There is an undeniable attractiveness to everything about Meadowsweet, a recently opened restaurant on Williamsburg’s South side by husband and wife team, Polo Dobkin (chef) and Stephanie Lempert (head of bar/cocktail).
It’s a warm kind of attractiveness, the kind that you want to get near and wrap around you, something you feel the minute you set foot into the open, industrial-tinged space that’s been softened with wood tones, flickering candle-light, and the smiles of the welcoming and distinctly stylish, attractive staff. Though, to be sure, style is a rite of passage in this neighbourhood, but genuine warmth and friendly enthusiasm seem to be draining away, making the sincerity of Meadowsweet—despite its stylish perfection and lofty culinary ambitions—all the more refreshing.
So, let’s talk about those lofty culinary ambitions.
And, perhaps, to be literal, we reference first their lofted herb garden. Presiding cheerfully over the front of the space, accessed by a ladder just to the left of the bar, a vivid green clutch of aromatic plants serves as both inspiration and garnish for every single one of the impeccably balanced cocktails. We loved the summery brightness of lemon and Hudson Valley harvested red currants of the Mighty Quinn, but especially enjoyed the way the rosemary sprig gently brushed our noses at every sip, releasing a glorious burst of floral herbaciousness. It’s difficult to order poorly from such a thoughtful list, but personal special mention must go to the The One and Owney’s, incorporating locally produced (as in a handful of blocks away) Owney’s Rum, which brings a profound, almost smokey nuance to the drink, that is a delightful surprise (and could possibly be our new favourite rum).
Immediate distraction occurs when warm from the oven olive oil rolls arrive at the table, glistening gently and with just a hint of salty crackle when bitten into, the tender interior pulling apart like a wonderful, yeasty cloud. Though the house-made thyme butter is superfluous on such a rich baked item, we slathered the glorious butter stuff lavishly.
During our visit, a squid ink tagliatelle was the special appetizer and came dressed with heirloom tomato braised octopus — a light, but pungent and tangy compliment to the toothsome, expertly crafted pasta.
The menu items that descended onto our table came like the prefect parade of summer’s bounty: tender and bright scallop ceviche kissed with a fragrant olive oil; rich, earthy wild asparagus and mushrooms, glazed with truffles and topped with a buttery poached local egg; an elegant ricotta-filled crepe ‘cuscino’ in a parmesan broth, given summery sweetness with fresh green peas and pea shoots; and a mountain of crispy artichokes, that melted in the mouth with salty, zingy perfection.
The black sea bass entrée was a remarkable celebration of the summer and the ocean. The crispy skin in perfect balance to the succulent, impeccably cooked fish, and paired with artichokes, sweet miniature heirloom carrots, roasted fennel and labneh – a middle eastern yogurt that brought the dish together with its cooling tang, adding richness remarkably without adding creaminess.
It would be a shame to leave Meadowsweet without letting it sweeten your night.
During our visit a tres leches cake was the special to order, accompanied with blueberry sorbet, unsweetened whipped cream and topped with chilli-infused caramel corn. A desert that is known for its milky blandness, this tres leches was infused with so much flavour that we were scraping our plates and mourning its passing within mere minutes of its appearance.
Photographs by Jeff Owens for Socially Superlative
Brooklyn, NY, 11211