Dover and Battersby, opened in 2011 and 2013 respectively, were two spots that you’d point to as models for the style of new Brooklyn neighborhood restaurants that’s since become almost standard. Run by the chefs Joe Ogrodnek and Walker Stern, they were ambitious but (especially Battersby) small places. After Dover closed in 2017, Ogrodnek skipped town (remaining an owner of Battersby until it, too, closed) and, he says, took a bunch of time off and traveled. He stayed off the kitchen grid until September of last year, when it was announced that he’d taken his career in a new but not uncommon direction: as the chef-partner in a new hotel’s all-day café. Called Floret and located in Atelier Ace’s Sister City on the Bowery, it opened in June for breakfast and lunch and tomorrow will expand to dinner, completing the all-day circle.
“I didn’t really see myself working for, doing a restaurant in hotel,” Ogrodnek says. “It was something I never imagined doing. With Battersby and Dover, I kind of fell in love with the small neighborhood restaurant.”
At Floret, he’s serving a different kind of clientele — people who live on and around the Bowery, sure, but also those visiting for business, family, and fun — and working with a new partner. He serves as the culinary partner — “I’m kind of culinary development lead, I suppose you would call it,” he says — working with the executive chef Andrew Whitcomb on developing dishes, putting the menu together, and training staff. Whitcomb is a less familiar name to New Yorkers, but he has worked for some of the country’s best chefs: He was the chef de cuisine of Dominique Crenn’s Petit Crenn, cooked at Ken Oringer’s Earth at Hidden Pond, and was the executive chef at Claus Meyer and Fredrik Berselius’s now-closed Norman.
The date, pistachio, and almond cigars with honey whipped cream. Photo: Grub Street
Their menu takes an agnostic approach to ingredients and cuisines, serving hamachi crudo with cucumber-melon gazpacho alongside Japanese eggplant with crispy shallots and palm sugar for appetizers. You’ll find some starches like heirloom beans with garlic pistou, and the entrées run the gamut from roasted lobster with ginger, chili, and lime to veal breast with morels and vin jaune to lamb ribs with cucumber-yogurt and mint. There are only three desserts, but the approach is still applied: You can order your chocolate budino with coffee ice cream and have your date, pistachio, and almond cigars, too.
“The menu is definitely international. It’s a question I get asked a lot, and I think is a valid question. ‘What kind of cuisine would you say this is?’ I don’t really know how to answer that question,” Ogrodnek says. “I just think it’s modern. Everything is so easily accessible that we just have the options to do so many different types of cuisines.”
The restaurant has a full bar, including a nice selection of beer (Cigar City, Radeberger, KCBC) and cocktails like the Roman Highball, made with amaro, ginger, and lime. It’s also significantly larger than any restaurant that Ogrodnek has run before. There are 186 seats total, with most of them in the dining room that, with its mix dark wood tables, tile floor, and scattered plants, blend old and new nicely. An outdoor space looks and like it could lead to a garden just around the corner, and there’s a private dining room for ten, should you have reason to celebrate.
The Japanese eggplant with crispy shallots, peanuts, palm sugar, and mint. Photo: Grub Street
A crispy whole dorade with grilled summer beans, sesame, sambal, and lime that’s meant for two or one very hungry person. Photo: Grub Street
Chilled peekytoe crab with avocado, scallion, green apple, and lemon. Photo: Grub Street
The Rolls Royce cocktail with gin, sweet and dry vermouth, and Benedictine. Photo: Grub Street
Inside! Photo: Grub Street
And out! Photo: Grub Street