As a Food City, Brooklyn 'Sucks'
As Brooklyn restaurants struggle to reopen after the storm, Josh Ozersky writes a piece for The Observer about the borough's over-hyped food scene. Ozersky praises a few well-known spots, like Seersucker, Mile End, and Pok Pok, but singles out The Farm on Adderley, Buttermilk Channel, and Franny's, as some of the restaurants getting by on hype, rather than talent. And he blames food writers for praising young chefs who don't deserve it.
Apparently as they get older and more established, food writers do not get more confident:
Brooklyn food culture is bounded by the hardest of parameters: the comfort zone of callow youths and the insecure older writers who seek relevance to them.
The piece is long. In short: Writers who can't afford to live in Manhattan are just pretending to love Brooklyn's mediocre restaurants which are run by people with no frame of reference for what makes a place great.
This is a rant, and much of it is ridiculous. But it's true that the old school of fine dining isn't part of the ambitious chef's career path the way it used to be. Cooks are more likely to work at the restaurants of their own generation than, say, Le Cirque. More likely to stage at the new spots in Copenhagen than the old ones in Paris. Time passes. Things get lost. Food culture changes.
So I was delighted to see a carefully constructed, good old-fashioned ballotine of pheasant at The Pines, a small restaurant that opened quietly in September, in Gowanus. The restaurant looks like a dive bar from the outside, but this dish showed discipline and a respect for the classics, even as it veered off with raw peanuts and celery.
Chef Angelo Romano is making interesting, often delicious things there. Service is focused and intelligent. There's good music too, playing not so loudly that you have to shout. This means you can take your grandparents (or some doddering old food writers?) and they might have a properly good time. No pretending.
You can read this week's review here, if you like.