There is a lot to be said for restaurants that support shops in their neighborhood. Buttermilk Channel’s owner and Fort Greene dweller Doug Crowell, who most recently managed Blue Fin and Blue Water Grill in Manhattan, is putting a locally-produced stamp on everything from the food to the drinks to the furniture.
“We are fortunate to be located in Carroll Gardens where we have some great artisans producing traditional Italian foods,” says Crowell. “Caputos, just up Court Street, makes our mozzarella for us fresh every day, right before we come by to pick it up. Esposito’s pork store makes our sausages.” At a time of economic unrest, introducing a moderately priced restaurant might seem like a risky plan, yet on a Thursday night around 10pm, empty seats are scarce.
Honeyed slabs of wood are topped with buttermilk fried chicken and waffles—the signature dish—while others carry duck meatloaf and herb crusted hake with cranberry bean stew. Forks travel back and forth between plates as guests sample each other’s food. The lights are dim, but not so dim that you’d need to squint or pull out your reading glasses.
Four seasonal menus, one with meat, one straight vegetarian, one for kids, and one for dessert, use ingredients from nearby greenmarkets and local purveyors. The lamb hails from Jamison Farm in Pennsylvania, and the fish is caught mostly off the coast of New England and Long Island. The tots favor the fried chicken and organic all beef hot dogs (and parents note that broccoli and carrots are also offered on the side) and for the sweet course, Crowell recommends his own pecan pie sundae with Blue Marble butter pecan ice cream.
“We love the Otis Stout from Six Point Brewery in Red Hook,” says Crowell, leaning an elbow on a fully occupied bar. “It’s a great, rich winter beer with amazing chocolate and coffee flavors.” The Riesling from Hermann Wiemer in the Finger Lakes is also a popular libation.
While certain things should be saved for self-discovery (like the list of daily specials and snack items—you must try the house-made pickles), the back story breathes life into the Buttermilk Channel. You should know, for instance, that Crowell and his wife Laura helped build the restaurant, in addition to handling the design, which they envisioned would be simple and welcoming to after-work crowds, couples, and families alike. They enlisted Ralph Gorham of the Brooklyn Farm Table in Red Hook to furnish the communal table, the 12-seat butcher-block bar, and the beams, which were salvaged from a demolished warehouse in Red Hook. Should you recognize them for what they were originally, the pews on the back two walls are from Christ church on Clinton and Kane Street in Cobble Hill.
Come springtime, when brunch will have been added as a fifth menu, 16 seats will be available outside in front of the restaurant. But better not wait until then to get your Buttermilk fix.
How to get there: Take the F train heading to Downtown/Coney Island and get off at Smith – 9th St. Head West on 9th St. towards Court St, and turn right down Court until you see the warm lights on the corner of Court St and Huntington St. (Buttermilk Channel, 524 Court Street, 718.852.8490, buttermilkchannelnyc.com)
Photos: Courtesy of Phil Shipman