Nowadays, my wife Jun and I go to Brooklyn more often to check out restaurants (both old and new) in the neighborhood; for some reason, Marlow & Sons, a place critics often call the quintessential Williamsburg restaurant with its no frills bistro concept that is approachable for everyone. Recently, I heard of the restaurant’s evolution from its classical American concept to a more nuanced Japanese American menu and was intrigued to see what the kitchen was doing. On a recent Friday evening, Jun and I visited the restaurant. We were greeted with a casual dining space that feels like you are eating where all the cool kids hang out. Unfortunately, the food, while not horrible, didn’t feel as exciting as the menu suggested.
The Japanese bent on Marlow & Sons’ menu is rather conspicuous. The sour cabbage pancake with bonito flake would remind you of the popular Japanese dish okonomiyaki that Jun and I would typically order when we go to an izakaya. I thought it was solid, while Jun felt it didn’t have the same robust flavor that a great okonomiyaki provides. We proceeded to share two entrée dishes. Marlow & Sons has always been known for its brick chicken and the kitchen prepared one with shiitakes and koji jus. The chicken was adequately cooked but it didn’t have that ideally moist texture that I had tried at other places with outstanding poultry offerings. The kombu-cured pork shoulder steak which came with butterbeans and mustard greens was a little better, and worked pretty well with the side of rice with furikake seasoning sprinkled on top of it. On the other hand, the side of smashed cucumbers with chili and ginger was more or less forgettable.
I didn’t have much problem getting a reservation for an early Friday dinner at the restaurant, and the dining space was surprisingly quiet during our meal although crowds slowly started filling up toward the end of our meal. Marlow & Sons is also known for its potent cocktail list, so feel free to wash down all the food with a glass or two of these drinks. As noted, the inviting neighborhood vibe of the restaurant was a plus to our experience, although the lighting could have been slightly improved for better photos of the dishes we had tried. I wish I had visited Marlow & Sons when it was more faithful to American cuisine so I could compare my experiences before and after the change in the menu. I thought the Japanese experiment was not a bad choice but certainly expected a little bit more ingenuity and consistent execution.
KenScale: 7.75/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.5/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 81 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Telephone: (718) 384-1441