By Matt Levine, Owner of Chalk Point Kitchen
Chalk Point Kitchen in Soho is the brainchild of restaurateur Matt Levine and his team at IndieFORK. With a menu designed by Chef Joe Isidori & spearheaded by Executive Chef Rebecca Weitzman creations in the kitchen, Chalk Point is dedicated to market-to-table, local foods with a multicultural influence — the latest venture to embrace healthy dining out in NYC without sacrificing taste or flavors. Think dishes like spicy roasted cauliflower with fresh oregano salsa verde and pecorino, and sea scallops with blood orange, caper berry, and brown butter vinaigrette. Chalk Point and restaurants like it are changing the narrative on what eating out means for clean eating, and we can't argue with that! Here, Matt Levine answers a few questions about the direction the restaurant is taking.
How are you trying to change the perspective, to take the guilt out of eating out at a restaurant?
Food is communal, there should be no guilt involved, eating out is a common social thread.
What was the original vision for the restaurant? How have you been able to stick to that, and what has needed to shift?
Our vision was always to remain a ‘market to table’ restaurant, staying true to our concept — sourcing local, organic, sustainable produce with low carbon footprints.
We’ve been able to maintain our vision, while seasonally we do have our limitations. Last winter was extremely cold, freezing local lakes and limiting the supply from our fishmongers, while in contrary, this past winter, we had more of a variety of produce from our local purveyors due to the warmer winter. We are now extremely excited to introduce our Spring menu items, while in the lab coming up with Summer menu concepts.
Why do you think eating out has such a stigma of being a "cheat" or deviating from your healthy day-to-day eating? Why can’t it be both?
Our goal is to put that stigma to rest, we celebrate and encourage local, organic, and sustainable harvest food. It’s our Chalk Point Kitchen progressive approach: healthier menu items with bold flavor profiles in a creative ‘downtown’ environment. You can certainly eat out while sticking to your healthier lifestyle goals, and Chalk Point Kitchen represents that.
How are you able to achieve such awesome, flavorful dishes that even the most devout foodie can love - but also keep the meal clean and healthy?
Healthy foods can also satisfy your taste buds. Our kitchen here at Chalk Point Kitchen really gets creative and innovative in the kitchen — how does Truffled Baby Artichokes, Mint & Pistachio Pesto, House Made Hemp Seed, Herb & Sea Salt Granola, Pickled Blueberries, or Roasted Plum Mostarda sound? They all make appearances on our new Spring Menu, which we launched this week.
How important do you think organic and local are?
Locally procured ingredients and produce afford the opportunity to choose fresh, wholesome, organic ingredients in season. This is not only healthier, but more connected to the community and seasons, while being socially responsible. Consumers are extremely educated in choosing their dining out experiences, and New Yorkers are rediscovering the benefits of buying locally grown food. Not only is it fresher, tastier, and more nutritious, it is also good for the local economy — buying directly from farmers and local markets helps them stay in business.
What do you look for in the ingredients you use at the restaurant?
When grown locally, the crops are picked at their peak of ripeness, versus being harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to your local distributor or restaurant. Eating local food is eating seasonally, which is how we choose our ingredients here at Chalk Point Kitchen. Not to mention, locally sourced food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, which adds nutrition, and of course a fresh taste.
What do you think makes a healthy meal also satisfying?
Your food is your fuel, knowing you are eating healthy not only satisfies you physically, but also mentally.
Favorite dishes at Chalk Point?
With NYC’s greenmarkets opening, our Tri-State area farms lush, and our Montauk fishmongers setting sail, I'm very excited for us to introduce our Spring Menu this week. Some of my personal favorites are our Roasted Cauliflower Steak (fresh turmeric, ginger, almonds, roasted red grapes), Herb-Grilled Local Asparagus (apricot-pine nut romesco basil), and our Grilled Green Tomatoes (tarragon-clementine emulsion, warm blue cheese croutons).
Matt Levine is an atypical downtown impresario, entrepreneur and restaurateur, founder of indieFORK, a leading food & beverage group based out of New York City, and owner of Chalk Point Kitchen & The Handy Liquor Bar.
Chalk Point Kitchen has been featured in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview, and named “Top NYC Brunch” by Harper’s Bazaar. Chalk Point was also ranked “#1 Restaurant in NYC” out of 13,008 restaurants in NYC on Tripadvisor (currently #20 overall, #1 American, #1 Organic), and was the official backstage caterer of NYC Fashion Week at Lincoln Center.