A Year In Food

From New York to Costa Rica to Europe to California: 365 Days of Dining Out

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Apr. 20.


Rose Water - 787 Union St., Park Slope, Brooklyn
Meze Plate with Three Dips (Red Pepper, Garlic Hummus, Hummus); Cool Asparagus and Sorrel Soup Topped wiht Yogurt, Beets and Pickled Ramps; Kevin's Farm Grilled Chicken With Mustard Greens, Falafel, and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Sauce; Rhubarb Crips; Jasmine Lime Iced Tea

From a minute, reading over the menu, I thought Dine In Brooklyn might have become Dine In Berkeley. Seasonal ingredients, organic meats, a clientele almost exclusively decked out in glasses, conversations about politics and literature in the air. But no, I realized, I was just in Park Slope, that college town of a neighborhood, about to have my third and last meal in this year’s nine-day $19.55 prix-fixe extravaganza.

Whereas Blue Ribbon was a failure (see Apr. 11) and Bistro St. Mark’s (see Apr. 15) a solid meal, Rose Water was a standout. A small but welcoming Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, it has everything you want in a neighborhood spot. Its interior, with its simple paintings and shelves lined with cookbooks, could be an arty friend’s living room. The service, while a little slow, is friendly and unpretentious. The menu includes a nice mixture of comfort and creativity, introducing exotic ingredients into familiar settings.

Rose Water also impressed me with its generous offerings for Dine In Brooklyn, providing three choices for each course. Even better, each dish was also on the regular menu rather than a last-ditch switch. The only problem this presented was deciding between so many promising possibilities. I think any combination would’ve been successful, but ultimately, I was quite happy with my results.

To start, Vince and I got the meze plate from the regular menu, a nice opener that featured olives, mozzarella, and pitas with three dips. It really encapsulated the pan-Mediterranean influences at play, seemingingly drawing from Greek and Italian as well as Arabic dining. Of the dips— red pepper, garlic hummus and hummus – I enjoyed the garlic hummus the most. The mozzarella marinated in herbs and olive oil was another highlight.

From there, I went with the asparagus and sorrel soup, a cold appetizer that was smooth and delicious. But more surprisingly, unlike the heavy creams and oily broths that are staples at most eateries, this olive-colored vegetarian creation actually felt healthy, a painless way of conquering the food pyramid. The soup was good enough alone that the yogurt, beets and ramps on top weren’t necessary, but they were appreciated additions, on hand to provide an even greater variety of flavors.

Next, I painstakingly forwent the vegetarian risotto to try some of Rose Water’s meat. Usually reluctant to get chicken at restaurants because there are always more interesting animals to taste, I had no regrets this time. The chicken was moist, well-seasoned and altogether wonderfully grilled. It was, unlike many a chicken cutlet of my childhood, a pleasure rather than a chore to eat. The pumpkin seed sauce, which flanked the meat, was a terrific touch, adding an earthiness to the mix. Even better was the falafel, a novel side dish that had a very fresh and homemade filling of chickpeas.

To conclude, I had the rhubarb crisp for dessert, another winner. With its crumbly cobbler-esque top and a sweet rhubarb interior, it was a simple but pleasant cap to the meal. Like everything else I tried, it tasted fresh, well-prepared and casual, relying more on great recipes and ingredients than theatrics or gimmicks.

Thus, Rose Water proved to be a wonderful closer for Dine In Brooklyn. Vince and I got a great bargain and some great food, and were already talking about the possibility of coming back for a regular dinner sometime. While it may not be California, a great food scene is growing in Park Slope, and Rose Water is among the best of the crop. 8/10


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. Rose Water was my first dinner as a Park Slope resident. That was well over a year ago now; they have never disappointed. Their easy manner adds so much to food that needs little help. Stone Park keeps good company with Rose Water and fortunatley there's plenty of room for them both!

6:33 PM  

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