Hey Kids, It’s Goatober

Last year’s “No Goat Left Behind” program proved so successful, Heritage Foods USA decided to do it again. Enter, Goatober: a month dedicated to eating, milking, and loving these funny-eyed, four-legged mammals. 

“It’s urgent for us to have an outlet to sell these lovely creatures so we can focus on our primary goal, which is to make cheese,” said Angela Miller co-owner Consider Bardwell Farm. “We want to create a demand for goat meat the way there is a demand for lamb, they are very similar in flavor.” 

Heritage Foods USA started their push for goat awareness to bring to light the amount of male goats, which can’t be milked for our beloved goat cheese, that end up getting slaughtered with no purpose. Goats can birth two or three kids at a time, but what can you do with the males besides consume them? So, eat we must.

This year, 53 restaurants have participated in the effort to bring goat to the table, including Minetta Tavern, Colicchio and Sons, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Fette Sau, Gran Electrica, Parish Hall and more. Also, if you happen to be in Charleston, SC, at 6:30pm on Sunday, Hominy Grill’s James Beard award-winning chef Robert Stehling hosts a five-course feast of goat with dishes like grille goat loin, goat cheese salad, and goats head soup. Of course, if you happen to live in Brooklyn, getting a good goat curry isn’t too hard either, especially if you hit up Fisherman’s Cove or Christie’s Jamaican Patties

For 100 Percent Local Eats and Drinks, Hit Up This Week’s Festival

No matter where you go, everyone has local and seasonal food on the brain. Whether that means it’s a crappy sports bar you walk into where they claim they use these ingredients (but really they are trying to capitalize on a trend), or places that are actually committed to the cause. This week, don’t bother trying to weed out the fakers; for a truly local food experience, hit up one of the establishments featured at Edible’s Eat Drink Local festival, which runs until June 30.

Not only can diners try truly local foods, but also beer, wine, and booze, all made in or near New York state. Some restaurants, like Northern Spy Food Co., Good Restaurant, and The Green Table, have always focused on local and seasonal fare and will be dishing out goods not far from their normal menu. The real treat is to try spots that aren’t known for concentrating on local goods and seeing what they are doing. For example, The Bowery Diner has a special dish each night, like tonight’s clams with spinach, Chinese sausage, and corn. You can get Swiss food made with local ingredients at Trestle on Tenth, locally sourced Peking duck at Bobo, and feel-good pizza from Nick and Toni’s Café on the Upper West Side. 

Naturally, Brooklyn is in on the game, too, with restaurants like the Saul Bolton’s popular eatery Saul, fresh Italian food from Osteria il Paiolo in Williamsburg, and both of George Weld’s joints,Egg and Parish Hall.  But wait, what about the drinks I mentioned before? Stop by Jimmy’s No. 43 for regional brews paired local meats and cheese, Almond for a glorious selection of New York craft beers, and for you wine lovers, on Thursday City Grit hosts a dinner that features rose from New York wineries. If that’s not enough, on Wednesday the Fifth Annual Taste of Greenmarket commences in the event space at 82 Mercer and includes chefs and bartenders from all over the city (Dan Barber, Julie Reiner, Michael Anthony, and more!) cooking up bites and making cocktails with food from, obviously, the Greenmarket. Also, as if eating locally didn’t make you feel good enough about yourself, all the proceeds from this tasting event go to support the Greenmarket Youth Education Project. 

Hipster Brunch Grows Up: Q&A With George Weld, Owner of Egg

This year has been a busy time for proprietor George Weld, who has run the superbly good (but insanely packed) Egg in Williamsburg for over five years. Now, just a few blocks away, he has what he refers to as his “grown up” restaurant Parish Hall. Aside from churning out successful eateries, Weld is known for focusing on seasonal and local ingredients and some, in fact, come from his six-acre Goatfell Farm upstate. Despite the following Egg has for brunch—lines at peak times on the weekend can take over an hour—don’t call Weld the “brunch king,” even if he deserves it.

I noticed on Facebook that you aren’t fond of the new title you’ve been crowned with.
It’s fine. I knew it was coming and I was trying to get a heads up on people trying to make fun of me.

You have to admit, you do brunch well. How did you get started?
Egg started as a breakfast only restaurant. Some friends of mine had a hot dog stand and they weren’t using it in the mornings. They asked if I was interested in opening a breakfast place and I had wanted to open a restaurant. Plus I love breakfast so it seemed like a good arrangement. I didn’t expect, I didn’t even think there would enough people up in the morning in Williamsburg to make it work. It was a bit of an experiment. We had to close at noon before the hot dog place opened. And we were there for like two years before we took over the whole place.

What is it about brunch?
I feel like brunch, of all meals, is the one you want to ease people into, and it’s a nice role to play in people’s lives. I love it. We have a broad range of customers from those bringing their parents in, those hungover, those who haven’t gone to bed yet—it’s a fun way to see different people.

What inspired you to open your new joint Parish Hall?
Parish hall has been in the works for two years. There are a lot o f reasons behind us doing that. One of them was we wanted to have a place for our cooks and servers to grow into. Give them another place to express their creativity. Also, it seemed like the kind of place the neighborhood was ready for, like it had grown up a bit. A lot of my friends don’t come to Egg anymore because it’s too crowded and rambunctious. It’s nice to have a place that’s a little more relaxing.

How much does your farm play into the restaurants and what you serve?
It varies from month to month. Last year we had a full time manager, but this year we are so busy with Parish Hall it’s a little less ambitious. We are focused on getting a structure in place so it will be more productive next year. But, we already get great produce and eggs from great farms that do it exclusively, and I want to keep doing it with them. It was never really my goal to provide everything, but more to give people who work here a chance to grow food and to maybe get some varieties of produce others don’t have.

You also opened up Hash Bar at Smorgasburg this year. What sparked that idea?
We joked about doing it for a long time. We had one spastic cook for a while who loved working the flattop and had too much energy to really work around. So we joked about setting him up with his own place and flattop to make hash. Last year we committed to serving hamburgers and stuff to concertgoers [on the Williamsburg waterfront during shows]. Smorgasburg started at the same time and we kept looking at it and wanted to be there and around people excited about food. So, this year, we decided to try out the Hash Bar idea. It’s the dream audience for food, people are willing to try anything and are excited about it.

Where do you like to eat brunch?
I haven’t been out to brunch in a long time, thought I have had great brunches at Prune. But, aside from Egg and Parish Hall, I don’t go to brunch save for a place I go to upstate called Jake Moon, about a half an hour outside of Albany.

Any other restaurant ideas going on in your head?
We will see how Parish Hall and Hash Bar goes. Besides, it’s fun to see them find their way.

New Restaurants Turn To Potential Patrons To Open Their Doors

When the Tribeca restaurant The Elevens opens its doors this fall, it won’t be all thanks to an angel investor like Bobby De Niro, a partner in nearby Nobu, or a deep-pocketed industry player like Jeffrey Chodorow. First–time restaurateur Scott Kester raised a significant chunk of the $1 million capital needed to open the 65-seat restaurant and bar by offering neighbors the chance to become permanent “seatholders,” a position which entitles them to priority reservations and lifelong discounts. The cost? $500. “We thought it would be a good idea to build a community at the same time as raising capital,” explains Kester, who attracted 150 seatholders and hopes to enlist a few hundred more before the opening.

The Elevens is just the latest example of a restaurant turning to its (future) regulars to open its doors. As banks reduce access to large-scale loans and traditional restaurant investors take fewer risks, restaurateurs are looking to their communities and to a growing swath of micro- financing sites to raise money. They do it through Kickstarter, using the crowd-funding site to raise money in exchange for promised gifts and rewards. And they do it through Kickstarter emulators like Credibles, a site founded early this year that allows supporters to pre-pay for meals and services; Small Knot, which facilitates small loans from supporters in exchange for perks like private party invites or cooking lessons; and Lucky Ant, which solicits funds from neighbors living in the same communities as the businesses. “I can’t imagine spending money on a coffee shop in Portland, Oregon or Dallas, Texas,” says Lucky Ant founder and Lower East Side resident Jonathan Moyal, “but I’d be happy to fund one here.”

While Kester promised his neighbors seats at the table, that’s small fries compared to what Eric Fenster, the owner of Berkeley, California restaurant Gather, promised before it opened in 2010. Fenster and his partners raised the $2 million to open their eco-friendly restaurant (located inside a “green” community center) by recruiting 62 friends and neighbors as investors. Each committed a minimum of $5,000 [Berkeley!]. Though the return on investment for the restaurant industry is notoriously dicey, the cost of entry made it easier for first–time investors to get involved, and it offered the restaurant a built-in customer base. To raise an extra $20,000 in working capital right before the opening, the owners sold discounted pre-sale gift certificates. All the fundraising paid off. Soon after it opened in 2010, the restaurant won Esquire’s Best New Restaurant award.

Many chefs and budding investors find restaurants the perfect place to align their capital with their values. Anthony Myint, whose award–winning San Francisco restaurants Mission Chinese Food and Commonwealth both have formal partnerships with charities, included charitable donations as one of the perks during his successful $12,000 Kickstarter campaign for Commonwealth. He eventually raised about half the capital needed for the restaurant through the public sphere. Meanwhile, George Weld, the owner of Brooklyn breakfast favorite Egg, turned to Slow Money, a loosely organized group of investors focused on building sustainably minded businesses, when he started to raise money for his new restaurant Parish Hall. “Slow Money is more interested in making sure that we have a solid mission statement and actually do what we said we would do in terms of using local foods,” Weld explains. “It felt like a collaboration instead of trying to screw each other over.”

New York Openings: Pok Pok NY, Parish Hall, Ken & Cook

Pok Pok NY (Cobble Hill) – Portlandia export with drinkable vinegars, killer Thai wings.

Parish Hall (Williamsburg) – Egg peeps dedicate a whitewashed hall to Northeastern cuisine.

Ken & Cook (Nolita) – Breezy "industrial brasserie" rocking creative pastas, super-fresh raw bar.