Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Aurora by Morning

There are not many Italian places to dine in uber-Polish Greenpoint. This is a fact, and I have accepted it. So when I get a craving for a heavy carb meal like my grandma used to make, Rob and I usually head to Williamsburg for some Fiore action. While its good and all, the menu can get old kind of fast and I've been craving something different. This is where Aurora on Grand Street -- also in Williamsburg -- comes in.

I've seen it many times on my sporadic trips to Sprout, the cutest little flower shop you'd ever hope to see. I never thought to go back, though, until Shivaun was in the area for a small eclectic jewelry shop. I guess the Grand Street/Wythe Ave area really is a great destination for odd shopping.

It turns out to be the perfect spot for brunch. There was no wait, unlike most places near our apartment at noon on a Sunday. The atmosphere was rustic and quaint. We sat in the clear-covered garden area so we could both enjoy the sun and not freeze. AND they were playing Elliott Smith. This is basically my idea of brunch heaven.

The menu had quite a few interesting and unique items. I was intrigued by the fried poached egg option, as I've never had a poached egg prepared any way but regularly poached. It was actually really good, crispy on the outside but not too affected on the inside. In came sitting atop smoky prosciutto and a small mound of soft polenta. The flavors and textures played really well together, but it was not enough food for a hungry person such as myself.

So that's why I ended up eating a lot of Shivaun's frittata. Sorry Shivaun. (How did this blog become such a forum for apologies?) It was baked with goat cheese, zuchiniand a few other goodies. I thought the goat cheese was a really great touch, as I've found that frittatas tend to blandify when they're baked. Goat cheese to the rescue!

Rob took the fancy route and ordered the L' Anatra -- duck confit & bacon hash with organic poached egg & baby spinach. Great combination of flavors and one of the more fun brunch items I've seen in awhile. Unfortunately, he didn't get much of a portion either. But that's really the only negative thing I can say about Aurora's brunch. Well, that and no credit cards. What's with all the cash-only places recently? Since when is cash king again?? I demand to know.

I was so enchanted by brunch that I dragged Rob out to Aurora for dinner a few days later. It was good, but not as impressive as I had hoped. I guess the place is aptly named, then, since Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn. In my eyes, she is the Brooklyn goddess of the poached egg.

The appetizers were definitely the strongest points of the meal. The ricotta tart was simple and rustic, with the outer layer of dough gently folded over the cheese. Pork belly with seared scallop and beans were also really good. I love these items together, despite the fact that they are not a very original threesome. The fresh flavors and soft textures do a great job piquing your appetite.

The entrees, on the other hand, were a little weak. The pasta was obviously fresh, but both our dishes were a little tasteless. I was expecting anything but bland when I ordered the chestnut flavored, roughly cut pasta with braised beef short rib ragu. I did not detect any chestnut flavor, and while the short rib had a great consistency, it was definitely missing something. Rob felt the same away about his dinner, spaghetti with clams and tomatoes. Maybe they were a little too lighthanded with the salt that evening?

Dessert was an apple tart with caramel and vanilla ice cream. It was a nice way to end the meal.
Well, despite dinner being sort of a disappointment, this place has its redeeming factors. Brunch, for instance. Appetizers. A really great wine list and a pretty authentic rustic vibe. Can't you just feel the warmth by looking at this terribly lit iPhone pic?

(My apologies for forgetting my real camera. And now I'm done apologizing... at least for this post!)

70 Grand St (between Kent Ave & Wythe Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 388-5100

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