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Oft-mentioned 2011 places to eat that I could walk to and only feel semi-guilty for never having visited. 2012, maybe?

Bien Cuit
Court Street Grocers (ok, late 2010)
Smith Canteen
Smorgasburg (er, not really walkable but it was mentioned so much it felt nearby)

However, after 7.5 years in Carroll Gardens I finally did try Saul. It's a solid neighborhood restaurant, no flash, not crowding or waiting for tables, serving the local, seasonal food that's become standard practice in Brooklyn. I couldn't help but think of Saul when I read Adam Platt's revised list of 101 restaurants and he knocked The Grocery off with the comment, " Almost everything on Smith Street now seems old."  Fair enough, restaurants that aren't viewed as exciting anymore, but aren't venerable enough to transcend their comforting sameness  (is there a Brooklyn Le Grenouille?) are in danger.

I only had an appetizer and an entree because it felt more appropriate than a tasting menu (and diners who came in after we did, left well before, emphasizing the  casual drop-in for a bite vibe).

Saul sweetbreads

The green beans , corn and squash accompanying the fist-sized portion of sweetbreads almost felt summery.  The fat, creamy tan beans, though, added heft and texture that was similar to the organ meat's soft interior.

Saul squab & farro

Squab was served two ways: rare breast sliced and spindly legs that had been confited. Green faro added a nice chewiness, though with the brussels sprouts, potatoes, and cauliflower, the amount of grain overwhelmed a bit.

Saul pine nut tart

I wanted to try the signature baked Alaska because come on–how often do you get to eat a mound of ice cream frosted in burnished meringue peaks? I'd ordered heavier dishes than I'd realized, though, so went smaller…sort of smaller. The pine nut tart wasn't exactly light, but it satisfied a desire for a caramelly cold weather dessert.

Saul * 140 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY

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