Best New American - 2009
10 Downing; Fort Defiance - CLOSED
RobtS: The designation "New American" is absurd because it's really a catch-all for all sorts of creative food that lacks one particular ethnic influence. SarahDG: Seconded. RobtS: Where the rubber meets the road is in places designated as bistros. While Joseph Leonard is clearly a French bistro, the status of Watty & Meg is uncertain. It flaunts its regional borrowings—shrimp and grits, for example—but the bedrock of the menu is clearly French, like red wine reductions in the sauces. SarahDG: That doesn't sound very American. RobtS: That's not the one I'm picking! I'd have to say the best New American is 10 Downing, where a brasserie ambience belies a creative menu not afraid to unite diverse influences, including Spanish, in a menu that could only be created in the States. SarahDG: And I love the room. I call a restaurant New American if it has exposed-brick walls, a paper menu with a pretty font—and I can't figure out what else to call it. RobtS: LOL. SarahDG: I kid, I kid! The best of the New American crop this year is Fort Defiance, a place that liberally cadges and reinterprets regional specialties. RobtS: I know it's in Red Hook, but is it actually in a fort? SarahDG: Don't be an ass! Where else can you find a stellar muffuletta and a delicious banh mi on the same menu? RobtS: Not sure I want to! SarahDG: Then there's the French-leaning, country-style pâté, and bluefish rillettes, with old-fashioned seltzer and its pudgy cousin, egg cream, to remind us that we're in Brooklyn. RobtS: Pudgy cousin? You sound like an Enzyte commercial.