Compose, New York, NYC, Tribeca, Nick Curtin, Executive Chef, Chef, Recommendations, Q & A, Micah Phillips, Pastry Chef, 10013, Where to eat in Tribeca, contemporary american, Modern American, Cocktail Lounge, Cocktails, Wine, Food, Restaurant



Compose is a cocktail lounge / contemporary American restaurant in New York.


Twice a night, they create a ten-course tasting menu around an open-kitchen horseshoe bar, allowing for intimate engagement and dialogue between staff and guests.

Photographs courtesy of Compose




Contemporary American


77 Worth Street

New York, NY 10013 (view map)

T: 212.226.1444 (make a reservation)



Tue - Thu: 6:30pm - 1am

Fri - Sat: 6:30pm - 2am

Sun - Mon: closed


Q & A with Chef Nick Curtin

Q. Tell us about Compose:

A. It’s more of a bar, than a restaurant. For most of the night, we serve cocktails, but twice a night, we do a ten-course tasting menu for ten people. It’s along a beautiful U-shaped bar and you are served by your bartenders and your chefs and it’s a very intimate experience. There is a dialogue and interaction with the people that are creating your food. I love doing it.

We also have banquette seating and wonderful bar snacks and we have a concept called “Dinner,” similar to our cocktails, where we dialogue with you about what kind of spirits you like and mixers you like, we do the same with dinner and dessert. You tell us what you’d like to have and we’ll create a plate for you that we think fits your need. Plus, we have a five-course dessert tasting menu.

Q. During those tastings, are you in the horseshoe interacting with people?
A. Absolutely. The kitchen is semi-open, so I go back and forth between plating and the kitchen, carrying out the dishes. I’ll drop dishes, describe them and talk to guests about any questions they may have.

Q. What’s the good and the bad when you’re dealing with the public, up close and personal?

A. The good is that we’re able to delve into all these wonderful details. As a diner, I think it’s fantastic to be able to talk to the person who has crafted your food about why they chose certain techniques or what the inspiration is behind what they’re doing.

There is not a bad side. From our perspective, it makes our job super enjoyable. We love talking about what we do, we’re all very passionate about this place, about our food and our drinks and being able to share that information with people who genuinely appreciate what we’re doing. It’s just a very rewarding experience for us.

Q. You had a brief stage at Noma, one of the most lauded restaurants in the world, what was your take-away from the experience?

A. It was pretty amazing. I had gone there to extract philosophy from it. To experience a mindset and try and get as much of the experience in a small amount of time.

Q. What philosophy did you extract?

A. René [head chef René Redzepi] creates moments that are nostalgic for him as a Scandinavian, but does them in such a way that whomever is experiencing it, his diners, his guests, feel that nostalgia and don’t necessarily understand it, but want to be a part of it. That was pretty profound for me, his desire to convey a purity of idea, of ingredient and how he was able to step back from what we understand as modern technique and apply these sort of old techniques in a modern way. Bringing in things like hay and cooking over a charcoal grill outside. It wasn’t all about being hi-tech and gels and things like that. It was the taste of ash and the taste of char, those things that anchor you definitively in a moment. It was a beautiful thing to experience. And I got to meet my pastry chef there.

Q. Taking that same idea and how profound it was for you,what would you like diners to take away as your philosophy after they eat at your restaurant?

A. I feel like what we are trying to do now is tap into things that are quintessentially American, but in a different way. We’re not putting out hamburgers or hot dogs or anything like that, which a lot of people associate with American cuisine.

This is a country of such bounty and diversity and there are so many amazing things that are just sort of sense memories for Americans. For me it was growing up in the woods of Virginia and on the coast of New England, and the smells and the taste that wisp of spindrift, when you get that blast of salty ocean water in your face, while you’re eating lobster by the coast. How do we capture that in a moment on a plate? A lot of what we do is driven by those inspirations and finding a way to tap into your mind through aroma and bring it home with a beautiful taste.



Q. What are some of the unusual ingredients that you’re working with?

A. I’ve really been enjoying anise hyssop, also commonly known as licorice mint. It has a beautiful licorice flavor and a mild mint flavor and I’ve been doing an infusion with it to create a little bit of a broth for a fruit crudo. The light herbal flavors really compliment the fresh leanness of the crudo dish. It’s something that I have been geeking out about recently.

Q. Who are you geeking out about in the purveyor world?

A. I love Mikuni Wild Harvest. They have really great products.

They have these wonderful syrups that we’ve been using a lot called Noble Syrups. It’s a bourbon-aged maple syrup, but it’s got this nice depth to it. It goes beyond your standard maple syrup. We are using it in our cocktails and I’m using it in a cauliflower puree. The dish is very earthy and the syrup adds this nice dark sweetness. [See the recipe.]

One of my favorite products that we are showcasing right now is Iberico Bellota. The only product that we go far field for, because we try to keep everything as domestic as possible. It’s just the best cut of meat that I’ve had in my entire life.

We get it raw and sear it on the plancha with just a little bit of salt, and it gets a beautiful crust on it. Every time I taste it, I never want to work with any other slice of meat ever again.

[See details.]

Q. Where do you get it from?

A. The producer is called Fermin and we get it from A & H Markets in Bethesda, Maryland. They also have an aged white balsamic vinegar. It’s just killer and they have wonderful Spanish charcuterie.

[See details.]

Q. Are there markets that you love?

A. Dickson’s Farmstand Meats is the resident butcher in Chelsea Market

They have some amazing cuts of meat and probably the best chicken that I’ve had in New York. Really delicious to just roast with salt. One of the most juicy and delicious chickens I’ve had in a long time. Their bacon is also incredible and it’s just amazing to watch them butcher right there in the shop.

The Greenmarket at Union Square is always a wonderful place to go and so much inspiring product there. Sweet Mountain Berry, Berried Treasure, Two Guys from Woodbridge, Max Creek Hatchery are all so great about communicating with us about what they have, what is coming and what is going to make each of our dishes be the best they can possibly be.

I’m a huge fan of this amazing little salt store in the West Village, called The Meadow. They have something like over 100 finishing salts. You’re able to taste all of the varieties of salt. One is buttery and creamy, the next is a little tangy and the next has a definitive terroir of the ocean. We get several different finishing salts from them.

We love to use Murray Darling Finishing Salt, Japanese Iburi Jio Cherry Smoked Salt, which adds a really nice delicate salinity and beautiful smoke, and they have Kelp Salt, where they dehydrate the kelp and blend it way, way down. It adds like an ocean snap.

[See details.]


Q. When not at your restaurant, where do you like to eat?

A. Vandaag - I’m a huge fan. They are sort of modern Danish/Dutch. It’s really a delightful place to eat. They have an amazing cocktail program. Chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark is incredibly talented and has a wonderful background.

Torrisi -  they do really cool spins on some amazing dishes. I went there twice in a week, after first going there. I had a skate dish that tasted like sour cream and onion potato chips and a chicken dish, I think they called it Diablo Chicken, that tasted like the best barbecue chicken.

Momofuku Ssam Bar is my neighborhood joint. What they’re doing over there right now is pretty fantastic. It’s always a pleasure to go see those guys, watch them work and try some of their food, which is always fun and different.

Zaragoza -  it’s a little taco stand that nobody really knows about, which makes it special, but at the same time it has to be shared. A young man runs the place and he and his mom cook amazing tostadas and tortillas and things like stewed goat, chorizo and potatoes, all these things that they churn out late into the night. After a long week in the kitchen, it’s great to get together with your cook friends and they have an expansive beer collection and are always playing mariachi music. Humble, but killer.

[See details.]

Q. You’re from Providence, any favorites back home?

A. La Laiterie - I started my career there. It’s a wonderful little place that I always love going back to every time I’m in Providence. They do some really killer food and Matt Jennings is just an inspiring chef. It’s very bistro-style, but they do some fun stuff. I love Matt, he is the man!

[See details.]


Q. Are you going anywhere special for cocktails?

A. I’m a big fan of Milk & Honey.

Vandaag is a great place for cocktails. I had this incredible Bloody Mary variation, called the Danish Mary, that was horseradish-infused aquavit and had so many awesome savory qualities.

Mayahuel for tequila and mezcal-based cocktails. They have little snacks that you can get, like little tacos and things like that.

[See details.]

Q. Any interesting spirits you’ve come across lately?

A. We’re all digging on Brooklyn Gin right now. The flavor is really solid, it’s  a really great gin and it mixes well with cocktails.

My liquor knowledge is limited, I spend too much time in the kitchen and not enough time drinking!

[See details.]

Q. What do you drink in the kitchen?

A. We normally love a good bottle of whisky. We’ve been working on some Eagle Rare recently, which has been fantastic. We’re sort of whisky and bourbon boys.

[See details.]

Q. Any other bourbons?

A. I’ve always been a fan of Basil Hayden. I had a really great, small batch bourbon called Noah’s Mill, it was really, really awesome.

Another liquor that we discovered recently, that I really like is Botran’s Rum. They have Reserva and Solera. Somebody brought it in and now, I go home and just sip that stuff straight. It’s fantastic. It’s like gold on your tongue. It’s a wonderful rum and the price points are awesome. It’s pretty approachable, so I never feel like I’m breaking the bank drinking a bottle of it.

[See details.]


Details of Nick Curtin’s recommendations for restaurants, bars, and markets in New York.


- Poached Egg Recipe

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Tribeca - New York, NY

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