When you have as many ideas as Sandy Dee Hall, a week is just not long enough to get them all on the plate.
The chef-owner’s LES restaurant Black Tree, which is expanding to Williamsburg (261 Metropolitan Ave.) next week, opened about two years ago after a well-received sandwich pop-up but turned into a bona fide farm-to-table gem when Hall started theming his weekly menu around a star protein.
But the tiny space — just over 700 square feet — meant there was never enough room for everything he wanted to do. In the dining room of Black Tree Brooklyn, twice as large and already affectionately dubbed “jungle warehouse,” guests will share tabletops with potted plants while corners are piled full of fermenting vegetables and experiments in curing, which Hall began doing in earnest over the summer.
To complete the story of his ingredients, Black Tree Brooklyn will have an eight-seat chef’s table where Hall will serve tasting menus of up to 18 courses that he describes as fun and experimental.
“Instead of the more rustic platings that I do, [the tasting menu] will be super refined,” he says. “It’s the kind of stuff that you think you see every day, but it’s gonna be not done the same way; it can look really simple, but hopefully it doesn’t taste that way.”
A tasting event earlier this week — in a half-finished kitchen without gas — found blackberries paired with beef, gravlax cured to the texture of bacon, and pickled peaches and duck confit on puffy bao buns. Very little of it made sense at first glance; all of it was delicious.
Hall hasn’t abandoned his roots as a bartender, either. Another of his new experiments is barrel aging as a way to add a different dimension to Black Tree’s cocktails. Because everything at the restaurants is sourced within 300 miles of the city (including spirits), there are no limes for Hall’s margaritas. Barrel aging adds a deep note and subtle sweetness that invoke a caipirinha — flavor without the carbon footprint.
“We’re doing [the cocktail program] local,” he explains, “so we’re actually taking that a step further and creating it even more inside the space.”