As Sohui Kim, chef and owner of the Good Fork in Red Hook once told us, “Spring is when I can stop pretending to be excited about cooking with root vegetables.”
Although nothing says fine Brooklyn dining like kale salad and roasted brussels sprouts, we have to agree. After months of eating fruits and veggies that have spent the winter in cold storage, we’re more than ready for the fresh, green goodness that spring has to offer.
It’s still a wee bit early in the season (ramp-mania has yet to hit its peak), but a few restaurant menus are already showcasing the bounty of the greenmarket. You’ll find shaved asparagus and spring radishes accompanying homemade burrata at Anella, and strawberries and rhubarb sweetening foie gras, at Prospect in Fort Greene. Like the first crocus poking through the earth, or birds returning from a long winter migration (poetic, no?) dishes like these are a sure sign that spring is here to stay.
Tagliatelle with Morel Mushrooms at Anella
Chef Todd Andrews must get up awfully early in the morning in order to score such an impressive greenmarket bounty. The menu at this seasonal Greenpoint restaurant already includes Asparagus Soup with Lemon Gremolata and Goat cheese Crème, Artichoke and Fennel Salad, Tagliatelle with Morel Mushrooms and English Peas, and a wedge of impossibly creamy Homemade Burrata, served with Shaved Asparagus, Mache, and crispy Spring Radish. And no matter the season, we always feel cheered by a loaf of Anella’s homemade bread, baked and served in a terra cotta flowerpot.
222 Franklin St, (718) 389-8102
Foie Gras with Early Strawberries at Prospect
Although the chefs at this new Fort Greene restaurant have a penchant for molecular gastronomy and intricate plating with tweezers, pristine, seasonal ingredients are at the heart of everything they do. Look for a decadent, Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, accented by delicate spring strawberries, tangy rhubarb, and a pine nut cake (not a dessert, by the way), as well as a Crispy Lamb Belly with a Day Old Duck Egg, and Pan-Roasted Black Bass with Stinging Nettle Buttermilk Nage and edible blossoms and herbs. And you better hurry if you want to snag a taste of spring’s most fleeting treasures — they just got in a shipment of morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns!
773 Fulton St, (718) 596-6826
Scallops with Rhubarb Puree and Pea Shoots at Applewood
This seminal Park Slope restaurant doesn’t just advocate farm-to-table dining. Owners Laura and David Shea put their money where the mouth was in 2012 by actually buying a farm upstate. Applewood Farm currently supplies much of what is used at the restaurant, including pork, chicken, eggs, and of course, a wealth of herbs and vegetables. Since the menu changes daily, it’s hard to predict what you’ll find. But recent offerings like Poached Organic Egg with Pickled Ramps and Mustard Jus, Crispy Chatham Pollock Brandade with Sautéed Applewood Farm Mustard Greens and Pickled Okra, and Pan Seared Rhode Island Day Boat Scallops with Rhubarb Puree and Pea Shoots, all but assure a season of delicious eats.
501 11th St, (718) 788-1810
Ricotta Cavatelli with Spring Vegetables at iCi
Most local/seasonal restaurants are just babes in the woods compared to iCi in Fort Greene, which has been meticulously sourcing free-range eggs, Amish chickens, and rooftop greens since 2004. Look for market-fresh Spring Veggies, Grana Padano, Grilled Radicchio and Leek Puree to top a plate of handmade Ricotta Cavatelli, those little pasta twists that look like hot dog buns.
246 Dekalb Ave, (718) 789-2778
Salmon with Artichokes at Battersby
Can’t imagine this Smith Street restaurant without its adulated Kale Salad? Take a deep breath — it’s still on the menu — but there are a few, far more seasonal treats to enjoy. Why not try a refreshing Herb Salad topped with Buttermilk Dressing, a sprightly Spaghetti with Sea Urchin, Chili and Lemon, or the Salmon with Artichokes Barigoule, a stew of citrus, garlic, fresh berbs, white wine and stock?
255 Smith St, (718) 852-8321
Young Leeks with Romesco Sauce at Colonie
The Brooklyn Heights small-bites spot, Colonie, is a vegetarian’s dream, with meatless options making up at least half the menu. That makes it a good pick during spring, when perfect produce more than stands alone. We’d go for the Young Leeks with Romesco, Almonds and Cilantro, Duck Eggs (yes, they have a season), with Quinoa and Mushrooms, and Ricotta Crostini with Honey and Fresh Mint.
127 Atlantic Ave, (718) 855-7500
Salad of Sea Vegetables at Gwynnett St.
As would be expected, Gwynnett St. chef Justin Hilbert has grand, highly conceptual plans for spring. He’ll be sourcing seagrasses, like sea blight, goose tongue and sea arugula, from a forager friend in Maine, which he’ll plate with local shrimp or mackerel seared on the plancha, and a warm sabayon made from crushed shrimp and crab shells, to replicate sea foam.
312 Graham Ave, (347) 889-7002
Scallops with English Peas and Spring Onion Escabeche at Northeast Kingdom
Speaking of foraging, Northeast Kingdom’s owner, Paris Smeraldo, is a devoted hunter/gatherer. He spends most of his time in the Hudson Valley, sourcing lily shoots, nettles, black birch sap and twigs for NEK chef, Kevin Adey. He also keeps a garden, which supplies the tender spring onions for the escabeche (an acidic marinade), that tops plump Point Judith scallops paired with perfect English peas.
18 Wyckoff Ave, (718) 386-3864