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Clarkson: A Fresh Taste of Europe in NYC

by Matthew Wexler
Contributor
Tuesday Mar 26, 2013
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Clarkson, the latest venture from restaurateur George Forgeois, opens this month on the outskirts of New York City’s West Village.

"Having grown up in Africa and France, the concept of Clarkson is inspired by my travels around the world," says owner Georges Forgeois whose New York restaurant empire includes Café Noir, Bar Tabac, Le Singe Vert, Cercle Rouge and Jules Bistro. "I’ve always loved visiting exotic destinations such as the Mt. Kenya Safari Club and the ramshackle Hotel Cosmopolite in Zaire. Clarkson embodies that same sense of luxurious adventure and exploration."

No stranger to the New York restaurant scene, Forgeois continues to combine his passion for global influences with comfort cuisine that appeals to a wide range of diners. From Café Noir, which draws influence from his time in Algeria, to Cercle Rouge, which features antiques and furnishings gathered from Belgium and France, Forgeois once again hopes to capture a unique culinary perspective.

Clarkson is Forgeois’ sixth restaurant in the city and is a departure from the "traditional" French bistro, both in its menu and décor. The dining room evokes the notion of a deluxe train car from the golden age of railroads such as the Orient Express and the Mombasa-Nairobi line. Influenced by his global travels, the restaurant pays homage to old-world glamour, while presenting a modern experience. The menu features European-inspired seasonal dishes from Executive Chef Rebecca Weitzman, while the extensive bar program is led by Employee’s Only founder Dushan Zaric.

Zaric’s inaugural cocktail menu for Clarkson is as bold as the striking bar from which the beverages emerge. Standouts include the New York Sour (bourbon shaken with lemon juice and simple syrup, served on the rocks with a float of red wine) and Widow’s Kiss (Calvados stirred with yellow chartreuse and a biting splash of Benedictine, a French fortified spirit with heavy herbal notes). As spring emerges, Zaric’s menu will undoubtedly shift with the seasons to feature vodka and gin based cocktails.

Helming the kitchen is Executive Chef Rebecca Weitzman, who joined the Forgeois Group in 2012. With a passion for culinary arts, Weitzman dropped out of college with only a handful of remaining credits necessary to graduate in order to pursue her dreams, and eventually graduated from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in 2000. Her career has taken her across the country and into the kitchens of Bobby Flay and Frank Bonanno. Since returning to New York City, Weitzman has made a name for herself in a number of establishments including her own restaurant, Thistle Hill, where she still remains a silent partner.

Weitzman’s menu draws from her classic training and pops with contemporary flavors. Leaning heavily on cheese, charcuterie and small plates, guests are encouraged to share dishes to experience signature dishes that include Steak Tartare, Butter-Poached Half Lobster and Duck Leg Confit. Shared Plates range from $15 - $29 including Charred Octopus and Milk Braised Heritage Pork Belly. Bar & Sides offer options such as Braised Rabbit Sandwich and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower, ranging from $5 - $8. Starters include Shaved Raw Brussels Sprouts and Sweetbreads & Oysters Rockefeller Style from $13 - $19. Main entrées, featuring Grilled NY Strip and Seared Diver Scallops, range from $24 - $32.

While the large dishes and service may need some fine-tuning, the gorgeous bar and accessible menu should satisfy locals and tourists alike.

Clarkson
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 675-2474
www.ClarksonRestaurant.com

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at www.roodeloo.com. He is also a trained chef and currently writing a food memoir.

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