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Applewood over-rated

  • s

I went to Applewood with semi-high expectations after hearing so much hype about it and seeing it ranked as one of Brooklyn's 5 best in some poll. What a disappointment. I feel that this restaurant is not sure what it wants to be.

If it's trying to be an unassuming neighborhood restaurant as suggested by the country furniture, cramped seating, high noise level, and lack of tablecloths, then I think it fails. The portions for a glass of wine and entree are quite small yet the prices for both are amongst the highest in the neighborhood. I can get larger portions of equal or better quality food in a nicer environment and for a lower price at multiple places two blocks away on 5th avenue. The pretense of certain things was completely contradictory to the casual ambiance they were going for. Serving just two pieces of bread out of an oversize picnic basket, and pouring water out of glass milk bottles is just pretentious. I felt like I was being skimped throughout the entire dinner and getting 50% of an experience that was priced at 150% of its real value.

If it's trying to be a more elegant and higher quality place as suggested by the sleek menu that changes daily, the offering of a tasting menu paired with wine, and the high prices, then add some simple tablecloths, bring down the noise level, space out the seating, and step up the service.

In short, too many contradictions and not worth the high prices.

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  1. a
    Another Slope Foodie

    Slope Foodie-

    So sorry you feel that way. I'veeaten at Applewood maybe 5 or 6 times over the last year and find the mix you speak of *exactly* the reason I go back.

    Why should excellent food come with tablecloths? Why should a daily changing menu only be part of a restaurant with hushed tones. I love the energy of the place.

    And pretentious? Pouring water out of a glass milk bottle isn't "pretentious"... it maybe overly "cute" but it's the exact *opposite* of pretentious.

    Speaking of water, one of my favorite things about Applewood is that I don't recall ever being asked if I want tap or bottled water -- they know that NYC water tastes great so they don't try to upsell me!

    In the end they clearly have a strong local following -- they've been bursting at the seams for months. Thanks for sharing your opinion and if you don't care for what they have to offer it's a good thing you have so many choices in the area!


    2 Replies
    1. re: Another Slope Foodie

      That's funny. We actually were asked if we wanted bottled or regular water. This started a conversation as to why do restaurants even bother asking that? Who asks for bottled water anyways? I learned that some people have allergies or are quite particular about their water.

      1. re: Another Slope Foodie

        i still find applewood to be absolutely excellent. service is friendly (nearly casual) but totally competent. i think the female owner is very smart in the way she balances being casual and friendly with being professional.

        the food is excellent. i went to craft the other night and their short rib entree didnt hold a candle to applewood's. the price is decent for the quality.

      2. I know what you mean, but I am pretty fond of the food. I think the place is perfectly Park SlopeĀ—upscale and expensive with a homey face, not too challenging, but comfortable enough. Some days they even throw in a cute baby to make the package complete! Successful people from Park Slope who are content with their lives are TOTALLY at home there. But again, it is yummy, so whatever.......

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gnosh

          "Successful people from Park Slope who are content with their lives are TOTALLY at home there."


        2. On of the reasons I like applewood is that they don't slop huge portions on the plate - Their food is unusually rich and I think they put just enough of it on the plate to leave you sated, but not stuffed.

          Re: the baby - I don't mind it. Being a food professional with children, I realize that owning a restaurant is like having another child - it takes up all your time and it's tough to divide your time between the 2. They're producing great food there, so if they want to do it with a baby in tow, more power to them!

          2 Replies
          1. re: jerry j.

            The baby in tow as an accessory, the often seen breast feeding at the dinner table.. Yuk!
            One doesn't want to pay those prices for a low class hippie kind of experience.
            When we go out to dinner we are looking for an adult experience. The pretentious pseuso-"family" ambiance just doesn't work in a pretentiously "upscale" restaurant.
            It is highly over rated for what it is.
            For fine food in a lovely setting try CONVIVIUM OSTERIA or GARDEN CAFE.

            1. re: JPANDA

              We're here to discuss chow, not the appropriateness of babies in restaurants or breast-feeding. We're removing off topic responses so please, keep the responses about chow. Thanks.

          2. You say "I can get larger portions of equal or better quality food in a nicer environment and for a lower price at multiple places two blocks away on 5th avenue."

            Where might that be?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Cheapskate

              Stone Park Cafe, Al di La. Hell, even Olive Vine.

              1. re: slope foodie

                I haven't eaten at Stone park but I've eaten at Al Di La multiple times. If you have similar sized meal at both places the total bills (Applewood vs. Al Di La) will be comparable.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  Haven't been yet, but isn't Little Dishes supposed to have big portions?

                  I agree about Al Di La portions being similarly small.

                  As for other upscale(ish) restaurants with well-sized portions, how about Stone Park, Rosewater and Blue Ribbon?

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    two glasses of wine, one appetizer and two entrees came to $79 without tip at Applewood.

                    At Al di La, this would be more in the $60 range. And they'd actually bring you more bread through the meal.

                    1. re: slope foodie

                      i had a 1/2 bottle of bordeaux, 2 appetizers, 1 cheese plate, 1 entree, and 1 dessert...$89 total...

                      very reasonable

                  2. re: slope foodie

                    The quality and preperation at Stone Park does not come close to Applewood. I've actually found Stone Park to be quite ordinary and unremarkable. In order for simple food to be extrodinary, a restaurant has to master the preperation, without being sloppy and use top notch ingedients. Stone Park does none of this.

                    Link: http://www.muckraked.com

                    1. re: slope foodie

                      Olive Vine is not even on the same planet as Applewood.

                  3. "I can get larger portions of equal or better quality food in a nicer environment and for a lower price at multiple places two blocks away on 5th avenue"


                    Link: http://www.muckraked.com

                    1. p

                      Wow, slope foodie. Based on the responses below, it seems that you are in a tiny minority.

                      If it makes you feel any better, I also think Applewood is overrated. The food was too bland or "subtle" for my taste, and the portions were definitely small. I left feeling very unsatisfied, especially considering how much money we had to spend.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Quentin

                        i think applewood's only issue is the service...other than that, the quality is near veritas in my opinion.

                        1. re: Quentin

                          I went to Applewood for the first time during DIB week. I thought the food was fresh tasting and flat-out delicious, although the entree portions were rather smallish. I didn't mind smallish portions bc: a) food was delicious; and b) I was paying DIB prices. As much as I enjoyed the night, I couldn't help but wonder whether I would still sing the praises of this place had my duck entree cost 25 dollars.
                          I still think Farm on Adderley is best bang for buck...

                        2. My problem with Applewood was the scantness of the portions. This is the type of restaurant where, if you do not have an appetizer, you will definitely leave hungry. I don't like honking big portions, but I guess I'm looking for a balance -- large enough so that I can simply have an entree and a glass of wine and be satisfied, but small enough so that if I add an appetizer, I don't feel like a complete pig. Maybe that's picky, but this would it really ruin the bottom line to put another two tablespoons of food on the plate?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sunsetpark

                            Agreed. My first time there was this past Saturday. I know DIB is not the best time to judge a restaurant and will probably go back, but 5 small slices of duck breast with a tiny amount of beans left me hungry, even with ordering an additional appetizer from the regular menu (which was a duck bolognese with only 4 or 5 pieces of gnochhi). I could live with the small size, but the duck was wanting for seasoning...anything, just a bit of salt for the nicely crackling skin would have helped. I'll give 'em another shot when its not DIB, b/c so many people rave about it, but I hope they do more then.

                          2. Jeez - as a frequent regular at Applewood I first would like to dispel what has become an Urban Myth - Laura Shea does not parade her kids around during dinner service and has never breast fed her kids in the restaurant. The Shea's do eat brunch on Sunday's in their restaurant and do bring their well-behaved girls with them. End of story. Quit reading bullshit on the web and then passing in on as fact.

                            Secondly, David Shea is among a small handful of rising stars in NYC. His approach to market fresh ingredients and sustainable agriculture is spot on and his cooking technique is superb. Neighborhood restaurants is where it's at in this city - fewer and fewer "destination" restaurants and more high quality local spots. I think Applewood achieves high marks for creating an atmosphere of superb food quality in a casual environment. That's how I want to spend my money - not in some really pretentious white tablecloth spot in Manhattan.

                            1. We have found Applewood to be fantastic and well worth the money. Nice people, delicious foods. It's like Slow Food- well worth the wait... enjoy fb

                              1. I think you are right about the preciousness and unprofessionalism of the place and I think that others are also right about the quality of the food. There is no doubt that Applewood uses the freshest ingredients and takes great care in their preparations. Where they fall somewhat short is in the overall restaurant experience and, for better or worse, sophisticated diners in this city demand more than just good food. So, even though they may be perfectly justified in charging the prices they do for their food from a food cost and preperation standpoint, they need to concentrate on the rest of their operation to justify their food. This is an old song for Bklyn restaurants, as the volume isn't there to support the good waiters, but the exacting diner wants great service nonetheless. I agree with other posters that Stone Park and Blue Ribbon (less so at Blue Ribbon because the food is not of the highest quality) are good examples of restaurants that coordinate excellence in many facets of their operations and don't just focus their efforts on what comes out of the kitchen.