In August of 1774, eight intrepid Shakers landed in Manhattan from Manchester, England, in search of a home where they could practice their fledgling religion in peace. Nearly two and half centuries later, their presence has returned to the borough; specifically, to a storybook stretch of Commerce Street in the West Village.
The Commerce Inn, which opened in December, is a Shaker kitchen meets early American tavern with a dash of 19th-century oyster house. Its white-walled dining room is an exacting homage to the Protestant religious group, whose signature furniture and décor rejected adornment and insisted upon simplicity, utility and honesty in craft. The chef-owners Rita Sodi and Jody Williams spent years poring over old Shaker recipes and cookbooks as inspiration for its dishes, which include spoon bread, oxtail and ginger cake.