The Restaurant: Rose Water

787 Union St, 718-783-3800
Rating:    ****
Price Range:     $30-40

In Park Slope, free-range chicken is as inescapable as the Baby Bjorn carrier. The local/organic/seasonal food craze — like the contraption that allows parents to strap on their bundles of joy while they walk the dog or swipe the Metrocard — is something practical enough for everyone to buy into (even if you’re not a yuppie).

Rose Water, its unassuming entrance marked by twinkling Christmas lights, is one of those Park Slope eateries (along with Applewood and Stone Park) that promises a fresh, seasonal menu that patronizes local farmers and shuns factory farms. Rose Water’s food philosophy has health benefits, too, but once you enter through the brick-exposed archway that leads to a cozy dining room, all you’re thinking about is how good dinner is gonna’ be. The décor here is as homey and refined as the fare — a single row of Mediterranean tiles line the walls, and an old bookcase displays the wine selections.

Waitresses in rose-colored dress shirts weave through tightly packed tables, delivering baskets of incredible salt-crusted bread with dipping bowls of olive oil. Ours recommends the jasmine tea-smoked shad roe as a firstcourse, and after a bite of that bread, we’ll believe anything she says. But she doesn’t explain that shad roe, a New England springtime delicacy, is nothing like the salmon roe we’re used to at sushi restaurants — in terms of texture and flavor, these herring egg sacks have more in common with calf’s liver. Served beside a mound of watercress and a puddle of charmoula (Moroccan parsley pesto), the shad roe is certainly worth trying (especially if you’re a burgeoning gourmand), but, um, we’re more into the rich garlic-almond soup. Whole nuts and peas add to the texture, and a sprinkling of fresh mint complements the earthy flavor.

The grilled chicken, a main course, is a mellow multicultural affair: a warming pumpkin sauce offers mild Mexican flavor, a more-sweet-than-spicy jerk seasoning coats the perfectly cooked poultry, and the falafel served alongside it tastes like slightly exotic hush puppies. The global flavors aren’t meant to knock you out — they hit you like love taps, instead. Fennel puree gives the simple pan-fried Pollock just a little punch, and the buttery roasted potato served beside it is a starchy piece of heaven.
For a sweet finish, we opt for classic desserts — a sweet strawberry crumble and a slice of chocolate pound cake, both served a la mode — and then think about coming back for brunch… if only we had a strap-on baby


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