He made his name with elegant, seasonal small plates at Recette, but Chef Jesse Schenker was ready to kick back a bit. The Gander, his two-week-old follow-up, is bigger, cheaper, and more casual than Recette, a place to "put the pretension aside, cook for a bigger audience, and just make really good food," as he told Fork in the Road.
Chowhounds get it, embracing simple, spot-on dishes like fava-ricotta crostini; oyster chowder with bacon; caserecci with suckling pig ragu; and "Buffalo"-style sweetbreads with celery and blue cheese, an encore preparation from Recette. A couple of fish entrées—roasted branzino (with lentils and celery root) and arctic char (with chorizo, leeks, and beurre rouge)—are especially well executed. Even a humble side of carrots is on target, one 'hound writes, distinguished by "nice caramelization and deep carroty flavor."
Unlike its sister restaurant in a quiet corner of the West Village, the Gander has a spacious dining room and bar that are primed to draw the Flatiron crowd after work—or for lunch service, which begins next week. As Schenker put it, "I wanted to do a restaurant in a neighborhood where people could be there all hours of the day ... come in for lunch for burger and ice tea, stop at the bar after work for charcuterie and wine, or sit down for dinner and have steak and Cabernet."
The Gander [Flatiron]
15 W. 18th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan
Photo from The Gander