With the dizzying pace at which new restaurants open up in New York City, it’s close to impossible for me to re-visit every place that I had enjoyed on my first try. After all, as a full-time working professional subject to not infrequent late night work, I don’t have enough time to go to five restaurants a week, and it’s not like I earn millions of dollars to allow myself to spend over a couple of hundred bucks on food every night. Especially since our marriage, my wife Jun and I have limited our dining out sessions to weekends (luckily for me, Jun is a fantastic cook who doesn’t mind cooking on weekdays), so whenever I scout for the next restaurant to visit, a new place takes priority over one that I had already visited. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever visit again a place I enjoyed, especially where my dining experience brings me fond memories from time to time. Battersby, tucked in an obscure Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, is one such place. Headed by veteran chef duo Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern, the restaurant has perhaps on the tiniest kitchens and dining rooms I’ve ever seen, but the ambitious and balanced cooking in such a humble space made my first visit all the more memorable. Since it’s been more than three years since the last time I had a meal there, I figured I would take Jun for a re-visit (I didn’t go with her on my previous visit). Overall, the consistently high qualify of food was still there and I was really glad I got to come back with my wife this time.
Battersby probably has one of the best tasting menu options, still charging $75 per person for five-course tasting menus. The daily changing tasting menu really emphasizes the freshness of ingredients and thoughtful execution to make sure the balanced flavor and texture shines throughout the meal. Farm-to-table concept can be easily abused, but you don’t get a sense that the kitchen at Battersby is one of the many pretenders out there in the city. Take, for example, the assortment of farmed and foraged vegetables. Not only was the plating beautiful, but each vegetable that I put into my mouth displayed a ton of freshness that I thought I was eating straight from a garden. It turned out to be one of the best salad dishes I’ve had this year. The second course, king salmon with asparagus and pickled horseradish, used a bit too much salt than I had hoped, but as Jun remarked, the slight over-seasoning wasn’t unpleasant and the gently touched salmon itself was cooked to near perfection.
I was also a fan of the aromatic consommé with foie gras tortellini inside, although Jun thought the broth was not quite as flavorful as it should be. We both agreed, however, that the duck breast that came as the last savory course was outstanding. Accompanied by potatoes, bacon and porcini, the duck breast was cooked absolutely juicy and tender and I was particularly appreciative that the seasoning was kept at a minimum so that the meat itself is the main event on the dish. I can’t rank all the great duck dishes I’ve had in the course of my culinary journey in New York City, but I will certainly think of the one from Battersby for a long time. For dessert, panna cotta with orange granite was a refreshing dish that was quite fitting for a dinner on a hot summer day.
The restaurant still takes reservations only where you elect to go with tasting menus. Unlike my first visit, there wasn’t already a line forming with people eager to get their hands on the food, although the tiny dining space still got nearly packed by the end of our early Saturday dinner. There is full bar with some inventive cocktail options and (sadly) natural- and organic-focused wine selections. Battersby is a true neighborhood spot that can wow you with the understated elegance to the dishes coming from the kitchen. With all the constraints on re-visiting restaurants I noted above, if I had lived nearby in Brooklyn (probably not happening in the near future though), I certainly would’ve tried to become a regular at this wonderful restaurant.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 9.0/10
- Ingredients: 9.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 255 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Telephone: (718) 852-8321