During the holiday season, celebratory eating out can sometimes get a little too decadent—leaving you with a tummy ache and regrets. For a different kind of dining experience, have a taste of Martha’s Vineyard at the pop-up restaurant Fish and Rose in between Chinatown and Soho. Just opened this past Tuesday, they’re serving farm-fresh produce, oysters and more—much of which comes directly from family-owned Beetlebung Farm—until the 30th of December. The space is leased from Openhouse, an event and pop-up retail venue, whose Old Bowery Station space has hosted grilled cheese competitions, hybrid art-dinner performances, and even dog adoption “pup-ups” in the past.
Chris Fischer, who’s worked under Mario Batalli at the famed chef’s restaurant Babbo in New York, is a guy with a simple mantra: Keep it fresh and simple. He’s a 12th generation Islander whose family owns the aforementioned Beetlebung Farm; Fischer now heads the kitchen at Beach Plum Restaurant down the road and his recipes incorporate fresh, mostly local food, including produce from Beetlebung. Having a chef who is also a working farmer means no fancy, white tablecloths—just wooden bar stools and tables, and ceilings that Fischer made himself. His food and design aesthetic have garnered a following that includes Seth Meyers (whose wedding was catered by Fischer) and even President Obama and the First Lady.
Now, he’s bringing fresh food to New York City, during a season when only the local Islanders get to taste Martha’s Vineyard goodness. The aesthetic is similar at Fish & Rose (combining the names of Fischer and his co-chef Lee Desrosiers), which we got to visit before the pop-up opened to the public. Instead of separate tables and chairs, there are three long homemade tables accompanied by benches in the main room next to the open kitchen, and more in the side room, creating a very communal atmosphere.
“The produce all comes from Martha’s Vineyard, as of now. We brought a lot of it with us; we’re supplementing some greens that we can’t get as fresh, at the farmers market here. But a lot of it comes from Beetlebung Farm,” Fischer tells CH. “Our unique attribute, I think, is being producers and chefs and restaurant people. We’re very resourceful, living in New England and growing up in Martha’s Vineyard. We’re used to cold winters and it’s an island naturally, so there’s a lot of frugality.”
“New York is such a competitive place—you can eat anywhere you want, anything you want. The thing about our food is, it’s all whole food based. We grow a lot of the meat (and the meat that we don’t grow, we know where it comes from). We raise our pigs in the woods. And so, I want to feed [people] the food that we’ve produced because we’re so proud of it and it’s so good for you. And if you’re going to eat meat, it’s responsible to eat the right kind of meat.”
When describing the menu, Fischer says, “Our food is really simple, there’s usually three or four components. We like to make things exciting with herbs, mostly chili. Our food is very healthy. It’s a combination of keeping it very simple, it can be playful. And we brought oysters!” He’s always first and foremost about the community in which he grew up and currently lives: “Bringing the food that our friends have grown is showing off what they’ve done; supporting them directly by paying them exactly what they deserve for it. It’s also wintertime in New England and it’s cold and dreary—there’s not many people there. So for these farmers to get a big amount of support and recognition is great.”
Fish & Rose is located at 10 Kenmare St in Manhattan; at a capacity of 40 to 50 people, it’s a cozy environment. Book a dinner reservation from now until 30 December by visiting their website.
Image of menu courtesy of Fish & Rose, all other photos by Nara Shin