Tavern on Dean in Prospect Heights was nothing to sneeze at: a decent neighborhood bar with sports on TV, beer on tap, and a surprisingly good brunch. It’s been replaced with Dean Street, which, from the outside, doesn’t look too different. But on the inside harbors an ex-Spotted Pig chef and a hipster waitstaff the likes of which are rarely seen this close to Atlantic Avenue.
Last Saturday night, the host promised an hour-and-a-half-long wait for a table — not unusual for the celeb-infested Manhattan gastropub from whence the chef hails, but thoroughly unheard-of in Prospect Heights. (To be fair, it only ended up being about 20 minutes.) The menu is very gastropub, although the chef, Nate Smith, has reportedly said he doesn’t want to call it that. In any case, he turns out several Anglo apps, like deviled eggs and gentleman’s relish on toast (topped with an egg). And he does a pretty mean burger: compact, dressed down, and full of flavor.
The patty is a flattened, dense puck of almost gamy flavor. Cooked rare, the meat is dark pink, not bloody. The brioche bun, fluffy and not too sweet, has a crisp, shiny dome. For fun, smoosh it down and watch in amazement as it puffs back to its original shape. That shape holds so well you can eat your burger with one hand and you won’t be left with a mess of meat and bread by the last bite. It comes with a choice of cheese and/or bacon, a single thin slice of red onion, and a pickle, as well as a heaping pile of thick-cut fries with mayo, not ketchup, à la anglaise. Add some vegetables to your meal with a side order of curried cauliflower or Brussels sprouts slicked in a tangy mustard sauce, both $6. At $12, the burger is well worth the price. But it might be hard to convince the locals to wait an hour to eat one.
755 Dean Street, Brooklyn
Have a restaurant tip or other food news? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.