255 Smith St, Boerum Hill
5 out of 5 L's
Tucked into a narrow storefront and buzzing with friendly chatter, Battersby has 30 closely packed seats, including the 10 huddled around the bar. On a recent Friday evening, the same dish—a humdrum-looking mound of greens—was arriving at almost every place setting. As a pair were served head-to-head at a two-top behind us, our tiny, ballerina-like bartender leaned conspiratorially over the bar and said, “I don’t actually like salad that much, but this kale salad is really, really good.” We ordered one to split, but the couple behind us had the right idea—this salad is too good to share. The kale leaves were crisp and browned around the edges, their bitterness tempered by a sweet-salty dressing. Fresh, crunchy julienned kohlrabi added texture while Thai basil and chili brought depth of flavor and heat. Best salad in the neighborhood. Go get some before it’s too late.
Battersby’s menu, which is separated into first, second and third courses, changes frequently, according to what’s fresh at the greenmarket and the whims of the chefs Joseph Ogrodnek (formerly of Anella in Greenpoint) and Walker Stern (from The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights). The young chefs, who renovated the snug, brick-lined space themselves, work in a teeny open kitchen in the back. During our visit, the first courses also included a rich curried cauliflower soup with perfectly creamy bay scallops and apple for a touch of tartness—the perfect steamy-spicy bowl for a blustery night. From the selection of second courses, we chose the veal sweetbreads à la meunière, that is, cooked in browned butter, lemon and parsley. They were served with romaine lettuce in a sharp Caesar dressing that cut through the richness of the organ meats. The third courses were less playful than the firsts and seconds, and although our lamb was perfectly braised and melting off the bone, our only quibble of the night was that the chickpeas paired with it were a bit grainy and undercooked.
All in all, Battersby is a classy little neighborhood restaurant—the kind of place that could charm your out-of-towner parents, impress a foodie date, or woo a cocktail nerd. (We liked the Paradise Lost cocktail, a smooth concoction of quince-infused rye and citrus, that went down like a gussied-up whiskey sour.) For dessert, as the stereo played Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady,” we savored a chocolate-caramel tart, sipped Cardamaro (a smooth and wintery digestif infused with cardoon, an Italian relative of the artichoke), and reflected on a meal that was solid and special until the last drop.