Fatty Johnson’s is one of the latest restaurants to join the NYC pop-up scene. Defined as a temporary restaurant, the pop-up trend has been gaining popularity with a handful scheduled to open (and close) in Manhattan this year. Pop-ups can be open for a single day or several months and typically give chef/owners a chance to test new concepts and menus. Zak Pelaccio, known for the popular Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue restaurants, opened Fatty Johnson’s in early January, 2011. Fatty Johnson’s is definitely worth a visit before it closes its doors.
Like its “Fatty” counterparts, Fatty Johnson’s showcases creative dishes with strong yet comforting flavors. The fried chicken is a take on a traditional chicken cordon bleu, but it’s stuffed with a smoky Gouda cheese and salty house-cured ham that really elevate it from the classic preparation. The pate sandwich is a slab of sweet country pate served minimally on buttered toast with a carrot slaw; each bite is reminiscent of a hearty Vietnamese banh mi. The crusty hot loaf is a baked loaf of bread loaded with ham, egg, butter, and cheddar. The textural contrast between the crunchy bread and velvety filling make it fun to eat. Fatty Johnson’s has also become known for its number of unique cocktails (see a list of their interesting drink concoctions on their website). The food at Fatty Johnson’s isn’t groundbreaking but it’s undeniably memorable.
The menu at Fatty Johnson’s is shamelessly buttered and salted. While exciting for many, this flavor profile can be overwhelming to some. As good as the Johnson cheeseburger is, the salt from the gamey burger, cured ham, and melted sheep cheese can be a bit much. The pretzel roll served with the ham service, which is simply a plate of jamon Iberico, prosciutto di Parma, or Fatty ‘cue ham, adds nice texture but also salt to already salty meat. Fatty Johnson’s pushes the boundaries of richness and can sometimes go overboard.
But that’s also what makes the restaurant such a fun place. Fatty Johnson’s is experimenting with simple ingredients to create dishes with extremely bold flavors. As a pop-up with a changing menu, there’s also a sense of excitement when you step through Fatty Johnson’s doors, knowing that they’ll be serving something new that only a few people in the city will ever get to taste. Fatty Johnson’s may not be open for much longer, but it has definitely set a standard for NYC pop-up restaurants in 2011.
Fatty Johnson’s (pop-up)
50 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014