An imaginative Canadian-American restaurant planted in the heart of Greenpoint is serving up an array of beautifully-designed and filling dishes in a purposefully-minimalist space.
Chez Ma Tante, headed by Vancouver-native chef Aidan O’Neal, first opened in April 2017, receiving overwhelmingly-positive feedback from guests on delicacies ranging from Grilled Monkfish with Eggplant and Tomatoes ($26) to Pierogies with Peas and Ramps ($14).
According to O’Neal, the inspiration behind the name Chez Ma Tante stems from a hot dog shop in Montreal, where O’Neal lived for five years before moving to New York City.
“Chez Ma Tante means ‘at my aunt’s house,’ or ‘at my aunt’s’ and is used as an alibi, an excuse,” explained O’Neal. “A restaurant is a great excuse to go out and be indulgent, to have fun.”
My companion and I first sampled the Pierogies with Peas and Ramps and the Chicken Liver Pâté ($9). The piave cheese flakes in the pierogies were a welcome addition, complimenting the flavor of the dish without being overpowering. The pierogies themselves were melt-in-your-mouth soft. The pâté was the perfect consistency, creamy and topped with olive oil, pairing wonderfully with the included sourdough miche bread.
Next, we enjoyed the Steak Tartare ($17), also served with sourdough miche bread, generously topped with parsnip chips and served with a parsnip purée. The Caesar Salad arrived next, topped with croutons and the now-familiar piave cheese.
For our main course, we decided to take some suggestions from the experts, ordering the Half Chicken with Aioli and Carrots ($25) on a recommendation by O’Neal, and the Steak and Chips ($30), after consulting with our server, Beck.
“The guests love our chicken liver pâté, and we get great feedback on the half chicken,” noted O’Neal. “Personally, I love everything on the menu.”
The steak was cooked to perfection, tender and juicy, while the fries were just the right amount of crisp. My companion’s half chicken was equally delectable, with an amazing broth that was both thick and flavorful.
Also worthy of mention was Chez Ma Tante’s amiable staff — both Beck and the hostess went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and accommodated, discussing with us everything from the neighborhood to the origin of the bread (a bakery in Long Island City).
Before leaving the restaurant, we couldn’t help but take note of its simple decor, which features just a whitewashed brick wall and little decoration. On the reasoning behind the minimalist aesthetic, O’Neal explained that he “tried not to have too much of an idea about it.
“Our partner, Patrick, who designed and built the restaurant did a great job of having a space that doesn’t feel overly-designed,” O’Neal said. “We wanted to try and keep the space as minimal as possible so that it doesn’t offend anyone or upset anyone. It’s a place to focus on the people you’re eating with and enjoy some good food and good wine.”
CHEZ MA TANTE
90 Calyer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Dinner: Monday – Saturday: 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday: 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.