The Runner is very much a neighborhood restaurant, and one that’s needed in this particular neighborhood. (I’m selfishly interested because it’s likely that I will move back to Myrtle Avenue in the fall.) It’s the kind of restaurant–mousses, bone marrow, oysters, brown spirits–that wouldn’t be groundbreaking in other parts of Brooklyn, but Myrtle Avenue has held out a little longer than other gentrifying drags Even in Clinton Hill, Fulton Street gets most of the newcomers.
I’m often torn between wanting to try a brand new restaurant and giving them some breathing room because, you know, kinks can cloud an experience. Then again, if a restaurant is obviously on a PR tear, they’re asking for customers. And on my first visit (I will come back) The Runner didn’t seem prepared for them.
It also seemed like I’d fallen into some vortex, arriving with reservations before the crush, yet getting lost in the subsequent shuffle. A table came in after I did, ordered steak frites, ate their steak frites and paid for their steak frites before my steak frites showed up. And the steak frites were my favorite thing (hence, the half-eaten iPhone pic because I dove in so quickly). The fries were perfect, neither too fat nor thin, and the hanger steak was spot-on medium-rare with pan juices blending with what seemed to be a scallion-based chimichurri. It’s a good deal for $18.
The pizza oven leftover from the previous tenant (Anima, which I walked past a zillion times but was never compelled to visit) is being put to all sorts of uses like the tongue bread that contains no offal (sadly). It’s cibatta vaguely shaped like a tongue, and really a warm, crusty vehicle for the amazing pistachio-honey butter. Even used sparingly, though, there wasn’t enough butter for the amount of bread.
Ah, bone marrow a la M. Wells, topped with breaded escargot like a new classic. The snails and sweet onion-apple jam would be great with bone marrow, but the vessels didn’t contain enough wobbly fat to even spread on a piece of toast (in contrast to a version I’d encountered a few nights before at Extra Fancy where there was almost too much marrow for the bread).
There are two vegetable dishes. I received both; the roast cauliflower with raisins, fried shallots and parsley that I originally wanted, and agrodolce spaghetti squash with pine nuts and basil as a free buffer while waiting for entrees. They did make a good lunch the next day.
Efforts were made to smooth the logjams (initially, I attributed the issues to the oven but a cocktail also took nearly 30 minutes to arrive). I was also offered a free dessert, but declined because I’d already had more than enough food. Despite some glitches, I could see myself returning and having the steak frites (also that tarte flambé) and a glass or two of wine at the bar.
The Runner * 458 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn, NY