A Walter Foods joint

02/01/2012 4:00 AM |

166 Dekalb Ave, Fort Greene
4 out of 5 L’s

If somebody hired a focus group to engineer a successful Brooklyn restaurant, they might come up with the formula for Walter’s. An offshoot of Williamsburg’s Walter Foods, the eatery is located just across the street from Fort Greene Park, and its urban-pastoral setting adds to its allure. Walking from the subway up South Oxford Street or South Portland Avenue, one can’t help but gaze up into the stately brownstones, each interior illuminated by chandelier—some modern and angular, others elaborate and antique, every one like a sparkling piece of jewelry dangling from an ornate ceiling medallion. Walter’s seems designed with classy locals in mind—stylish white-washed brick walls, timeless tiled floors, just-dim-enough globe lights, a dark wood bar with matching banquettes, and ebony blinds for an air of film noir. Of course, the prettiness is somewhat predictable.

The menu follows suit with a well-curated mishmash of yupster favorites. Fun comfort foods (starters like artichoke dip, $9, and horseradish-heavy deviled eggs, $3 each) meet trendy international options (such as dayboat ceviche, $13, and pristine, greaseless, not-quite-Chinese duck buns, $7 for a pair). There are new-American basics (like a roasted half chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and market vegetables, $18) and a well-stocked raw bar. Our bearded server, dressing his part in a white apron and bow tie, couldn’t have offered a more heartfelt description of the oyster selection if he had harvested each mollusk with his own two hands. The lobster salad, with perky grapefruit, salty ricotta salata, fresh mint and creamy avocado ($23) made a fine light dinner. The fisherman’s stew was also delicately portioned with just a couple of clams and shrimp (for a whopping $23), but we appreciated the large piece of toasted sourdough meant to soak up the richly flavored and well-spiced tomato and shellfish broth. Some crisp Brussels sprouts ($6) rounded out our meal.

On a chilly Tuesday evening, the place was packed, the waiters doing their best to weave through the well-heeled locals who were crammed between the tables and the bar. By this point, the din of conversation was drowning out the mellow and sensible soundtrack of Otis Redding ballads and Norah Jones ditties. Even the cocktail list plays it safe with classics, veering only slightly from the traditional with a fig Sidecar (fig-syrup plays off fresh lemonade and rum, $11) and an orange Manhattan (orange bitters are used instead of Angostura, $11). They’re not covering any new ground here at Walter’s, but the drinks are well-poured, the dishes well-executed. It’s certainly the sort of place a chandelier-owner could love.

Photos by Cody Swanson