Manhattan restaurant vet, chef Damon Wise, has returned from a two-year stint in Charleston, S.C. He could not resist the siren song of the city. He has landed in what had been Lisa Giffen’s spot, heading up kitchens at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg and sibling Sauvage in Greenpoint, the stunner that earned three stars from Robert Sietsema and one star from New York Times critic Pete Wells.
“I know so many people here and they’re like family,” he said, “So it felt natural for me to come back.”
Wise’s New York resume coincides with the restaurant boom in the early 2000s, with positions at Gramercy Tavern and Lespinasse (now closed), followed by nearly a decade at Tom Colicchio’s Craft and its sister restaurants, then running the kitchen at The Monkey Bar.
His final position before moving to Charleston was the 2013 opening of Andrew Carmellini’s Lafayette. Head chef until 2014, Wise scored a “Best New Restaurant” nod from Bon Appetit and “super-bistro” status from The Wall St. Journal. A spokesperson at the time of his departure said he was off to start his own project. In retrospect, he says that after almost two decades cooking in New York, he was burned out.
Charleston was a two-year detour, a partnership with Jonathan Buckley that changed with Wise’s decision to leave Charleston after the second of a trio of restaurants opened in September.
Maison Premiere and Sauvage are his first stints in Brooklyn, with an initial focus on Sauvage, since it’s a bigger lift: He has been tasked with taking over breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, as well as a pastry program. “These guys [owners Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka] build beautiful places,” says Wise. “So the food has to go along with the hard work that they have put to make it look timeless and transporting.”
Dinner includes highlights such as butternut squash agnolotti with duck ham and pomegranate; escargot with fennel and farm egg; and wagyu tartare with horseradish. Under entrees are options like corn tagliatelle with salted fish, lobster with bok choy and sour cherry; and a lamb chop with Swiss chard and dried apricots.
Soon, Wise will approach the menu for Maison Premiere, where the raw bar focus will remain, with a few updates in the works.
“I’m approaching the restaurants totally differently. They’re set up very different.” Still, one thing is the same for both restaurants: “I’m just going to do my thing.”
Check out the brand new Sauvage dinner menu below, and let us know what you think if you stop by.