Jimmy's Secret Chef Performs Culinary Miracles in the East Village

Philip Kirschen-Clark, cooking in his culinary dungeon.Photo: Melissa Hom

We always like Jimmy's the Belgian beers, the sausage plates, the occasional bacon tasting. But nothing could have prepared us for our recent discovery of a living, breathing young chef working gastronomic magic in Jimmys ultraprimitive kitchen. Using only two hot plates and a toaster oven, Philip Kirschen-Clark, the former fish man at wd-50, is making surprising, inventive dishes every night at the East Village bar.

Kirschen-Clark, 26, claims he's never made the same thing twice in his three months at Jimmy's. Last night we had The Slab, a heavy piece of braised bacon served with a sherry vinaigrette; some seared Spanish mackerel plated with cured concord grapes and some kind of amazing Asian starch pure; and a five-cauliflower bucatini with crisped salumi that had us rethinking our attitude toward that unlovable vegetable.

Sunday night we bumped into Gilts Chris Lee there; if chefs are starting to show up late, thats a good sign. Expect a regiment of toques to be walking the stairs down to Jimmys to check out the places real-world Top Chef challenge: Just how much serious food can a talented cook produce with no budget, no help, and no oven? As it turns out, the answer is a lot. And thats also the answer to how much we plan on going to Jimmys. Something this good, this crude, and this heroic cant last long.