The new restaurant James in Prospect Heights is the kind of neighborhood joint that could make even a Manhattan dweller wish they lived across the river so that it could be their regular hangout. Opening tonight, the eatery serves seasonal, American fare — herbs are grown in a garden on the roof; bread and ice cream are made in-house and flavored liquors are infused behind the bar. Here, a taste of what’s to come.
OWNERS/CHEF: Husband-and-wife team Deborah Williamson and Bryan Calvert started an event-planning company in 2003 for clients including Chanel, Paul Smith and Vanity Fair. Williamson heads production and design, while Calvert, who has worked in the kitchens of Bouley and Union Pacific and was the private chef for Annie Leibovitz, is in charge of food. This is their first restaurant and they keep a close eye on it — the couple lives in an apartment upstairs.
This story first appeared in the June 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
BACKSTORY: James is the first name of Calvert’s great-grandfather James Calvert. With his wife, Annie, he ran a restaurant in Harlem called Mount Morris during the late 1800s. His portrait hangs above the kitchen door.
INTERIOR: Williamson decorated the 1,000-square-foot space herself, sourcing two antique mirrors from The Plaza and one from a mansion in Harlem. The modern, Lucite chandelier hanging over the dining room is by Dutch design team Buro Vormkrijgers.
KEY COCKTAILS: Ginger Fizz (ginger-infused vodka, tonic water, Champagne, fresh mint) and Black Velvet (dark ale, Champagne).
BEST DISHES: Seared diver scallops with watercress puree and roasted corn, fava bean ravioli and morels broth and ramps, grilled lemon poundcake with rhubarb sorbet.
SOUNDTRACK: Rolling Stones, Miles Davis
FINISHING TOUCH: With the bill, diners are given a postcard with an image of Annie Calvert’s grocery list from 1886. On it: jelly, milk, bread, butter and coal.
INFO: 605 Carlton Avenue, 718-942-4255. Located two blocks from the Q and B trains (Seventh Avenue stop). Open Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 to 11 p.m.