I still wanted to see what Three Letters was about, if only because Clinton Hill is a little new restaurant-deprived. I was not alone in my curiosity. At 7pm on a Saturday there was already a half-hour wait and by the time I was seated it was getting a little traumatic (many of the same people were still waiting for tables by the time we vacated). Buzz, they have it.
Meanwhile, The Wallace, just a ways down Fulton is always empty and now a daily deal staple (couples on both sides of my table, British, deeper-middle-aged and not impressed with Three Letters, and the two younger men who liked things fine, mentioned this dichotomy, one to me intentionally, the other overheard) which makes me feel bad because the food at the Wallace is solid and the newlyweds who run it seem earnest. It's just not a cool place.
Perhaps its the bar with a good number of seats and lots of inexpensive snacks, including everyone's must-have: pickles, as we're now all living in a "fried pickle environment." (About those pickles--I got into an elevator conversation with coworker I've never really spoken with before and it turns out she lives nearby, had gone on opening night and took issue with what was described as fried pickles on the menu being fried pickled vegetables, not pickled cucumbers, i.e. how the average American thinks of pickles, and got condescended to by the bartender when asking about it.) The prices don't hurt; the most expensive thing on the menu is $18 and bottles of wine topped out at $45.
Rissoles are like savory turnovers, and stuffed with venison are not wildly dissimilar in concept to Do or Dine's fawntons. Served with a smoked cherry jam, the $4 hors d'œuvre is one of those aforementioned bites that could be fun to nibble at the bar.
The smaller dishes had more appeal on paper, though I didn't get to fully test out this theory. Moules poutine, mussels, fries and gravy, came from the kitchen in a steady stream, landing on what appeared to be every table but ours (yet still made it onto the check--we were scolded for not saying anything about not receiving it sooner). So, not all French French, after all.
I never order the roast chicken, but thought I'd test out a basic, here called Chicken St. James and accompanied by grilled broccoli and a potato gratin, described as pommes alene. I got nervous when warned that it was "cooked to order" and would take 20 minutes, since I would expect everything to be cooked to order. I remembered why I don't order roast chicken unless it's pollo a la brasa: it's really boring.
The food, overall, is just ok. I'd rather eat at a French truck stop in France, but I wouldn't discourage anyone in the vicinity from stopping by (it's really a neighborhood restaurant, not the destination it was being treated as). I would go back if someone suggested it. I don't know that they will. The service could use a little softening around the edges, despite the allowances I can make for a super-slammed opening weekend.
Three Letters * 930 Fulton St., Brookyn, NY