What to Expect from Joe Ogrodnek's Forthcoming Lower East Side Restaurant
Chef Joe Ogrodnek will soon make another big splash on the New York City dining scene: a restaurant at the forthcoming Sister City hotel, which opens in January 2019. Floret, an elevated all-day café concept, will be Ogrodnek's first project since his critically acclaimed Dover closed at the beginning of 2017. Sister City, the new hotel from Atelier Ace in the Lower East Side, has begun taking reservations, and Ogrodnek will also spearhead the food and beverage program at the hotel's panoramic rooftop bar.
The 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef, who is still an owner at the still-lovely Battersby in Carroll Gardens, hopes his forthcoming all-day café will feel distinctly New York—and less like an import from L.A. or Australia. To do this, Ogrodnek plans to spotlight the best local ingredients, produce, dairy, and meat he can get his hands on.
"We live in this city that’s largely cosmopolitan, but I'm actually at the Greenmarket right now at Union Square, and it's so amazing what we have here," Ogrodnek tells Food & Wine. "Within this city, there's an amazing amount of artisans and producers bringing attention to their whole production, from the ground to the table, whether that be seafood or meat or honey or vinegar. I'm just proud to be a part of that. I want to showcase that."
The idea is to make food that people won't feel awful after eating. Ogrodnek says that when Dover closed, he began cooking for himself much more, and that's the kind of food he wants to cook—the simple dishes, featuring modest but wonderful ingredients, that he would make for himself in his own home. Nothing flashy. Sort of healthy. Still delicious.
"The food will be more on the healthful side: nourishing, restorative," he says. "Cooking for only myself is not something that I've done regularly until recently. Usually I'm cooking at a restaurant where you’re trying to impress; it’s a different ballgame there."
While there aren't any definitive menu items set yet, Ogrodnek says the offerings will be vegetable-focused, but not vegetarian, with a strong emphasis on "simple, modest ingredients."
"I love luxury and fine dining, but one of the pet peeves I have is that when you leave, you say, 'Tomorrow I'm starting my diet, that was too much,'" he says. "I want to have a place, where if you had the time, and were really good at cooking, this would be what you would want to make and eat several days a week. When you leave the restaurant, you feel restored. You feel better."
The beverage brogram will be helmed by Josh Hanover, formerly of ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina.