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92 Calyer Street, Greenpoint, 718-389-3606
A bistro in Greenpoint “inspired by unassuming eateries that dot the content – pubs, cafes, bistros and trattorias.” The decor and menu are simple and unassuming, which is precisely why we love this place. Nothing is overly-precious, but everything is done simply and with great care. Whether enjoying a few snacks like Chicken Liver Pate, Pig’s Head Terrine, or Steak Tartare with a glass of wine or a full meal — we love their Pork Shoulder and their Half Chicken with Romesco Sauce — you will assuredly be delighted. Brunch is offered on the weekends and if you go, be sure to try their amazing pancakes. The word is out about Chez Ma Tante which opened quietly in 2017, so definitely make a reservation.
The restaurant is the work of two Cafe Altro Paradiso alums, Aidan O’Neal and Jake Leiber, and the menu reflects some of the old Estela zaniness. In its emphasis on organ meat pates and terrines, it’s also reminiscent of Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon. O’Neal once toiled at M. Wells Dinette in P.S. One, and that experience undoubtedly provided further inspiration. The chicken liver pate ($9) might be at home on any bistro menu in town, artfully smeared across the plate and accompanied by grilled toasts and pickled chiles.
Other dishes are on another level, offal-wise, particularly with the pig head terrine. This patchwork comes in helter skelter slices, composed of ragged chunks of sinew, fat, and deeply red swatches of meat. It’s about the richest thing you’ve ever tasted and might remind you of the work of U.K. chef Fergus Henderson. I loved it, even though it came with the same toasts and chiles as the chicken liver pate.
It is hard to say exactly what kind of food Chez Ma Tante serves, apart from the consistently good kind. The website calls it “food that can only be described as European.” This isn’t particularly helpful or specific; I’ve never eaten anything there that seemed Finnish, say, or Bulgarian. If the menu has a theme, you won’t guess it from the dining room. A collection of brown chairs and black tables on a black floor in an undecorated white room, it is as austere as a Shaker chapel, although one with a long, well-populated bar against the wall.
No hints are forthcoming from the cocktail list, either, which plays it close to the vest with daiquiris, Negronis, Cosmopolitans and so on. It is the first cocktail list I’ve seen in a long time on which I recognized every drink. Other writers have described Chez Ma Tante as a neighborhood spot, a homage to certain well-known London restaurants, a gastro pub and a “French-Canadian bistro.”
The name Chez Ma Tante was borrowed from a stainless-steel slot of a place in Montreal known for its steamé, a steamed hot dog in a steamed bun. An “all dressed” steamé, meaning it’s loaded up with mustard and coleslaw, is a new feature on the brunch menu in Greenpoint. Apart from that and a recurring maple motif — the jugs of syrup on a shelf outside the kitchen are not just for show — the Québécois influence is minimal.
Boasting a strong Canadian influence, this American bistro (named for a Montreal hot dog joint) in Greenpoint offers raw-bar items, charcuterie and seasonal veggies and mains by alums of Café Altro Paradiso. Dark woods and white walls lend a simple, unassuming feel to the dining room and bar.
Restaurateur, Josh Cohen (who previously owned the hit spot, Jimmy’s Diner) has enlisted the help of Aidan O’Neal and Jake Leiber, who have both served significant time at the celebrated, Café Altro Paradiso, to head up this new addition to the area… A native of Vancouver, O’Neal spent five years in Montreal before moving to NYC and pays homage to a restaurant he loved there, which also inspired the name, Chez Ma Tante (‘at my aunt’s’)… The menu is broken into categories for raw & cooked selfish, charcuterie, salads & vegetables and mains. There’s dishes like marinated mussels and clams, country pâté and skate wing. Dessert offers up items like rhubarb custard tart and a sorbet with Polish vodka.
“There’s a little bit of maple syrup everywhere,” says Chef Aidan O’Neal, whose new restaurant Chez Ma Tante opened in the former Jimmy’s space on Greenpoint’s Calyer Street… That a Vancouver native who spent five years in Montreal prior to moving to NYC would employ Canada’s sweet liquid gold wherever possible is not surprising, but O’Neal’s employing a nuanced, measured hand. He and chef de cuisine Jake Leiber—who met working at Cafe Altro Paradiso—lacquer salmon gravlax with gin and maple syrup while it’s drying to build up its texture, combine it with chardonnay vinegar to finish a falafel dish, and there’s a little bit of it on the rhubarb custard tart, too.
Considering the moniker means “At My Aunt’s,” the atmosphere is suitably non-pretentious, though the fare in no way could be considered especially homespun. Well befitting a French boite, you’ll find pebbled salmon tartare cured with maple syrup and gin, grilled veal steaks paired with creamy, corpulent butter beans, fans of skate wing over sabayon and leeks, and wagyu short rib steak, teamed with wedge-style frites and prune-anchovy ketchup.