photo credit: Adriana Rodriguez
Chef's Table At Brooklyn Fare
When was the last time you heard about the discovery of a new species? You were probably perusing Twitter at work, or watching an educational YouTube video that auto-played after six clips from Shark Week. You may have felt some brief excitement before moving on with your day, but somewhere out there, a scientist was doing the scientist equivalent of popping bottles. Maybe drinking schnapps out of a graduated cylinder.
You’ll have some understanding of that scientist’s feelings after dinner at Chef’s Table At Brooklyn Fare. It’s technically a fine dining restaurant - but it really belongs in a category on its own.
The first thing that separates this place from almost every other restaurant in New York City is the price. The seafood-focused tasting menu is $362.21, hospitality included - and the optional wine pairing is an additional $195, plus tax and tip. Which is why you may be a little confused when you arrive at the location wearing the formal attire that this place requires, and find a very normal-looking supermarket in Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll wander between the aisles of Lucky Charms, frozen Eggo Waffles, and pre-prepared chicken parmesan, until eventually, you’ll spot the host stand in a corner, surrounded by couples celebrating their anniversaries and hedge fund managers chatting about hedging things, waiting to enter for one of the two nightly seatings.
Inside, the majority of the space is taken up by the 20-seat chef’s counter overlooking the open kitchen, where chefs in white uniforms and servers in black suits weave in and out silently like opposing chess pieces. There’s no printed menu, so when the chefs begin plating in unison and the platoon of servers gathers to bring out each of the approximately 15 courses, everyone in the restaurant leans forward in their chairs like they’re trying to get a first look at a horse with a horn on its head or a bird with teeth.
photo credit: Adriana Rodriguez
The food here is the evolutionary tweak that makes this place its own species. As dish after dish is delivered, you’ll realize exactly where your money went - to uni topped with black truffle, foie gras wrapped in the highest grade jamon iberico, A5 wagyu you can cut with a spoon, and king crab topped with a scoop of Kaluga caviar the size of a pool ball. Many of those ingredients are flown in daily from another hemisphere, and served alongside excellent sauces like a saffron bouillabaisse that would be the best soup in the city on its own.
For some people, the wine here is going to be even more impressive than the food. If you’re someone who sees two-bedroom apartment listings as one-bedrooms with ample room for wine storage, you should do a deep dive into the 7,000-bottle wine list full of famous producers from France and Italy. But for everyone else, we recommend going with the pairing. Wines this good (and expensive) are almost never offered by the glass, so this is an opportunity to taste a bunch of things that would each cost you three digits at another restaurant. You may have a riesling as old as the La-Z-Boy in your parents’ living room with red sea perch, then syrah from southern France with quail from southern France, before finishing with a dessert wine from a tiny island near Sicily that tastes like caramel sauce when you chase it with the vanilla souffle.
That vanilla souffle, which is frozen in liquid nitrogen and dissolves like cotton candy as you bite into it, is just the last in a series of unforgettable moments that started when you turned left out of the cereal aisle two and a half hours before. Find a way to eat at Chef’s Table At Brooklyn Fare, and you’ll experience what it’s like to discover something truly different. And maybe also the urge to track down some schnapps.
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Hokkaido Sea Urchin
Black truffle and a big portion of creamy uni are served over toast that’s like the center of a freshly baked brioche (the part that tastes more like melted butter than anything else). This is just about the best version of surf and turf imaginable.
This is prettier than any piece of art we own, or any piece that we’d generally be allowed to touch without supervision. It also tastes great.
Saba (Grilled Mackerel)
The mackerel is intensely fishy, and it also liquifies in your mouth like ice cream. Don’t ask us how that’s possible, but trust us, you want to eat this.
Red Sea Perch
We get it. You drank some white zinfandel out of a bag in college, and you swore off sweet wine forever. Drink the riesling that comes with this fish - which has skin that tastes and cracks like the top of creme brulee - and you’ll change your mind.
A lot of dishes here use deluxe ingredients, but none screams “Bond villain’s go-to snack” quite like this one. The bowl of king crab is topped with a stress-ball-sized scoop of Kaluga caviar, and even though there’s a lot of both, it’s not overly heavy or salty.
Kinmedai (Golden Eye Snapper)
There’s not a better sauce here or maybe anywhere than the rich, sweet, spiced saffron bouillabaisse served with this kinmedai.
This is one of the best scallops we’ve ever had. It has a seared crust, while the inside is almost raw, and if you closed your eyes, you’d swear it was wrapped in bacon.
The cream sauce in this dish would make a $5 slab of overcooked salmon taste great, but somehow, it actually takes a backseat to the other things on the plate. There’s a large langoustine that’s so tender it’s almost creamy, and a few little veal ravioli and morels that have more flavor than anything their size should.
Your server will tell you to pick up the quail leg with your fingers, which is good advice because you’re going to end up gnawing on the bone like the last buffalo wing at a Super Bowl party. The best part of this dish, though, is the foie gras topped with a big slice of jamon iberico de bellota.
A5 Miyazaki Wagyu
Even though this wagyu doesn’t have any char to it - it’s a perfectly even rectangle of juicy meat and fat - the charred eggplant purée underneath makes the meat taste like it was cooked on a grill.
This souffle has taken up prime residence in our pantheon of all-time favorite desserts. We don’t actually know what liquid nitrogen does, but we assume it’s the reason why this dense, softball-sized vanilla souffle dissolves like a mouthful of cotton candy.