Go ahead and drink the Kool-Aid.
No, really. Cold and electric-red, it brims in a mason jar for a nifty $1 at the Brooklyn Star, a new Williamsburg restaurant. Match it with some fried sweetbreads and ramp mayonnaise, and you’ve got yourself a surprisingly fine flavor pairing—just ignore the stained pink teeth and sugar headache that follow the syrupy gulps.
The more you chug, the likelier you’ll fall for this Southern-inspired spot that’s imbued with a cheffy sensibility. Not everything works, but how can you not love a restaurant whose menu boldly proclaims, “All animals are killed humanely with five point exploding heart punch. All vegetables are yanked from the earth with extreme prejudice. Fritos sourced from Plano, Texas”? Yes, hipsters might be filled with irony, but also occasionally a sense of humor.
Technically, the Brooklyn Star first opened back in 2009, but it fell victim to a fire and was shuttered for nearly all of 2010. It rose from the ashes in early March, in a much nicer and larger location, with a somewhat updated bill of fare. Now, a clubby darkness envelops the front area, though that doesn’t stop people from gathering, both at the L-shaped bar and at higher tables flanked by stools. Settle in to tipple spicy margaritas ($8) or an interesting Dr. Pepper cocktail ($8), which smacks more of grapefruit than the uniquely flavored soda.
A wall of windows overlooking residential Brooklyn floods the main dining room with light, though austerity marks the otherwise boisterous interior. Besides the simple wooden tables and slate-colored booths, little distinguishes the room. No matter—the food is your talking point.
Start with half a dozen oysters ($18). Barbecue mignonette tops the slurpers, and these cool ocean gems arrive craftily presented on a bed of crushed ice in a plastic beer tray. Or inhale a bowl of Brussels sprouts ($9), cooked to a crisp and likely voided of most nutritional content before being tossed with chowchow (pickled vegetable relish). Dr. Pepper, that Southern fave, coats a smoky half-rack of ribs ($18) that fall effortlessly off the bone, like a gossamer sheath from a rail-thin model. Tripe ($9) hides in a bowl of beans and ground meat, upgrading the standard chili offering. And don’t forget to order those sweetbreads ($14).
Among the larger plates, blackened skate ($18) arrives well-seasoned and juicy, sporting a tangle of crunchy onion rings. Chicken-fried steak ($15) is thinner than ideal, but the point is always the coating, not the flesh, right? This one comes ensconced in a whopper of a crust, sinking under the spell of cream gravy. Buttery mashed potatoes sit alongside, because what’s a bona fide Southern meal that doesn’t hit the 3,000-calorie mark? Hell, order some flaky buttermilk biscuits ($4), and you’ve got yourself the beige food trifecta of fattening delights!
Still, a few plates disappoint, such as the fried pig tails in need of saucy oomph ($11). Roasted marrow bones ($14), flanked by Texas toast and red-onion jam, could have used a salt lick, and the grits neighboring the bacon-wrapped trout ($21) resembled thick bathtub caulking. Bacon-kissed macaroni and cheese ($9), a sinful, crumb-topped delight one evening, was a pasty letdown the next.
Desserts are limited, but indulge in the chocolate bread pudding ($7). It arrives in a hot skillet, caramel sauce still bubbling, cream dripping over the bread’s nooks and crannies, offering yet another reason to wear pants with an elastic waistband to dinner here. Oh, wait, it’s Williamsburg—you’re already wearing them.