It was a day of food highs and lows yesterday. It’s not like I get out much, which is a good thing, because I can always tell you what I made for dinner, since I’m always making dinner, but not such a good thing because when I do go out, if it’s not so good, it’s about as bad as a bad blind date. Last night I went to Grocery in Carroll Gardens (Brooklyn). It is very simply decorated, all one color and nothing on the walls, but for me that’s just fine, because I’m there for the food. We ordered three starters, goat cheese ravioli with roasted beets, a spoonful of borcht and fried shallots, (a lot of beet, and the perfectly crisped shallots and the tang of the cheese were a nice contrast but no zing from a citrus or vinegar that the dish was desperate for. You know how you put on an outfit and you realize absolutely everthing you have on is all the same color and you feel like a one trick pony? That was this dish. With the right bracelet, the right amount of lemon juice, the whole thing could have been turned around). The next was a roasted artichoke with an egg that I think was supposed to be soft and runny, baked inside, but was hard and golf ball like, with a sauce that overwhelmed the artichoke without adding flavor. The artichoke itself had very little flavor, and no caramelization from the roasting. Braise your artichoke with love–add a little drop of your best olive oil, a little salt, a sprig of thyme and parsley and a garlic clove to the water. Then dry it off when it’s tender and roast with pinch of kosher salt and another drizzle of your olive oil.
The lobster tart featured butter and more butter and more butter and a little lobster that had been rebaked to sponginess. It’s hard to find a cook that can make a good crust, one that is light and ethereal enough to sit beneath seafood and not overwhelm it, and the lobster would have been better off with a simple toasted piece of the a good French or Italian bread beneath it as it’s pedestal.
The desserts were two times bigger than the savory plates, and big was the only thing they had going for them really. A chocolate fig cake that must have been made with dried mission figs, giving it a slightly burnt flavor with a few pieces of citrus fruit, an icy passion fruit sorbet, and an icy coconut ice cream. The other was an apple cobbler. The apples were like somebody from the past that was on the bus with you once and didn’t say anything to you, and had no memorable characteristics. The crust, made of pureed almonds would have been better smaller, with less sugar, and a little crunch from some slivered, roasted of the same on top.
You can never tell. You never know what you are going to like, what’s going to sing for you and make you happy to be alive, just from a biteful in your mouth, but it’s worth searching. Grocery came highly recommended, but it wasn’t for me. I’ll tell you who stole my heart though, tomorrow.

Leave a Reply