787 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 783-3800

I’ve been trying to spend more time eating in Brooklyn lately (note the emphasis on trying); after all it’s our most populous borough, and has some truly great restaurants. But it’s a long subway ride and driving means going through the neighborhoods that sit on the border of Brooklyn and Queens, which happen to have some of the most God-awful roads in all Creation. So I take opportunities when they come along.

After spending Saturday in the Rockaways (which has been declared by the federal government to be a restaurant-free zone), I was headed north on Flatbush Avenue with Bro and Shrink. We decided to get dinner in Brooklyn. I wanted a meal worth writing about; Shrink wanted a meal that wasn’t trendy; Bro had a cold and couldn’t taste anything, and just wanted food. Serves food? Not trendy? A restaurant that might increase my blog’s pitiful traffic? It had to be Rose Water (or Applewood, but I didn’t know where that was).

Rose Water sits in Park Slope, known for it's brownstones, baby carriages, numerous bars and restaurants, gads of community spirit, and a healthy dose of anti-corporateism. The closest thing to a chain store there I can think of is the homespun Brooklyn Industries and a Barnes & Noble.

The last time I ate at Rose Water, I wasn’t terribly impressed. I thought that the staff was awesome; friendly, happy, smiling, attentive. The food, though, bordered on tasteless. I had gone with M many moons ago. We both ordered fish and I told myself that all the hype and friends’ raves were a lot of hot air. Hot, pricey air. Since then, I always wanted to return to see if I went on an off day. But months went by and the chance never came.

We circled the block a couple of times before finding a spot and then walked on over, winding through the forest of brownstones. Considering Rose Water’s small size and large popularity, I was shocked that on a Saturday night and with no reservation (at 7:30pm), we were able to get a table right away (and not the last one, either). But by the time we left, it had filled up. So the lesson for today is to show up before 8.

Shrink was instantly pleased seeing that the menu wasn’t grossly overpriced and the customer base wasn’t twenty-something hipsters who’d make her feel out of place. She'd love Park Slope. Jazz music playing in the background, light woods, a birch tree in the corner, and plenty of tea lights and flowers made for a very chill, bohemian aura that would relax any normal person. Of course, you might recall that I was also with Bro... So the relaxed part of the equation went right out the window.

The menu, presented on wood pallets, is small but cute. There were no specials the day I went. The wine list was decent, but Rose Water had a very small selection of wines available by the glass. I will give them a healthy dose of kudos, however, for their choice of hard cider, Doc's, which comes from the apple orchards of the Warwick Valley Winery about an hour upstate. Very, very good cider.

For an appetizer, Bro ordered the Blistered Shishito Peppers, which were roasted and served with a goat cheese sauce for dipping. These were excellent and I wish I ordered them instead of my choice, the excruciatingly bland Asparagus Soup. The soup was a creamy asparagus puree with mozzarella, ginger, and shrimp. But it was thin and flavorless unless you bit into a chunk of ginger. If you’re an asparagus person, this soup will bore you.

My entrée, the Duck Leg Confit, was the exact opposite. It was delicious. Spectacular. Magnificent. Spectificent. I was on the verge of gnawing on the bone. The dish was served with a small duck and radish salad and over-easy duck egg yolk bleeding over a thick piece of lightly-toasted bread. Man, I’m drooling just writing this. Bro’s Sauteed Tile Fish (which, remember, he couldn’t actually taste because he was sick), was delicious and came topped with a little dollop of spicy somethingorother that I liked but Shrink didn’t. As a side, it came with potatoes, sea beans, and snow peas. Shrink and I ate from the opposite side of sick Bro's fillet. Shrink’s choice, the Grilled Striped Bass, which Bro refused to order unless he could embarrass the table by pronouncing it “base” (this from a guy who’s supposed to be 24 with a master's degree), was pretty good. It was moist and tender and served over a bed of chard in a pool of almond milk, but was the least flavorful of the three entrees.

When the time came for dessert, I was the only one who opted for a non-liquid. Shrink and I got coffees and Bro picked the Japanese Sencha Tea, hoping it would soothe his throat. I chose the Strawberry Shortcake which was very good, albeit very small and really not filling in the way I think a dessert should be. Pet peeve. It was delivered with three sets of utensils. I always find that annoying. I think it's pretty obvious that we’re family. What kind of people can all use the same bathroom but can’t bear to share a fork?

While the food this go-around was a vast improvement over last year’s, the service was noticeably different. I can’t really put my finger on what it was, but there was a change. It’s not like anyone wasn’t there taking orders, filling water glasses, and delivering the food before it got cold, but gone were the smiles and eager bounciness that I most remembered from my previous visit. Alas.

Two appetizers, three entrees, three drinks, three coffees/teas, one dessert: $133.10 plus tip.

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