The Runner serves up 19th-century cuisine

Old-thyme-y Clinton Hill restaurant channels Walt Whitman

The Brooklyn Paper
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Let’s just hope the leafy greens don’t taste like grass.

A new, Walt-Whitman-themed restaurant called The Runner opened in Clinton Hill on March 6, serving up old-timey dishes that the original Bard of Brooklyn might have munched on in his day. One of the eatery’s proprietors said the inspiration for the antique menu came to him in an exceedingly modern flash.

“I literally started Googling the history of Clinton Hill and Whitman came up pretty quick,” said Runner co-owner Richard Winter.

Whitman resided in the borough for much of his life and only laid his head in Clinton Hill for less than a year. It was a productive time, though — historians say the brownstone neighborhood is where Whitman finished his seminal work “Leaves of Grass.” The poem “The Runner” appears in that fat tome and Winter interprets it as a symbol for progress and the Industrial Revolution, which reminds him of the changes sweeping across Brooklyn today.

“When I thought about what’s going on in this neighborhood, on Myrtle Avenue, I knew it was just right,” said Winter about choosing the name.

The head chef is Andrew Burman, who made a name for himself slinging sandwiches at Court Street Grocers in Carroll Gardens.

Burman designed The Runner’s menu around American fare from the early 1900s and cooks most dishes on a wood-fired stove. Winter describes the cuisine as “simple comfort food.”

“We’re not going crazy with food science,” he said.

The menu boasts roasts including chicken with watercress, fennel, and lemon, and a lamb shoulder with cinnamon currants, pickled onions, and cilantro. Seafood appetizers include razor clams and roasted oysters.

Among the period dishes are chicken liver mousse as well as bone marrow with escargot — a fancy way of saying snails — and apple onion jam.

This is Winter’s first shot at owning a restaurant, but he knows the money side of the business. Previously he had a career as a minor league baseball player, then went to work as an executive for the Institute of Culinary Arts, and most recently started a consulting firm that handles accounting and financing for restaurants.

He said Clinton Hill is exactly the type of neighborhood he was looking for when he decided to pursue his latest venture.

“We were looking at growing neighborhoods that have a love for culinary arts,” Winter said. “This area of Brooklyn is perfect.”

The Runner [458 Myrtle Ave. between Washington and Waverly avenues in Clinton Hill, (718) 643–6500,]. Brunch Saturday–Sunday, 11 am–3 pm. Dinner Sunday–Thursday, 5–10 pm. Friday–Saturday, 5–11 pm.

Updated 8:39 pm, March 12, 2014: Hours and address added.
Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
1) what is the address of the restaurant; 2) is it open? if not, when is the opening? 3) what does grass taste like? I've never eaten it, but my dog does when he wants to induce vomiting.
March 10, 2014, 10:46 am
ty from pps says:
Damn hipsters! Amiright, diehipster and swampdouche?
March 10, 2014, 12:04 pm
whatever from greenpoint says:
Man look at those hipster owners in the pic above!

Damn vacationers mid-west trust fund sucking on mother's tit skinny jean wearing invaders making hipster food that no one will eat. Go back to where you came from! Go back to.... go back to.... um...Brooklyn! How dare you come to Brooklyn from Brooklyn and ruin people who have lived here there entire lives by bringing hipster "chicken liver mousse as well as bone marrow with escargot".
March 10, 2014, 12:28 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I have to say that I did enjoy the razor clams quite a bit. Fortunately, I only needed a few quick stitches. Of course, the dining experience overshadowed the hospital visit
March 10, 2014, 12:37 pm
Mervin Jones says:
Walt Whitman never actually ate at this restaurant .
March 10, 2014, 1:37 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I'm sorry, but he actually has. It was during the airing of the final episodes of the final season. Pardon my pointing this out.
March 10, 2014, 5:45 pm
The Chooch from Choochinello's Battle of Brooklyn Chutney says:
Abracadabra baby.
March 11, 2014, 2:38 pm
Catherine Meganza from Manhattan says:
The owners need to brush up on their knowledge of Whitman (e.g., the app says "The Runner" was written for the 1855 Leaves of Grass, but it wasn't written until the war years and was published in the 1867 edition). He also didn't "finish" Leaves of Grass in that neighborhood, as he wrote and re-published it many times throughout his life. Finally, "food from the early 1900s" would have been food from after Whitman died, in 1892! But, this is a fun idea and it certainly is in Whitman's neighborhood. I'll try it!
Oct. 21, 2014, 10:18 am

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