Feasting is our column dedicated to cooking, grilling, eating and discovering what’s on the menu across America and the world.
There’s something ultimately special about a night out at dinner and a show. Maybe it has to do with nostalgia. Before people went clubbing or made a night of sharing a pizza and hitting a dive bar (which we love, for the record), going out was a true occasion planned down to the shine on your shoes. Whether the entertainment was a movie, concert, musical, play or what have you, the night wouldn’t be complete without sitting down to a nice dinner before, after or if you were lucky, both. Nestled inside Brooklyn’s new non-profit music venue National Sawdust, Rider is revitalizing pre- and post-theater dining in its own unique way.
Inspired by the idea of a hospitality rider, a set of requests a performer submits to a venue before arrival, the new American bistro and bar reinvents classic dishes with contemporary presentations and thoughtful ingredients. The kitchen is helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Patrick Connolly who returned to NYC to open Rider after stints at Radius in Boston and Basso in St. Louis. He created a menu that’s meant for sharing with standout dishes like the soft egg with foie croutons, sweet sherry yogurt and caviar and an inventive take on the French dip with roasted marrow bone, prepared horseradish and black garlic jus.
Is your mouth watering yet? After checking out the restaurant a few weeks ago, we caught up with Chef Connolly to learn a bit more about his inspiration and what’s next for the Rider menu.
You’ve been working all over America in cities like Boston, NYC, your native St. Louis, Philly and now at Rider in Brooklyn. How has cooking in these different locations affected the way you look at food and ingredients?
There’s always a common thread of taste from city to city. Maybe call it 60 percent of food that’s commonly enjoyed throughout America. Then there’s the 40 percent that varies from town to town in terms of cooking styles and, of course, ingredients readily available. For example, I was doing pizza for the past three years, both in St. Louis and Philly. Same dough basically. Slightly different ovens. In St. Louis, they have a style of pizza with a cheese called provel and a sweeter sauce. In Philly, they do what’s called a tomato pie. I did variations of both in each respective city. You always have to adjust for your audience.
Rider is attached to National Sawdust, Brooklyn’s newest music venue with a lineup that’s as diverse as your menu. Are you ever inspired by other arts like music when creating a new dish?
I’m a music lover. I listen to music all day. Both music and cooking have rhythm, and cooking just feels more natural to music. I wouldn’t say music inspires any particular dish, but they both do combine a craft and an art to some degree. I’m inspired to just work by anyone who displays creativity and workmanship at the same time. I like to think my cooking has some elements of comfort and other elements of experimentation. Not coincidentally, I like my music, art and fashion the same way.
Many items on Rider’s menu are new takes on the classics – like the deconstructed French dip. Are there any nostalgic dishes you really want to play with next?
I wouldn’t mind messing around with a new interpretation of a fish stick with tartar sauce.
If you could cook for any musician, living or dead, who would it be? What would you serve?
I’ve never thought about it. For some reason, I think I’d like to cook for Elliot Smith – maybe a lasagna.
Photos by Adrienne Grunwald