Cookshop, the New York Brunch Institution With a Hollywood Following
The Chelsea eatery has gained a loyal clientele for its hearty American fare and its indulgent weekend brunches.
If brunch is your thing, then New York's Cookshop is the place to be and increasingly for folks in Hollywood the place to be seen.
Over its 12 years in business, the farm-to-table Chelsea establishment, located not far from the High Line, has garnered a loyal following for its hearty American fare, but it owes its reputation to its ever-popular weekend brunch service.
A brunch institution in a city that obsesses over the meal occasion, Cookshop can serve upwards of 700 brunches every Saturday and Sunday in the busy summer months. And co-owner Vicki Freeman is certain the restaurant owes it popularity for letting its patrons "feel good" by indulging themselves. “Brunch is one of those meals that people just absolutely love and I always say you can eat healthy all week long and be perfect, and all your inhibitions go right out the window at brunch and you order just unbelievably rich, lush food that you would never order regularly,” Freeman told Where Hollywood Eats.
Freeman runs Cookshop with her husband, Marc Meyer, and both are veterans of the New York dining scene. The couple also operates the well-regarded farm-to-table restaurants Hundred Acres, Vic's and Rosie's and previously had the popular NoHo restaurant Five Points.
The name Cookshop owes its origins to the private homes back in the 1800s, where cooks served simple, prepared food with the only ingredients available to them, often grown on their own land. The restaurant's menu features American dishes that focus on seasonal availability that is regularly tweaked throughout the year.
A popular dish at Cookshop is their twist on huevos rancheros, now a staple but relatively unknown before the brunch boom took off when the restaurant opened. "We had to do things that were fast and one-dish preparation,” Meyer said of their huevos rancheros when Cookshop started out, adding that once the dish hit the menu, it quickly became their number-one seller.
Cookshop's longevity and continued popularity stand out in New York, one of the toughest culinary scenes with some of the most demanding consumers in the country. Freeman has nothing but enduring respect for New Yorkers when it comes to food. “I think New York diners are the best because New Yorkers eat out five nights a week.”
Freeman adds: “It’s just a crazy thing about them, but I think there’s an adventurous spirit. There’s a willingness to try things. They are very well-informed, which is tough for us because we have to keep keeping up.”
As well as ordinary New Yorkers, Cookshop has become popular with the city's creative class of actors, directors and writers, and over the years Freeman and Meyer have developed firm friendships with their starry clientele.
“Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who’s an incredible director, an incredible actor, won a Tony, won an Emmy and we’ve become really good friends with him and his wife," Freeman says before adding, "I would never have probably met them any other way than through this restaurant.”