Right Up Your Alley

The elk club: Settle in for a drink.
photo: Carlo Van de Roer

You can imagine our founding fathers plotting the revolution over plates of fresh game and swigs of hearty country wine in a place like Freemans. The intimate 50-seat restaurant is decorated in a rustic American colonial style with black painted woodwork, unfinished plank floors, and taxidermy along the walls. An oil painting of what owners Tavvo Somer and William Tigertt like to think of as a young George Washington hangs next to the bar. Like all good settlers, Somer knew this uncharted location was the spot to lay his claim when he discovered it while looking for a party space a couple of years ago. The official address was 191 Chrystie Street, but after they knocked out the bricked-over entrance on Freeman Alley this former halfway house was transformed into a culinary hideout with a Masonic feel. Dishes are traditional American and hint at the old-world influences brought here by the Irish, English, and French who established this very neighborhood over 200 years ago.

photo: Brian Kennedy

We took a good look around Freemans and then did some hunting of our own to find a few items that will help give your place a little colonial kick in the knickers:


End of Freeman Alley, off Rivington Street between Bowery and Chrystie Street,

Reproduction Edison Lights [25 to 40 watts (equivalent to six to 10 watts), $20 to $23 each] At night the dining room is well lit while still maintaining remarkably flattering light for overhead bare bulbs. The key is using reproduction Edison lightbulbs with visible filaments that give off such a warm dim glow that a shade is unnecessary. Lighting and Beyond, 35 West 14th Street, 212-929-2738

Staghorn Fern [$40 each] Somer recently picked up a couple of staghorn ferns in the Chelsea flower district. Grown on a piece of bark and hung on the wall, these air plants have leaves that resemble, as the name suggests, deer antlers. Chelsea Garden Center, 499 Tenth Avenue, 212-727-7100

photo: courtesy Moss
Porcelain Skull

[$330] The restaurant's somber vibe is achieved with taxidermy and old oil paintings as well as a few human skulls (our favorite is above the bar), creating a secret-society atmosphere.


, 146 Greene Street, 212-204-7100

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