The smell of smoke fills the air as you walk down Kent, pouring out the vents of the wood-burning ovens at Cow & Clover (291 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-782-8810). You’ll spy the source on the corner of Kent and South 2nd Street; the imposing modern structure is the latest locally focused eatery to sprout up in the area.
The expansive rustic-industrial interior, flanked by subway tiles, filled with stainless steel chairs and natural wood tabletops, was nearly empty on a recent Monday night. (It does appear to be much busier on weekends.) That’s not to say anything about the food, however, which is simple yet well-prepared.
Chef Morgan Schofield, 30, a veteran of il Buco, North End Grill, and Blue Hill, has created a seasonally rotating menu that focusing on using products from local farms, such as Paffenroth Gardens, Maynard Farms, and Kernan Farms. Whole hogs are brought in weekly from Flying Pig Farms, and are butchered on the premises. Spirits and some sodas are infused in-house.
“He [Schofield] has about 15 pounds of waste from a 215-pound pig,” says partner Jason Lloyd. “It’s about using the entire animal to the best of our abilities.”
For dinner, the menu is broken down into five sections, including salads and small plates ($12 to $20), snacks (one for $8, three for $15, five for $22), entrees ($16 to $25), sides ($8), and desserts ($6 to $8). If you’re dining solo or in a pair, try the Rhode Island squid ($14). It’s served on a cast-iron skillet with thinly sliced fennel, parsley, and sherry almond sauce. The grass-fed bavette ($25) is similarly plated, the smoky and lightly gamey meat set atop crisp pimentón potatoes and braised greens with a house-made steak sauce.
But Lloyd and his co-owners (Mickey Lee, Felipe Avalos, and Randall Williams) strongly encourage large parties, because the specialty here is the large roast for the table. Depending on the day, large hunks of lamb, pork shoulder, or rib-eye come out of the 700-degree oven, then to be sold to tables by the pound. Each order comes with two side dishes, which range from collard greens and sweet corn to quinoa tabouli and wood-oven flatbread.
While Lloyd recognizes that farm-to-table verges on being an overused catchphrase, he and his partners settled on the concept because it is well-suited for the space. The former tenant, a pizzeria, left its massive ovens in the location, so once the Cow & Clover team landed the lease, the partners threw ideas back and forth about the best way to incorporate wood-fired cooking into the theme. They settled on simple preparations of local, sustainable cuisine. The whole idea snowballed from there.
“Felipe and I frequently travel to Vermont,” says Lloyd. “Wherever you go, you see cows in clover fields. It’s farm to table in terms of you are what you eat eats: cows eating clovers, pigs eating acorn and apples, foods eating what they’re naturally supposed to eat.”
Brunch expands on that platform. Classic items are slightly reinvented in straightforward preparations. Pancakes are exchanged for a wood-fired dutch baby with praline maple syrup ($14). Eggs Benedict swap out the ham for smoked duck on a black-pepper cheddar biscuit with herbed hollandaise ($14). And you can add bottomless mimosas for $15.
Cow & Clover opens daily at 5:30 p.m. Brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.