Guilt and The Vanderbilt
I recently came across a link of the best Brooklyn restaurants, published by Food and Wine. I was appalled and dismayed at how few of their favorites I had eaten at! And I call myself a foodie. Completely chastised, I have now vowed to spend a little less time cooking and a little more time adventuring around my hometown checking out all the tasty stuff that is being created here.
To that end, I jumped at the chance to check out The Vanderbilt, the new restaurant by the Restaurant Saul people in Prospect Heights. A couple of foodie friends suggested it for dinner, and they are MUCH better at keeping their finger on the pulse of restaurant happenings than I am so I trusted them completely on this.
The look of this latest venture is rustic, but sleek modern elements…horizontal beams of dark, rough wood and oversized, sleek wrought iron light fixtures with exposed filament bulbs. The windows in the main dining room are cloaked in heavy, dark velvet curtains that make the room feel cozy and secret. The menu is comprised of small plates of New American cuisine. I’m not always crazy about the whole “tapas” approach because I usually end up spending a fortune and not eating very much. However, I think that the Vanderbilt portions sizes were nicely varied and reasonably priced, for the most part. The four meat dishes were priced a little high for the portions, but the two we tried, the glazed lamb ribs over polenta (pictured) and the hanger steak, were both delicious and hearty.
We had a few other stand-out dishes, some that I’m still thinking about. One of my favorites was an appetizer of crazy, delicious Brussel sprouts with honey and sriacha. The secret, apparently, is that they are deep fried, of course! Name something that isn’t made more delicious by frying it and then tossing it in sweet and spicy stuff. I also completely stopped sharing when I tasted the poached egg with wild mushrooms and spinach. The texture and flavors combined were earthy and divine and there were tons of REAL wild mushrooms…none of this white button and a couple random shiitake business passing as “wild”. The Bouchot mussels in a coconut, basil, chili broth was another truly tasty dish. The Spanish octopus was chewy, however, and the cranberry beans undercooked. These misfires were thankfully few and it was a very satisfying and wide-ranging collection of tastes overall. I plan to return…that is after I’ve tried more than five of Food and Wine’s top twelve Brooklyn restaurants.