Dining in New York: Battersby, Dear Bushwick & Talde
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New York Magazine presented its "Where to Eat 2013" guide earlier in the week and noted that not only is Brooklyn THE boro to eat in but that tasting menus are THE new menus. It now is officially unnecessary to go into Manhattan unless you are on your way to Jersey. (Take that, Manhattanites!)
Included on its "Ten Best New Restaurants of 2013" are Pok Pok, which we lauded in our previous dining post, and Battersby, which we visited for its special 7-course tasting menu earlier in December. Located in Cobble Hill, Battersby did not disappoint—and neither did DearBushwick, arguably the best (and not just the best "new") restaurant in Bushwick that will undoubtedly give Roberta's (and its fancy 18 course chef's table sibling, Blanca) a run for its money.
Most recently we had another delectable dining experience at Talde, one of three new restaurants opened this year by Top Chef contestant (both of Season 4 and of the first round of All Stars) Dale Talde. Located on the bustling gentrified, family-friendly (read: so-five-minutes-ago) ave of 7th Street in Park Slope, Talde is by far my favorite restaurant—which surprises me greatly...who knew there were still good eats in Park Slope?
Below Moon and I recount our tasting experiences. We highly recommend all three restaurants as places you should definitely visit during your culinary adventures in Brooklyn.
Battersby—Where Kale is King:
Bianco: We did the 7-course tasting menu and Battersby gladly accommodated us—one of us who can't eat shellfish and the other of us who still is loathe to eat red meat or pork. (Erica is the greatest!) Before our meal we were served two palate-whetting items: a delicious, porcelain-shot serving of parsnip apple soup that was frothy and minimally creamy and accented with bits of teeny-tiny apple cubes; the second, less successful, dish was a root vegetable muesli with a schmeer of Greek yogurt. The dish was consistent with the creamy saltiness of the first dish in addition to using some of the same vegetables (parsnips), but it was kind of weird. Like, bird food weird. The first proper dish was the best and is also the signature dish of the restaurant: the kale salad with brussel sprouts, kohlrabi (a german root vegetable), and peanuts. (In my journal, after my first bite I wrote "this tastes post-coital good to me," and it did.) The meal could have ended there, but the succession of vegetable dishes were also divine: the marinated cauliflower with candied hazelnuts, and the roasted broccoli with rosemary and peccorino were are second and third courses. Even the duck egg with sauteed spinach was tasty. Less memorable were the final dishes: the bass with artichoke puree was more succulent and more digestible than the duck, which tasted way too gamey for my liking. The desserts were one too many: first, the blood orange soda with two vanilla scoops was a palate-cleansing joy, but its refreshing aftertaste was washed away by the heavy and unnecessary banana pudding. Almond macaroons redeemed the dessert portion of the meal, and, overall, I agree that Battersby is worthy of your reservation.
Moon: Crispy kale salad. I don't know who figured this one out but it's sweeping across kitchens world-wide. One of the contestants in the current Top Chef won her way into to the beginning line-up with this dish. Well I don't know if it's Battersby's exact recipe, although crisping kale ain't rocket science, it is unbelievably tasty. I agree with everything Bianco says above, however I thought there was way too much time in-between the appetizers and the main dishes. Seriously it was like 25 minutes in-between the veg and the meat! I think these boys have to decide either do a tasting menu or do an ala carte, because service suffers when you try and combine both. And P to the S the kohlrabi tasted like green papaya, which I'd say someone ought to try swapping in sometime if you try your own version of the kale salad.
Dear Bushwick—England Cuisine Fit for the Crawleys
Bianco: Someone had mentioned Dear Bushwick to me in a random conversation and I half brushed the suggestion off—first, because Bushwick restaurants are generally shitty (even Roberta's isn't infallible) and, second, because English food is doubly-shitty. (When I lived in England my diet consisted solely of McV and HobNob biscuits.) But last Friday, without a dinner reservation and tired from a semester of idiotic students, we decided to give Dear Bushwick a try. And, it was a fantastic dinner. The decor—reclaimed wood with matching horse portraits—took me back to 19th century England (aka still anywhere outside London), and the attending staff was lovely and generous. We ordered a handful of small plates: the English duck sausage roll; the green salad; the seared pork belly; the fried potato peels; and the veg trio of golden beets, carrots with an unbelievable "medieval nut pesto," and the skillet mustard greens. While the meal was a bit on the oily side, and while the potato peels were like the crumbs of potato crisps found at the bottom of a chip bag, I cannot wait to go back to this place. In this meal, the green salad and the carrots were the standout items. It was a solid meal, and it is probably the only solid meal in Bushwick—because Momo is hit or miss and the ramen shop needs more variety (it apparently can't find a leafy green vegetable to serve its customers). I recommend, however, they add a starch to the menu, or even a more substantial form of a potato, so that one can handle all the fried and sauteed goodies.
Moon: Greasy. Everything was tasty but way too greasy. They need to add a non-fat dish. And I don't mean non-fat as in 1% milk, I mean maybe a side of rice or bread. You definitely need something to sop up the sauce with. Service is warm, homey and hoodie, which is what you want from a neighborhood joint. I used to go to Tandem when I wanted a break from Roberta's, but the Tandem menu was too limited. Dear B'wick has a lot of promise, the variety of dishes and seasoning is perfect, but they need to work out the oil situ otherwise they may lose me as a regular.
Talde—Everybody Chow Fun Tonight