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Beef short ribs with borscht Photo by Beth Furgurson
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Chef Caleb Shriver Photo by Beth Furgurson
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Honey Pot with lavender ice cream and honey brittle Photo by Beth Furgurson
Blending rustic locality and hints of molecular gastronomy may be de rigueur in today's world of high-end gastro pubs, and signature cocktail menus and adventurous offal concoctions may be all the rage, but what Dutch & Company chefs Caleb Shriver (formerly of Aziza's) and Philip Perrow (formerly of Acacia mid-town) have succeeded in creating goes way beyond fads and trends with a killer concept and the skills to execute it flawlessly.
Dutch & Company feels at once as if it's always been on the corner of 27th and Marshall streets and that it really should be in Park Slope or an even trendier part of Brooklyn. The place couldn't be more current, or paradoxically, more classic. From the reclaimed wood of the truly beautiful bar, to the potted herbs lining the windowsills, to the blending of antique touches with ergonomic modernity throughout the interior, every aspect of the physical space seems to echo the concept at play.
Is there a word for challenging oneself to utilize classic seasonal combinations in new and interesting ways that engage the diner cerebrally? Here each and every bite presents well-thought-out possibilities of flavor and texture, contrast and complement; each of the dishes expresses a range of palatial emotion and intensity worthy of your full attention.
At five o'clock on a Friday, the open window to the kitchen offers a glimpse into the attention to detail and clean simplicity of what you are about to experience. There's nothing unintentional or hurried about any of this: every station gleaming steel and the whitest towels, orderly rows of perfectly rolled gnocchi on flour-dusted parchment ready to go, jars of colorful confit. And not a smile anywhere to be found. This is serious business. You can feel it in the spice-charged air as the sauté pan gets screaming hot, ready to sear. Fine-dining service at a casual bistro price point is the result — if we were in Park Slope, there'd be more digits in the prices.
The tightly focused menu reads like a list of the season's best offerings. Specials listed on the chalkboard consist of small plates, each $5. These are indeed small in portion, but like everything else here, they're deep in flavor. Cured venison loin with celery root and blueberry-beet sauce and abalone mushroom carpaccio with persimmon and walnuts both called to mind the intentionality and clean preparation and execution of the best sushi chefs. The "Perfect Egg" was soft-boiled and rye-crusted, paired with cured salmon, cumin yogurt and sprouted quinoa, and it evoked Scotch eggs in flavor without the heaviness.
Entrées are substantial by any measure, and hovering around the $20 mark, a real value for this quality of execution. Beef short ribs with borscht; hanger steak with bone-marrow twice-baked potato; and pork shoulder with sweet chili paste, orange confit, charred fennel and yam purée were beautifully presented and hearty enough to offer a possibility of leftovers. *
Desserts offer a choice between further adventure and comfort. The stroopwafel blends caramel and cinnamon in a neat little waffle paired with vanilla ice cream. The Honey Pot is a mix of simplicity and invention, consisting of warm milk and honey-softened madeleines complemented by lavender ice cream, candied nuts and preserved citrus in a cute ceramic pot. The chocolate offering was a geometric configuration of unsweetened mousse and chewy nougat drizzled with salted caramel sauce, more interesting than delicious, but beautiful in its understated complexity.
The three-course prix fixe ($28 per person, and the whole table must participate) is the best way to experience what Dutch & Company has to offer. Unfortunately, these offerings will be replaced as the season turns. Wait… if this is what Shriver, Perrow and company can do with winter, imagine what awaits this spring? I'm personally looking forward to an entirely new menu every four months for years to come.
Dutch & Company
400 N. 27th St., 643-8824 or dutchandcompany.com
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Prices: Small plates $5 to $9; Entrées $18 to $22; prix fixe menu $28 per person.
*CORRECTION : Originally and in the print edition of May's Richmond magazine, the review stated that monkfish was on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list. It was upgraded to "good alternative" in their report published in October, 2012.