I got to go to the sneak peek of The Vanderbilt (Saul Bolton & Ben Daitz's new venture in Prospect Heights at 570 Vanderbilt Avenue at Bergen St., 718-623-0570) Wednesday night, and sample some of the food and drink that will be available TODAY, a corner spot on what is becoming the newest Restaurant Row in Brooklyn. The space is long and sleek, sort of that urban rustic that's very popular nowadays. Raw gray slabs of wood line the bar and the back dining room, banquet seating is along the left wall in the spacious bar area with tall bar chairs with backs. That leads you to the open kitchen, a giant space that's for spying on the cooks, then on to some stairs which take you to the cozy dining room. It's sharp yet comfy, sort of fancy-bar-in-the-Midwest yet in-the-know-hipster at the same time. I liked it AND the fabric used on that banquet seating.
There's a nice list of cocktails and two were being served the other night. The Black Cherry Rickey is made with vodka, black cherry syrup, lime & soda but I found it too sweet. The Glyda Rose was more my style, made with gin, campari, blood orange & champagne. It was tart, bitter and strong! There're also a couple of Sixpoint brews on tap (Oktoberfest & Sweet Action), as well as bottled beer and an assortment of wines by the glass.
The food was impressive - a mix of meaty classics and Asian flavors served in small plate arrangements. They started by passing a plate of Blistered Shishito Peppers with a pimenton salt. I was told only 1 in 10 are hot but the one I ate nearly blew my head open. It was pure fire. Tasty, I guess, but who can tell when your eyes are watering and you can't feel your tongue?
My favorites of the night were the Boudin Blanc Sausage with mustard and the Pork Meatballs with cuttlefish. The Boudin Blanc was almost creamy, excellently paired with a grainy mustard.
The meatballs were flavorful little morsels. I thought the accompanying bite was pineapple upon first glance, but the fish was chewy and I thought a little strange with the pork.
The Steamed Bouchot Mussels with coconut, basil & chili were strange as well. It was a little like mousse and a little confusing. I thought the stuff on the bottom was ice, but was actually a jelly-like substance. The coconut brought a nice flavor to the dish, but the many textures together were all wrong to me.
The Brussel Sprouts were great though - ever so slightly undercooked so they still had some bite, served with sirachia, lime and honey. Slightly spicy, slightly sweet and totally excellent.
I also liked the Puff Pastry filled with Chicken Liver. The pastry was light and airy, and the liver was earthy and strong. Delicious!
The rest of the menu has similar items - small plates that don't exceed $16 (and that's for Pork Chops and Hangar Steak). Most items fall between $4 and $10, plus there's a whole section of desserts that I didn't get to try like Homemade Doughnuts and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. I'm excited to go here for real, especially in the middle of the winter, when the coziness of The Vanderbilt will totally come in handy!