Buttermilk Channel is the mile-long tidal strait between Brooklyn and Governors Island. When the area was farmland, dairy farmers would cross by boat to sell their milk in Manhattan markets. Tidal currents in the channel were notoriously strong — strong enough, some said, to churn the milk into butter.
In another popular legend, one mentioned by Walt Whitman in his writing for The Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn farmers walked their cows across the channel at low tide to graze on Governors Island’s abundant grass.
Although Court Street seems pretty landlocked these days, the life of the neighborhood was once defined by the water, just a few blocks west. In the mid-19th century, the channel was dredged to accommodate the cargo ships that jammed New York’s ports after the opening of the Erie Canal. Red Hook shipyards remained the dominant industry in the neighborhood until the 1950s. Today, Buttermilk Channel remains a busy shipping lane, and is now home to the Queen Mary 2.
Doug is a native New Yorker and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He started out in the kitchen, working at Manhattan’s La Grenouille and Picholine, before moving into the dining room. Prior to opening Buttermilk Channel in 2008, Doug was the General Manager at Blue Water Grill in Union Square.