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  • Restaurants
  • Greenpoint
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Gator
    Photograph: Courtesy of Spencer Pazer
  2. Gator
    Photograph: Courtesy of Spencer Pazer
  3. Gator
    Photograph: Courtesy of Gator
  4. Gator
    Photograph: Courtesy of Spencer Pazer

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

"Contemporary Americana with a flair for sustainability.”

A short menu that I have a hard time choosing from is a rare thing. There are usually a few obvious standouts, but at Gator, which opened last December in Greenpoint, the beets, mixed mushrooms, mac and cheese, hake and pork chop all sound great. And they are. 

Gator’s look fits squarely in the style category I invented, “restaurant in a movie that isn’t about a restaurant.” Even that novel genre can land a few different ways. At this 42-seat space, it works beautifully as a shot from a scene set in a lovely neighborhood place where everything’s baseline 30% better than in real life. Wood or marble tables in the daintily-reptile accented, elegantly understated dining room are topped with candles that create a diffused, pale amber glow. The chairs are a little more comfortable than most. And the hospitality is inviting with an easy warmth. 

Chef Allyx Seemann, an interior designer before she started cooking professionally in restaurants like Jean-Georges, is owner and namesake, having been called Allie-gator as a kid. She’s authored the most comprehensive menu in the shortest number of items the city has seen in a while. And, unlike other similarly truncated efforts around town lately, it all actually coalesces. 

Like a lot of those other recent ventures, Gator’s menu eschews section titles, but it more or less starts with what might conventionally be considered appetizers and ascends to larger plates. I think something was said about sharing on my visit last week, but something is said about sharing at a lot of places, and chatting with staffers is like conversing with a friend, so it might have just been my actual pal that made the suggestion. In either case, order the amount of food you wish to eat. I trust you. 

Like most modern folk, Seemann is sustainability-minded, using ingredients that would otherwise be relegated to waste in some of her fantastic preparations. That mac ($24), for example, which sounds somewhat light as detailed on the menu, with house-made sheet pasta, brown butter, lemon and panko, is decadent with white cheddar, fontina and Comté cheese rind that would otherwise be relegated to the bin. Is it too rich and creamy to order as a main; too much like diving into a bath of noodly fondue? Not for me, baby! But it is indulgent, so you might want to split it and save room for more. 

The sensational beets ($16) taste like they were grown in one of the world’s last patches of totally unadulterated soil, the kind that perfumes the country air on a rainy morning. They’re oven-roasted with aromatics and joined by miso cream, mandarin salt and popcorn shoots—petite greens grown from you-guessed-it—for an outstanding mélange that’s bright, earthy, and just a bit sweet. The mixed mushrooms, also grouped among what I’d consider starters or sides, are terrific, too, though more buried in pleasant sauteed barley than expected. 

Subtle abundance is all around. An excellent hake is amplified by green curry, crispy black rice and a peanut crumble for a texture triumph and knockout flavor combination that turns the otherwise mild, flaky whitefish into fireworks. 

The ash crust on Gator’s perfect pork chop is also one of its most waste-conscious preparations, Seemann says. It’s made by burning allium skins and citrus peels left over from other recipes down to ash, and blending them with cinnamon and cloves until it all turns into a fine powder. It coats the cut, which then gets pan-seared, finished in the oven and plated with mellow celeriac purée and smoked mandarin marmalade. Those accouterments are tops, and chop itself joins the very best in the city. It’s a real showstopper: tender, juicy and everything you hope a pork chop is going to be, but totally unique to this tableau. 


The vibe: Charming, comfortable and romantic in that carefree, French cinema kind of way.

The food: Self-billed as “contemporary Americana with a flair for sustainability.” The beets, mac and cheese, hake and pork chop are all superb. 

The Drinks: Wine and beer. 

Gator is located at 105 Norman Avenue. It is open Wednesday-Monday from 5:30pm-10pm, and Sunday from 5:30pm-9pm. 

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako


105 Norman Avenue
Opening hours:
Wednesday-Monday from 5:30pm-10pm, and Sunday from 5:30pm-9pm.
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