The Saint Austere
Photo Credit: Thrillist
613 Grand St.Brooklyn, NY
This is a very difficult review to write. Not because The Saint Austere has bad food or because we had a bad experience or because one of our cell phones was stolen by a homeless person outside the restaurant, as happened to one patron (shout outs to both the restaurant staff for quickly calling the cops and the cops for quickly arriving on the scene). It’s hard to write simply because we feel so utterly ambivalent about this place. There’s just nothing new or interesting going on here. As a matter of fact, you’ve seen all of the dishes at The Saint Austere at other restaurants in the city. Scratch that, at every restaurant in the city. It almost seems like the chef went on an eating tour and collected menus before he made his own. Octopus? Yep. Meatballs? Sure. Pork Belly? Check. Bone Marrow? Of course. Beet salad? The menu wouldn’t be complete without one! And here are your fish, steak, and chicken entrees. Or maybe we could interest you in a meat and cheese plate? The only thing missing is a f*cking kale salad.
As for everything else, the decor here is as generically predictable as the menu: exposed brick walls and tin ceilings with wooden communal tables. The good news is that there is a great wine list with very reasonable prices, and the staff is really friendly. If we lived in the neighborhood, we’d probably stop in, sit at the huge bar, and order the polenta and some vino once in a while. As a matter of fact, that seems to be what goes on here – lots of people from down the street hanging out and eating serviceable food. We’re all for places like that. But just know that this is definitely not a restaurant worth making a special trip for.
Ricotta, butternut squash, and brown sugar on toast. Did your mom make you cinnamon toast to shut you up when you were a kid? You know, butter, cinnamon, and sugar on toasted bread? This is a fancy version of that. It’s pretty good.
A bowl of clams in white wine with cherry tomatoes. This tastes just like the clams you’ve had at ten restaurants before this one. The bread that comes with it to dunk in the broth is the best part. Ask for more right away because it takes them a few minutes to grill it.
This came with anchovies, parmesan, and hard boiled eggs. It was good, but the hard boiled egg was an odd choice. Our table agreed that a poached egg would have been better. And our table was full of experts. On everything.
Nope. They tasted like they came out of a bag from Costco. There are better meatballs to be had nearly anywhere.
A little bowl of ridiculously creamy polenta with sausage and cippolini onions. This is the only thing at The Saint Austere that we’d come back for. It tastes like corn pudding. Draw us a bath full of this stuff and we’ll hang out in it Busboy style.
This was fine. A little too salty. Italian food isn’t their strong suit here.
A nice juicy chicken with potatoes, pearl onions, and gravy. The potatoes were a little bit undercooked but we’d eat a mixing bowl full of those onions.
An interesting take on a traditional tiramisu, served in a jar. The server claimed that they put sea salt on the top, but we’re pretty sure the kitchen mixed up the sea salt and garlic salt when they made ours. We’re not even going to complain – at least it was creative.
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Bone broth in a coffee cup, served from a window at Hearth. Is this real? Nobody knows.
Better than it used to be. And it used to be really damn good.
This is how you book a restaurant reservation in 2014.