Erik Blauberg got his first restaurant job at the ripe old age of 12, landing a gig as a pot-washer when a desperate owner needed help after a kitchen walk-out. He started learning to cook the next year, and that set the stage for a career that’s included such prolific stops as Tavern on the Green, Bouley, and the 21 Club. For the past several years, he’s been consulting all over the globe, and he launched a high-end culinary travel program to expose gastronauts to foreign delicacies. He’s back in New York City now, though, and come mid-September, he’ll open the Stanton Street Kitchen (178 Stanton Street), a beer-centric restaurant on the Lower East Side.
“The craft beer concept has really taken off in the past eight years, and now even the supermarket has a craft beer section,” Blauberg says. “I’ve done a lot of research, and I’ve worked with a few craft beer venues. Some of these places have great beer lists, but there’s still a lot further where this concept can go. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
He’ll offer more than 100 different varieties of bottled beers, some of which will be aged in a beer cellar below the main space, plus 24 rotating drafts, and he’ll bring in brewmasters for beer dinners, asking them to talk about the histories behind their products.
But he’ll also work to have the menu pair to the brews. “It’ll be a menu composed of small plates,” he says. “I want it to be affordable for people who are on a tight budget but still want to come in for a beer and food.
Dishes will start at $5, he says, and go up to $18, with most averaging around $12. Look for a raw section on the menu, loaded with oysters and carpaccios, plus a number of meaty dishes like port-braised oxtail and tagliatelle with sausage and hen of the woods mushrooms. “We’ll also have a vegan section on the menu, which I think is really important,” says Blauberg; vegatarian-friendly fare includes a pea risotto with crepes and delicata squash.
Diners will also be able to opt for a daily chef’s feast, which might be something like cuts from a whole roasted baby lamb served over multiple courses.
Blauberg also plans to install a wine program that includes a bottle list plus wine slushies and coolers.
The space itself is lodged in a building erected in the 1920s, an address that Blauberg says has that “LES old-world character.” He’s working to maintain that ambiance with brick walls and slate floors; a back staircase will descend into a private wine cellar where he’ll be able to host private events. Upstairs, you’ll find a food bar and a chef’s table, where, he says, cooks will work on your dishes right in front of you.
The Stanton Street Kitchen is aiming to open either the second or third week of September.