Tucked between two three-story buildings on Franklin Avenue, just around the corner from the C train station in Bedford-Stuyvesant, is a tiny restaurant that seats only 30 guests.
So small is the kitchen that it accomodates only two cooks at a time.
Hart’s started plating its ever-changing roster of coastal Meditteranean dishes with locally sourced produce and seafood in October. (House-marinated anchovies with leeks and toast, scallops with spring onions and oranges, soft-shell crab with horseradish aioli and mint, drizzled with olive oil, have all taken their turn on the menu.)
It caters to a mostly local Bed-Stuy clientele. So co-owner and head chef Nick Perkins, 34, never expected that Bon Appetit this week would name his baby among the country’s 50 best new restaurants earlier this month, alongside larger eateries in trendier city neighborhoods. This week, the magazine listed Hart's as number five on its list of the "Hot 10," distinguishing it as the only New York joint to make the final cut.
“We were totally surprised,” said Perkins, a graduate of the Andrew Tarlow restaurant empire, who owns Hart's with his family and business partner, front house manager Nialls Fallon. Most of the group lives within a few blocks of the restaurant, including Perkins himself.
“We’re just super happy and super excited to be included," he said.
The team had harbored ambitions to open a neighborhood joint for more than a year before they found their current spot last summer.
In case you were wondering, as we were: There is no room to expand at 506 Franklin Ave.
“We’re a really small space, so we try to accomodate everybody, and people are super patient and chill," the chef said. A butcher-block communal table constructed by Perkins' brother affords a few more seats and cultivates an informal atmosphere, he added.
If you want to try Hart's signature lamb burger or clam toast —"two pieces of sourdough bread with a really nice juicy white wine-y clam sauce that’s just kind of poured all over," as Perkins described it — for yourself, aim for a dinner reservation on the early side.
No matter what new business the Bon Appetit commendation brings, "everybody will still want tables at 7:30 p.m.," the chef predicted.
Hart's is open for dinner from Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to at least 10:30 p.m., and for brunch on the weekends, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.