Applewood, Largely Right
I had the opportunity to eat dinner yesterday evening at Applewood Restaurant in Park Slope. My wife and I were celebrating her birthday and had been meaning to try Applewood for some time at the suggestion of many; we were largely pleased.
The feel is Vermont lodge meets West Village cozy, and it largely works though the tables and chairs feel austere compared to the warm black and white photos and incomplete bookshelves on the wall. My wife has a word for the decoration style, ungapatchka (sp), which in my wife’s Brooklyn Yiddish means mish mosh.
The service was upbeat and controlled. We started with what proved to be the best dish of the night, roasted pork belly with apples. The pork skin was perfectly crispy and the meat was flavorful, tender, and not overly fatty. The portion was ample and the dish combined the cooked apples perfectly, a true hit. We also shared the Chacuterie, which was not really a chacuterie but moreover there separate tastes, one rabbit remoulade which was gamey and overly salted, and a pork and veal pate, neither of which were flavorful, texture was fine and presentation was lovely, though the depth of flavor was absent.
For dinner, my wife hit it right with monk fish medallions over rich lentils, the fish was excellently prepared, the lentils were a lovely complement to the fish and the medallions sang with flavor and had great texture, firm and moist, lovely preparation.
I mistakenly had the rib eye which was tough and served in five small slices. It was served over kale that seemed to be infused with salt, two bites and I pushed it to the side. The meat was flavorful, though here the portion size had me puzzled and discouraged. At $28, a rib eye order needs to arrive with more than five small slices. I am not looking for a Fred Flintstone slab, though I do presume, and I think fairly, that a streak order will be delivered with a bit more substance.
For desert, we opted to pick up Hagen Daz on the way home so I can’t vouch for the desserts.
All in all, not bad.
I recently tried it for the first time, and it is now a serious contender for favorite Brooklyn restaurant (I also love Lunetta, Chestnut, and Noodle Pudding). My bf and I shared the sauteed lobster with gnocci as an appetizer, which was delicious. Then I had the goat with pureed pumpkin and concord grape reduction. It was delicious, and I have never considered myself a "goat" person. My bf had the pork w/pears which was also yummy. For dessert we shared the chocolate souffle (v. good) and the concord grape sorbet (also good, but I would say the desserts were not the highlight of the meal). (Oh and the bread was delicious, with three v. different and yummy spreads.)
The ambience was lovely and our waiter was very good. My main complaint is that the meal felt slightly rushed. I don't usually complain about service being too fast, but this was a special occasion and we didn't get to linger at all between courses.
That said I will definitely be back.
i love applewood but service there can be spotty. the wife is an excellent host but some of their staff over the years have been a bit untrained for this relatively upscale park slope restaurant.
that said, the last few times, the service has improved and some of the staff have that sort of friendly yet professional and competent service that i love.
this past saturday night was our favorite time there yet. the kosta browne pinot i brought paired perfect with their venison dish. one complaint, they threw our apps and main dishes out really REALLY fast. it was my wifes bday and we would have liked to enjoy the time a bit longer.
I've always found the service to be fine though it's been even better as of late.
Also, LJW, if you were celebrating an occasion and wanted to pace the meal more slowly (or just wanted to pace the meal more slowly) just let them know when you sit down -- "By the way, it's a special occasion -- we're in no rush tonight." Words to that effect usually add a good hour to the night, albeit with the occasional request from the waiter to "let them know when you're ready for the next course (they're not mind readers.)
(And If you're really considerate you let them know this when you make the reservation -- that way they can not book the table too soon after you.)
Sated, glad you liked it. A few follow-up thoughts:
-- The rib-eye is always on the menu. In 25+ visits, I've never ordered it. I think it's there for the meat and potato spouse who gets dragged there and find everything else objectionable (no judgment! From the other items you ate clearly you have a broad palate.) This isn't an excuse for it to be not to your liking, but it's not a dish that oozes the heart and soul of applewood.
-- In general, they excel at heartier meats: goat, veal, duck, venison. All of it is so tender you'd swear it was pre-chewed. ;)
-- It's a shame you skipped dessert. They excel at dessert.
Glad you had a good time -- I hope you'll be back.
Sated. Yiddish words are open to many interpretations but ungapatchked (not sure of the spelling either) usually means overly embellished. That may be correct; I'm not sure, I haven't been to Applewood for years and can't remember what the decor is like. A simmis (sp?) or stew usually means a mish mosh or an over-reaction "Don't make such a simmis!" To bad you didn't stay for dessert. That's what I remember most about our meal there.