A Humble Space Serving Up Big Flavor


The curse of a small kitchen is a burden most New Yorkers must bear. We take it in stride — ordering in, eating out, and keeping it simple. The more ambitious of us quickly learn to get creative, enabling surfaces not otherwise meant for cooking, using as few containers as possible, and discovering the art of substitution.

The tiny kitchen becomes a whole different ballgame when you're cooking for customers. Restaurants like Smith and Mills, which cooks on hot plates, and Prune, which has only two ovens and one countertop, have mastered the closet-sized kitchen. Now, a new, Brooklyn-based restaurant can join the ranks — Battersby on Smith Street in Cobble Hill, whose kitchen is akin to a walk-in closet. Chefs Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern both left their recent posts at Anella in Greenpoint, and opened the doors of the lovely Battersby at the end of October, 2011.

How do they cope with their small kitchen? By serving only a few tables and hiring true experts to do the work. That's right, Ogrodnek and Stern, the creators of Battersby’s seasonally relevant and contemporary American menu, are the only two cooking.

Their marinated fluke with apple, avocado, and lime is perfect. A simple but unique combination, it tastes so right that it could be the new beet and goat cheese salad. A creamy but not too heavy chestnut soup with roasted mushrooms and quail egg, delicious to the last drop, and handmade papardelle with duck ragu, Taggiascia olives and Madeira wine are excellent, and perfect on a night when winter came a little too early. There is no question that the two very gifted chefs know exactly what they're doing in their very little kitchen, which, by the way, they built all by themselves.