This summer, come and get lost on the island…
About a year ago, two childhood friends had an idea to open a seasonal seafood shack called Moby Dick’s on the East Coast. Partners Nick Hatsatouris and Lincoln Pilcher spent just a few weeks building-out the pop up, which operated during July and August in Montauk. Perched on the marina docks, where the fish were caught daily and the oysters lay fresh in the farm, Moby Dick’s gave meaning to the word fresh.
Now the duo are bringing the East Coast west, opening a summer pop-up restaurant, Gilligan’s at Soho Grand. With a similar vision, they have created an ingredient-driven menu and with Chef Gary King at the helm (formerly of Moby Dick’s and Il Buco) plating up simple and natural dishes that are served share-style. In true culinary form, no stone was left unturned, pastry Chef, Emily Wallendjack, supplies the sweet tooth fix – a Chocolate Pot de crème with whipped Pisco Cream is now the show’s headliner. To compliment, GrandLife Mixologist, Jeremy Oertel jumped on board to shake up the summer refreshments, accompanied by wine on tap – naturally.
We sat down with Nick and Lincoln to talk
How did you guys meet and end up in New York?
Lincoln: We’re both from Sydney.
Nick: We knew each other from school. We went to high school about 50 meters from one another. Your arch rivals wind up becoming friends because you’re chasing the same girls and all that. We kind of connected on that circuit.
L: Very much so. (Laughing.) Very much so.
L: I came here in 1999 and just wound up staying. I got involved in Ruby’s a few years later.
(Insert note: Ruby’s is a small Aussie cafe in NoLita that serves as the de facto American capital of Australia despite having only 8 seats.)
N: I arrived in ‘05. I’d never been here before. We started a catering company with the Ruby’s thing and then got this opportunity to go down to DC.
L: Yeah so we did Ruby’s then did another spot down in DC called Rugby’s with Ralph Lauren. Right in Georgetown. We came up with a burgers and beers concept for the college kids.
We started this place–Kingswood–in ’07 with another partner.
And then we went out to West Hollywood, LA and did Eveleigh in 2010.
N: It’s similar to Kingswood but it’s very much an LA restaurant. Much bigger, outdoor seating designed like an old farmhouse.
It’s been very interesting to go into these different markets, different cities. We’ve gotten to see a lot of America. Made a lot of friends. It’s a very expensive way to make friends. (Laughs.)
L: That’s what we call the restaurant business: An expensive way to make friends.
How did Moby’s, your Montauk 2012 pop-up restaurant come about?
L: We took a space and put a pizza oven in, shucked some oysters and put in a bar. Really relaxed environment and polished food.
N: We only had ten items on the menu. No need to make people confused.
What would you say is the difference between Moby’s and Gilligan’s?
N: Well it’s tailored to the space. But we will use a lot of the menu ideas. We brought in a grill this time. It has a sort-of Tulum vibe. Two, three entrees. Crudo and oysters.
N: The space is meant to be transporting. i.e. you aren’t meant to feel like you are in Manhattan. But because it is just a summer pop-up we wanted to celebrate the season and the name needed to be fun, tongue in cheek but which would resonate with everyone.
What inspired the tiki, tropical trend as opposed to the nautical vibe at Moby’s?
N: We wanted the space to be unique so decided that rather than replicate this would be a riff on Moby Dick’s. Without a waterfront marina, we needed to introduce elements that made you feel like you were in season. Summer should be fun.
How do you want guests to interpret your food?
N: Simple, ingredient driven and allows the produce to speak for itself. Everything is fresh, light and flavorful, the way you should eat in summer. We source produce from the best farms and fishermen on Long Island. Our food is normally influenced by Southern Europe (Italy, Spain), this time there are some subtle South American influences mixed in too.
Where did you find Chef Gary King?
N: Gary has been cooking farm-fresh food for years now in NY: first at Craft, then Cookshop, then Il Buco. He has developed a network of amazing purveyors, he likes to source the best local produce, is true to the season and allows the natural flavor of the ingredients to speak for themselves. Lincoln and I grew up eating that way so it has been nice to connect with a chef that takes this approach. Ultimately we feel like you can have a really great meal without the formality and Gary’s style embodies this.
And Chef Emily Wallenjack?
N: Emily is classically trained having spent a long time at Jean Georges and in Paris, refining her craft. As the head pastry Chef at Veritas, she was part of the team that received a 3 star NY times review. However, what we like about Emily’s style is that it is all about remembering your childhood. We love that because desserts need to be decadent but still approachable.
What can guests expect from the cocktail list? (curated by our mixologist Jeremy Oertel)
N: The cocktail program is meant to evoke a summer island feel. They are either classics, or our riffs on the classics, using great liquors and fresh fruits squeezed daily. Our wine list is tap wine, mainly rose. Simple.
How did you become a part of the Grand team?
N: When I came to New York, that was the spot, everyone was going there. And it’s held in high regard. We’re not in early and mid-20s anymore so how we enjoy our evenings are different.
L: Any good brand is based on its collaborations. We’d love to work more with GrandLife. They’ve brought people in and the crossover works. Plus it’s actual New Yorkers there unlike other hotel properties.
N: They curate well. They’re a little understated, which I like. There’s a big push to become a part of the community. And people when they travel want to know what the locals do. GrandLife does that well.
Gilligan’s opens June 1st, 2013 and remains open through October 19th, 2013
Daily from 4pm – late
Brunch from 11am – 4pm, Saturdays and Sundays only
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