Book Review: Taavo Somer and his Freemans Empire

You have a beard because of Taavo. You wear plaid because of Taavo. You make artisanal cocktails because of Taavo. And we bet you have some form of antlers in your man-pad because of Taavo.

Taavo Somer has infiltrated the lives of men around the world more than they can ever imagine. You want proof? Introducing his first book, FREEMANS. This new and enthralling tome is a celebration of the innovation and vision behind all of Taavo’s projects including:

  • Freemans Restaurant– the now iconic Lower East Side haven for comfort food and taxidermy
  • Freemans Sporting Club– a retail store and barber shop (also located in Tokyo in a structure Taavo designed)
  • The Rusty Knot– a very well curated dive bar on New York’s West Side Highway
  • Isa- a restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where everything was made on site (since closed)
  • GEMMA– an Italian restaurant (with seemingly one million candles) located in NYC’s Bowery Hotel

I remember when Freemans first opened back in 2004. New York City was still reeling from 9/11 and had not yet found its post Sex and the City identity. So when people started buzzing about this restaurant on a very hard to find alley in the Lower East Side with lumber jack looking waiters and dead animals on the walls serving Devils on Horse back and Hunter’s Stew, it was as if the city re-awoke in the 1880s. People couldn’t have been more excited to lose the glitter of Carrie Bradshaw and replace it with cozy, quiet, candlelit dinners.

As Taavo’s projects expanded (he is a designer and architect too), he began to be seen as the golden boy of New York’s new ethos. Every project was a harbinger of masculinity and cool.

But you know how caught up you can get just by being in an aesthetically interesting place that you miss the details? That is where this book comes in handy.

Every page reveals details of Taavo’s projects that every dude will be trying to recreate in their own homes or dream about for their one day country house.  Those blue painted windows and door at Freemans perhaps, or the DIY paneling on the restaurant walls. As Somer’s explains, “The projects in this book are united by a respect for time and for the value of longevity through the use of endearing materials, whether they’re used in architecture or clothing.”

Besides his public projects, we also get a peek into Taavo’s house in Upstate New York (get ready for serious jealousy factor gents) as well as an entire chapter of food and cocktail recipes to try at home.

While we have many gift guides on the site, this should be the one you buy for you. This is the book you want to read on a chilly winter night (maybe even by candlelight), wearing your favorite flannel, sipping an Old Palomino, in your leather armchair right below your mounted white tailed deer.

Travel

Traveling Alone Can Be an Unforgettable Adventure with Contiki

Ever wanted to climb a volcano and make chocolate in the same trip? Check out Contiki and their curated trip to Ecuador.
Travel

How to Find the Best Black Friday Travel Deals of 2018

We've also included some of the best travel deals we've seen so far in 2018.
Living

Idaho is the Ideal Place for a Mountain Home and Payette Lake Cliff House Proves It

Massive boulders seem to rise up out of the ground right into the home at this innovative retreat in Idaho.
Living

Peek Inside NoDa House, a Reimagining of Traditional Mill Houses with a Modern Twist

NoDa House has all of the mid-century modern goodness we love about Eichlers but with a modern twist.
Food & Drink

Now that the Weather is Warm, 5 Chefs Share their Favorite Grilling Tips & Recipes

We asked chefs from all over the country for their best grilling recipes and tricks to get a perfect char and delicious meal every time.
Food & Drink

Savor an Eclectic Japanese Feast at the New Dinnertable

When Ricky Arias took over the kitchen at NYC's dinnertable, he infused the menu with wildly addictive Japanese dishes. Here, we talk to the chef about his inspiration.
Feasting

It’s Salmon Season: Chef Tres Jackson’s Fennel and Salt Cured Salmon Recipe

Get out your fishing tackle -- or at least your cooking gear -- because it's salmon season.
Feasting

Do You Have the Guts to Eat These Burgers on National Burger Day?

The most delicious holiday of them all is June 28th.
Food & Drink

Apparently Sous Vide Cooking is Awesome and Surprisingly Easy

Master the vacuum and cook any meat to precisely the desired temperature and not a single degree more!
Feasting

For the First Time in a Century, You Can Have Real Fettuccine Alfredo

You'll never go back to what you thought was Fettuccine Alfredo.
Food & Drink

“The World is Your Burger” Celebrates an American Icon

"The World is Your Burger" is the ultimate foodie encyclopedia.
Food & Drink

“Reel Masters” Follows Top Chefs on their Ultimate Fishing Trips

May this book inspire and bring you luck on your next big fishing excursion.