If you have ever paused for a moment before moving in to a spartan dwelling and thought, how am I going to turn this in to a home, you wouldn’t make the cut on the Fish and Rose team. This morning Chris Fischer and his Beach Plum restaurant crew arrived in New York city for a three-week run as pop-up restaurateurs, and they had just seven hours to go from vacant space to first customer.
With the temperature in the low 30’s and a wintry mix blowing in off the East River, it was a morning fit for neither man nor beast. And yet a calm but energized feel pervaded as the crew got down to work.
At 9 a.m. Tolya Ashe, a private chef in New York but with Island connections and a strong back, started off-loading the first van of produce and cooking supplies. At 9:30 a.m. another van arrived and the crew carted in an ice chest filled with 600 oysters, hoisted onto the counter a clam shell fountain usually located in the yard of Mr. Fischer’s grandfather, and turned the music up high. More vans were due soon, bringing supplies from Brooklyn, and the waiters were scheduled to arrive at 1 p.m. for training.
The pop-up restaurant is located at 10 Kenmare street, a busy stretch of road near the Bowery and will be open seven days a week from Dec. 9 through Dec. 30, for dinner only. The block is equal parts imposing wholesale kitchen supply stores and airy cafes serving $12 yogurt.
The event is a Vineyard production in both staff and provisions. Wild oysters from West Tisbury and Katama Bay were trucked down, as was beef, pork and offal from Beetlebung Farm. Chicken, lamb and suckling pig were also on the van, sourced from local Vineyard farms. Oyster shucker Brendan Karalekas, progeny of Agricultural Fair champion shucker Teddy Karalekas, had been brought down, too. When you have oysters that have been growing for three years, you don’t trust them to just any pair of hands.
Even the genesis of the project has Island roots as Bryan Meehan, West Chop coffee impresario, used the Kenmare street venue as a seasonal coffee shop, and brought the locale to the attention of Mr. Fischer.
The Beach Plum group had only decided to do the project a month earlier. Mr. Fischer said the biggest hurdles to setting up shop 300 miles from home were “communications and transportation systems of varying degrees.” Short haul (kitchen to dining room), medium haul (basement storage room to kitchen), and long haul, New York city to Martha’s Vineyard (as food would be continually shipped south for the duration).
The first reservation was for 4:30 p.m. today, but if anyone was worried that Fish and Rose wouldn’t be ready, it didn’t show. As Kathryn Arffa, who was tasked with coordinating the logistics said, “we know that if put our minds to something, we will get it done.”
The 10 Kenmare space has no gas, and therefore no cooking range. An electric griddle would need to be procured. The Bowery still has a few kitchen supply stores left, so that, thankfully, could be locally sourced.