Cookshop…Frankly, My Dear, It Gives a Damn

*this was cross-blogged yesterday with Michele of Radiant Rose-her blog is on the left on my blog roll.  But since I stupidly didn’t announce that yesterday…here is my review, reposted for your viewing pleasure!*
Chelsea, NYC.  Home to the brownstones I love, the gay men who love me (and yes, there are many), and the restaurant Cookshop.  I have heard about Cookshop forEVER.  It features a rotating menu of local and seasonal foods offered at very reasonable prices.  It is touted on food blogs and well recommended by friends so I was psyched to check it out for lunch with my mom!
We walked into a breezy, open restaurant with a small bar and a casual atmosphere.  The restaurant let in lots of natural light and the conversations of others’ echoed off the walls.  While some might be annoyed by this I say-grab a glass of wine, have a nosh, and get your panties out of their twist.  This is FUN!  This is CHELSEA!  A little noise is part of the enjoyment here!  Besides, it makes eavesdropping great…

And how did they make decorating with pumpkins look cool and not terribly hokey?  Whenever I try to decorate for Fall, it looks like Aunt Katie’s Kraft Korner went wild in the Halloween section.

Small bowls of large grained sea salt.  A luxury to those of us saline addicts, and a good sign.  It shows that the restaurant uses top quality ingredients and that the chef is open to people seasoning the food to their liking.  

Marmie and I split an order of the cabbage, potato, and bacon soup with horseradish cream.  The kitchen was awesome enough to put the soup in 2 bowls when we said we wanted to split it (EVERY place should do this-double dipping whilst sharing soup is too awkward!).  And I am glad that they did.  Because if Marmie and I had had to share this soup out of one bowl, she wouldn’t have had any of it.  This soup was DREAMY!  Broth baste, it was filled with verdant cabbage, creamy skin on russet potatoes, and lightly smoky, fatty bacon.  Mixing in the horseradish cream brought in a slightly spicy flavor as well as a richer mouth feel.  This was such a wonderful soup-filling without being heavy.  It was reminiscent of Rhode Island clam chowder-actually, the only way this could have been improved upon was adding some clams! The briny, salty flavor would have added a hit of freshness to the soup.  But really, I’m being picky…I licked this bowl.  With my tongue.  My mom only wishes I was kidding.

We then ordered the duck empanadas with chimichurri and guajillo sauce, accompanied by a watercress and radish salad.

Oooooh was this wonderful!  The ground duck was mixed with chives and garlic and tasted so wonderfully DUCKY.  Lean, meaty, and gamey in the most  delicious way. Mixing the greaseless, crisp pastry with the smoky guajillo and bright, parsley filled chimichurri was a total delight.  It was not overtly Latin American on its’ own, but mixing the pastry with those sauces brought in the spice, smoke, and heat normally associated with Latin American cuisine.  The watercress was peppery and the radishes were so young and tender that they were more sweet then biting.  I loved that!  So unexpected to have the radish be the sweet element!  

Marmie and I got the charcuterie board to share as our main.  Because…if you have ever met me…I love me some preserved meats and liver.  And Keeping Up With The Kardashians…I love that too

Here is the country pate-pork, beef, and/or chicken liver mixed with herbs and spices.  It has a spreadable texture, but is not totally smooth-there is still texture.  This was spicy with pepper and garlic and deep with pork taste-sort of like salami…yeah, I made short work of this baby.

Here is the chicken liver pate.  MAMMA MIA this brought me back to my youth!  Marmie made chicken liver pate every Passover.  I remember seeing her gently saute the onions and liver, putting the mixture in the food processor with some cream, and HATED having to wait for the mixture to cool before spreading it on tasteless matzoh.  If chopped liver could make matzoh taste good, it was truly food of the G-ds.  And so it is here.  Creamy, light and intensely liver-y, it has a rich, irony-y taste that only chicken liver has.  This is all liver, no filler, and very few seasonings-you will only like this if you really like liver.  And if you really like liver…I really like you.

These are rabbit rilletes.  To. Die. For.  Delicate, sweet ribbons of tender meat mixed with creamy, unctuous fat.  Salt and pepper and my saliva were the only accompaniments.  Spread on the grilled bread with some of the provided hot mustard…it was insanely delicious.

Virginia Ham.  Unlike the Virginia ham I had tried in Virginia, this ham was unsmoked and unsalty.  Sliced transparency thin, it was edged with ribbons of the most creamy fat that melted the moment it touched the tongue.  The meat tasted like cold pork loin.  Sweet, light, tender…I think I am describing the perfect love affair…

This was the rabbit headcheese.    Only click that link if you have a strong stomach.  Headcheese is the mishmash of the offal world.  Heart, tongue, feet, and whatever else is left over is all mashed up with spices and fat to create a terrine.  I have never tried headcheese, for the (obvious) reason that how do you know what the hell is in it?  But it came with the butcher board, and who am I not to try it all, and…it was GREAT!  Marmie hit the nail on the head-it was like rabbit meatloaf!  Rabbit has a very delicate, only slightly gamey flavor that you will love if you like bison or aged steak.  And if you can get past the idea that you don’t know what is going on in there…you might kinda love headcheese!
With char grilled bread, sweet house made pickled cukes and bell peppers, and Dijon, beet, and hot English mustards, this butcher board was outrageously delicious and a total STEAL at $16!
We were going to lick the board, but thought that might be looked down upon…

Besides, we had to save SOME room for the sauteed spinach with onions, lemon, and chili flakes.  As straightforward and delicious as it sounds, this was toothsome, bright, sweet from the onions, and a perfect accompaniment for such a meat laden lunch.  Marmie thought it was a tad too spicy, but i thought she was a wimp.  Yep, i just called my mother a wimp.  Tough love, people.

For dessert (because, really…what civilized person doesn’t order dessert?!), we split the plum cobbler cake with vanilla ice cream and plum compote.

See that?  That is buttery, oat filled crumb topping atop sweet, tender cake enveloping large, juicy plums. Cinnamon, sugar, butter, plums. The ice cream on the side was more creamy than it was sweet.  The sauce on the side was more fruity than it was saucy.  The cobbler was more heaven than it was earth.
Any other questions?
Cookshop is a truly sensational restaurant.  It offers seasonal, local foods at incredibly reasonable prices-all of this plus 2 club sodas for about $60.  It is a beautiful space, with excellent service, and delicious food.  Also…there were some volunteer social workers eating lunch near us, and the management would not let them pay.  They were wearing t-shirts that named the organization they worked with, and were obviously there on their lunch break.  When they tried to pay, the waiter would not hear of it.  This is just classy.  It’s paying it forward.  It’s saying “thank you for making my neighborhood a better place to live”.  It’s saying that Cookshop gives a damn.  And so I think it’s important that we give a damn about Cookshop.  And, of course, the Kardashians.
Cookshop on Urbanspoon


  1. Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) says:

    I really would love to try that place. I've never had any kind of pate (I know!) and I'm half curious and half scared. I had to yell at Andy to show him the rabbit headcheese. He is intrigued.

    I live really close to the Kardashians. Exciting I know.

  2. Go head cheese! My kind of meal! Thanks for sharing. I'm in that neighborhood working on occasion…will def stop in.

  3. whozyerdanny says:

    Fabulous! wish I was there..

  4. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Amanda-wow I lived close to them too! I'm from Agoura Hills-where are you?
    @Dee-I can heartily recommend it! So glad you enjoyed the review-let me know if you want a lunch date sometime 🙂
    @Whozyerdanny-I wish you were too! nothing like someone who appreciates a good charcuterie board!

  5. Nice!Did you try any wine there? They carry this great Riesling from the Finger Lakes – Thirsty Owl Wine Co. 2008 Riesling – superb!

  6. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Upstate-no I didn't but i happen to LOVE riesling! i am putting this on my "must try" list. Thank you very much!