The Brooklyn Star Restaurant: Terrific New Takes on Classic American Comfort Food
File under: excellent neighborhood spot that, for non-locals, is totally worth the trip. The Brooklyn Star Restaurant in Williamsburg, showcasing Chef Joaquin Baca's artfully updated, seasonally-driven takes on classic American comfort food, was really hitting its stride when a late night fire pretty much destroyed everything, back in February of 2010. It would take more than a year and a move to a lovely new corner location a few blocks away, but about a month ago Chef Baca's Brooklyn Star restaurant was back and, as far as we're concerned, better than ever. We've been twice now to the Brooklyn Star 2.0, once during opening week when it was great, and once last weekend when it was, to quote our teenage companion, "perfect".
There's really nothing on the Brooklyn Star menu–divided into dishes "small" and "big", and all designed to share–that doesn't appeal, but don't let a meal there slip by without an order or two of Chef Baca's fabulous Cornbread, which arrives in a piping hot skillet, studded with (optional, but say yes) bacon and jalapeno, nicely browned on top, fluffy and sweet in the middle, burnt to a chewy, carmalized crisp on the bottom. Slather on the butter, drizzle on the honey, and say hello to heaven. Also heavenly: the Grilled Veal Sweetbreads, fat and buttery soft, paired with bitter greens, tart apples, earthy oyster mushrooms, and crispy sticks of sweet potato. An early contender for dish of the year.
And the winners on the Brooklyn Star restaurant menu just keeps coming. The Fried Brussels Sprouts, caramelized with ham and apple, doused in a vinegary chow chow sauce, hits all of our sweet spots. The Roasted Cauliflower Salad is a first-rate example of the increasing ubiquitous dish, as is the creamy, chewy, skillet-served Mac and Cheese, greasy with bacon on the bottom and elevated to the exceptional when you pour on that reddish hot sauce on the table.
The Half-Roasted Chicken–from the "Big" section on the Brooklyn Star menu, was maybe a bit dry in the breast when we ate it last month, but the accompanying ham, chewy rice and kale make this a wholly desireable dish nonetheless. And is there a better, more satisfying dish in town right now for nine bucks than the Brooklyn Star Hot Meatloaf Sandwich, the meat rich and juicy with the exact right bite, piled high with a spicy slaw-ish creation, between thick slices of sweet pullman bread, AND served with housemade, ridiculously addictive potato chips? The answer is: no, there is not.
There are lots more dishes we're anxious to try on the Brooklyn Star menu, from the Bacon-wrapped Trout to the Fried Pig Tails to the Braised Pork Shank for two to the Tripe Stew with fritos, so we're heading back, and soon. Plus, the room is warm and comfortable, if a bit loud when it gets crowded, which it does by 7:00; the staff good-looking, welcoming, and totally professional; the Brooklyn Star story, once despairing, now with a happy ending.
The Brooklyn Star Details
The Brooklyn Star restaurant is located in Williamsburg, on the corner of Lorimer and Conseylea Streets, about two blocks from the L and G Lorimer/Metropolitan station, respectively. The Brooklyn Star is currently open every day for dinner from 5:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., with weekend brunch returning "soon". For more information and a look at the complete menu, please see the Brooklyn Star website.