Chef Franklin Becker stands proud before his beet. Photograph by Liz Barclay
Exciting news for gluten-avoiders and healthy eaters: The Little Beet Table opens today in New York’s Flatiron District. A spinoff of chef Franklin Becker’s café, The Little Beet, the new restaurant will offer a more formal, sit-down vibe.
According to the chef, the idea to open a second spot sprung from the tremendous success of the café, which serves about 1,300 customers a day. “It’s just great food,” Becker told the Forward. “People come in and don’t even care whether it’s gluten-free or not. The fact that it’s gluten-free is just a bonus.”
There are, of course, many customers who do care, and Becker prides himself on being able to help them feel comfortable and happily sated when they go out for dinner. “Think about people who really can’t have gluten and haven’t taken a bite of a good burger or pasta in years,” he said. “Our biggest challenge was creating the right bread and pasta dough to give these people what they’ve been missing.”
The chef goes on to tell me that The Little Beet Table’s food will be progressive, vegetable-driven, local as much as possible and hyper seasonal. He will also offer plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.
I wondered whether the Jewish chef would be offering anything particularly Jewish.
“I’ve always been influenced by my Jewish upbringing,” he said. “I have a pot roast dish with apples and vanilla-walnut harosset on the menu. I loved homemade apple sauce and latkes as a kid, so I try to use similar seasoning in my food.”
He’s served up high-end borscht, Romanian tenderloin and knishes at times — all delicious enough to make his Jewish mother proud. He’s even made a concord-grape sorbet, reminiscent of the Kedem wine his parents would let him drink back in the day.
His dishes sound so rich and flavorful that I wonder how he manages to keep them healthy. As it turns out, a lot of the secret lies in the fat. Rather than cook his food in “schmaltzy” saturated fat, Becker is careful to cook exclusively with healthy fats, which in his restaurant are expeller-pressed safflower oil and extra-virgin olive oil. His new cookbook, “Good Fat Cooking: Recipes for a Flavor-Packed, Healthy Life,” is now available just about anywhere you can buy a book.
The Little Beet Table opens today at 333 Park Avenue South.
Hadas Margulies is the Forward’s food intern. Find her at [HadasMargulies.com]