The tip of Brooklyn’s culinary iceberg was splendidly on display at the borough’s annual foodie pig-out, Brooklyn Eats.
“Who would have known that Brooklyn had so many restaurants?” marveled one guest at the event, mounted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to showcase the borough’s dining scene.
But, while the nibbles were piled high at Abigail Kirsch at Steiner Studios, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard – how many people did one pass groaningly complaining that a single bite more could not pass their lips? – the event actually offered only a tantalizing taste of the breadth of the borough’s food scene.
For those who attended, there was more than enough to dazzle and delight. “That was the best sushi I’ve ever had,” one woman declared, walking away from the raw bar manned by Blue Ribbon, while another recommended the South African meatloaf – “spicy, but not too spicy.”
Indeed, the meatloaf – from Madiba -- was delectable, fragrant with curry and served on a bed of yellow rice whose sunny color and toothsome texture provided the perfect backdrop for the evocative African flavors of the meat.
Tasting the tidbits proffered by the participating restaurants was definitely one of those it’s-a-tough-job-but-after-all-someone-has-to-do-it occasions.
The temptation to overeat was irresistible, even if all you could do, at points, was take a single bite from an item before discreetly disposing of it. “Don’t tell anyone,” one man whispered as he tipped a plate into the trash.
Standouts – from this palate’s perspective – included the parsnip gnocchi from Archives Restaurant, plump and savory, and dressed with a sweet marmalade that accentuated their earthy flavor, and the crunchy crostini spread with intensely flavored fava bean puree and topped with pecorino cheese and prosciutto from Sette Enoteca e Cucina.
Another highlight was the layered Chicken Mulino, breaded chicken breast topped with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, from Mulino Ristorante Italiano, which also played delicately with a counterpoint between flavors.
Scallion pancakes from Noo Na successfully provided a duo of tastes and colors to tickle the palate, which also wriggled with satisfaction upon nibbling the Herb Dusted Yukon Chips – freshly made potato chips redolent with rosemary – from Abigail Kirsch at Stage 6.
Then there was the Crawfish Etouffee from No No Kitchen North of New Orleans, the jerk chicken, and rice and peas from Soul Spot, and the Dry-Aged Rib Eye Steak on Crostini from Magnolia – so many flavors, so little time.
For those with a sweet tooth – that includes me – the array of desserts at Brooklyn Eats was nothing short of spectacular.
There were Red Velvet Cupcakes from Cake Man Raven; an upscale take on Hostess cupcakes from Downtown Atlantic Restaurant; a pair of lighter-than-air mousses from Provence en Boite; mini sundaes from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory; the crystallized-ginger flecked Zen Cookies created by three students at the New York City College of Technology; and, shades of my childhood, candy apples from Coney Island’s venerable Williams Candy Shoppe.
The best news was delivered by Borough President Marty Markowitz. “As borough president,” he boomed, “I declare that everything that is consumed tonight is calorie-free, so mangia and essen.”
Everything that was consumed, he added on a more serious note, provides the rationale for Brooklyn’s recent recognition as a culinary destination. “We’ve got it all, which is why so many people are coming to Brooklyn and enjoying our restaurant rows, and why new restaurant rows are growing every day,” Markowitz contended.
Blue Ribbon is located at 278-280 Fifth Avenue. Madiba is located at 195 DeKalb Avenue. Archives is located at 333 Adams Street, in the Marriott. Sette Enoteca e Cucina is located at 207 Seventh Avenue. Mulino Ristorante Italiano is located at 133 Fifth Avenue. Noo Na is located at 565 Vanderbilt Avenue. Abigail Kirsch at Stage 6 is located at 15 Washington Avenue, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. No No Kitchen North of New Orleans is located at 293 Seventh Avenue. Soul Spot is located at 302 Atlantic Avenue. Magnolia is located at 486 Sixth Avenue. Cake Man Raven is located at 2914 Atlantic Avenue. Downtown Atlantic is located at 364 Atlantic Avenue. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is located at 2 Old Fulton Street and 97 Commercial Street. Williams Candy Shoppe is located at *1318 Surf Avenue.