Chef Interview: Jenny Bitorp

Jenny Bitorp is one kick-ass illustrator and she happens to be a kick-ass person as well, which in our minds, made her the perfect partner for our newest special guest food adventure! Shes the artist behind an awesome graphic novel and shes also published a book. You’ve probably seen her work in The New York Times, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, or The New Yorker, just to name a few. Originally from Canada, she currently lives here in NY, with her talented husband. Since shed read about a restaurant in a popular New York mag, and had passed it running errands in the neighborhood, she picked this newish seafood spot for our culinary adventure and we, of course, didn’t object.

The restaurant smallish space is nice, as Jenny noted: It felt homey and cozy without being overly conceptual. The light is low and warm and the whole place has a vintage sea vibe (the menus are crafted from old book covers!). Its also one of those restos where the list of specials is longer than the menu and you have to rely on your servers recollection to get a full grasp of the offerings. Our waitress did a pretty good job but I laughed in my glass of pinot grigio when Jenny said, I wish she wasn’t chewing gum! Im a sucker for a bread basket and this one did not disappoint. They served it warm with a dish of butter that was sprinkled with sea salt (the combo is my new favorite snack!)

We started the meal with an oyster sampler, a must for any self-respecting seafoodie. $9 for a 1/2 dozen (three from the West coast, three from the East) made it a pretty affordable app and the watermelon relish that accompanied it as a topper sealed the tasty deal. After polishing them off, along with a bowl of mixed olives ($4), we were ready for our entrees.

Jenny got one of the specials: Cobia with Israeli couscous and artichokes. She said it was perfectly cooked and totally delicious, but that didnt stop her from having a bit of dish-envy when his fish and chips arrived (see below for proof of their epicness), as she told us later. I try to restrain myself from ordering fries all the time (because believe me I would nothing beats a fried potato), but Ill be back with a friend to order a fish and chip tower to share. That thing has been haunting my dreams!!

New York mag recommended the fishcake sliders, so thats what I went for. A huge amount of food for not a whole lot of moolah (I forgot to write down the price but I think they were $12? I blame the pinot). Seriously, one of these puppies was enough for a meal. The fact that the fishcakes came served on a toasted English muffin though, gave me a serious college flashback (since nearly every meal I ate as an undergrad included those staple nooks n crannies). I skipped the coleslaw altogether (not a fan!) and still took half the plate home with me.

The fish and chips, also comparatively cheap at $15 (all of the specials were $20+) were pretty much the meals piece de resistance: enormous hunks of crispy, battered fish and a salty stack o fries. Delish. (Though the tartar sauce left much to be desired.)

He likes eating any fish that comes whole, so he looked this guy in the eye for a second before grabbing his fork and digging in.

For those of us who like our fish without a face, our friend got the Chilean sea bass special which came atop ratatouille with a really flavorful saffron-infused sauce.

And since its not a complete food adventure without a dessert course, we ordered the only sweet thing they were offering that night: creme brulee. The light, custardy brulee was a not-too-sugary finale to a seafare-filled meal. Our favorite part? That first, satisfying crack!

Read on for some of Jenny food-related insight and a peek at her kick-ass illustration.

Whats your favorite meal to eat out? Your favorite meal to stay in and cook?

My favourite eat-out meals are those which are excellent and cheap. Thankfully, they are plentiful in NYC. I just came back from my hometown of Alberta, where Vietnamese food is available on every corner. I dont know how to make proper bún at home, so thats probably my favourite thing to eat out. Ive only found two places in NYC that do it as well as they do in Calgary. My favourite thing to cook is probably soup. You cant beat soup and sandwiches.

What’s your earliest food memory?

Peeling Chicken McNuggets. Did you know that the round ones are white meat and the oblong ones with the foot are dark meat?

Whats your cant-live-without food item?


Whats your go-to cocktail?

Gin and Tonic. It has been since I was 20 (the drinking age is 18 in Canada). Back then people would say, What are you, 80 years old?! Not so much anymore