Preston Madson, who cooked for many years under the tutelage of California cuisine master Jonathan Waxman is now bringing his own flavor of New American cooking to Bellwether in Long Island City. The restaurant recently opened this past Tuesday with a menu of local area ingredients (I never met a bird from Half Goffle Road until I tried their cornish hen) combined with some global touches. Even owner, Matthew McCormick is in on the keep it local ingredient game, as his family farm supplies the honey for the restaurant’s dishes.
The all-white tables and chairs are contrasted by a bright green living wall, designed by McCormick in collaboration with Elizabeth Hardwick of Giants in the Dirt. A curved bar encourages conversations from your bar mates if you can ever get them to look up from their phones.
The inventive cocktail list includes the refreshing Shandy Town, made with blanco tequila, Campari, aleppo pepper, lime, and IPA beer, and a Wombat that combines rye and smoked maple syrup, taking it to another level.
Starters are a strong point: The black bass crudo with serrano peppers, celery, meyer lemon had a very balanced flavor with just a touch of heat and looked sharp on the plate too. The octopus with sea island red peas, potatoes, salsa verde, had a nice balance of flavor. The beef carpaccio was dotted with pickled mustard seeds, sunflower shoots, and potato chips for a combination of contrasting flavors and textures, and the avocado with seaweed, hemp, sesame, pepper vinegar, was paired with one of the largest cracker for dipping I’ve ever seen.
For a restaurant of this ambition you might not think a burger patty melt would be one of the chef’s proudest items, but it was meant to happen after many years of wanting a burger on the menu at other restaurants he’s cooked at (and the fact that there’s a Corner Bistro across the street.) This is no ordinary patty melt however, they even make their own American Cheese using clothbound cheddar for more depth of flavor. A little gem salad after a burger like that might make you feel a bit virtuous until you think about the buttermilk dressing.
For it’s final sweet act, Bellwether serves up citrus fruits turbocharged with booze or a sweet toasted dough dish that was a hit around the table. With LIC growing at such a breakneck pace it’s nice to see there’s earnest neighborhood restaurants coming along like Bellwether where locals can go to slow down and break bread with their friends and family.
47-25 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City