Not long ago, the image of a chef wasn’t complete unless he or she could be seen presiding over a large kitchen covered in gleaming stainless steel, stacks of copper pots and a hulking French top range somewhere nearby.
Those days are long gone. In New York, a new class of restaurants have taken tried and true watering hole blueprint—great soundtrack, long wooden bar, and a casual vibe—and added staggeringly good food with no traditional kitchen in sight.
Nowhere is this brave new world of the bar-cum-restaurant on better display than at Brooklyn’s Achilles Heel. Opened as a bar in 2013, owner Andrew Tarlow has slowly transformed the space into one of the borough’s more ambitious restaurants. That’s mostly due to the work of chef Lee Desrosiers, who whips up sophisticated dishes working elbow-to-elbow with the bartenders. Four to order:
Lee cuts fat slices of rustic sourdough bread (from Achilles owner Andrew Tarlow’s She Wolf Bakery, natch) toasts them in locally sourced sunflower oil, then tops each slice with a mix of crushed baby potatoes, freshly shucked clams, and garlic aioli.
Cabbage and Cheese
Lee’s version of a cheese course involves an entire head of cabbage, which is charred in the restaurant’s wood-burning stove. He then wraps the tender inner leaves around creamy Puits d’Astier cheese and finished the dish with a quick sear in a cast iron skillet.
Minced Pork Ribs
The minced rib meat is cooked until butter-tender with dried chilis, lime juice, and lime zest. Unexpected sides include lightly sautéed sushi rice balls with a puree of parsley and miner’s lettuce.
Smoked Ice Cream
Lee smokes cream in a pan directly above the fire, then churns it into a simple, subtly smoke-laced vanilla ice cream that’s paired with a rotating cast of sweets—say, grapefruit slivers or crumbles of parsnip cake.