My first trip to Rosewater was uneventful. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with it, there just wasn’t anything memorable about it. We did a chef’s tasting menu a few years back for my birthday. It was a great value—Five courses for $60 and add the (I think necessary) wine pairing for just $26 more. Five courses and wine for under $100 a person. You can’t get much better than that. At most restaurants, especially in Manhattan, I find you can barely clear 3 courses, paired with water, for that price. I remember enjoying the food but the next week, even the next day, I couldn’t recall any specifics.
I judge a meal based on experience and how it lingers over time. There are meals I’ll remember for a life time. My first dinner at Blue Hill where my husband told the waiter to “challenge us”. The rich, yet feather light gnocchi at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. The tiny bistro in Quimper, France where language was a barrier but the waiter’s oinks (yes, oinks, not a typo) communicated the pork loin was his favorite dish on the menu. But my dinner at Rosewater lacked staying power. After walking out of the restaurant, it seemed to evaporate from my memory. With so many other restaurants to try in Brooklyn alone, I wasn’t overly anxious to return. Though it happened we were in the area for brunch and figured, why not? I’ve never been so happy to give a restaurant a second chance.
I loved to cook before Top Chef came around. I was never a fan of cooking shows. The food network annoys me. Sure they’re some good recipes out there, but how can you really learn to make a 4 hour braise (with sides!) in a 27 minute episode. The shows would just frustrate me. But when Top Chef came along, I was immediately hooked. Top Chef doesn’t teach you how to make a recipe, it inspires you to think out of the box, to consider what you would make if faced with some saltine crackers and a piece of fish. Or what dishes would best describe you? Watching the show definitely encouraged me to play with flavors and invent new dishes.
The thing I love best about Park Slope is the fact that you can pretty much walk into any restaurant and it will be fantastic. You can eat out every night for weeks and find a new place and try new cuisines. If you live in Brooklyn, you know 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue are the main commercial stretches littered with grocers, boutiques, banks and of course restaurants. What people don’t often know about is what lays between and beyond those main stretches. Benchmark Restaurant is just around the corner from 5th Avenue on 2nd Street. If you walked up to the intersection you’d first notice Loki, a comfortable trendy neighborhood bar. Now look down, down to the floor, and you might see a tiny chalkboard directing you to Benchmark around the corner. And that’s where your food journey begins.
As I think I mentioned in my menu post, I’m a huge fan of cooking big meals that require little effort. Braises, things in the crockpot, roasts–they’re all amazing because they’re set it and forget it items! Wow, I sound like an infomercial… But seriously, why would you ever want to do something like pan fry fish fillets for 8 while your guests are in the other room. You should be with them, socializing, enjoy a glass of wine and having fun–not hovering over the stove.