Do or Dine
Justin Warner and George McNeese, the restaurateurs behind Do or Dine, met at the Modern where they both worked the front of the house. They decided to go out on their own. They opened Do or Dine a little over six months ago. We went for dinner there this past weekend.
There are a bunch of new restaurants popping up all over Brooklyn. I am going to compare Do or Dine to a young novelist or an emerging artist. When I read a first novel and you can see how brilliant the writer is or I see a show of a young artist and notice the seeds of serious talent those are the careers that I want to follow. There is something scrappy, clever and inspirational about young talent and that is exactly what is happening at Do or Dine.
The restaurant was literally put together with their own hands. Salvaging wood from rooftops to create the benches around the room, a disco ball hanging in the middle of the ceiling, vintage plates hanging from the ceiling with light fixtures running through them and a separate box of a bar that sets the funky eclectic tone of the restaurant in the back corner.
Some of the food is really good and some of it is not but the menu has humor to it as every dish has a clever name. Even the wine list, which is only by the glass, has an ode to the Modern where they both started out at $500 for that particular glass. Ok..lets get down to the food.
We split a bunch of different appetizers. First thing out is called mental masturbation, their take on a Caesar salad. Grilled smoky pieces of romaine lettuce with shaved Parmesan on top and a few deep fried oysters with a thick sauce on the side. You make your own chopped salad as the sauce is super thick but slowly melts on top of the warmed lettuce. The oysters were perfect. Big, light and crispy.
This dish is called Heart Attack! A large jalapeno pepper stuffed with chevre, salmon and beets then deep fried. Spicy. The mixture of cheese inside oozed out when you cut the pepper. Like the oyster, the pepper was perfectly fried. My only issue with this dish was that the pepper was too hard. When you make these with small peppers the peppers soften up. It was like everything else got cooked but the pepper.
Pork and wasabi shumai. Nicely done. The taste of the dumpling wrappings was a little too strong. Maybe they could have been steamed longer before they were fried and they were finished off with the yogurt.
On the menu the lamb breast is described at fatty, cumin, lime. All are true. I am a sucker for these. Slow cooked lamb ribs that are popping up on menus these days. Not easy to get from the butcher but I assume that will change. These were amazing. The meat literally fell apart and was full of flavor. Seriously fatty but the skin was crackling. A winner.
Growing up we used to go to Mrs. K's Toll house and have peanut soup so to see pumpkin peanut soup on the menu sparked my interest. Butterscotch/bacon compost is placed in the bottom of the bowl and then the soup is slowly poured over the top. Way too dense and too many flavors going on.
The pork renderlion (that is what they call it) is a deconstructed plate of pork, duck fat, wasabi-apple gratin and choucroute. The pork was really well done. Didn't get a chance to taste anything but the pork but that was quite good.
There are only 24 seats and they don't take reservations. It is worth the journey to see the next generation of restauranteurs start to make their mark on the New York landscape of food. These guys are driven, they know what they are in for choosing their love of food and service as their careers. I am going to be watching.