REVIEW #52

Battersby

Its location on Smith Street in Cobble Hill is as plain and homely as it gets, and there is little in the crowded, rustic ambience at Battersby to suggest that you are about to dine at one of NYC's best restaurants.  But you are.  Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern both worked in the kitchen of Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, a restaurant the polar opposite of Battersby if there ever was one, as well as Blue Hill and Gramercy Tavern.  We are convinced that if you served Battersby's food on Limoges china in a grand interior designed by Adam Tihany the restaurant would garner at least one Michelin star.  Perhaps it will yet regardless. 

The exposed brick dining room has just 28 seats (10 of which are at the bar), with an antique stamped tin ceiling and a diminutive open kitchen in the back.  Recesses in the brick wall hold wine glasses, candles inside mason jars and pinecones.  That is about as far the restaurant nods toward any sort of ornamentation, and the atmosphere and comfort level leave something to be desired for our taste. 

The eclectic cuisine, however, is so sure-footed, so interesting and thought-provoking, that it would come as a complete surprise to anyone happening to wander in.  The first clue is the bread:  outstanding rosemary focaccia, fresh from the oven, with olive-oil doused whipped ricotta.  An amuse bouche that follows of rutabaga apple soup is like drinking liquid fall.  A Hamachi crudo with ginger, white soy and yuzu is comparable in quality to that served at Marea.  The crispy späetzle with mushroom, spinach and egg yolk is an amazing kaleidoscope of flavors and textures.  A Wagyu beef short rib pastrami served with braised cabbage and fingerling potatoes is a dish at once Japanese, German and Jewish in orientation.  Slices of apple cut through the richness of the dish, not unlike the apple cider in Aska's pork trotters and shank.  There are influences also from Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Italy and, of course, France.  At $65, the tasting menu is one of the best values in all of New York City. 

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INFORMATION

Cobble Hill
255 Smith St.
Brooklyn (nr. Douglass St.)
(718) 852-8321
Mon-Sat, 5:30pm-11pm; Sun, 5:30pm-10pm
    Walker Stern, Chef
    Joseph Ogrodnek, Chef
    Mike Sowa, Chef

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