593 Lorimer St., Brooklyn
Charla: The Brooklyn Star was a really easy walk from the G train at Metropolitan Avenue. I must admit that I am biased towards locations that involve only taking one train that will drop you two blocks from your destination. Maximizing minimal effort, I say! The physical space was candle-lit and cozy (dark enough to need a camera flash), with a stainless steel and wood design motif. Flowers on tables and drinks from the bar came in mason jars. Music played at a comfortable volume, and for once I felt like I had some elbow room in a NYC restaurant. The menu advertised that “all animals [served at The Brooklyn Star are] killed humanely with a five point exploding heart punch. All vegetables are yanked from the earth with extreme prejudice. Fritos sourced from Plano, Texas.” Finally, someone else has found the humor Cara and I have found in the “Southern as ‘other’” trend being coupled with the focus on hormone free meat. On that note, I want to be clear that we love clean meat, especially if it’s locally sourced, and even more so if the restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Cara: I loved The Brooklyn Star. Perhaps it was the long day I had just worked, or the fact that I was excited to see my friends (or the cute waiters that were oh so attentive throughout the evening). Whatever it was, The Brooklyn Star has the honor of my first TCB rating. The reason you come here is for the MEATLOAF SANDWICH and COUNTRY FRIED STEAK and the BISCUITS, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I loved the look of the menu and the dining room is spacious. We met our buddy, Jake, from Greensboro, and his girlfriend, Lauren. Lauren is from L.A., but likes eating food; she grew up with a grandma from Northern Florida, who fed her well. These two were fun to hang out with; they also appreciate the finer things in life (and I mean food).
Beverages Sweet Tea Sour ($8), Spicy Margarita ($8), Old Fashioned (ooo, forgot to write it down)
Cara: My spicy margarita was worth the reasonable $8, but I’ve had better versions of this on-trend cocktail. Jake and Lauren had the house Old Fashioned that was nice, with a distinct smoky flavoring.
Charla: I had a Sweet Tea Sour after I decided to opt out of the Iced Tea option on the menu. There is no non-alcoholic sweet tea at The Brooklyn Star. There is no alcoholic sweet tea at The Brooklyn Star either, but something posing as such in this cocktail. Anyway, the drink was not as frothy as I expected (and wanted), and was more tart than anticipated. I enjoyed it, however, thought it was a good choice, and appreciated the creativity. If you don’t like sweet tea, don’t worry. It was probably the least present in taste.
Grilled Asparagus: w/ poached egg, duck confit, fried oysters, chow chow – $12
Fried Pig Tails with Tater Tots – $12
Tripe Chile: w/ radish, cilantro, lime, Fritos (in a bag), sour cream on side – $9
Biscuits: 3 for $4
Charla: The Brooklyn Star was a culinary adventure for us. We had a great time selecting our dishes and taste testing, and that is owed to the chefs’ creative dishes, as well as to our ignorance in some cases. As someone raised in rural NC, eating things like pig tails and tripe was something I knew happened to some people, somewhere. Not to me. WHO KNEW I’D HAVE TO COME TO THE BIG APPLE TO EAT A PIG TAIL?! I envisioned a bowl of curly tails being plopped down in front of me. I continued to see Wilbur’s hind side even as I bit into the spare-rib shaped pig tail. The tater tots were great and homemade. The asparagus dish mixed some great flavors, and I was relieved to see a Southern restaurant serve chow chow. To be honest, you don’t even get that a whole lot in restaurants in the South, but chow chow was always present at my grandmother’s home. The Brooklyn Star’s didn’t use green tomatoes, but I’ll let that pass.
Cara: After a quick glance at the menu, I was immediately excited to order. Frito pie with tripe chili! Pig tails! As Lauren pointed out, was this fear factor? After convincing Charla that it was gonna be okay, we got those two dishes and the grilled asparagus. The asparagus dish was wonderful- a perfectly cooked egg with a non-traditional chow chow (this one was mostly carrots and celery) complimented the sum of the dish perfectly.
The waiter described the pig tails as a sort of pork short rib, and that was pretty accurate. They were a tad chewy, but good. I saved the Frito pie, complete with a lil’ bag o’ Fritos, for last. You can’t really go wrong with meat, sour cream, and Fritos. This smoky chili was no exception. What a weird dish for my first time eating tripe, right? I think they could have skipped the weird meat part, and it would have been just as good.
This is the part in my dining in y’all’s city where I concede to the Southern fusion game. This was good; I’m into it. In actuality, I don’t want to eat large amounts of butter and salt all the time, and making Southern food more interesting isn’t a bad thing in this case.
Country Fried Steak: w/ mashed potatoes, bacon, hot slaw – $15
Shrimp N’ Grits: w/ escarole, fried egg, bacon, pan gravy – $16
Meatloaf Sandwich: w/ chips – $10
Cara: Then my amazing MEATLOAF sandwich came out, and it was huge. This thing had a slab of simple recipe meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and a piece of something green all between two delicious, buttery, fluffy white pieces of Texas toast. Potato chips, with the perfect combination of salt and a lil’ vinegar, sided this sammy. I saved the house made pickle for last, and as soon as I took a bite, my face said it all. What a perfectly spicy pickle! We shortly learned that The Brooklyn Star cold pickles these in limited fridge space in the kitchen for 45 days. This sandwich is only ELEVEN dollars and was just as good the next day as leftovers. To really test The BK Star, we ordered a side of biscuits with dinner. Yes! They were great.
Charla: I got the country fried steak plate served with mashed potatoes, bacon, and hot slaw. Y’all. There was so much food on my plate. One of the first things out of my mouth was, “It’s real bad for you; you can taste it.” The dish came with two large cuts of meat, covered in a tasty white gravy. The meat was placed on top of the potatoes and slaw (the bacon was chopped up over the slaw). The “hot slaw” was cooked cabbage (just to be clear in case you mistake the description for a warm, mayo-based slaw, which I was expecting and curious about), and cooked to perfection. Everything was perfect. I don’t even feel like I need to go into detail. Imagine perfect. That was my meal. I even had enough to take home for lunch the next day, which warmed up nicely.
I also really need to mention how much I liked Cara’s chips that came with her meatloaf sandwich. They were one of the best things on the table. Jake and Lauren weren’t huge fans of the shrimp n’ grits. They desired a stiffer grit consistency. To each his own, ya know.
Cara: We would like to note that the chef (although we were told that he would prefer not to be named in such a hierarchical manner) is from Texas, and it shows in the cooking. The other owners are from Philadelphia and Dublin. The Brooklyn Star has a spacious dining room and would be great for a group larger than four. And they serve brunch!
Way to gos- chow chow, frito pie, bench seating, tater tots.
oh no nos- unsweet tea
Charla: The Brooklyn Star probably isn’t the best place for those with shallow pockets. However, if you’re looking for your money’s worth, you can find it here. My total meal (a cocktail, splitting 3 small dishes, and consuming one entrée) was about $35 before tip. I left quite full, and am declaring that Brooklyn Star has been one of my favorite places to eat so far. TCB, y’all.
I also really enjoyed this meal because Ceezy and I had a chance to talk with Jake and Lauren about geographic differences among Southern dishes, what Southern food means to different people and how it affects our blogging experience. It’s definitely a topic that we’ll have to write more on later. Cara and I are from VA and NC (respectively); she’s from the city (Richmond), and I’m from the country (you probably wouldn’t know it). However, the Southern food she grew up eating from her mom is probably real similar to what I grew up eating (considering her mom and I basically grew up within 30 miles of each other). We learned that the chef at Brooklyn Star is from Texas, which I think shines through in the smokiness of the BBQ sauce. But when I think about Texas as “Southern,” I think about it differently than NC as Southern, and even Texas’s neighbor, Louisiana, as Southern. A quote from John T. Edge’s book, Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Companion to the South (2000), is appropriate here:
“My South includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. In trying to define what constituted the South, I ignored matters of Confederate or Union affiliation during the War Between the States or mapping based upon where kudzu does and does not grow, and looked instead at whether a preponderance of the citizens of the state purported to be Southern.”
They take cards! Check out The Brooklyn Star at thebrooklynstar.com.