Monday, January 23, 2012


Against every shred of my better judgment, I was convinced to partake in a dinner at Buttermilk Channel... not because of what I am supposed to be doing by following chefs.  No, because, as my friend had sleuthed.... Beyonce and Jay-Z had dined there not long before she gave birth.  Personally, I couldn't've cared less.  In fact, it made we want to go there even less, but sometimes there is the curiosity of the hype.  I played into it, and all I can say is: more for Beyonce.

Okay, the fried chicken was great.  And 92% of the people there seemed to be ordering it.  It wasn't as good as Brian Bistrong's at the old, now-closed Braeburn, but it was pretty delicious.  And a maple-pecan sundae was as good as any old fashioned soda counter could've doled out.  But everything else was pretty lackluster, and sometimes even a little disjointed.

A tender, aromatic popover welcomed us, and its light eggy crustiness is definitely worth the indulgence.  Oysters were fresh, the barbecued much more interesting than the raw with mignonette, but both good.   In a salad of grilled kale & endive, only the kale was lucky enough to hit the grill; the endive remained raw and slivered, tossed in a slightly overabundant, caesary dressing, and paired with THE hardest, soft-boiled eggs I've ever seen- the yolk stayed put and didn't lend anything to the salty dressing and floppy bacon, so they all remained disparate parts of the whole.  Caputo's housemade mozzarella was a heck of lot more greasy crouton than cheese, and its warm anchovy sauce provided alarmingly big chunks of anchovy that weren't quite well enough integrated into the dressing.

Then our hulking order of buttermilk fried chicken arrived (along with everyone else's... literally, there wasn't a table without at least one order).  Comes with some slaw- a decent dressed cabbage, but the cheddar waffle, great in theory, was not exceptionally cheddary, although it  was noticeably tough.  The little silver pitcher of syrup - a delicious concoction of maple and balsamic-  easily redeemed some of its flaws. My entree, a parsley crusted filet of hake was a perfectly cooked piece of fish, but those crusts cry 1990's and the broth was sweet and acidic, spiked with little bits of bitter green olive and tinny chili that tasted much like those little plastic packets in take-out Vietnamese.  The butter beans beneath were undercooked and tasteless.   I was happy with the menu description of the brussels sprouts with mustard: a refreshing deviation from the standard pork-centric treatment, but these didn't have much of a mustard kick, although they were properly cooked.    Roasted mushrooms were just that, not too soggy or dry, but nothing more than a nice little tumble of mixed fungus.

Dessert earned a measure of redemption though, and a joyous element of nostalgia.  Sitting at the bar like we did, we were presented with a huge glass coupe of Doug's pecan pie sundae.  Hunks of caramelized pecan and chewy pie crust bits commiserated in really excellent vanilla ice cream, served with long spoons and a cloud of creamy whipped.  You feel like a kid at the soda fountain, in the best possible way.  Along those lines, the rootbeer float and chocolate bread pudding looked just as delicious.   But don't let your inner child keep you  from a postprandial coffee: theirs is Gimme!, brewed strong and smooth.

I guess there's a reason this place is called Buttermilk Channel: aside from the dairy trade route between Brooklyn and Governor's Island, it seems like all the traffic this spot enjoys is by the grace of the buttermilk fried chicken.  So if that's what you're appetite is craving, you could definitely do worse, and in terms of sundaes, it'd be hard to do much better.

524 Court Street

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