Making Even Mondays Seem Special: Dover

02/12/2014 4:00 AM |

412 Court Street, South Brooklyn

It started with the acorn-sized gougères, their buttery pastry shells piped with Gruyere cream, and continued with an espresso cup of rich, earthy root-vegetable soup sprinkled with chili flakes and drizzled with olive oil. Next, a long, thin loaf of bread arrived, looking like a baby baguette but tasting more like chewy herbed foccacia, accompanied by a miniature bowl of ricotta—dusted with black pepper to cut through its creamy sweetness—and another little bowl of mellow white-bean puree brightened by briny green olive tapenade. When you dine at Dover, the roomy new space helmed by Battersby’s Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern, these are the kinds of dishes you can expect to receive as gifts from the chefs. Amuse-bouches. Freebies. A few unexpected bites of food that turn a Monday night dinner into a special occasion, an impromptu celebration, a
happy memory.

As our actual orders arrived, things got even better. Fresh, sweet morsels of crabmeat were tangled into an ample appetizer-sized portion of inky tagliatelle, lightly touched with lemon and chili. Tender, flaky cod was paired with roasted potatoes, sweet and juicy cippolinis and tangy olives in brown butter, plus teeny tiny croutons (in culinary school, they call this miniscule 1/16-inch dice a “brunoise”) that added salt and crunch. Seared scallops met carrot curls, roasted almonds and juicy, jewel-like mandarin orange segments in a light, citrusy, buttery sauce. Half-sized portions of the fish were ample enough to share, and a dinner-sized portion of duck—seared on the outside and luxuriously pink within—was even more generously sized. (The only dish that we sent back unfinished was the cauliflower, browned and deep-fried florets mixed with white crisp-tender ones, plus plump raisins and wisps of bitter winter greens in what seemed to be a pool of lemon juice. The bright, tart, inventive vegetable may have worked better in a small tasting portion, but a wide bowl was too much.)

Small, perfect bites are the specialty at Dover, and the best way to experience them is to get on board for the $95 seven-course tasting menu, but it’s possible to dine here on a smaller budget. For $94, two of us split two first-
courses, two half-sized fish dishes and one entrée; we left too full for dessert. In that respect, Dover is not only serving up some of the best meals in Brooklyn—it’s also one of the best deals in Brooklyn, considering the quality. It’s much bigger than Battersby, but we expect that the extra seats will soon be booked far in advance. Get a table while you still can.