been a boon for Jeff Gimmel and Nina Bachinsky-Gimmel, whose
restaurant, Swoon Kitchenbar, occupies a storefront behind
a unique array of shrubs and other greenery, a philosophical
foretaste of what’s within. When they opened, six years ago,
it was with a mission to present an inventive menu based on
what’s locally available. With Jeff as chef and Nina moving
between kitchen and floor (she’s the baker), they’ve crafted
a style epitomized by a succinct, intensive menu and casual
room is deep, offering three somewhat distinct areas: a scattering
of tables by the front window, offering a view of sidewalk
activity; a cluster of tables in the general bar area; and
a kind of backroom, set off only by low dividers that let
in light from the afternoon sun. Behind the bar is a tall
series of shelves reminiscent of an old-fashioned hotel-desk
keys-and-letters rack, but with the restaurant’s wines on
display alongside the usual array of stronger waters. It’s
the kind of place where you’d expect to dine on linen. There
is none. The attractive tables are better off without them.
The furnishings are contemporary, hewing to a blond-wood theme
that also characterizes the bar and the trim pieces.
at Swoon!” a woman was shouting into a cell phone as I neared
the entrance during a recent early-evening visit. “Swoon!
SWOON!” Pause. “No, it’s the name of a restaurant!”
Up to that moment, I was only a curious passerby. Hearing
the evidence of her caller’s confusion convinced me to try
were scattered in little clusters among the different areas;
my seat in the center gave me a great view of the operation,
letting me study the style of service. I liked what I saw.
The friendliness with which servers talked to one another
was the same kind of friendliness I felt in their attention—not
a self-conscious attempt to be impressive but the ease with
which you welcome a guest to your house.
changes daily, as befits a fresh-that-day culinary approach.
You can see sample menus on the Web site, and there’s a Meatless
Monday table d’hôte offering (e.g., miso mushroom buns, chilled
local baby bok choy, asparagus risotto and warm strawberry
be involved in the carnivore world without exploring the art
of sausagemaking and other charcuterie. It’s a passion among
the most creative chefs I know, and Gimmel is no exception,
offering a selection of his creations on each new bill of
fare. Pâté, for example, was a recent offering in two different
styles: a mousse of duck liver and a traditional country pâté,
offered alongside a serving of house-cured bacon, cut thick
and served with pickled radish ($10 apiece).
range from $10 for a salad of Sky Farm baby lettuce to $16
for Duxbury oysters. Smoked bluefish pâté ($11), braised short
rib tart ($12) and sautéed Point Judith squid ($13) exemplify
the range of items.
start with beets—roasted beets, in fact, which to my palate
beats all hell out of the boiled variety. Beets are earthy,
of course, but with a sweetness that leaps out when the sugars
within are caramelized. Goat’s milk is also earthy; well,
all milk is, but we’re so accustomed to it that we rarely,
if ever, think of it in those terms. Cheesemaking distills
and concentrates that earthiness, also spiking it with concentrated
sweetness. Paired with roasted beets, crumbled chèvre offers
contrasts that orbit one another amid textural similarities
close enough to be amusingly confusing. The well-chosen vehicle
for this combo was frisee, a curly lettuce related to chicory,
lightly, lemonly dressed. Simple as this salad sounds, it
was assembled and seasoned in such a way as to preserve the
uniqueness of each ingredient.
when I visited included pasta and risotto in two sizes ($16/$23),
a handful of meats (duck breast, $26, skirt steak, $24, among
them) and five seafood dishes, including Montauk fluke ($26)
and crispy monkfish cheeks ($26).
time I had a great piece of bluefish was decades ago when
I worked in a restaurant owned by a family that loved to fish
and frequently returned with this particular pomatomida. But,
taking Swoon on its promise, I was served an eye-pleasing
plate with a bottom layer of white-bean purée (good for collecting
stray fish flakes) and atop it a spread of local broccoli
rabe, steamed to shake out its toughness without sacrificing
the crunch. Then there was the excellent piece of bluefish,
which by itself would have been formidable, but it shared
its layer with slices of Gimmel’s chorizo, an unexpected but
oddly resonant partner.
put in a decade in New York City, but each of them knocked
around various aspects of the restaurant business in and outside
of the city—notably in Nantucket, whence the love of fish.
Nina is from Woodstock, and her parents have a Hudson-based
antiques business, so the connection was in place well before
Swoon’s debut. Part of the fun of running the restaurant,
she explained, is visiting the farms from which they buy ingredients,
a listing of which is on the Web site and the back of the
it this way. Next time you walk through a local farmers market,
imagine the finest, most flavorful preparations you can from
the items at hand. Then seek out Swoon to enjoy them.