Summer is here, which means that I make more trips outside Manhattan to Brooklyn, especially in the Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens where there are a lot of restaurants and bars I’ve been wanting to check out and have better excuses to drag my Manhattanite friends to venture outside their comfort zones. Rider, which opened up at the new National Sawdust performance space in Williamsburg, looked like a promising gem in the neighborhood, with food coming out from chef Patrick Connolly, an award winning chef who made his name in Boston before coming over to the Big Apple. Unfortunately, the dinner didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
The eclectic menu at Rider seems like you could thoroughly enjoy the combination of different ingredients and techniques throughout your meal. It was the issue with consistency that proved to be the restaurant’s undoing. I’ve had fantastic crudo dishes at various places in the city, but the fluke crudo with salmoriglio sauce and garlic chips turned out tasteless, and I felt as if the fluke had been caught and prepared days ago. On the other hand, mushroom Bolognese with black truffle tofu and breadcrumbs had nice combination of hearty flavor to balance out the disappointment from the crudo. One of my dining companions who had previously visited this place warned me about the overly aggressive seasoning of dishes she had tried. Indeed, steamed clams that came with bacon, coconut, lemongrass and cilantro stems didn’t have to come out that salty, and the French dip accompanied by roasted marrow bone and prepared horseradish became more and more inedible due to the heavy seasoning the more I bit into the dish.
In other dishes, texture was the issue. Duck breast with nduja stuffed dates, parsnip and hazelnuts came out just about right in seasoning, but the duck meat itself wasn’t quite tender enough to give this dish a high score. Even the dessert dish we had tried turned out funky, and not necessarily in a good way. Chocolate tart itself had nice sweetness to it, but did the kitchen really have to add fresno chile ice cream next to it, with the spicy kick from the ice cream undermining the flavor construction of the entire dish? I’m all for creative mixing of ingredients, but it seems like the kitchen needs to really think through how they work together to create some semblance of balance in flavor and texture.
Getting a reservation at Rider isn’t particularly difficult, and the dining space was not quite full on a gorgeous Saturday evening. There is full bar with some concise cocktail and wine menus. I liked the minimalist décor of the space with industrial feel to it, but it didn’t quite offer the warm neighborhood vibe I would expect from a restaurant in Brooklyn. It seems Rider may be trying too hard to impress diners at the expense of consistency. I hope the kitchen can re-explore their approach and fix some issues in execution.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 6.0/10
- Ingredients: 6.5/10
- Flavor: 6.0/10
- Texture: 7.0/10
Address: 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Telephone: (718) 210-3152