329 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens, 718-422-0444
Rating: 3 out of 5 L's
At Seersucker, they're serving up Southern cuisine in all its Sunday finery. Here, even the house-made potato chips ($7) seem upper-crusty, presented on a white ceramic dish, with a tidy little bowl of pimento cheese for dipping. The brick walls are white-washed, and the slate gray bench seating around the perimeter offers clean lines, if not coziness. A windowed wall divides the dining room from the kitchen, and large jars of bright-colored picked things—beets, okra, cucumbers—line the sill, catching the light from the busy cooking area.
Most patrons appear to have just returned from offices in Midtown, and a couple of well-behaved children looked like they stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad. The restaurant is casual enough to serve a fried bologna sandwich at the bar ($6), but in my jeans and sneakers, I felt underdressed. Still, our server was friendly, so I asked him if he had any favorite dishes. He rattled off the many lighter items on the menu, which focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients—and, seemingly, the Cooking Light version of Southern fare.
The spoonbread, made with stoneground grits, fresh thyme and wild mushrooms, was very tasty—but more airy than rich. Served in a small disc, like it had been popped out of a little ramekin, it seemed a tiny (and low-calorie) portion for its $11 price tag. The lean, crisp-skinned duck leg ($21) was not huge but delicious, served with a little sausage on the side. Just a little. The pork chop ($19) at the next table was a monster. We looked at it longingly.
When I tried to order some deviled eggs ($4) on the side, the waiter excitedly recommended the zucchini instead, which the chef had picked up at the farmer's market across the street. It came in an adorable little cast iron pot, was cut into matchsticks, and cooked lightly in olive oil. It was as good as you could expect summer squash to be—but still a pretty basic vegetable side. The chocolate cake – another airy little disc, this one dotted with berries—was also well-executed but nothing to rave about.
In a city elbow-deep in a fried chicken renaissance, where cheap 'n' dirty Southern fare is all the rage, Seersucker is the kind place you want to go when you find out your cholesterol is through the roof. But even if you're not looking to cut calories, it's only fair to give buttoned-up Seersucker a chance to evolve, roll up its sleeves, and give its fresh and healthful Southern fare a little more soul.