Restaurant, East Village, Nathan Foot, Chris Ronis, Christophe Hille, San Francisco, Chefs, Farm to Table, Farm-To-Table, Locavore, Local Food, Farmer's Markets, Greenmarkets, Greenmarket Sourced, Brooklyn Flea, Store, Products, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Sunday Supper, East Village, American Comfort Food, Polenta, Chicken, Lamb, Jams, Coffee, Cheese, Small, Rustic, Wine, Beer, Homemade Seltzer, Bobo Chicken, Wild Hive Polenta, Pickled Eggs, Regional Farmers, Artisan Purveyors



900 square feet doesn’t make for a very big restaurant, especially a place that also functions as a boutique gourmet market. But somehow Northern Spy Food Co. pulls it off, creating an atmosphere that walks the line of homey and hip. Even their name sounds like some underground espionage secret society, but it’s actually an East Coast apple variety.

They opened last November [2009], after the usual new restaurant rite-of-passage: struggling to get their gas turned on. Once the stove was lit, they hit the ground running and haven’t looked back.

Two of the owners, Christophe Hille and Nathan Foot [who moved on from the restaurant in August, 2011], worked as chefs in San Francisco (A16, Myth, Jardiniere) before migrating east and bringing with them the California sensibility of serving regionally-sourced food. The third partner, Chris Ronis, has lived in the East Village for 12 years, working in music and film, but had an early connection to the food business. His half-brother is the third generation owner/operator of Philadelphia restaurant Old Original Bookbinder’s, now in Richmond, Virginia.

Initially the three scoured Brooklyn trying to find a location, but when the East 12th Street spot became available they took it. “It’s a Brooklyn idea come to Manhattan,” Chris told us, as we chatted over rosemary flatbread and house-made seltzer. “We want this place to be family friendly and we want neighborhood people.”

Keeping it local to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region is what they promise and what they deliver. They shop the area farmers’ markets, like Tompkins Square and Union Square Greenmarkets, both just a few blocks away.  For the retail market, they hit the Brooklyn Flea, as well as further upstate, to learn about up-and-coming artisanal producers.

Their pantry shelves are lined with products like:

- spicy, garlicky pickles from McClure's

- candies from Liddabit Sweets

- jars of Mother-In-law's Kimchi

- serrano chili beans from Brooklyn Brine Co.

- jams from Miss Amy, Anarchy in a Jar, and Katchkie Farm

- potato chips from the North Fork

- cheeses and yogurts from local farms such as Maple Hill Creamery and Consider Bardwell Farm.

[In May, 2011 Northern Spy Food Co. shrunk the market space and increased the number of seats.]

And yes, they acknowledge that the farm-to-table movement has become the latest trend for restaurants, but Chris sees it as an obvious. “It sounds silly at this point, but why wouldn’t you use local, fresh food?” And what about the other hot craze sweeping NY restaurants - pig? “It’s definitely a ‘thing,’ but it makes economical sense,” he admitted “you can eat the whole pig; ears, trotters, shanks, and skin. You just can’t eat a whole lamb.”

Northern Spy Food Co. has received a lot of ink for their brunch, but don’t limit your visits to Sunday afternoons. They also turn out very worthwhile lunches and dinners. Pickled eggs with onion and a mustard/mayonnaise dipping sauce are a great start to a meal,
while you make up your mind about ordering sandwiches, salads, mains and side dishes.

Pork Headcheese with Arugula and Pickled Vegetables

Photo Credit: Find. Eat. Drink.

The chicken and egg sandwich has crispy chicken topped with a soft poached egg and is just as you hope it would be - oozy, creamy, yokey, with a pop from the chimichurri sauce. Wild Hive polenta with roasted mushrooms and braised greens is rich, creamy and hits the spot on a cold winter night. Since they are using whole pigs, on any given day or meal, they’ll have specials from various parts of the animal. On a recent lunch, they had pork headcheese with arugula and pickled vegetables. Don’t fill up too early in the meal because the pear frangipane tart is a knockout. They are currently playing with semifreddo and, Nathan says, they have visions of making their own ice-cream in the future.

The guys at Northern Spy Food Company are continuing to evolve their concept and, as with any new venture, tweak the details. As we were talking to Nathan about restaurant recommendations, he noted that these days he only eats at restaurants that respect his dollar. It’s good to know that it’s true of his own restaurant as well. They not only respect your dollar, but they also respect the product.


Northern Spy Food Co.’s recommendations on where to eat and shop in New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Chef Q & A

- Chef Hadley Schmitt


- Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Anchovy Butter


East Village


511 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10009

T: 212.228.5100



Mon - Fri: 10am - closing

Sat - Sun: 10:30am - 3:30pm

Sat - Sun: 5:30pm - closing




F.E.D. Travel Guides
Find a travel guide »../../../../../guide/download_guides.html../../../../../guide/download_guides.htmlshapeimage_22_link_0