Monday, April 23, 2007

Flatbush Farm

BrooklynLady and I have never been big on the restaurant scene. Yeah, we enjoy a good meal out as much as anyone, but we are often frustrated by "good" restaurants that charge an arm and a leg for nothing special food. Some of our favorite places include little Pho joints, a BBQ joint that I hope remains hidden in the obscurity of Greenwood Heights, an amazing ramen counter, and other such places. Now with a baby it's hard to go out to dinner and when we are able to get a babysitter on a Friday or Saturday night, I'm not sure that going out to dinner is best way to spend our time (or our $). But what about during the week when the 'rents come by to see their grand daughter? Isn't there an hour or so to slip out to a local spot? You know, there is less pressure cause it's a Tuesday night. So what are the best places for us to have our all-of-the-sudden neighborhood dinner out on a weeknight?

Our most recent attempt to answer that question found us at Flatbush Farm at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Flatbush. The decor is lovely - dark wood and white walls, kind lighting, high ceilings. Seems like they haven't changed anything - they must have appreciated the excellent design work unertaken by Saint Marks Bistro, the previous occupants. We had no reservation on warm Thursday night and we had our choice of tables at 7:30 - a good thing and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

Service: Certainly pleasant, but they rushed us even though the place was half empty. Good servers should recognize when people want to take their time, and should not return every two minutes to see if we're ready to order. And don't fill the wine glasses, and stop asking if we're finished with those plates. Leave us alone, for goodness sakes!

Food: The menu says that all meats are "organic farm fresh without hormones or antibiotics." It also says that local produce and dairy is used as often as possible. These are definitely good things. The menu doesn't take any risks, but offers a nice variety. Vegetarian? You have a couple of nice choices. Meat, fish, fowl - all there. Specials on that warm Thursday evening included a spring pea soup and a duck confit.

We started with a "Frisee and crispy shitake salad with blue cheese." I enjoyed this salad very much, although it was not as advertised. The mushrooms were not crispy - just normal, tasty soft mushrooms (all 2 of them). And there was enough blue cheese crumble to make dip for Buffalo Wings. I liked this dish in a "bar-food-salad-that's-bad-for-you, actually" way. BrooklynLady - not impressed.

BrooklynLady ordered the French Dip sandwich. We were both in complete yum-land on this thing. Super tender brisket (I think), sliced medium-thick and piled on a good quality piece of baguette, topped with carmelized onions and what they said was Gruyere cheese. I kind of doubt it was Gruyere, but it doesn't matter because the sandwich was delicious. Perfect for a rainy night, great anytime. And the accompanying fries were also top notch, the salad fine too.

I went with the duck breast served on French lentils with some kind of citrus sauce. This dish was also very impressive. The duck was done by some one with skill - the skin perfectly crisped and salted, the breast meat pink, savory, and tender. And the green lentils, the baby carrots, turnips, and other vegetables in that light citrus sauce, not buttery or salty...? YUM. I would return to the restaurant just to eat this dish.

We did not eat dessert, which did not bother our server because the place was almost full with more folks coming in at about 9:30 when we left. Overall - promising food, worth another try. The bar menu, and the bar itself (next door but connected by an interior passage near the restrooms) are probably an excellent value. I might have to check them out next.

Wine/Drinks: A nice wine list with reasonably priced bottles from all over the place. Not thrown together by a disinterested corporate partner, some one cares about the wine list. Languedoc, Loire Valley, and other "less famous" wine regions dominate. You can get a good bottle of wine here for a decent price. The glasses are not as good of a value at a minimum of $9 or $10, but they are interesting - you can get a glass of Wolffer Chardonnay here. That's right. local Long Island Chard by the glass on Flatbush Avenue. Makes sense, right? We went with the brand new 2006 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny. I LOVED the 2005, and I'm still experimenting, but I think I'm a big fan in general of Roches Neuves. This wine was $34, tough to stomach if you know that you can buy it for $15 in a store once it's released, but that's normal for a restaurant. This wine was excellent. Not as plush and extracted as the 2005, but dark and aromatic, fruity and herbal, excellent with food.

Miscellaneous: Hipsters with thick wooden framed glasses on dates, a man with his older father and his young son, a decidely diverse clientele, ethnically speaking, anyway...I liked the vibe in this place. One bit of nastiness - the bathrooms are tucked discreetly in a passageway between the restaurant and it's neighbor, the bar. The one I visited sported a small but rather nasty bit of evidence of recent use. You have to check the bathrooms once an hour if you're gonna charge real $ for dinner.

Value: Not great. One salad appetizer (no truffles, no rare heirloom anything), two entrees, one of which was an overgrown sandwich, and a $34 bottle of wine...$91. Not a rip off at all, but certainly not a great value.

Come again: I will try eating at the bar before I return to the restaurant. This place might be best for a great burger, tempura onion rings, that kind of thing.


Marcus said...

Hey sounds interesting. I like that you mentioned Languedoc first when talking about the wine list!

Did you ever make it to Gribouille in Williamsburg (at Roebling and Hope I believe)?

The food was quite decent when we went during the holidays and it's BYO so I'm sure you and the B-lady would like the savings you can get on that!

Brooklynguy said...

We tried to go one night before our daughter was born but they were closed - it was a Sunday night I think. It is on my list though, without a doubt. When we go I will let you know about our experience.

Marcus said...

I forgot to mention that ever time I see the title of this post I am reminded of the sparrow-eater featured in the NYT Dining section. Did you see it? Are you down with a little scavenging around your borough?

I might be alone on this one but is this what the owners of Flatbush Farm really want to get across to clients?