It’s 6 p.m. on a Saturday and the batting cage on the second floor of Park Slope’s Brooklyn Lyceum has just been put away. Would-be sluggers file out of the cavernous space, as the pings of aluminum bats are replaced with the clanging of pots and pans.
In what looks like a makeshift storage closet, two cooks have set up portable burners and squeezed themselves into a narrow space between counters and shelves. A fan jammed into the transom whirs away as Danielle Sucher and Dave Turner work on the evening’s menu.
This is the kitchen of Jack, the “occasional restaurant” that materializes at least one Saturday a month at the Lyceum. While there’s been a clandestine-restaurant trend lately, Jack is strictly aboveboard: Sucher applied for and received all the necessary permits to run the place.
“I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my law license,” says Sucher, a lawyer by trade. Turner works as a programmer with the Open Planning Project. They’re both self-taught cooks.
But self-taught doesn’t mean sloppy or unsophisticated. Most of the meals since Jack’s April debut have featured eight courses, from amuse-bouches through soups and entrées to mignardises. Recent menus have featured sweetbread spring rolls, rabbit ragout with barley pancakes, miso butterscotch pork buns and horchata ice cream.
Sucher says an udon soup, starring bacon consommé, was one of her favorite dishes. She and Turner made the noodles from scratch, following a traditional Japanese recipe that called for them to knead the dough by walking on it—though she’s quick to explain that the dough was wrapped in several layers of plastic and covered with a towel.
Other ingredients have a more exotic provenance. The caramelized, grated rye bread in August’s chocolate-whiskey pudding cake was courtesy of an Estonian food blogger friend who recently visited Sucher and Turner.
Meals, usually for 8 to 12, cost $75, tip not included. And, yes, there’s a wait staff to tip, often consisting of Sucher and Turner’s friends, who volunteer to help.