Gwynnett St.’s Chicken Liver
I’d return to Gwynnett St. for the whiskey bread alone. It may sound silly, but it’s that good. Served warm, this crusty, homemade loaf is as sweet as cornbread, soft on the inside, and dosed with plenty of whiskey. It’s also the simplest thing on the menu… by far. The food at this newish Williamsburg spot is entirely complicated, and yet utterly satisfying, a rare feat as far as restaurants go.
Take even the simplest appetizer of Chicken Liver Mousse, typically served with some sort of crostini and fruit preserves. Not here. Here, it’s deconstructed into bite-sized pieces and accompanied by chestnuts, slivers of apple, and mushrooms. The presentation and combination of flavors is unexpected and delightful. Even better was a Crab Salad of sorts. I say of sorts because it wasn’t quite a salad, but instead a mingling of greens, potatoes, roast spring onions, mint, and a zippy chili aioli that did wonders to revv things up and bring the ingredients together. And there’s another great appetizer of Puntarella, an Italian bitter herb, consorting with an amalgam of Mediterranean flavors, including olives, pistachio and blood orange.
Pork with Parsnips
But this ambitious menu belongs to no country at Gwynnett St. Instead, it finds inspiration all over the globe, like a vibrant, forest green Nettle Soup, laced with clams and kombu, suggestive of Japan. Oddly, one of the best dishes was an entree dubbed “Cashew.” (I know what you’re thinking, but don’t count it out!) The cashews are spun into a custardy tofu that’s seared and accented with Roast Cashews, Roast Cauliflower, Black Garlic, and a Turmeric Cauliflower Puree that would be a refreshingly sophisticated substitute for mashed potatoes. It’s the most artful tofu dish I’ve ever seen, which is what happens when the chef, Owen Clark, worked at wd-50 and Blue Hill. (Clark was just recently promoted from sous chef to executive chef after Justin Hilbert left.) The result of that unique pedigree is a rare combination of avant-garde greenmarket cuisine, which is the best way to describe the cooking at Gwynnett. St. A prime example of that is the Amish Chicken, smoked in hay, and served with rutabaga and shallots. The result is a curiously sweet, juicy bird nudged toward the exotic side of things by accents of pineapple and cloves. Same goes for the Pork, which comes two ways, a sliced loin and braised shoulder, interestingly paired with caraway, granola and the sweetest ribbons of parnsip I’ve ever had the pleasure to put in my mouth.
Gwynnett St.’s Crab With Mint & Chiles
Desserts are a bit more complicated, like the Coconut Panna Cotta with a crunchy drift of “Coconut Snow,” or Green Strawberries with a luscious Buttermilk Ice Cream and Angel Food Cake. You may be better off with a cocktail, like the wonderfully refreshing “Green Acres,” an herbaceous blend of gin, fennel, celery bitters, lime and green chartreuse, served up in a martini glass. You might think that food this cutting edge would have a dining room that follows suit, but it’s jut the opposite at Gwynnett St. In fact, with its exposed brick and nondescript wooden tables, it looks more like a neighborhood pub than a restaurant with a tasting menu. Which only makes it all the more exciting to discover. Did mention the whiskey bread? It’s been two weeks and I still can’t get it out of my head.