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“Seymour Burton”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American East Village Moderate Good

At one point or another, every lawyer dreams of ditching the big firm life, hanging up a shingle and trying to make it on their own. (Not me, but hey, I had other ideas.) That’s probably what Adam Cohn, an attorney here in the city, was planning. And on 5th Street, that’s just what he’s done. Only this shingle, a 2x4 white-washed rectangle swaying in wind, does not read, Attorney at Law, and it does not hang outside an office where strident esquires write briefs and file motions. His shingle reads Seymour Burton, and it hangs outside a snug and incredibly loveable East Village restaurant. (I guess he had other ideas, too.)

You see, while Cohn is by day a practicing attorney, by night he’s a chef who went to CIA, and has cooked at London’s River Café, and New York City’s Washington Park and Barbuto. He and his partner, the architect Adam Kushner, bought Le Tableau with chef de cuisine-partner Josh Shuffman (Sullivan Diner, Home). Their plan was to renovate and modernize this decade-old French-Egyptian bistro. But after a few weeks, the food and the concept just didn’t feel true to them. It was someone else’s dream, someone else’s vision, and it had worked well for ten years, but it was time to start over. And so they decided to scratch the original idea and turn it into a restaurant that reflected the food that they loved to cook and to eat—quirky, homey, and simple New York food. They conceived of a menu stocked with potato latkes fried in chicken fat, Katz’s salami and eggs, braised pork shoulder, oysters and sausages, and crunchy fried clam bellies with remoulade, and they chose to honor their fathers—Seymour and Burton—in the new restaurant’s name. They opened as a work in progress, redesigning the space as they changed the menu and the concept from French-Egyptian to idiosyncratic New York, adding a 45-foot communal table, tearing out banquettes, tiling and opening up the kitchen, and hanging a shingle outside the front door.

I first heard of Seymour Burton through the foodie grapevine, and planned a visit with two girlfriends for a random Wednesday night, one that coincidentally corresponded with Peter Meehan’s glowing $25 and Under review in the Times. When I first told my friends I wanted to check this place out they’d never heard of it and seemed dubious of my choice. How the Times can change things.

That night th ... [more, click below]

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