The year is 1908. A young polar explorer by the name of Ernest Shackleton is leading a party of four across the frozen wasteland of Antarctica. Final destination: the South Magnetic Pole. For the next 374 days, they determinedly press into the center of the sub-zero desert. They never make it. The threat of starvation and a gap of 112 harrowing miles bring them to their frostbitten knees. What would later be deemed the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration ultimately lays claim to 19 lives. While Shackleton and his men escape such fates, their shortcoming haunts them long after they return to England within inches of their lives.
A warm sunlight pours into the second floor of a prewar brownstone located at 40.7662355 latitude and -73.9658007 longitude…or more commonly known as the corner of East 65th Street and Lexington Ave. The East Pole, the most recent restaurant by Philip Winser, Benjamin Towhill, and the Brothers Martignetti (Anthony and Tom), has taken up residence in the historic row house.
The gentlemen recruited Chef Nicholas Wilber to head up the kitchen. As one of the leading chefs in the Farm to Table movement, Chef Wilber has developed a simple yet thoughtful menu drawing on three years of experience at the helm of The Fat Radish. His passion for local, seasonal, organic produce and sustainably-sourced proteins are showcased in dishes such as the Long Island Fluke Crudo and the Fennel & Fish Pie with Lobster and Taragon arriving at our table. Other highlights include the mint lemonade, Peeky Toe Crab & Avocado Toast (Anthony’s favorite), a dozen Chattum Mass oysters with Mignonette Sauce, and the apple pie a la mode.
We are holed up in the Map Room, the private dining room upstairs designed for intimate gatherings around a long wooden table. Old maps collected by the Winser family over the years line the walls while American walnut, copper, black steel, and white washed walls create a clean and simple point of view with an emphasis on high quality materials. The result is a two story space that harkens back to the age of Shackleton’s polar explorations while paying homage to The Explorers Club that memorializes it.
While a trek to the South Pole demands endurance, an iron will, and a royal bankrolling, The East Pole requires only an appetite and a Lyft (Uber is old hat and more expensive) to East 65th Street. Gastronomical adventure calls north of 14th St. You will not be disappointed. The only thing you may be haunted by afterwards is the butternut squash cooked down with apples and onions almost to the point of soup, then tossed with rock shrimp and cavatelli for a pasta that tastes simultaneously rich and light.
The East Pole
133 E. 65th St.
New York, NY 10065