A vegan restaurant from a chef with experience at Eleven Madison Park hopes to become a neighborhood spot for both vegan and non-vegan diners alike.
Sans, from former Eleven Madison Park sous chef Champ Jones, opens Friday at 329 Smith St., between Carroll and President Streets, breathing new life into a slice of Carroll Gardens previously home to shuttered favorite Nightingale Nine.
Jones has partnered with longtime colleague Robert Newton, chef and owner of the now-closed Nightingale Nine and Seersucker restaurants, for a short-term “residency” of sorts. The restaurant will be a one-year project, Jones tells Eater, a way to test drive the menu specializing in dishes using ingredients only derived from plants.
“It goes back to why I started cooking,” Jones says of going vegan for his first solo venture. A vegetarian himself, the chef has always been interested in “healthy cooking” and routinely experimented with tofu and tempeh in his spare time while working at EMP and the Nomad.
Though it’s vegan, the meatless menu aims to cater to both vegan and non-vegan diners. Dishes include lasagna and a “TV Dinner,” Jones’ spin on meatloaf with peas, carrots, and potato. And a plum terrine, served with orchard fruit jelly and brioche made in-house, is “a fatty dish reminiscent of something you wouldn’t be accustomed to encountering in a vegan space,” he says. A five-course tasting menu is also on deck, grown out of Jones’ fine dining experience.
The idea is to try and get a wider audience to try vegan fare, Jones says. As such, prices are “in line with the neighborhood” in hopes of making it accessible, he says. Entrees go up to $22, and small plates are all under $15.
“Of course, we love all vegans who come here, but we want to create access to this subgenre of eating,” he says.
Beyond that, the menu features snacks, such as bread with malt and garlic butter, and small plates like a sunchoke salad with roasted and pickled sunchokes, fried sunchoke skin, and almond curds. Larger plates like an Iowa tofu dish with demi tomato, golden beet, and olive oil, and a porcini risotto will be on offer, too.
The dessert menu carries two options, caramel ice cream with chocolate crumble and green apple sorbet with preserved lemon and apple cream, and the tasting course, at $65 per person, will feature additional dishes like blini and “caviar” made with olives.
Sommelier Daniel Beedle, who previously put in time at the NoMad, Betony, and Juni, has also gone green with the venue’s cocktail program, which focuses on minimizing waste by repurposing ingredients from the menu. Drinks include an herbaceous sour with Old Tom gin, muddled sugar snap peas, lemon and hyssop, called “A Couple Moments”; as well as “One More,” featuring pineapple skin rum, peach, and mint.
The new opening marks the closure of former Vietnamese hit Nightingale Nine, which was founded by Newton and Kerry Diamond in 2013, the duo that once operated the Southern-influenced Seersucker in the same spot. Newton announced earlier this summer that the closing would be temporary, but he did not respond to multiple requests for comment if he’d be reopening it after Sans’ tenure.
For now, Sans, which can seat 30 diners across a bar, counter, and tables, will be open from Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m.