Brooklyn has been beckoning Manhattan-based journalists and foodies across the river for quite some time now. And while a few neighborhoods have really been feeling the love (ie. Williamsburg, for restaurants like Dressler, Marlow & Sons and Allswell, and Cobble Hill, for Battersby, Seersucker and Prime Meats), there are still plenty of under-the-radar areas left to explore. Case in point: Crown Heights, which is perhaps one of the most rapidly changing sections of Brooklyn. In the course of a few years, the neighborhood’s main stretch, Franklin Avenue, has welcomed a fancy ice cream and candy shop called Candy Rush, a romantic wood-fired pizza joint named Barboncino, an intimate bar with killer handcrafted cocktails (Crown Inn), and, perhaps the greatest indication that Crown Heights is fast becoming a contender in the local foodie scene, Mayfield, a hyper-seasonal, New American restaurant.
With its exposed brick walls, rustic wood furniture, subway tiles and plaid-clad waiters, the vibe is perfectly, utterly Brooklyn. Accordingly, the food is locally sourced, seasonal, and excellent. It should be, considering that chef/owner Lev Gewirtzman honed his chops at Park Slope’s well-respected Stone Park Cafe before venturing out on his own. At Mayfield, his interpretation of New American cuisine revolves mainly around gussied-up comfort food classics, epitomized by his Buttermilk Fried Quail with Spoon Bread and Collards and a Berkshire Maple Bacon BLT.
Not that the man is hiding behind meat; veggies really take a starring role in a selection of meal-worthy salads. Be sure to try the Shredded Kale, tossed with Ricotta Salata, Honey Crisp apples and pine nuts, and the Shaved Butternut Squash Salad, unexpectedly topped with a sweet/astringent combo of pomegranate seeds, watercress, pickled onions, and yogurt. Gewirtzman even finds a way to elevate the tired beet salad, tossing his heirloom, ruby-red roots with hazelnuts, fennel, and shavings of Queso de Varo, a firm Spanish goat cheese. Familiar desserts get an unexpected twist too; a Chocolate Pot de Crème is spiked with chiles, and a silky Panna Cotta is flavored with lime. Our favorite sweet, however, happens to be resolutely American, an ethereally moist Apple Upside-Down Cake, drizzled with caramel and served with vanilla ice cream.
Mayfield has already been attracting some serious crowds since opening in October, and is getting busier by the week. You’ll particularly notice a lot of young couples in the dining room, as the hours (it’s currently open for dinner only, though brunch is in the near future) intimate atmosphere and affordable menu are ideal for date night. It just goes to show that, while the modern-American, locally sourced theme of Mayfield may not be entirely new to Brooklyn, it’s definitely fresh and welcome in Crown Heights. So visit the neighborhood soon for some stellar farm-to-table food in an unexpected location, because at this rate, the Crown Heights of today could be history in just a few years.