Have a Taste of Farm-to-Table Vegetarian Fare at Buttermilk Channel

Rancho Gordo heirloom bean stew at Buttermilk Channel | Tara Mahadevan
Rancho Gordo heirloom bean stew at Buttermilk Channel | Tara Mahadevan

The Carroll Gardens restaurant Buttermilk Channel (524 Court Street, 718-852-8490) is named after the one mile tidal strait that sits between Brooklyn -- near the Gowanus Expressway -- and Governor's Island. There are a few stories behind the name, but the favorite is that when the neighborhoods were mostly farmland, dairy farmers would ferry across the channel to sell their milk in Manhattan. The Buttermilk Channel's current was said to be so powerful that it could churn the famers' milk into butter.

With his restaurant, owner Doug Crowell has brought that story to life, employing the locavore card with farm-to-table ingredients. More than that, Crowell's restaurant also proudly features a separate, entirely vegetarian menu, brimming with seasonable vegetables and curious food compositions. Crowell first introduced the menu six years ago, when he opened the restaurant.

"Doug really wanted to offer options for people that were vegetarian and like eating that way. At the time, I think it was a pretty progressive move because a lot of restaurants weren't doing it," says Buttermilk Channel's chef de cuisine, Jon Check.

Check, who runs the kitchen, has been with the restaurant for over a year. "Some of the dishes are classics that we've had on the menu for quite some time, but I really enjoy eating vegetarian food, so I try to come up with a couple things to keep it interesting. Like, the veggie burger is something I came up with when I first came on board, because I really like veggie burgers."

The restaurant changes their menu seasonally -- look out for the winter menu mid-December. In the meantime, check out some of the dishes we tasted from the Buttermilk Channel's autumn menu.

We started with the delicata squash tart ($12), a house-made tart stacked with squash, ricotta, and romaine lettuce. While the tart is crispy and flaky, the squash is slightly sweet, and the ricotta is milky and creamy. The romaine is covered in a tangy and slightly sour vinaigrette. Regardless of the dish's various textures and tastes, the tart is a still an overall light first course, and a good introduction to a heavy second course.

The rancho gordo heirloom bean stew ($15) features seasonable vegetables, paired with grilled bread and a fried egg. The stew is a hearty dish, with a smokey flavor and a delicately spicy aftertaste. The crunchy grilled bread is great for dipping in the stew, while the egg makes the dish that much more satiating.




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