Kitchen Tour: Sarah's Small and Plucky Ortine Café

We recently took a kitchen tour of Ortine Café, a new Prospect Heights, Brooklyn eatery opened by former Schiller’s and Pastis manager, Sarah Peck. The restaurant, which opened mid-December, has an eclectic café-style menu and an equally eclectic kitchen. Read on for more of this tiny restaurant kitchen and some of the creative, cost-saving solutions Sarah found to fit her space.

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The main cooking kitchen is located in the basement, and looks like a cross between grandma’s kitchen and grandma's root cellar. The pea-sized kitchen upstairs is primarily for assembly. The cook adeptly multi-tasks between the basement kitchen and the assembly area, running up and down a rickety set of stairs, churning out pizzas, soups, salads, and some hearty meats and pastas made with locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. There’s also small coffee and pastry bar up front that serves beverages and a collection of homemade and local pastries and sweets.

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Sarah was able to keep costs down on the restaurant build-out by using vintage items, refurbished kitchen appliances and some clever storage solutions. She also had some items inexpensively custom-made to fit her small space and maximize her work area.

Skinny stainless steel tables were made at Broadway Restaurant Supply to provide extra prep and work space. The refrigerator upstairs was custom built by Leader in Brooklyn to accommodate her space, and tailor the top surface to her needs. All of the other kitchen appliances were sourced in the Bowery from restaurants that are now out of business.

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Many of the dish and glass storage units were found at IKEA and screwed into the wall – some were intended to store CDs but were well proportioned for the skinny but tall area she had available. She found a refurbished Astoria espresso machine at a fraction of the new price at Liemco in Long Island, and had it painted a custom color to give it a new life.

The bars are made from birch plywood and are only an inch thick, taking up minimal floor space. All of the tables and chairs were found in antique stores; many from upstate New York and some form Time Gallery in Brooklyn. Other odds and ends were brought in from either Sarah or her grandmother’s homes.

The result is a warm and welcoming environment that looks like it has always been there. Sarah was kind to share the recipe for one of her signature dishes, her Mediterranean plate, with Kitchn readers. Watch for this recipe in just a few minutes!

• Visit the Ortine Café website

Related: Kitchen Tour: Kenny Lao of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar

(Images: Sabra Krock of Cookbook Catchall)