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Brooklyn Fare

If you have not eaten or are not planning to eat at the Brooklyn Fare, you are making a huge error. Cesar Ramirez is making some of the best food the city has to offer. This may be one of if not the best dining experience in not just Brooklyn but also Manhattan. And for $90 plus tip and tax (plus BYOB), this place is a steal.

The canapes ranged from an exquisite cucumber "soda" which tasted like cucumber air, to spectacular toro tartare, flash fried frog legs, kumamoto oyster topped with oyster gelee, flash fried peekytoe crab, sardine wrapped in a potato chip, a tiny bite of perfect veal, and king crab topped with pineapple, and a few other i am now missing.

And then the mains, even better than the opening salvos. Thick slices of just dug scallops, topped with micro greens; a phenomenal crispy medai with ramps, crazy good rouge with crispy leeks, a beautiful duck ravioli in duck jus, foie gras with perfect spring peas, and a cote de boeuf topped with pan drippings on top of melted onions and next to an eggplant splash that tasted like the essense of eggplant.

And finally a rhubarb parfait, braised rhubarb under a vanilla wafer, rhubarb puree and vanilla bean whipped cream.

Together with great company (a single table of 11 in the prep kitchen a few doors down from Brooklyn Fare), fantastic wine, and an amazingly personable and engaging chef, this place should be a must on any food lover's list.

Please, go now.

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Brooklyn Fare
200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

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  1. A few questions before I go, if you don't mind, and I realize the menu will probably have changed by the time I get there,
    "just dug scallops?" I know what scallops are, but just dug? As in just dredged?
    What is medai?
    "eggplant splash?"

    Just curious.

    Thanks.

    8 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      sorry, should have said just dredged, or more accurately, just opened and still alive and then cut a little thicker than carpaccio style.

      madai is a japanese red snapper.

      the eggplant splash was i guess an eggplant puree. thicker than a babaganoush (which i probably just mangled the spelling of) and darker.

      you're right though, the menu will probably change. we were told on monday there would be a black cod dish and a lamb dish but apparently the chef was not impressed with the product he had and made a last minute substitution, probably for the better.

      1. re: jon

        Ok, thanks so much. I'm looking forward to going, I've heard very good things about the place, and have a birthday coming soon; perfect for that, I would think.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          there have been a few prior threads here on the bklyn board about Cesar's kitchen table dinner at brooklyn fare. suffice it to say, it is one of the most memorable (and fairly-priced) dinners around. if you have a reservation, don't forget to bring your own wine. don't economize on wine: you can get your menu a day or so in advance and pair wines with individual dishes. it is difficult, however, to pair wines with individual canapes, as they tend to come out pretty quickly and each are bite-sized. so, a good white wine, such as a white burgundy, chardonnay or riesling pairs nicely with most canapes.

          if you don't have a reservation, be aware that they are booked through the summer and both the price and format will change sometime this summer.
          they expect a wine license and intend to charge around $150 per person for the meal and $95 per person for wine. Whether that kind of expense is worth the pleasure of Cesar's meal will be an individual decision.

          if you don't have a reservation, you should call and ask to be put on the waiting list. seats do open up from time to time and Heidi is very reliable about calling wait listed guests.

          1. re: famdoc

            Oh well, good to know, I figured as much, regarding the booking. I'll start saving immediately and thanks for the wine recs, also.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              according to the chef the other night, they are actually only booked through june and haven't started taking reservations yet for july. in july the space will be redone, with a horseshoe shaped 18 seat bar and nicer furnishings. and the menu will be $125/person plus $95/person for wine pairings. that said, the menu is going to be about 20-25 dishes long or so as opposed to the 15-17 dishes per night now.

              at $90/person (which it is now), it's a no brainer. at $125/person, it's a no brainer also. the food here is some of the best the city has to offer.

              1. re: jon

                I agree about the value of the meal. However, with wine and tip, you're talking about $450 per couple. That's not an insignificant amount for most of us.
                As for a menu of 20-25 items, that is excessive, in my opinion. I've been several times and we never finished the meal before 11:15, always stuffed beyond belief.

                I'm Cesar's biggest fan and consider my visits to Brooklyn Fare among my most memorable meals. I have valued the ability to bring fine wines from my cellar and share them with friends. I'm just not sure he's going to attract the same profile of diners with the $450/couple price tag.

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                Brooklyn Fare
                200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                1. re: jon

                  According the Jay Cheshes' review in Time Out NY, the price tag is now $115.
                  It was still BYO at the time of Cheshes' visit.

          2. re: jon

            "Japanese Red Snapper" is amadai. Or more correctly, Japanese for red snapper is amadai.

        2. I just went last evening and I was not impressed. Several of the amuses were quite good (although one was a horrid combination of pineapple, coconut, and beautiful king crab - why would anyone want to have pina colada with lovely crab?) - but I found all of the mains to be from just all right to bad. There were truffles shaved on top of a lovely piece of halibut, but the truffle taste never appeared and the fish was overwhelmed by a bacon-y sauce - the best thing about it was the peas (lovely fresh peas). The last entree a beautiful thin piece of prime rib was just absolutely covered in a sauce that reeked of 1980's microwave salisbury steak - when I removed the sauce completely I found a lovely piece of meat underneath.

          No one seems to mention how uncomfortable the room is - it's industrial, slightly cold, with fluorescent lights gleaming down at you - just really not a nice room. Also, backless stools for 3 hours ... And you better hope that you get a good group, because I did not. The chef was not at all engaging - he just introduced each course as a waiter would.

          I have to say there seems to be a lot of emphasis on the value of the meal for $115 - but the price point is right in line with Ko, the Spring tasting at 11 Madison, the farmer's feast at blue hill. I would recommend all of these over this experience. BYO is nice, but so is ordering $30 bottles and having it poured for you.

          1. Just got a call from Heidi who informed me that they have openings for July (I think she's reaching out to people who have requested to be put on a waitlist). She also said that the increased seating would be in place by then and that Cesar would be increasing the number of courses for a price of $135. They have applied for their liquor license but don't expect to receive it until late summer / early fall and therefore it's still BYOB.

            my first experience with BF was wonderful. If I have a similar experience at $135 (vs. $95 per person when I first went) then I will still consider it a good meal at a reasonable price given that it's BYOB. If the price increases further and there is an optional wine pairing (but no more free BYOB) then it changes the value proposition altogether and I'm afraid that, from a price point perspective, BF will be compared against EMP, Per Se and some of the other fine dining establishments in NY. Given the "room" and overall dining experience, I don't think this comparison falls in BF's favor. They should really stick to doing something that is more price appropriate given location, decor and food. Moreover, they don't need to keep a full staff or incur the same overhead as a normal restaurant so it would seem unecessary to hike prices to NYC levels.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chewbie

              Thanks for the update. Certainly the price is fair, particularly with the BYO still in place.
              By the way, on two of our three visits, we requested a cheese course, which was gladly provided for an additional $10 pp. Highly recommend others consider this.
              Chewbie, I agree with your price/value assessment. But, let's not sell short the effort Cesar and his staff expend on the experience and the quality of the ingredients.
              I look forward to one more visit, perhaps giving my kids the chance to experience the evening at BF with us.

              1. re: famdoc

                Heidi made a point of saying that for $135 a cheese course will be included.

                I wasn't trying to minimize the experience that Cesar and his staff provides in any way. In fact, I am a huge fan of the semi-educational, Q&A format. Cesar is clearly intent on making sure that his diners have a great experience and is keenly interested in feedback. My point was simply that no matter how you slice it, it just doesn't cost as much to run BF as it does some of the restaurants that it will invariably be compared to if/when they increase the price and remove the free BYOB option.

            2. is this a fair comparison to Ko? sounds like it'd be just as good, but less stressful the reservations; anyone been to both?

              just saw this:
              http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-q/2010/01...

              8 Replies
              1. re: bigjeff

                I can't compare as I haven't been to Ko, but the reservations are very difficult to come by. At least on short (read: under 3 months) notice.

                1. re: bigjeff

                  i've been to both. brooklyn fare is better and more congenial. plus the chef isn't a dick like the ones at ko. don't get me wrong, the food at ko is good, but not as good as at brooklyn fare and certainly not as fun of an experience. at ko, there was very little talking between diners and absolutely no interaction with the chefs. completely opposite at brooklyn fare.

                  1. re: jon

                    BF was very congenial. By the time the third amuse had arrived, we were sharing wines with the rest of the table. Good stuff.

                    1. re: chewbie

                      this place was awful. not only was the price exorbitant but the chef was extremely rude. If i am paying 115++ for your unoriginal and uninspired tasting menu (that by the way left my husband hungry enough for a slice of pizza on the way home) then the least you could do would be cordial. the chef was extremely condescending and obnoxious. i could give specific examples but there are too many. i'm sorry dude, but take your ego elsewhere. i've been to mokofuku ko and it blows this place away. for 10 dollars more you can get the tasting menu at Bouley where the environment and service far surpass Brooklyn Fare. In short i really would say to save your money and go elsewhere. the hype on this place is misplaced.

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                      Brooklyn Fare
                      200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                      1. re: DRLCH14

                        Definitely sounds like your experience was an outlier. Cesar was far from condescending/obnoxious and spent time after the meal chatting with diners, telling us about his experiences and future plans for the place. And the food was some of the best I've had in NYC but I guess that's a more subjective matter. Again, can't speak to Momofuku as I haven't been but was very happy at BF.

                        1. re: chewbie

                          @chewbie- I don't think mine was an outlier experience. If you see the review for Cody2 above (which I wish I would have seen before I wasted $115++) it seems this is recurring. it's mediocre food served on fancy plates designed to make you feel like you are taking part in something exclusive. however, anyone who spends money or their time here is wasting it.

                          1. re: DRLCH14

                            fair enough. i'm just saying that i didn't have that experience. quite the opposite in fact and i've eaten at all of the other restos that cody2 listed. i can't speak to anyone else's palate or preferences, nor am i a food critic, but i personally enjoyed it a great deal.

                            i do agree that when you get into the conversation about value, it becomes muddled. i paid 95 when i went and i counted 21 different amuses/plates in total. of those, i probably thought 2 were just "good" and the others were "exceptional." as someone who has a decent wine collection, i'd rather bring my own and pair vs. paying inflated prices if i'm given the option. as i've stated in another post, the overall decor, small staff and communal dining table should warrant a discount to the city's other premier restos. however, i can't ignore the sheer number of courses (all of of which i enjoyed to varying degrees) when evaluating one against the other. i think a good comparison for BF is degustation (which i also enjoyed a great deal). again, it goes back to personal taste as BF is more seafood-focused and i felt that the interaction with the chef and his staff was more intimate (a good thing for us).

                            1. re: chewbie

                              Oh that's such an odd comparison to me personally as I just adore Degustation (and it's cheaper) - I take friends there for their birthday - they place is lovely and warm (an amazing contrast from Jewel Bako). I get to Spanish the whole time (which is really funny because I've never heard one member of the staff actually say Degustacion). I was sat late once and they gave me a bottle of Cava on the house. I've never heard anyone ever say anything bad about that place. But, BF - I hear people say that they like it - but I just really don't get it at all.

                              They were quite rude to me too at BF...

                              I've been 3 times to Ko - I don't think the ressy's are really that hard to get. One chef at Ko did not seem happy to interact with the public, but we were chatting up the rest.

                2. Is it still byob? I can't seem to find any mention of an update on this in recent months.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: mari mac

                    According to today's grubstreet, Brooklyn Fare has not yet received its wine license.
                    You can confirm this by calling their reservationist.

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                    Brooklyn Fare
                    200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                    1. re: mari mac

                      According to the website, they're still BYOB. My understanding from my last visit was that the tasting menu would cost around the same and that there would be an optional wine pairing available. I don't think that's in place yet.

                      1. re: chewbie

                        I'm going in a couple of weeks. Brooklyn Fare is still BYOB, the price is now $165 for about 20 courses. I'm pretty excited...

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                        Brooklyn Fare
                        200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                        1. re: fm1963

                          I went about a month ago. It's pretty amazing. the amount of detail that goes into each dish is remarkable. Without being overtly Japanese, it reminded me a lot of the time I had an omakase dinner at Soto a couple of years ago.

                          1. re: egit

                            Wow you're right, Brooklyn Fare was amazing. The parade of seafood canapes was extraordinarily inventive and delicious. The composed plates were all seafood as well, with just one meat dish (lamb), as well as cheese, sorbet and dessert, all of which were great.

                            Ramirez is such a nice guy, so dedicated to his craft, and he made it a point to converse with each diner. He mentioned that the restaurant might be getting a liquor license soon. Personally, I thought Brooklyn Fare was a lot more refined than Momofuku Ko. I'll definitely return soon.

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                            Brooklyn Fare
                            200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                            1. re: fm1963

                              Glad you enjoyed it. They've been threatening to get a liquor license for quite some time now. I'll believe it when I see it, honestly. For their sake I hope they do because they'll be more profitable.

                              My take on Chef Ramirez, and his possibly mercurial nature may be controversial. I also really liked him, and he spent probably 10-15 minutes after our dinner talking with DGF and me. I think what makes him "tick," what gets him out of bed in the morning to do this, is the Adulation. He's plying his craft which he's trying to elevate to an art form (is food ever art? an open question, i suppose). He wants you to pay attention to what he's doing. What I think makes him angry is when he has boorish, drunken buffoons who spend a lot of time chatting, laughing, talking on the cell phone, taking pictures, taking notes... essentially *not paying attention*.

                              I think what he wants is for his diners (his audience) to appreciate what he's doing. It would be like Horowitz strolling into a local piano lounge and ripping into some Rachmaninoff. He'd expect you to pay attention. He'd be annoyed if you didn't.

                              1. re: egit

                                Jeez, if Horowitz strolled into my local piano lounge, I'd do more than pay attention...I'd start praying.

                                The liquor license is definitely in the works. The young woman who is involved in serving is an experienced sommelier. No doubt, she'll be the wine person when the license arrives. There had been some mention of the price of a wine-pairing being an additional $95 or more per person during a discussion a few months ago. That would make the experience $600 per couple, including tax and tip. You can draw your own conclusions about the impact of that price on most diners. I've been a faithful customer, but could not continue to enjoy the BF experience at that price. Hopefully, a nominal corkage fee might be instituted for those who still wish to bring their own wine.

                                As I've said before, I've never seen anything but professional behavior from the chef and his staff. He was tolerant of, and seemed to enjoyed, some good humor from some of my friends during a visit last year. I agree: if you want to behave like you're in a bar or a strip joint, go to a bar or a strip joint. The BF experience merits a different demeanor than those type of places.

                                1. re: famdoc

                                  My guess is that the limit of 18 diners has largely to do with the arcane NYS liquor laws which legally allow BYOB in restaurants with less than 19 seats. If they get a license, they may also add another half dozen diners per evening which would also add to their profits.

                                  1. re: famdoc

                                    Brooklyn Fare just earned three stars from Sifton. Congrats to Ramirez and his team. Very well deserved! The food is simply astonishing and I'm looking forward to returning soon.

                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/din...

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                                    Brooklyn Fare
                                    200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                                      1. re: peter j

                                        I called for a reservation yesterday morning and had no luck. I guess getting a reservation just got a lot harder.

                                        1. re: peter j

                                          I also had a great dinner at Brooklyn Fare and am happy that Cesar Ramirez got such a wonderful review.

                                          The price will go up to $185 in June, a fair increase of $20 given the quality of the food, but I think that Brooklyn Fare is now among the three most expensive restaurants in the NYC area, along with Masa and Per Se?

                                          http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/04/...

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                                          Brooklyn Fare
                                          200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                                          1. re: H Manning

                                            I was going to say Momofuku Ko is up there and then I went to look. It's $125 for dinner... and $175(!) for lunch! They say it's a 2 hour dinner and a 3 hour lunch so I suppose they serve you more at lunch.

                                            1. re: Peter

                                              Yes, lunch at Ko is 16 courses for $175, and lasts about 3 hours. Dinner at Ko is 10 courses for $125, and lasts about 2 hours.

                                            2. re: H Manning

                                              With the price increase, Brooklyn Fare isn't quite a clear cut #3, but it's in a nice little group. It's price peers:

                                              Daniel's 8-course tasting is $205
                                              Rosanjin has a $200 Kaiseki menu.
                                              L'Atelier's tasting menu is ~ $190.
                                              Le Bernadin's Chef's tasting is $190
                                              Momofuku Ko lunch is $175

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                                              Brooklyn Fare
                                              200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                                              1. re: deepfry7

                                                Looks like a lot of restaurants increased their prices recently. Eleven Madison Park now charges $195 for their tasting menu.

                                                Then again. there's the $2,000 ten course meal prepared by Mario Batali and Masa Takayama to benefit the Japanese relief efforts on May 23.

                                                I've never been to Masa, but am I wrong in thinking that Brooklyn Fare is a less expensive, more fusion-y version of the same concept?

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                                                Brooklyn Fare
                                                200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201