What’s the fastest way to get from Arkansas to Vietnam?
A walk down Smith Street.
In what might seem like a study in strange culinary bedfellows, Robert Newton, the chef behind Southern comfort staple Seersucker and coffee emporium Smith Canteen, opens Nightingale 9 tomorrow evening.
The menu was inspired by Newton’s longtime love of Vietnamese food and recent travels through the country, wherein he and partner Kerry Diamond ate and cooked their way through the kitchens and markets of Hoi An, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City.
We tasted the works: green papaya salad with shredded beef; turmeric catfish vermicelli bowl with dill, peanuts, and scallions; and caramel Berkshire pork with jasmine rice that will rival Seersucker’s fried chicken as the dish Newton can’t keep in stock. Ingredients are local, though the fish sauce is sourced from Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam and the soy sauce from Kentucky’s Bourbon Barrel Foods.
The minimalist, canteen-style dining room consists of communal tables made from church pews and public school benches found at Gowanus’s Build It Green salvage shop.
It takes a global village.
Nightingale 9, 345 Smith Street, at Carroll Street, Carroll Gardens (347-689-4699).
Photo: Ashok Sinha / Getty Images