Manhattan Ave Eatery Cherry Point Has A New Chef

Chanterelle and maitake mushrooms, egg yolk: Cherry Point uses a mix of foraged and cultivated mushrooms (courtesy of Nick Solares @nicksolares)

Ed Szymanski was actually Cherry Point’s (664 Manhattan Ave.) opening sous chef in May 2016; now, after a year and a half as head chef at the Beatrice Inn in the West Village, Szymanski has returned to Brooklyn, a move Cherry Point owner Vince Mazeau likens to “getting the band back together.” Szymanski, originally from England, has been helping to shape the new menu since August, which will roll out in full in mid-November, reimagining Cherry Point as a modern English restaurant.

Though he’s only 24, Szymanski, Mazeau explains, brings a lot of energy and creativity to the kitchen: “He’s mature, motivated, exuberant, [and] totally enthralled with finding good product.” Mazeau himself is half Scottish and half French, so a traditional European approach to Cherry Point’s offerings isn’t exactly new. The revamped concept is, in a way, an extension of Cherry Point’s earliest ethos. The restaurant occupies a former butcher shop, which innately inspired a whole-animal, no-waste approach from the get-go. Mazeau, formerly an art director and set designer, views a restaurant as a different kind of set, and “happily took that narrative thread and ran with it,” offering a meat-heavy, charcuterie-centric menu early on to create “a particular experience deserving of people’s time.”

Slow grilled and basted whole duck breast, sourdough and smoked honey glaze with pear ketchup, plum jam and preserved apricots (courtesy of Nick Solares @nicksolares)

In a brief history lesson, Mazeau summarized ancient farming culture in England: “farm-to table is the way people used to live. Farmers would sell their best products and keep the offal for themselves. Now we celebrate those techniques.” At Cherry Point, the same animal may inspire house-made items like a terrine served with mustard and pickled vegetables, or croquettes, or pate. Excess fat and off-cuts are merely opportunities to add to the lengthy list of components made from scratch. This nose-to-tail commitment is but one example of Cherry Point’s dedication to both creativity and sustainability. The restaurant also sources cosmetically damaged fruits to make jams that can be used throughout the winter. The fruit may also be fermented to make sodas in-house.

Sample beef dinner menu demonstrating Cherry Point’s new direction

The new menu is largely still in its developmental phase, with experimentation fully underway. A recent quail dish has been occasionally featured as a special, to test it out and tweak what it needs to be seasonally. But the menu won’t change completely: popular dishes like the whitefish salad and grilled oysters will stay. Heartier staples will just be added alongside them, like savory pies, or prime rib served with Yorkshire pudding.

Grilled quail on toast, cremini mushroom puree, pickled prune, port broth (courtesy of Nick Solares @nicksolares)

Leaning fully into the modern English concept, Cherry Point also aims to establish itself as one of the few Brooklyn restaurants with game regularly on the menu. Depending on seasonal availability, dishes may include Scottish wood pigeon, quail, pheasant, woodcock, duck, or venison. Right now, the restaurant is working with D’Artagnan to source game that’s been farmed in Scotland, alongside New York wild farm suppliers. Accordingly, Cherry Point just introduced two prix-fixe menus: family-style game and beef dinners that, depending on party size, can be enjoyed at the eight-seat chef’s table by the open kitchen. These large-format offerings are available for parties ranging from six to 20 people and are meant to provide a festive, communal, and more personal experience. Though Mazeau describes them as a “Sunday supper family feast” kind of thing, both menus are available any day of the week, as long as they’re reserved 48 hours in advance.

Beef tongue salad, watercress, croutons, mustard vinaigrette (courtesy of Nick Solares @nicksolares)

Though Cherry Point is still a few weeks away from fully realizing what will change, its comforting fare will likely pair well with continually dropping temperatures. As the new menu develops, Mazeau promises it will be “good food, good fun.”

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