Buttermilk Channel is the mile-long tidal strait between Brooklyn and Governors Island. When the area was farmland, dairy farmers would cross by boat to sell their milk in Manhattan markets. Tidal currents in the channel were notoriously strong – strong enough, some said, to churn the milk into butter.
In another popular legend, mentioned by Walt Whitman in his writing for The Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn farmers walked their cows across the channel at low tide to graze on Governor’s island’s abundant grass.
Buttermilk Channel is also a restaurant in my neighborhood that Sula and I stroll by every day. Chef Ryan Angulo, last of “The Stanton Social” in the LES, is bringing home some serious comfort food in a sophisticated atmosphere that keeps just this side of pretentious. I ate there last Friday with a friend in town and apart from the “bar stool war” I give it a fair review. The food was good which gives it extra points but the atmosphere left me a little disappointed. I found it a bit lackluster design wise. They had such a chance to really relate the name and the story with the decor. Nope. The logo, the menu and other marketing hits it – just not the decor. My two cents.
Barstool War – we walk in. There is a bar stool open at a very crowded bar area. I sit down. Hostess comes over and says I can’t sit there. Really? Why? It’s the bar. “There is a sign up sheet for bar stools”. REALLY? Well why was no one sitting here? “Not sure but the bar stools are by reservation as well”. OK. I move to get off and she says “Well I guess you can sit there but I will have to ask you to move if someone from the barstool sign in sheet comes in”. OMG. OK.
Yeah, no one ever came for my bar stool. Paleez!! Get over yourselves.
We started with the arugula salad with roasted squash, pomegranate, walnuts and grain mustard vinaigrette. Yum. We also had the Delicata Squash Tart with house made buttermilk ricotta and brown butter. Also yum, but rich.
My entrée was the Rhode Island Day Boat Scallops with roasted cauliflower, apples and brown butter with apple cider vinaigrette. It basically tasted like dessert. It was super super sweet. Like candy. Flavors were good just too sweet. Ya know, I am already sweet enough 🙂
My friend had the special that night which was a lobster pot pie with potatoes, carrots, onions in a sherry cream. That pretty much rocked. Flaky crust so melted in the mouth.
So dinner was good but I am mostly caught up on the history of the name. I can’t get the image out of my head of old Brooklyn
a) having herds of cows and b) walking across this narrow bit of the East River.
Now this is a massive shipping lane as the container ships come into the Red Hook docklands. No cow is cruising across that. I think its pretty cool to think about this part of NY. The open channel lanes that welcomed all to the New World. Shanghai has a great channel like this as well and I daydream about what it would have been like to see the city approaching after weeks on a boat and knowing this was “home”. So cool. New frontiers like this don’t exist anymore. Yeah sure its great to visit a new place for the first time..but these were amazing times. I would so have been on that boat 🙂