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Brooklyn Bound

City Bakery’s salad-bar savant strikes out on her own.

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606 R&D's grilled-romaine salad.  

Ilene Rosen’s reputation precedes her—or at least her salad bar’s does. As “savory chef” at City Bakery for the last fifteen years, Rosen was the ­vegetable-worshipping yin to owner Maury ­Rubin’s molten-chocolate yang. During her tenure, she installed a garnish-your-own congee station and supplied New York with some of its best-loved mac and cheese. This spring, Rosen left the only professional kitchen where she’s ever worked (not counting its short-lived Los Angeles branch) to team up with fellow City Bakery alum Sara Weeks Dima on a 30-seat Prospect Heights restaurant and mini-market serving quirky comfort-foody breakfast, lunch, dinner, and takeout. It was Rosen’s California sojourn that made the Flatbush native decide to move back to Brooklyn in pursuit of sky, air, and a backyard. Make that two: one at home, and one behind 606 R&D, named for the partners’ initials and the Vanderbilt Avenue street address. Rosen has canvassed the borough, sourcing far-flung ­products like Greenpoint babka, Royal Crown chocolate bread, and even mint from the community garden. While the former hair salon undergoes renovation, the chef is on a quest for the cheese with “the most correct melting character” for her grilled cheese sandwich, and has been plumbing her own childhood for snacks like mortadella roll-ups with cream cheese and grilled scallions (as a kid, she used ­bologna). There will be a full bar, and in Brooklyn, no bar is full without kombucha on tap. But what excites Rosen the most is the recent acquisition of two longed-for gadgets: a rotisserie and a Dreesen’s doughnut machine. She’ll cook chickens on the former, she says, and skewer cauliflower underneath to catch the fat. And as far as Dreesen’s doughnuts go, Rosen considers them the ideal dessert and the perfect size. “You don’t have to feel bad about yourself ­until you eat two.”

606 R&D
606 Vanderbilt Ave., nr. St. Marks Ave., Prospect Heights.
No phone yet.
Dec.


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