Three months into 2015 and it is already shaping up to be one of the busiest and most eventful years for local restauranteur Chelsea Altman, who, along with chefs Nate Smith and Sophie Kamin, just launched Bar Bolinas, and who already co-owns Allswell, Olea, Pequeña, and Old Stanley’s in Bushwick (plus the former Maggie Brown and the original Moe’s).
Next up? White Tiger, a restaurant focusing on Korean, with a twist. Helmed by Altman and her brother and fellow restauranteur Ben Altman, it will open in late May/early June inside the old Pequeña Prospect Heights space at 601 Vanderbilt Avenue.
“We are teaming up with a wonderful chef and her husband, Liz Kwon and Yoo Kwon Chung (currently front-of-house at Olea),” Altman explained. “I’m extremely excited about it. I just love them — they’re really good people and really talented — and there’s just not a lot of Korean around this neighborhood.”
The food will be “Korean foremost,” but have Kwon’s “point of view on it,” as well as a cocktail list and beer selection (think Korean beer and soju cocktails, kimchi martinis, and straight up craft beer). “Yoo Kwon a really big beer guy,” said Altman. “So it’ll be a mix of what’s going on in the beer world and Korean beer.”
Blending cuisines and worlds just makes sense, Altman said, especially in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, because the neighborhoods “are probably the most diverse pocket of Brooklyn, at least that I know of. I like that it’s eclectic and it’s cool, but it’s not too “hip” or “straight” or “corporate.” Even the people pushing strollers don’t seem cookie-cutter to me. There’s a real sense of community.”
That is why the new restaurant’s mood will be “casual, hip, not low-end or divey, but not fancy or uptight.”
Why “White Tiger”?
“The tiger is the national animal of South Korea and is just an awesome animal, and Liz Kwon and my brother are both born in the Year of the Tiger,” laughed Altman. “We picked ‘white tiger’ because it’s a sacred animal in local Korean folklore who fends off evil and brings good luck.”