Pete Wells, the food critic of the New York Times, put out his top 10 restaurants of 2016. What is worth noting is that Olmstead was number 9 and Lilia was number 2. Both of them are in Brooklyn. A lot has changed in Brooklyn over the past decade and change has accelerated over the past 5 years across many neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The local scene is solid but so is the destination locations which has made the city as a whole a much bigger playground to eat in.
I love Lilia, There is something about the whole experience there from the second you walk in that door that puts a smile on your face. The vibe is great, the decor is fresh and the food is delish. A pretty powerful combo. Just wish it was down the street from me.
We had dinner at Olmstead this past week. This restaurant has a bend towards the “tweezer” food which is all about the combo of flavors and is usually a tasting menu. Perhaps it is being in Brooklyn, perhaps it is just the genius of the chef, but Olmstead feels more casual even though the menu is imaginative. It is a step in the right direction of a “fancy” concept that I never was a big fan of.
The backyard in Olmstead is a special place. In the winter (when we were there) there are heat lamps over head for people to sit outside and order drinks, appetizers or desserts. I felt a hot toddy was appropriate for the low temps.
There was four of us so we almost tried everything. We began with the oysters and their house-made Aji Dulce sauce. Perfect way to start the meal.
Gobi Pakora Cauliflower came out next. I loved this. The combination of spices and crispiness of the cauliflower was so good. The four wooden prongs to pick up the cauliflower to eat was very clever. It was like eating street food with toothpicks.
The meat of the night was ham. The dish is called Morgan’s ham so they must change it up on the meat. The ham with the pickled onions, mustard and crostini was very festive.
One of us does not eat fish so they make the Kale Crab Rangoons for us without crab. Great presentation. Crispy dumplings loaded with taste that really worked with their intense sweet and sour sauce for dipping.
Again a great presentation. They take off the top and then pour in the soup. Squash soup with shitake, breakfast sausage and sage. Really rich and flavorful.
Carrot crepe has become the signature. Granted we opted out of the clams on this but it did not rock my socks. One thin layer of carrot crepe and tiny pieces of carrots on the side.
Charred Onion Chawnmushi with smoked Bottarga and Maitake. This was like a savory flan with little bits in it. Quite interesting and tasty.
Dave’s trout was really good. Creamed Brussel Sprouts and roasted onions mashed together and then brushed over the trout. Each bite had a combo of everything. The trout was perfectly cooked, and sliced into like butter.
Lamb Porchetta with figs, coffee and fennel. This was a deconstructed lamb porchetta with a very rich sauce.
Roasted guinea hen with a confit of poached quince and caramelized sunchokes.
Rutabaga “tagliatelle” with a burgundy black truffle sauce with brown butter is amazing. So clever using rutabaga’s as the pasta with a simple sauce. Wow. I could have eaten this bowl all by myself.
The star here is the frozen yogurt with whipped cream infused with lavender. It is simple but oh so good.
The chocolate mousse with whipped cream is pretty damn good too.
My fave is the s’mores. Am always a fan. We bundled up, went in to the garden, toasted our house-made marshmallows and mashed them in between their house-made ginger graham crackers with a good old fashioned Hershey bar.
I can hardly wait to return when it gets warm. I just love that garden.