Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brunch, Snacks and Dinner in Park Slope/Prospect Heights

It's not too often that we go to the Prospect Heights area of Brooklyn, but when we do, it's usually pretty awesome. It always helps to have the right neighborhood-aware foodie friends take you to the right places.

We started the day yesterday at Flatbush Farm, which I guess is technically Park Slope. Great atmosphere with high ceilings and modern decor, though we got seated in an adjoining room that was practically empty and fairly cold. Luckily, their "local seasonal fare" was pretty spot on.

I had the Farmer's Breakfast. I usually don't go for the simple eggs any style/bacon/potato breakfast combos, but I figured it would be a good test of the restaurant's commitment to simple, fresh ingredients. The eggs were poached perfectly, and the bacon was a huge, meaty, fatty slab. The potatoes were really interesting too -- cut small and fried with jalepenos and plantains, topped with some kind of spicy aioli.

Rob got the crispy duck confit topped with warm lentils and two sunny side up eggs. The meat was tender and went really well with the substituted crunchy grains, whatever they were (they were out of the lentils).

I also got to try a few bites of the omelette (with talleggio, herbs and yogurt), and the burger (which everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be having). Both were excellent.

76 St Marks Ave @ 6th Ave and Flatbush
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 622-3276

We stopped at BKLYN Larder, a small cheese and organic grocery store owned by the Franny's folks (and no, I still haven't been to Franny's... yet). I tried a sample of their duck pate... fantasic. We took almond and pistachio gelato to go. It's never too cold for ice cream, even if it is seventeen degrees out.

228 Flatbush Ave (between Dean St & Bergen St)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 783-1250

I was really excited to have dinner at The Vanderbilt. I was drooling over the menu when they first opened a few months ago. I've never been to Saul, but since its one of only three places in Brooklyn to earn a Michelin star, I (and probably many other Brooklynites) figured Saul Bolton's newest establishment was worth a visit. 8pm on a bonechillingly cold Saturday night and the 90 seats were packed to the brim.

The New American menu is all small plates, too big to be tapas but too small for individual portions. Six of us tried as many items as we possibly could and were really impressed with most of what we sampled:

Pickled eggs -- served over some kind of tomato chili sauce with a pleasant kick.

Brussel sprouts -- one of the standouts. Not sure how they got the combination of Sriracha, lime and honey so deep into these little guys. Each bite was crazy juicy with both a sweet and spicy flavor. I bet people who say they don't like brussel sprouts could be coverted by these.

Lamb sausage -- A standard greasy coil, served with chickpeas.

Mussels -- These gigantic and perfectly cooked little guys came in a very Thai currylike broth of coconut, basil and chili. Topped with a kaffir lime leaf (at least, that's what we thought it was).

Serrano ham and cheese croquettes -- Came out piping hot, that didn't stop Rob and I from gobbling them up. Topped with saffron aioli. Definitely comparable to Tia Pol's fantastic croquettes.

Artichokes -- with mushrooms and carrots. Wasn't my favorite -- tasted kind of like an incomplete stew to me. Was this my punishment for trying to add some healthiness to dinner?

Beef shortrib -- The meat fell apart as soon as your fork touched it. Reminded me of a pot roast with carrots, onions and some kind of gravylike sauce.

Chicken wings -- More sweet than spicy, topped with lots of sesame seeds. Cripsy on the outside, juicy on the inside, but was very hard to finish seeing as how full we were getting (and did I mention we had two orders of most everything?)

Hanger steak -- Charred on the outside, medium rare perfection on the inside. I love hanger steak, and these had a meatiness to them far deeper and richer than most other places I've had it. The side of romaine with a light white sauce and pepper was the perfect accompaniment.

I'm not sure why we ordered dessert, since we were literally putting food on each other's plates trying to get rid of everything. Luckily I think most people save room for dessert as a kind of instinct.

Chocolate cake -- with buttermilk ice cream, which had a surprisingly great flavor that went with the chocolate well. Concord grape gelee on the bottom and popcorn on top.
Panna cotta -- with elderflower gelee and fresh citrus. Way better than Alta's version. A great light, sweet end to a meal.

The Vanderbilt did not disappoint. I guess now I should move Saul (and Franny's?) to the top of my Brooklyn to-do list.

The Vanderbilt
570 Vanderbilt Ave (between Pacific St & Dean St)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 623-0570


laura said...

we just ate here a few times over the last few months, and those brussel sprouts are truly amazing. my absolute favorite thing on that menu!!!

Byron said...

Love that you came to our neck of the woods! I just noticed The Vanderbilt and now you've motivated me to try it out this week! I LOVE brussel sprouts

If you come back to Park Slope, you should try Canaille Bistro on 5th & St. Marks. The owners are so nice I've become really good friends with them and actually started working with them!

P.S. Saul is next on my to do list!