Saturday night, Fette Sau crossed my mind but I knew better. Williamsburg service tends to lack in the best of circumstances and opening weekend chaos might’ve turned my hair white(r) from stress and shock. It looks like I chose wisely.
Instead, I decided to have my patience tried at a Park Slope gastropub, thanks. I’m not clear why New Yorkers would find communal dining enticing. Communes equal love and sharing. Even innocent CSAs gives me the heebies. I don’t want to know my residential neighbors, anonymity is one of the few benefits to city dwelling. I definitely don’t want to sup with strangers.
At least the inch and a half that normally separates tiny square tables fools you into thinking you’re dining semi-privately. It wasn’t that I just didn’t want to sit wedged in the back corner of the restaurant, it was that I could barely fit into the back corner, even a medium adult would’ve had troubles. I was stuck between a wall and a Japanese girl, seething while unable to remove my jacket or use my right arm. We probably should’ve just refused the seat or eaten at the bar, which was more spacious but there was practically no way to extricate once squeezing in. And, well, I’m a culinary martyr.
I wanted simple and good, and that’s pretty much what we got. The menu is brief, with about a handful each of appetizers and entrees. We split an order of beef cheeks, which were served atop creamy polenta and garnished with parsnip strips and a few stray red pickled slivers of something unidentifiable. Beets seem like the obvious guess, but I’m not sure.
Somehow, I ended up ordering a dish in a style I rarely touch: meat-less and pasta-based. They were trying to make a hippy out of me. Next thing you know I’ll start digging rice-filled burritos. Urgh. But the beet ravioli with wilted greens and a goat cheese sauce sounded appealing. The marcona almonds mentioned in the description could’ve played a more prominent role, though. The smooth richness needed some contrast.
Continuing my beer theme (I managed to drink three Bluepoint Toasted Ales—after being given a bizarre moldy tasting version at Sheep Station, I now tend to order the brew when I see it on tap for comparison), we split a warm, puffy sticky toffee pudding made with Guinness. At least our dessert could be savored leisurely.
About thirty minutes after we arrived, the seating situation had loosened up. By 11pm we were the lone people remaining at one of the long tables. The front bar stools and spacious wooden booths were the only occupied space. I don’t think it’s a secret that weeknight dining has its advantages but leaving the house Saturday night shouldn’t be traumatizing either.
Ah, which reminds me. Three of the four curtains covering the back windows were hung closed but the one nearest to us had been pulled open. I imagine they were intended to stay shut since the rear patch was filled with junk, a typically Brooklyn backyard. During the middle of our meal, James glanced out and got an eyeful of one of the male kitchen staff taking a leak. Classy. This photo isn’t an attempt to capture the deed, I’m just illustrating the scene of the crime.
Alchemy * 56 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY