Here on election day, I’m not talking politics. I’m talking about the superb new restaurant, Governor, int he Dumbo section of Brooklyn. Governor is located almost right under the Manhattan Bridge just off the East River. If somehow, you didn’t know, this area was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and Governor took the punch right on the kisser. There was a lot of damage and the restaurant needs to be rebuilt.
Based on a recent dinner there, just before the StarChefs ICC, this restaurant deserves to be rebuilt. Under the helm of Chef Brad McDonald, Governor’s food is creative and delicious. The only flaw of that meal was that the pacing towards the end of the meal (the kitchen cooked for us on a busy night) became tediously slow.
The cooking showed the influence of Chef McDonald’s time at noma as well as Executive Sous Chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel’s time at Mugaritz and Per Se. From the very noma-like bread, butter and radishes to the tasty shrimp and Carolina rice crackers to the luxurious poached oyster toast with lobster emulsion to the delightful chicken oysters to the trout roe caviar with homemade buttermilk and nasturtium leaves to the spicy tartare to the rich foie gras torchon cut with cocoa vinegar and beets to the wonderful ribbons of crisp celeriac with clothbound cheddar cream and grated egg yolk to the colorful, creamy and peppery summer beans with salt cod mousse to the quail and spigarello greens, the savories delighted with an abundance of complementary flavors and textures through and through (see the entire Flick’r Photoset).
The cocktail program at Governor, run by Tamer Hamawi, was top notch as well. I had The Lost Bees, made with chamomile & Lucknow fennel infused Pisco, fresh lemon juice and Peychaud’s Bitters. It was refreshing, a bit unusual and delicious. The 20/20 Margarita with Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, fresh carrot juice, ginger-agave nectar and fresh lime juice fit the same mold even as its base characteristics were different.
Desserts were pleasing too, but by the time the last ones came to the table, we were all stuffed and exhausted. There is actually a point where too much food is counterproductive and we reached that here. The first dessert, celery root cake, meringue and concord grape sorbet was quite good and would have been sufficient. The second dessert, delicious Tristar strawberries with brioche macaron, cajeta and brown butter was also quite good, though the overall effect was a bit sweet for my taste. That sweetness was countered by the excellent third dessert of bittersweet chocolate ganache, maple and buckwheat ice cream. It was unfortunate that we were fully spent by the time the beautifully prepared sugar bombs of honey souffles with earl Gray Tea Creme Anglaise arrived at our table. All we could do was taste them. Finally, the last straw in our coffins was the arrival of the pineapple glazed doughnuts. We were done in by an incredible procession of food.
It is hard to believe that this meal took place just just one month before Superstorm Sandy barreled into the northeast and devastated much of the coastal area of New York City and surrounding areas. Governor was amongst the many serious casualties. Ironically, it’s location seemed ideal, located with marvelous views of the Manhattan Bridge as well as the borough for which the bridge was named. It was a vibrant, thriving area, that now is but a shamble of its former self. The restaurant, still very, very new, showed tremendous promise during our dinner, even as we were drowned with delicious food. It is a restaurant that showed that it deserves another term and hopefully many more as it looks to fulfill its extraordinary potential. Rebuilding will not be easy, however, and those employed there will likely be out of work for the months it takes. To help the process, a fund has been started to facilitate the rebuilding. Insurance will only cover certain of the damages and limited at that. In addition, the fund drive aims to help their employees transition through the down time while the restaurant is renovated. This project may not be the highest priority for people as they dig into their pockets to help those in need following this epic disaster that was Sandy, yet it is a worthy one for those who support the advancement of the culinary arts.