Seersucker Chef Gets Back to His Gritty, Hammy Roots

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Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine

Robert Newton might have cooked at places like Le Cirque and Tabla, and as a private chef in Manhattan, but he grew up in Arkansas, and it’s his seasonal, ingredient-driven notion of “cleaned-up Southern” that the chef wants to showcase at his first restaurant, Seersucker, opening late next week. Newton and partner Kerry Diamond converted a former Pita Grill into a 40-seat spot with a zinc bar, whitewashed brick, and wood salvaged from old snow fences.

Though they plan to eventually serve breakfast, lunch, and brunch, it’s dinner-only to start, with a menu of snacks (fried bologna sandwich), appetizers (crispy pig’s foot with black walnuts), and mains (country cassoulet with duck leg, Surry sausage, and cornbread crumbs). The “Southern snack tray” combines pimento cheese, deviled eggs, and pickled okra in one handy sampler; a “biscuit box” comes with housemade jellies and preserves; and Nashville-style spicy fried chicken — fans of Prince’s, take note! — will appear as a special. Country ham figures prominently, as do grits, and sweet tea will be served year-round, along with American wines and beers either local or Southern.

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