Perhaps it’s the promise of the pull of pre-show dinner crowds from the nearby Barclays Center, but this formerly so-so Southwestern spot has stepped up its game; inviting in heavyweight talent (classically trained and Michelin-starred Executive chef Patrick Allouache and pastry chef Gabrielle Vannucci), to add French technique and refinement to playful, Latin-accented fare.
It’s hard to resist the drama of dishes prepared tableside, making freshly pounded guacamole a popular first-order. The guac was fine (scooped into a flower pattern of kelly-green quenelles) but the accompanying scoopers were even finer — a paper cone of housemade, ribbon-shaped corn chips and a fat, salty pillow of Navajo fry bread — plenty tasty enough to eat on its own.
The mixed marriage of French/Mexican flavors is displayed to most delicious effect among the hot starters — namely the intensely savory foie gras quesadilla with zucchini blossom, huitlacoche and aged gruyere cheese, and the umami-bomb tacos (halibut meuniere with piquillo peppers and spring onion confit, stewed Alaskan King crab with roasted tomatoes and corn, and grilled strip steak with Oregon chanterelles). Both dishes deploy hand-patted tortillas and a profusion of obscenely rich reductions, fondues and foams in which to dip and dunk — like avocado mousse, parmesan cream, and a concentrated pool of wild mushroom sauce.
Entrées are equally well executed but tend towards the traditional — short ribs with truffle mashed potatoes, shrimp bouillabaisse, and a crispy skinned, roasted Chilean Sea Bass (topped with an olive tapenade quenelle, naturally!). Be sure to order one, but save room for dessert — it’s rather a slight to skip it when there’s an accomplished pastry chef in the house. The Crepe Suzette with Grand Marnier sorbet will guarantee you more tableside service, but pre-plated treats are equally entertaining — sated as we were, we found a way to finish a white chocolate and citrus parfait, crowned with a crispy chip of candied orange.
We can’t speak for midtown, but in Brooklyn, the future of fusion has never looked finer.
259 Flatbush, (718) 484-4114