Ever since we were together, I have rarely witnessed my wife Jun have a negative reaction to dishes that we try. Sure, she can be a bit more critical with what the kitchen is trying to do at times, but more often she is easy to please having almost no dietary restrictions. When a sweet potato came out roasted with ash on top of it came out during our recent meal at Mettā, however, she was beyond horrified. My mother-in-law had apparently taught Jun from her early childhood to stay away from any over-burnt food as the ash from the burning is known to induce cancer. She frantically scraped the burnt ends of the sweet potato as much as possible before allowing me to get a taste of the “healthy” side. The server graciously comped the sweet potato after listening to our health concerns, but Jun had a hard time shaking off her shock. Nevertheless, she gave credit where credit was due; save for that sweet potato, the food at Mettā, led by an Argentinian-born chef who studied under the acclaimed chef Francis Mallmann who was featured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table documentary, was otherwise quite interesting.
The key theme at Mettā is open-fire cooking. There is a giant oven at the back of the dining space where you can also sit at the counter in front to see all the dishes in action. Fire can certainly add a lot of versatility to food regardless of the ingredients, and there was interesting twist here and there, starting with porgy crudo with charred preserved ramps that was gently touched for great textural effect, as well as crispy lamb dipped inside sour asparagus soup that was so wonderful with sunflower seeds. The slight issue with both dishes was seasoning; our meal could’ve been so much better had the kitchen been a little bit more judicious in the use of salt. If a dish had already been quite wonderfully cooked, why not bother adding a salt on top of it that has the unintended effect of compromising the textural effect from the fire?
The same went for the large dishes. The lean cut of market steak was quite juicy and tender, but did the meat really need extra salt when the chimichurri sauce could’ve taken care of seasoning? On the other hand, the flavor was freekeh risotto and mushrooms was more balanced, and we both absolutely loved the chewy texture that freekeh, a type of grain that we had not previously encountered in our culinary journey, brought to the table. Overall, even minus the sweet potato, I certainly observed more novel dishes than I had tasted in recent months at other “safer” restaurants. Would our experience been even more memorable had we ordered another dessert?
Getting a reservation at Mettā wasn’t too difficult, although we saw that the restaurant is quite popular among local Brooklynites as the dining space was nearly packed during our meal. The cozy vibe of the restaurant in the Fort Greene neighborhood will certainly add another element of charm to your meal. There is full bar with wine lists concentrated on natural wines (another minus for us as we just can’t seem to get comfortable with the funky taste of these varieties). I am hesitant with defining my experience at a restaurant with a single dish, and I certainly believe Mettā, for all the horror it brought to my wife for the sweet potato that I thought was otherwise delicious minus the burnt ends, is a nice addition to the New York dining scene that brings a novel concept to the table with consistent level of execution.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 197 Adelphi Street, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Telephone: (718) 233-9134