09/24/14 4:00am
09/24/2014 4:00 AM |

Seersucker Rises Again
345 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens

As you walk into Wilma Jean, the latest venture from the folks behind Seersucker and Nightingale 9, it feels like something between a chicken shack way down South and a cool Brooklyn restaurant. There’s something very down-home about the whole production, with mounds of crispy chicken piled onto trays emerging from the kitchen. But the framed chalkboard menus on the wall, impressive craft beer selection, and stylish children slouched against the bar bring you right back to Carroll Gardens again. Kerry Diamond and Rob Newton designed this casual Southern spot as an offshoot of Seersucker, their now-shuttered, more upscale Southern restaurant. The fried chicken and cheddar cheese grits live on from the Seersucker menu, only now they’re served in paper trays. And that’s not such a bad thing at all.

The menu is broken down into five sections: snacks, salad bowls, fried chicken, sandwiches, and sides. It goes without saying that you should order the fried chicken here—it’s perfectly cooked with a thick layer of crunchy skin. But Diamond and Newton do an interesting thing on the menu. You can get a chicken dinner with one side and coleslaw for $14, but you can also get chicken on a stick ($5), a single breast ($6), thigh ($4), or drumstick ($3). My dining companion and I decided to order just a few pieces of chicken and many, many sides. The meal—instead of a big pile of fried chicken with a modest side dish—became a modest amount of chicken and a taste of just about everything else. Tater tots, grits, fried okra, cornbread, cornmeal-crusted oysters, and a summer-fresh salad, all crammed onto two trays: It was a Southern meal as it should be.

Those oysters, also fried with a pleasingly thick and crispy skin, were served with “Mississippi Comeback Sauce,” an orangish mayo sauce with a little bite. The cheddar cheese grits were reliably good, as grits often are, and the fried okra disappeared from its paper container quickly. The fried bologna sandwich comes on a potato roll, with layers of bologna crisped up and nearly burnt (in a good way) and topped with a healthy slather of mustard. The cornbread was heavy and peppery, not at all sweet. It was served with a salted molasses butter with a flavor profile I pathetically described as “deep” in my notes—a better adjective never struck. With all that is heavy and fried, the summer vegetable salad felt necessary, although you do have the option of adding fried chicken to your greens. The salad, comprised of green beans, heirloom tomatoes, onions, radishes, and squash coated in a light lemon vinaigrette, is something you’ll crave more and more as the fried food starts to weigh down your belly. It was, alongside the fried chicken, one of the highlights of the meal.

To end, nothing too fancy, just a blackberry cobbler served in a tiny tin with a side of Blue Marble vanilla ice cream. The meal felt like it cost $100. Because the sides are priced between $2 and $5, it was $40 less. Now that’s Southern food I can stand behind: good, plentiful, and cheap.

09/10/14 4:00am
09/10/2014 4:00 AM |

Greenpoint Fish and Lobster
114 Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint

Why shouldn’t Greenpoint—a very charming waterfront neighborhood—have a charming place to eat food from the water? That was the thought of Vinny Milburn and Adam Geringer-Dunn, who opened Greenpoint Fish and Lobster after recognizing the lack of decent seafood options in the area. The spot is part fish market, part raw bar, part restaurant. Milburn runs the front of house, where Greenpoint Fish and Lobster sells delicious-looking, fresh seafood —much of it local. In back is where Geringer-Dunn cooks, and you’ll find a narrow bar and a few small tables to enjoy all that fresh fish fancied up. It’s a cozy undertaking, but the carefully planned design reminds you that it’s a sophisticated one, as well. The folks at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster are trying to bring seafood to new levels here. The food is beyond promising, but it seems the restaurant still needs to get its sea legs.

The first visit to Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, on one busy weekend evening, proved unsuccessful. You should expect a wait during opening weekend of a much-hyped restaurant, but the narrow entryway got too crowded, and the wait time too unpredictable; so after an hour and a half (we were quoted 45 minutes to an hour) it was time to eat elsewhere. Visiting later, on a weekday evening, was a different story. Waiters wove comfortably through the restaurant, and handsome, scruffy cooks looked relaxed at the grill, which you can view from the bar. Anytime you looked like you needed anything, they spotted your glance and were at your service. This, I could deal with.

The menu is small—about five items, plus a special—and it’s accompanied by a drool-worthy selection of oysters. My dining companion and I ordered one of everything on the paper menu, using the pencils on hand to mark our order, and added a request to start with a dozen oysters. A starter dish of fried salmon skin (it tastes like bacon from the sea) disappeared in mere seconds. But what came after, instead of oysters, was all our food at once. Plates of beautiful, hot and steaming fish, threatening to go cold. At one point, a cook pointed out that our dish of king salmon crudo (saved for later, since it’s served uncooked) was actually cooking there on the bar.

So what to do with two people and five plates of seafood on the table? Eat, and enjoy. Indeed, the seafood was spectacular, fresh, and loaded with summer herbs, which the cooks pluck generously from plastic containers in the kitchen. The Baja fish tacos, which were recommended fried but also come grilled, were comprised of perfectly fried pollock, chipotle lime mayo, radishes, and cilantro. The massive mussels—some of the biggest and best I’ve eaten—looked downright lovely bathed in a creamy green curry coconut sauce. And the fried black sea bass, served whole, was down to the skeleton in no time.

To top it all off? You guessed it: the oysters. They were served elegantly on a long and narrow plate of ice, and they tasted as good as they looked. It wasn’t the ideal dessert, but with fish this good you’re willing to make some compromises.

08/27/14 4:00am
08/27/2014 4:00 AM |

Orchard Café
257 Columbia Street, Red Hook

Siting outside the Orchard Café, a restaurant that opened last month on the southern end of the Columbia Street Waterfront, it’s clear to see this place has real down-to-earth, local roots. At one point, a modest car pulled up and a man and woman got out toting crates of lemons and seltzer through the front door. Soon after, a girl, about six years old and passing by with her father, stated, “Oh, I love the chicken here.” The inviting vibe is not an accident: The owners outline on the Orchard Café website that they’re “a group of food and art lovers who passionately believe in the power of convivial and creative atmosphere at the table.” The focus here is seasonal, locally sourced, and organic, as showcased on an ambitious menu. The space, cleanly decorated with exposed brick and a chalkboard wall, offers breakfast and brunch options, a selection of sandwiches, and a full dinner menu. There’s no liquor license yet, so drinks range from coffee and tea to “Orchard healing juice.”

The meal started with a smooth but not particularly strong iced coffee and a beet lemon shrub. “It’s not sweet,” the waitress warned. “It’s healthy.” And it wasn’t sweet, rather vinegary, but refreshing all the same. The summer lettuce salad that followed— decorated with blueberries, peppers, and a basil vinaigrette—felt underwhelming. In the most promising months of summer produce, salad greens shouldn’t look wilted, blueberries should taste brighter, richer, and basil dressing should be bold, not forgettable. An appetizer of Siberian dumplings (made with beef and pork), recommended by the waitress, proved more exciting. Served in a reddish pool of beet broth, flecked with lightly cooked kale and yogurt, it was one of the highlights of the meal.

The list of entrées boasts a healthy, vegetarian-friendly appeal: a lentil burger, barley risotto, roast chicken with ginger and cantaloupe. The barley risotto, wonderfully creamy but still slightly undercooked, was packed with mushrooms, greens, and parmesan—it tasted almost meaty. Buckwheat soba was a good summer pick, served cold with pickled carrots, corn, chicken, zucchini, and Brussels sprout kimchi.

The meal ended with two watermelon ice pops—how else to wrap up a warm summer afternoon? It was refreshing and perfectly enjoyable, but it still lacked that insane freshness you crave in the month of August. Once again, the promise of seasonality went somewhat unfulfilled. Orchard Café has all the makings of an established local joint, and it’s one of the few restaurants on this end of the Columbia Street Waterfront. It may just need a little extra oomph to get there.

08/13/14 4:00am
08/13/2014 4:00 AM |

Pacifico’s Fine Foods
798A Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights

Fresh is the word at Crown Heights newcomer Pacifico’s Fine Food, where small plates and seasonal ingredients rule. You’ll be tempted here to order many courses, and you should. You should also bring along a friend to share them with, particularly one who enjoys seafood. By the meal’s end, you’ll feel satisfied but not overly full, and refreshed in a way that most restaurants can’t offer.

Pacifico’s continues a trend along Franklin Avenue seemingly started by the nearby American restaurant Mayfield. This bustling drag of Crown Heights is slowly becoming home to more upscale restaurants, places for younger, cash-strapped residents to take their visiting parents. It’s not that Pacifico’s will break the bank. But it’s styled—in both menu and decor—for a nice night out. It’s all the work of Shanna Pacifico, the longtime chef of Back Forty in Manhattan. Her menu here has both American and Brazilian influences, with sections offering small plates, vegetable and grains, fish and shellfish, and meats.

Ceiling fans gently whirred through the small, tastefully decorated space as I walked in one warm summer evening. A friendly waiter helpfully walked me and my dining companion through the menu; we had his full attention the entire evening. Cocktails like the Sol-Basil­­—a Solbeso drink with lots of fresh basil—and the Pimm’s Cup, complimented with ginger beer, made the heat of the evening seem far away. A starter of pork yuca fritters, which give the impression of heaviness, didn’t taste so. The balls were lightly fried and tasted more of yuca than pork, nicely complemented by a lemony aioli sauce. What followed was a cucumber and buttermilk gazpacho flecked with roasted almonds—refreshing to the core.

We focused on the seafood dishes here and didn’t regret the decision, considering the seafood is paired with unique ingredients that result in unexpected flavor combinations. A sardine special came with spicy corn salsa and roasted peaches. It was a bizarre mix of fishy, spicy, and sweet, and, yes, it worked. Chunks of sockeye salmon shone in ceviche form, perfectly coated in coconut milk and fresh herbs. The Montauk Squid dish fell short; the smear of cocoa brown butter and pickled red onions didn’t do quite enough to elevate the actual seafood. The grilled plantains on the plate, however, were a highlight.

It was all topped off by an order of coconut panna cotta, nestled next to peach slices, blueberries, and quartered cherries. This desert was made for a late summer evening. In fact, the whole meal felt perfectly suited to its season. It’s enough to leave you anxious for what will inspire Chef Pacifico as the weather cools.

07/30/14 4:00am
07/30/2014 4:00 AM |

Montana’s Trail House
445 Troutman Street, Buwshwick

Never has a restaurant straddled two worlds better than Montana’s Trail House, a self-declared cowboy eatery in the heart of hipster Brooklyn. Seven stops deep on the L train, just off Jefferson Avenue, a barn-like structure stands between the low-slung warehouses of Bushwick. Walk inside, and you may as well be in Montana. Well-worn wooden floors and exposed wood ceiling beams are complimented by a retro-looking bar. Flags, deer heads, and curious-looking tools line the walls. It’s all the work of Montana Masback, who’s worked the bar at both the Second Chance Saloon and the Anchored Inn. He got all that wood from a barn in Kentucky, and the knick-knacks come from his friends’ and family’s homes. With all that, he transformed a former auto repair shop into something pretty special.

I have to admit, I didn’t think the pieces were going to fit. Cowboy food with Appalachian influences served up in a quiet corner of Bushwick? All orchestrated by a former bartender, no less? But Montana is a man with a plan. That was evident as soon as an okra special arrived at our table, lightly fried with creamy, mustardy dressing underneath and fresh parsley on top. The dish went down like a dream, leaving both me and my dining companion suddenly anxious for the next dish.

The food is the work of Nate Courtland, who’s cooked at places like Al Di La and Union Square Cafe. Here, he puts out an unusual mix of Southern, Western, and Appalachian-style food; at first glance the menu doesn’t look quite cohesive. But as cheery female servers, in their brightly patterned shirts and big glasses, stop by to drop off dishes, the meal falls into place. The Tongue and Cheek Reuben was rich and messy, packing in two different meats and house-made sauerkraut. The side salad was plain and simple; a separate side of collard greens proved much more impressive. They were cooked simply and delicately, topped with a squirt of charred lemon, and cut so thinly you could wind them like pasta on your fork. The Root Beer Braised Brisket didn’t much taste like root beer, but it was expertly cooked and came apart easily into a pool of creamy, risotto-like rice. The compliment of mustard green was unexpected but welcome.

As for the side of the Master Fat Fried Potatoes—oh my. The small but heavy dish is cooked in duck fat, and we ate every bite. (It felt sinful to leave anything on that plate, even the fried rosemary sprigs or the creamy ranch dressing.) While the potatoes leave an impression, the drinks do, too. The folks at Montana’s make their own Switchel, a “mountain soda” comprised of apple cider vinegar, ginger syrup, and maple syrup. You can try the concoction plain, but it’s recommended in a cocktail that includes whiskey, lemon, and soda. The Gin and Jam cocktail tastes like summer in a glass, and despite the bubblegum-pink color, it leaves you woozy by the end.

The pace of the dinner was relaxed, to say the least, but it allowed for plenty of time to take in the rustic, kooky vibe. By the meal’s end, you feel far away from Bushwick, at least until a hip-looking waitress brushes past your chair with a tail hanging from her ripped jeans. The check arrived tucked in an obscure paperback book plucked from an impressive shelf lining the dining room wall. And before you leave for the real world, there’s inherent pleasure in this world—part cowboy, part Brooklyn—that’s come to life in an old repair shop.

07/16/14 4:00am
07/16/2014 4:00 AM |

Delaware and Hudson
135 North 5th Street, Williamsburg

For a full-on feast priced under 50 bucks, you’re not going to do better than Delaware and Hudson, located in the old Egg space on North 5th in Williamsburg. Chef Patti Jackson’s four-course, $48 prix fixe menu was more like a nine-course dinner. The first course, a set of shared appetizers, could easily be spread over five courses. The menu changes weekly, but ours included deeply browned, salt-crusted pretzel rolls; a best-of-the-greenmarket selection of blanched baby vegetables with a little pot of herby ramp butter; crisp-tender asparagus wrapped in a flaky strudel, rich veal meatballs; and oyster croquettes, crunchy on the outside and creamy within. Our “second” course was a smoky, savory tangle of house-made noodles, chewy bits of bacon, and sweet peas.

By the time the main course came out, any notions we had that this would be a light summer meal had rolled under the table. Options for our seventh dish included a well seared filet of wild striped bass with sweet leeks and plump fava beans, a couple of thick, pink-centered lamb medallions with a garlicky nettle pesto, asparagus and petite, buttery roasted potatoes, or a “corn mush” with peas, leeks, pea shoots, fried egg—a dish we skipped but may have been more inclined to order if they’d just gone ahead and called it polenta. (The restaurant is named for an early American railway, so although the term “mush” brings Little Orphan Annie to mind, it also jives with the spirit of old-timey Mid-Atlantic food.) Had we known that two rounds of notable desserts would follow, we may have made a more concerted effort to save some room.

Jackson, who has been cooking professionally for 30 years, was originally trained as a pastry chef. In a borough where desserts often feel like an afterthought, hers brought a fine-dining finish to a meal that otherwise felt more like hearty, high-end home-cooking than haute cuisine. Our first dessert plate looked innocent enough—a pair of petite rhubarb panna cottas and two pretty little raspberry-almond tortes, but we weren’t going home until the chef herself rolled up with a ninth and final dish of tiny confections: cloudlike raspberry macarons lined up beside white chocolate bark studded with pink peppercorns, dark chocolate-caramel bon-bons touched with sea salt, and melt-in-your-mouth fruit jellies rolled in sparkling sugar. This tasting menu pushes a staggering amount of food, and it’s the only option available at dinnertime (though the kitchen will swap out dishes to accommodate dietary restrictions). For an a la carte sampling of Jackson’s specialties—say, Baltimore-style crab cakes or Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple—you’ll need to stop by for lunch or brunch.

07/02/14 4:00am
07/02/2014 4:00 AM |

The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop
495 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg

“We’re out of the House Ham, but we have the Crispy Pig Face instead, and it’s the best,” the cashier, wearing a heavy mustache with a fuzzy George Michael beard, shouted over the blasting chorus of Madonna’s “Dress You Up.” Welcome to the Meat Hook Sandwich Shop. This special-of-the-day was served on trimmed Italian bread. That is, a layer was cut off lengthwise so that the crust and breadiness didn’t overwhelm its knock-out fillings – crispy-chewy pork jowl, chipotle mayo, melted mozzarella, and mounds of freshly chopped cilantro. It was, indeed, the best. Another inspired daily special featured snappy, cheesy sausage on a roll with black beans, pickled jalapeños and a spicy aioli, sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips and brightened with a douse of lime juice. 

While the specials were on the daring end of the sandwich spectrum, the regular menu sticks to the classics. The Italian, though it wasn’t bulky or overloaded, was solid as anything you could find in an old-school deli. Thinly sliced pepperoni, soppressata, olive loaf, and mozzarella met red onions, pickled cherry peppers and shredded lettuce, with a vinegary bite from Italian dressing. There was nothing ironic about it, besides the way George Michael kept correcting customers who ordered it by saying “EYE-talian.” With Madonna fading into Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” in the background, it was hard to tell if he was an out-of-towner clinging to a regional pronunciation or what. Another regular offering was the Hot Chicken – crispy fried thighs, dripping with a searingly spicy sauce, served on a soft bun with shredded lettuce and crunchy bits of pickled celery. The only disappointment was the vegetarian sandwich, which involved fried onions, hash browns, roasted red peppers, pickled onions, and mild white cheese, but mostly tasted like vinegary shredded lettuce with pops of flavor from coriander seeds.

Though the slim sandwich shop felt like a bright alleyway of whitewashed bricks, Whitney Houston’s “I Get So Emotional” playing at wedding DJ volume brought some character to the streamlined space. Its three tall tables fit four stools each, with a couple of extra seats by the front window, but quick turnover made up for limited seating. The sandwiches were filling without being overwhelmingly gigantic, so I had room after lunch for a chocolate chip cookie or perhaps an artisanal Ding Dong and a sing-along to the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” but dessert is not (yet) on the menu.

06/18/14 4:00am
06/18/2014 4:00 AM |

353 Broadway, Williamsburg

Beneath the rumbling JMZ track, Dotory shines on a dark stretch of Broadway. The small Korean restaurant is open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays, and its bright sandwich shop lighting doesn’t dim for dinner. Near the front window of the narrow space, tables are smooshed tightly together, and in the back a handful of seats are tucked into an alcove beside a faux fireplace, its log casting a glow through orange plastic. The tall stools at the bar arguably make the best seats, but there are only three of them. On a busy night, it’s likely that any intimate conversations between a party of two will provide entertainment for the solo diner who is inches away. Between bites of the tasty Seoul sandwich–crusty bread smeared with chili pepper paste and piled with marinated roast pork, crunchy vegetables and fried onions–the crowded environs start to feel cozy.

Even on a warm evening, a sweet and steamy cup of daechoo cha is hard to resist. The traditional tea is made from Korean dates, or jujubes, which are also sprinkled into the liquid. For a more summery option, nori is fried into tiny taco shells and stuffed with creamy tofu tangled with shredded pickled vegetables, fresh watercress, tangy pomegranate seeds and a crisp kimchee vinaigrette. It’s love at first bite, even as the nori shatters on impact and its contents spill onto your plate. The pan-fried kimchee pancake, studded with sweet seafood, scallions and chives, has a golden crust and rich, eggy flavor within. Dotory’s bibimbap seems healthier than its meatier, heftier counterparts in Manhattan’s Koreatown. Here, black jasmine rice, quinoa and millet are stirred into the sushi rice that forms a satisfying crust along the edges of its sizzling stone bowl. The dish also breaks with convention in that it’s offered in several vegetarian forms: with avocado and crunchy nori, marinated vegetables or tofu and black sesame seeds. Bibimbap with kimchee, cheese and bolgogi meatballs makes a heartier dish, but the meatballs were on the dry side. If you’re looking for a rib-sticking bowl, the kimchee bibimbap with spicy roast pork combo is hard to beat.

Next time we’ll skip the myulchi bokum, dried and toasted whole anchovies with fish sauce-soaked cashews, garlic and dried chilis. The little dish made for an interestingly fishy couple of bites, but the tiny sea creatures, glinting silver and petrified in mid-swim, may be an acquired taste. The anchovies arrived early in our meal, and no matter how many times we politely pushed away our half-eaten bowl, those fishes stayed put as the rest of our plates came and went, watching us with their little eyes as we paid our bill and set out into the night.

06/04/14 4:00am
06/04/2014 4:00 AM |

Lucky Luna
167 Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint

At this Taiwanese-Mexican joint, it’s all about the bao. Meltingly tender five-spiced duck is folded into soft white buns with gingery pickled cucumbers, hoisin mayo and chicharrònes, which impart a subtle Mexican accent onto the Taiwanese street snack. The pork belly bao—a daily special when we visited—also featured decadently juicy meat. The tiny sandwiches are $5.50 each or two for $10, and you’ll definitely want to order pairs. To get a little more bang for that ten bucks, opt for the two-taco plate. The beer-braised heritage pork tasted fresh and healthy, which may not be the biggest selling point for fans of fatty, crispy carnitas. Still, Lucky Luna scored points for using tasty corn tortillas from Tortillería Nixtamal in Corona, Queens, and pairing the dish with steamed rice and heirloom beans, which, though on the bland side, helped fill out a meal from a menu of shareable small—sometimes very small—plates.

The Lu Rou Fan, a little bowl of white rice with pickled mustard greens, bits of ground pork and a poached egg, could’ve also used a punch of flavor. And it was too tiny a portion for its $10 price tag. The $7 crunchy cucumber salad, spiked with garlic, ginger and a sweet sesame-soy vinaigrette, better accompanied both the Taiwanese- and Mexican-leaning dishes.

Despite a few half-hearted attempts to fuse the two cuisines together, they generally stand side-by-side on Lucky Luna’s menu: a teeny tangle of shredded Thai basil atop the mango panna cotta doesn’t exert much of an Asian influence on the tropical dessert, but it’s so light, creamy and citrusy that no heavy-handed fusion is necessary. The quasi-Latin-American Florecita, a cherry-red mocktail of hibiscus, lime and ginger with a super-spicy combo of sugar and chili circling its rim perked up our whole meal, even though its whisper of ginger didn’t really scream, “Taiwan!” The springy, boozy Peony cocktail combined gin, Cocchi Americano, lemon and absinthe; the addition of a lychee placed it on the vaguely Asian end of the menu.

Lucky Luna’s greatest asset is its waitstaff, whose chattiness and excitement about the menu made us feel like we were dining at a friend’s house. The space itself feels a bit like a postcollege starter apartment: a red accent wall here, a turquoise shelving unit there, some fringy Mexican textiles hanging around, lighting that could be a bit softer, and a bowl of free feminine hygiene products discreetly placed in the bathroom. If you’ve ever dreamed of hosting a Mexican and/or Taiwanese dinner party without having to clean up, this is your place.

05/21/14 4:00am
05/21/2014 4:00 AM |

The Runner
458 Myrtle Avenue, Clinton Hill

You can’t judge a restaurant by its website. The Runner’s is tasteful but fusty: the logo appears over an olive-and-gold floral textile, like a swatch of a grandmotherly carpetbag, and the tagline reads, “An American Heritage restaurant and bar with recipes inspired by Clinton Hill circa 1900.” The thought of old-timey roasted meats didn’t really excite my taste buds. As I walked toward Myrtle Avenue, I braced myself for some light period garb: beards paired with take-me-seriously suspenders, or thrift store vests over vintage button-downs with sleeves rolled to reveal swirls of forearm tattoos. I yawned just thinking about it—but I had gotten it all wrong.

We entered through a cozy, dark-wood barroom, where bursts of laughter erupted over pints of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and the Other Half IPA. The host, a friendly, modern-looking guy in a flannel shirt and glasses, led us to an adjacent dining room with a wood-burning oven in an open kitchen area. The scene was as laid-back as a neighborhood bar and grill, with nary a waxed moustache nor a high-waisted trouser in sight. Servers—mostly ponytailed young women, all in present-day apparel—smiled as they sailed by, carrying plates heaped with hunks of fragrant bread. These giant, airy popovers were served warm with sweet walnut-raisin butter, and their puffy deliciousness made us feel sorry for all the gluten-adverse people in our lives.

We were wary of the section of the menu titled “tartes”—after all, savory tarts (especially with that added “e” at the end) sound like something heavy and quiche-like that comes in a thick, buttery crust tucked into a little ramekin—but, no, ours was a generously sized, wood-fired pizza piled with rich, salty bacon, sweet caramelized onions and nutty melted gruyere. Paired with a huge, crisp chopped salad of kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and pistachios in a pleasantly tangy vinaigrette, this pizza-tart could’ve made a hearty meal by itself. We overdid it by also ordering the well-browned and well-seasoned roasted cauliflower with fried shallots and plump raisins in addition to the simple, hearty whole roast chicken for two, which was served with fresh watercress and fennel dressed in lemon juice. Everything was scrumptious all over again for lunch the next day. If all local restaurants were this good in 1900, then the Brooklyn food scene has really gone downhill in the last century.

The prices are reasonable, the portions are big, and the heavy-handedness of the website doesn’t really transfer to the real-life space. Sure, a well-worn copy of Leaves of Grass is available to page through if you’re waiting in line for the bathroom, but we imagine that if Walt Whitman still lived in the neighborhood, he
would’ve approved.