Brooklyn Fare Tasting Dinner
Last night, I surprised my boyfriend with the tasting dinner by Chef Cesar Ramirez at the newish Brooklyn Fare and words can barely describe what an incredible, memorable, and delicious experience it was! It was us with four other couples and we were right up close with Cesar in this gorgeous and sparking kitchen. He gave us a menu which gave very brief descriptions of each course that we would be having and he had many, many extra courses in addition to what was listed in the menu. It was around 10 courses overall and each course was more delicious and beautiful than the next. We were in awe watching Cesar and his assistants put together each course and every bite was just so delicious. We loved every course and I think my personal favorite was the branzino and my boyfriend loved the tomato course which basically did tomatoes in six different ways. The dinner was BYOB and everyone came well-prepared with various drinks. By the end of the night, the group that started off as strangers felt like old friends (including the chefs!). We had such a fantastic night and I wanted to share it with all of you so you can experience it as well!
I took my wife for her birthday on Saturday and we enjoyed an exceptional meal. Although I think the menu says it's a 7-course tasting menu, we counted at least 12 canapes that were served in addition to the courses and were all wonderful, one-bite bliss. I'll list those that I can recall:
fried foie gras ball
bacalao with yogurt and black truffles (a LOT of black truffles)
tuna sashimi with caviar
sardine over potato crisp
langostine spring roll
crab cake with mustard sauce
deep fried duck fritter
hirmasa (sp?). sashimi style yellowtail-like fish with baby greens and rose petals
monkfish & foie wrapped in cabbage
rouget - a red mullet fish
thin sliced pork
banana creme desert
it was great to see cesar conjure up his seafood heavy creations. each canape seemed better than the one before it and by the time we were ready to start the regular menu, we were bordering on full and our minds (and taste buds) had been blown. the entire meal was wonderful. we were told that the table will be expanded to accommodate 18 by late spring and that the price will be increased from $90 per person to $110 per person. Also, there will no longer be BYOB, but rather an optional wine pairing for an additional $85. in short, this remains one of the best values in NY and to the extent that you can get a reservation before the price is changed, you should absolutely go for it.
Chewbie - was it specified when the BYOB would go away? The price hike is understandable (still a steal, I think) though removing the BYOB option admittedly is much less palatable (though it still may be a good deal). I have reservations for later in the spring, and was advised when I made the reservation (last week) that it would carry the higher price and is BYOB. Did you hear otherwise?
I have a reservation in late March along with friends who like me are wine collectors. It sounds like we will get in under the wire. I agree that losing BYO would be discouraging, as the restaurant couldn't offer the sort of thing we would bring, especially not at a price we would pay. I wonder whether they understand how much of an draw BYO is.
While Cesar's outstanding cooking is the most significant aspect of your evening's experience, if you are a wine lover, the ability to get the menu a day or so in advance and select wines from your cellar to complement each course is a major factor in making this a memorable experience. I gotta believe that Cesar wants his guests to optimally enjoy the meal and if wine is a part of this enjoyment, he's going to make allowances (I don't pretend to speak for him, thought). I'd speak to Heidi: a reasonable corkage charge might be acceptable to all involved. Besides, they provide high-quality stemware and they make sure you always have clean glasses. We had champagne, multiple whites and reds and a sweet dessert wine, meaning we needed four or more glasses each.
That's got to be worth something.
Some of our wines:
Cesar in actions:
I certainly would have no problem paying something for glassware, or per bottle corkage if they have their license.
When I made the reservation, I had not appreciated how slated the menu is toward fish. It argues for an emphasis on white wine, with reds toward the lighter and crisper-- pinot noir, say, rather than cabernet, syrah or grenache. We'll manage, I'm sure.
A pinot from California, Oregon or Burgundy works with many of Cesar's dishes.
You're going to have at least one, and possibly two, meat dishes, so bring a Syrah or a Cab. I definitely recommend a champagne: to get everyone in the celebratory mood before the first dish or with the pate, if you have one.
The canapes come out in rapid succession, so the best of intentions (ie to match canapes with wines) is usually thwarted. The Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc was sublime with the oyster canape. A good chardonnay, either from California or from Burgundy, will work with many dishes. A sauternes, or other sticky wine, is a must for the dessert course. Call Heidi a day or so in advance for the menu. Enjoy!
@nhs81, that's a great review. I don't have much to add to it, but to say that we somehow scored two dinners there within the span of 8 days.
(Cesar and his staff were a bit surprised to see us again)
The first dinner we had a party of 12, which was fun. This could be a great idea for a birthday party or other celebration as you pretty much have the run of the place.
The second dinner we were a party of three so we shared the experience with other diners. It was an equally fun time and one of the guys in our party ended up going out for drinks afterwards with the other party. Came in strangers - left friends. The sharing of wine doesn't hurt.
As far as the food, the menu was probably about 50% similar to the week before. What excited me was seeing the evolution of the dishes - specifically, there was a scallop and sweetbreads dish that I thought was much better the second time.
The pre-dinner course of canapes was (on both evenings) wonderful. His skill with tiny portions of food is amazing.
I snapped some photos the first time. The second time I left the camera at home and just ate. Some pics here:
200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Price increases to $90 in November. There is a three-month wait for reservations, so if you call now, you'll probably be seated in late November.
A very similar offering, at a place called Talula's Table, south of Philadelphia, now has a one-year wait for a table. NPR did a feature on Talula's about a year ago.
Here's a link to a food blogger who did Brooklyn Fare's tasting dinner recently:
Loved her photos and video.
Here's a link to Talula's Table
And NPR's report on Talula's Table:
And, if you're still interested, portfolio.com's feature on Talula's:
I'd guess that Brooklyn Fare will have a similar wait in just a few weeks.