Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fine Dining, Brooklyn Atmosphere at Battersby

Brooklyn's Battersby: Exposed brick wall? Check. Cramped quarters? Check. Fine dining with a Brooklyn decor 

Battersby has everything you'd expect to see at a trendy Brooklyn restaurant: the obligatory exposed bricks and wood plank floors; cramped seating and no reservations; and waiters and clientele wearing ray-ban glasses. But wait, the food coming from the three men who work in Battersby's closet of a kitchen is refined, and thoughtful, with the level of finesse and care you'd expect at a fine dining downtown Manhattan establishment.

Battersby has won recent acclaims, appearing on Bon Appetit list of the ten best new restaurants of 2012.  As a result, it's quite popular.  Battersby does not take reservations unless you want to order what they describe as a "spontaneous tasting menu."  Opting for the tasting menu is really the only way to go unless you want to line up before the restaurant opens and take your chances -- like I did at Pok Pok Ny, last year's trendy Brooklyn restaurant, right after it opened. Life's too short for that. Naturally, on a recent visit, virtually everyone in the 28-seat restaurant sprung for the tasting menu.

The tasting menus come in two sizes – five courses for $65 or seven courses for $85. The portions, while not huge, are supplemented by additional dishes and starters between courses.

Rosemary flat bread with homemade ricotta
A sampling of cocktails 
The drinks list includes old school cocktails ($12), like old fashions and whisky sours, but with modern twists and homemade bitters. They were served up in 1920s-style goblets or in sturdy lowball glasses. The drinks were well mixed but on the small side, forcing you to order another. Their take on a whisky sour with bourbon, cyanar, pomegranate ("A Bitter Reunion") was the best of the bunch.

Three small dishes arrived before the first course. First, we were treated to a palette cleansing and wholly refreshing cold carrot soup in a shot glass.

Chicken liver pate
Next arrived Battersby's hand-rolled rosemary flat bread alongside their homemade ricotta swimming in good olive oil. It was slightly difficult to combine the two dishes, as we were instructed, because the hard outside of the flat bread did not take to spreading. Nevertheless, we persevered. The bread was warm, salty, and delicious, and we wished we had more than one for our foursome.

Next came a collection of baguette slices topped with a pile of chicken liver pate and an unusually large mushroom. A drizzle of balsamic was added for good measure. A classic combination, done well.

Hamachi crudo with yuzu vinaigrette




Spaghetti with toasted breadcrumbs and uni
Finally it was time for our first real course – hamachi crudo topped with with paper-thin radishes and cucumbers, and paired with a delicate yuzu vinaigrette and cilantro oil.

It's a great example of the versitility of American cuisine. Crudo is traditionally an Italian dish of raw fish dressed with olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice, vinegar, or another form of citrus. Here, Battersby combines Japanese hamachi and uses yuzu for the citrus, along with American vegetables.

The next course was a spaghetti with toasted breadcrumbs and uni in a buttery sauce. A rich dish, made all the more rich with the addition of uni. The breadcrumbs added a nice crispiness, reminding me of other memorable pasta dishes with crispy ingredients, like a linguini with razor clams and crispy bottarga at Boulud Sud.

Black cod with spring vegetables
Finally, our fish course came, after a long wait: black cod over spring vegetables and a creamy – too creamy – sauce. This was the third dish in a row incorporating Japanese incredients – hamachi, uni, and now black cod.  Black cod is a soft, buttery fish, made famous by Nobu's black cod with miso. This was the weakest course of the night, however. While the fish was cooked well and it looked beautiful, the sauce was way too creamy, which clashed with the already buttery fish.

Sliced duck breast
We were not disappointed by the next dish: thickly sliced duck breast with different, yet still spring, vegetables. The spicy spring greens, complemented the duck; and also added to the overall seasonality of the dish.

The caramel mousse
After a brief interlude, during which more drinks were consumed, we were served two desserts, both served in glasses, and both with essentially the same consistency. First was a refreshing grapefruit panna cotta served in a shot glass. A pleasing palate clenser after the duck.

For the main dessert, we were served a salted caramel mousse topped with nuts and lemon zest. I enjoyed this chocolateless-mousse, though perhaps a change of texture for one of the desserts would have allowed the chefs to demonstrate more versatility.

Battersby
255 Smith St  Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 852-8321
http://battersbybrooklyn.com/


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