160 Havemeyer Street No. 5


Tuesday to Saturday 6 to 10 p.m. (bar open to 11 p.m.). Closed Sunday and Monday.



Photo by Dominic Perri

Before chefs José Ramírez-Ruiz and Pam Yung opened Semilla, they presided over Chez José, a vegetable-centric pop-up dinner that became a Williamsburg fixture. Through that endeavor they became Brooklyn ambassadors, traveling the world and cooking at major gatherings of the culinary elite. Semilla gave them a permanent home and hub. "We wanted to capture the same sort of vibe of the pop-up," says Yung. "It's about spontaneity and fun; it's not so serious. We're cooking for you.” The tiny Havemeyer address is just wide enough to accommodate an eighteen-seat, U-shape bar, the center of which opens into the kitchen so that Yung and Ramírez-Ruiz, aided by two servers and a sous chef, can serve each party a multi-course dinner. There’s no printed menu (though they’ll email you a list of what you ate, after the fact), just a carefully curated and reasonably priced list of wines and beers. As for the food, it's best to just let it roll. “It's a tasting menu to most people, but we want it to be like you're coming over and it's someone's house — that kind of trust,” Yung says. Each night brings different dishes, which means each diner is going to have a slightly different experience. What remains constant, however, is the chefs' boundary-pushing approach to produce, a procession that celebrates the season, and a course that includes one of Yung's fantastic experiments with bread. There is no restaurant in the city like Semilla right now, and there are few chefs as obsessed with their craft as Semilla’s. Yung and Ramírez-Ruiz have created an experience that's stimulating and intellectual — but so delicious you might find it difficult to think.