Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Applewood


501 11th street, Brooklyn, NY

I have a confession. As much as I admire the sustainable food movement for encouraging more and more chefs to serve locally produced ingredients, I’m afraid that at times, I find the whole thing a bit grating. Perhaps it is just that I feel like it becomes an easy out for certain restaurants—that the cooking hides behind this “higher purpose” that almost dares you to disapprove. I wholeheartedly approve of it in theory, though have to admit that I do not always shop at the farmer’s market, that I sometimes buy food in bulk, and that I don’t always know where my meat and produce comes from.

I am, however, also a card carrying Park Slope coop member and have been a devoted fan of Alice Waters for years, so I am very susceptible to seeing “sustainably grown, local ingredients” as a bright beacon, drawing me to places like Applewood that proclaim this philosophy. As Applewood is on the pricey side, I decided to test the waters by trying it for brunch. It was a beautifully warm day so we chose to sit in the garden. When I had first read about the restaurant, it had been winter and many of the reviews spoke of eating tasty roasted meats by a wood burning fireplace. As noted in my Spotted Pig review, I am mad for meat and fireplaces on cold nights. Alas, it was summer so I’ll have to save those cravings for another time.



We arrived around 11:30 and were pleasantly surprised that we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated. We started with fresh-squeezed blood orange mimosas, and they were a perfect balance of tart, sweet and dry and so very pretty to look at! They were a tad on the pulpy side, but that often comes with fresh squeezed citrus. This drink and the setting made me feel like I was at an old-school garden party, which I loved. I had the BLT with Applewood smoked bacon, local lettuce and organic Vermont tomatoes ($15) and Court ordered the Maple Belgian Waffle with roasted fruit and sweet cream ($9). Even though BLTs are synonymous with diners, and therefore found on every other menu in America, I still have a hard time saying no. Applewood’s BLT was very solid: the bacon was thick, chewy and had the right amount of smoke, the tomatoes were juicy and tasted like a wonderfully ripe beefsteak. The sandwich was finished with a light layer of aioli on toasted sourdough. All in all, it was a wonderful sandwich. My biggest complaint is that it was a little thick, which meant I couldn’t get to all of the layers in one bite—which is really the whole point of a BLT, isn’t it?



The Belgian Waffle was very good as well—the waffle had a crisp exterior that gave way to a moist airy center perfumed with vanilla. I have to say though, that my favorite part might have been the sweet cream—it was luscious, full bodied cream that tasted unbelievably fresh and I pretty much wanted to slather it on everything—BLT included. The roasted fruit however, was a bit bland—just stewed spiced apples. And as it was summer, I had hoped for some beautiful berries, or better yet, peaches and nectarines.



The service was friendly and the atmosphere is terrific if you like intimate neighborhood places like I do. Did Applewood‘s cooking hide behind the local, sustainable banner of righteousness? Absolutely not, but I have only been once and will have to try dinner next time. I’ll keep you posted with a review upon my next visit. I can picture it now: slow-roasted pork and a glass of red wine in front of their fireplace…..

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Juree, I've loved reading the blog for the past couple of weeks. Keep up the great work! My wife and I are coming into the city next month and we're wondering if you had any suggestions for a restaurant in Manhattan? We were thinking something a little more formal than Tia pol or the spotted Pig but in the same area. Thanks for any suggestions and keep up the great work!

Cheers!
Mike

Anonymous said...

I've walked by this place a dozen times, but after hearing about the waffles and blood orange mimosa's I'm definitely going to give it a try. Thanks for the review!

Jill said...

This looks great-- can't wait to try it next time I am in town-- is it difficult to make reservations? How much lead time do I need?

j said...

again, took your advice on this one and adored it -- perhaps i'll see you there one night this winter sitting near the fire! your descriptions totally did justice to the food, i'll be returning!