience Battersby is the chef’s spontaneous tasting menu. Stern grinned as he spoke about upcoming plans. “We’re getting a whole lamb on Thursday—there’s one animal and two racks—little things that we’ll set aside for the tasting menu. It’s exciting for the guest because they get to have something new, and it’s fun for us because we get to utilize stuff that we wouldn’t normally on the à la carte menu.”
 
While change will be a constant for the menu, some dishes have quickly become regular favorites. The crisp kale salad with kohlrabi, Thai basil, and chili is addictive—guests have been rumored to order it for a first and second course in one sitting. The Crystal Valley Chicken with foie gras sauce and autumn vegetables is succulent and delicate. The bar features classic cocktails, but there will always be a unique stamp—they are currently experimenting with a quince-infused rye and rare herbs like Virginia Mountain Mint. Uncommon, fresh ingredients are sourced from Lone Acre farm in Southold, Long Island.
 
There is a sense that Stern and Ogrodnek have been honing this vision for many years, knowingly or unknowingly, and the desire to make their own rules won out in the end. On any given night, you can find them meticulously at work in kitchen—their hands have labored over every last detail until the dish has been perfected.

Visit Battersby at 255 Smith St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

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