A British Outpost Opens on the Upper East Side
BY SARA RUFFIN COSTELLO
The interior of the East Pole was influenced by the Royal Geographic Society.
Ben Towill and Phil Winser, the duo behind Chinatown’s Fat Radish restaurant, have brought their longtime executive chef, Nick Wilber, uptown to head the kitchen at theEast Pole, their new restaurant on the Upper East Side. “We weren’t looking specifically for a location up there,” explained Winser, who is responsible for the look and feel of their London-inspired industrial interiors. (Towill and Winser, both 29, have been friends since their days at Marlborough College.) “We really just stumbled on a unique property in a part of town that happens to have an open market for what we did in Chinatown.”
The East Pole expands on the team’s seasonally available, organic home cooking. From fresh fennel paired with pollock fish pie, to New Jersey cucumbers tossed with fried oysters rolled in sesame and nori, their dishes celebrate the regional movement started in Britain by cooks like Rick Stein, Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver — a national British treasure, “whose face,” Towill said, laughing, “will probably wind up on the back of a £10 note.”
Summer cucumbers, fried Cape Cod oysters and wakame at the East Pole.
Design inspiration for the East Pole came from Winser’s obsession with the turn-of-the-century explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, but the outcome isn’t exactly literal. “I’m not into gimmicks,” he said. Winser employed simple materials — American walnut, marble, black iron and canvas — both downstairs in the bar and dining room, which are intimate and vessel-like, and upstairs, where the walls of another bar are hung with expedition maps and a roped tent that runs the length of the ceiling.
Outside the East Pole, perched on an old blue garden chair under a wisteria-wound arbor strung with lights, Towill said, “Look, anyone can make good food, but there’s an intangible experience — the theater of the room, the music, the wine, the food and the people — that should leave you invigorated.” Certainly, that 360-degree notion of hospitality will work as well for the team uptown as it has downtown.
The East Pole, 133 East 65th Street, (212) 249-2222; theeastpolenyc.com.
This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: August 26, 2013
An earlier version of this post misspelled the surname of one of the owners of Fat Radish and the East Pole. He is Phil Winser, not Winsor.