19 Jul 2011
Williamsburg in Brooklyn has a number of great places to eat Southern/soul food. One of these joints, The Brooklyn Star had come recommended by my friend Robyn (also known as The Girl Who Ate Everything) and was right on the street where we were staying. Opened by Joaquin Baca, (a protégé of Momofuku’s David Chang) I was more than happy to have yet another encounter with some good rib sticking soul food so we decided to pay a visit one evening.
The ribs looked great though weren’t as flavoursome or tender as I would have liked. Still, the sucker I am for ribs in general, I still enjoyed them.
Cornbread was another soul food first for me! At The Brooklyn Star it came hot and fresh from the oven. I loved it. So light, so fluffy, so morish!
On a similar note the buttermilk biscuits were also great in that comforting, fresh baked, fluffy kinda way.
The decor was simple with booths and wooden family kitchen style tables (which we were told we might need to share if they got busy). I particularly adored the jam jar water glasses and vase, and the bear shaped squeezy honey bottle. Robyn explained that honey could be used as a condiment on pretty much everything – advice which I took literally as I doused my entire plate with it.
A little nod to health (just a little one) came in the form of kale and cheddar, of which the latter appeared to have been baked in some way to render it crispy. And also a bowl of sprouts which had been nicely pan fried and served with ham, apple and some tangy, spicy chow chow.
Then back on board the fatty train as we tucked into a skillet of mac and cheese so creamy, soft and squidgy in the middle and crispy on the outer edges that it would easily rival Spuntino’s without breaking a sweat.
And then onto another new one for me, fried sweetbreads with hominy and ramp mayonnaise, consisting of three elements to which I was a complete noob. I can’t believe I’ve never tried sweetbreads before. “Tasty globules of joy” might have been Robyn’s description of them if I recall correctly. And so they were, like tender meat puffs in a crispy crumb coating.
The hominy was a strange one, almost like a form of soft, puffy corn. Not bad but I’m sure I much prefer the sweeter, juicier, un-nixtamalised version of corn kernals! And ramp is a native North American variety of onion. Not really sure what I was looking for at the time, I failed to detect it in the mayo.
And lastly came the country fried steak (also known as chicken fried steak). What a crazy dish this was! A tenderised slab of steak coated in the same coating you would use for fried chicken (think KFC), and then pan fried. If this wasn’t enough, the whole thing is then drowned in more of that delicious, fatty, white gravy I’d so come to admire upon my visit to Egg, then served with mashed potatoes and slaw. Wowee… a meal and a half if ever I saw one!
And finally onto the dessert! Oh how I adored this. A Granny Smith apple crumble with whipped cream and cheddar cheese! Some may find it strange but to me it was a little tribute to my teenage years when I became obsessed with making apple turnovers with cheddar cheese. The sweetness and tartness of the apples and crumble, the touch of cinnamon, the creamy whipped cream, all enhanced by the melty, joyous, savouriness of the cheese. Swoon.
We had a great time at The Brooklyn Star and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. It really hit home that London is missing out when it comes to soul food. This city needs that kind of comfort. With the typical London weather being what it is, you know it’s true! If only The Brooklyn Star were more accessible to me, I’d totally go back. Oh how I’d go back! In my near future though, I may find myself baking an apple crumble… with cheddar cheese of course!
The Brooklyn Star
593 Lorimer St
Brooklyn, NY 11211