412 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(347) 987-3545

There are only so many restaurants named in the Top 25 Best New Restaurants In America 2014 list by GQ Magazine. Specifically, there are 25. Dover, in Carrol Gardens, is one of them and Dandelion and I showed up one sunny evening to try their "spontaneous tasting menu". As it turns out, a friend of mine knows the owner. As it turns out, she forgot to tell him that we were coming. So, as it turns out, we got treated like normal paying customers. And, as it turns out, you don't get to read yet another article written by some pretty face who gets white glove treatment.

A lot of people don't know this, but Carrol Gardens is NOT named after Carrol O'Connor, the famous television actor from All in the Family and In the Heat of the Night. BUT, like me, he grew up in Manhattan. Like me, he found himself living in Forest Hills, Queens. Like me, he, at some point, had dinner in Brooklyn. Creepy, eh?

The interior of Dover is simple. Brooklyn rustic might be a good description. It's small, but not too small. Intimate but not cramped. The design, with simple tables, chairs stolen from a French bistro, and zero artwork won't win any awards, but you barely notice. There's a warmth that is immediately noticeable. In the winter, I imagine a clam chowder here would be quite enjoyable. Dover has an outdoor space that could be called ginormous. There's probably a developer in Midtown on the phone with a hitman right now, scheming a way to ice the building's owner so they can build a condo on it.

We aren't animals, we ordered cocktails. They arrived. They were good. We drank them. An amuse bouche arrived. A Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho, which was creamy, spicy, and smooth. Very refreshing but with less than a shot's worth in that little porcelain bowl there, it barely coated the tongue. Far more substantial was the house-made strawberry sourdough bread, which was amazing. Frustratingly, all of my notes got scrambled so I don't remember the order in which our tasting menu came. So, in no particular order, our tasting menu.

One of the best dishes of the night was the Fatty Tuna served as a tartar with scallion and black sesame on a thin rice wafer. I could have eaten a full sized entree portion of this. The tuna literally dissolved once it hit the inside of your mouth. Chew slow. Relish this. In three bites it will be gone. Another great dish, and also a tartar, was the Steak Tartar with crispy quinoa and house-made potato chips. The house potato chips were a recurring ingredient this evening and they were fine, but they kinda got soggy over the moist beef. Still, I'm not complaining. The beef was sweet and while I would probably have never added quinoa to the dish (is it me, or are other people also feeling quinoa fatigue?), I really did like it. It added a little fresh texturing that otherwise wouldn't have existed.

One extremely pleasant dish was the Summer Squash salad with raisins, almonds, and a colatura anchovy dressing. Sweet and herbal. Some might scrunch their nose at having something with anchovy, but you couldn't tell. This was a delightful summer dish that I regret having only a small bowl of. Dover tossed on some more homemade potato chips. I guess it's use 'em or lose 'em. Soon after came the Local Big Eye Tuna, served with wrap of prosciutto was so tender that it could be cut with a spoon but there was too much salt. Good, but too salty.  Finally, before dessert (I think), the Duck Confit with borlotti beans and olives was very good with a big but. But like the tuna, it was overly salty. I love duck confit more than many because I've failed so often trying to make it at home. So I appreciate when it's done well. This one was done well, but it was like a shaker spilled open into either the sauce or the brine. Shucks. Salt. Bummer.

Dover gave each of us our own dessert, so we got to try two. Dandelion received the Panna Cotta with a teeny little dollop of strawberry sorbet. Good, but bland. The fruit and the sorbet seemed to be there for flavor. The panna cotta itself would have gone unnoticed if it wasn't shaped into a pyramid. I got the White & Black Forest Cheesecake with a cherry soda effervescent sorbet. The sorbet was an experimental thing that the chef was doing by blasting sorbet with CO2 and carbonizing it in a seltzer siphon. It was interesting. I've never had fizzy sorbet. I don't know that I'd get it again, but, uh, interesting. In the meantime the cheesecake won't be beating out Junior's or Veniero's any time soon, but it wasn't bad.

Two tasting menus plus a handful of cocktails came out to $230 before tax and tip.

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