by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
December 18, 2009
370 5th Ave
(5th & 6th Sts)
Brooklyn, NY 11215
I haven’t been this excited about a dish in a while. If you’ve been following my tweets and last week’s craving, you already know that I’m so fanatic about the Florida rock shrimp with handmade pasta at Get Fresh Table and Market that I went back three times in one week, and I don’t even live in Park Slope.
But it’s not just the one dish that’s so phenomenal; it’s the whole package. This very modern but warm restaurant used to be just Get Fresh, a gourmet market with prepared foods made from local produce, but early this year they converted into a restaurant as well, hence the slightly too long and confusing name, Get Fresh Table and Market. Still waiting for their liquor license, it’s currently BYOB with a $4 corkage fee.
Behind all glass windows at its entrance on 5th Avenue, the restaurant has tables and a communal banquet up front along with displays of food goods for sale on one side of the wall. There’s a center island for servers and preparation, more seats in the back of the long railway style room, and outdoor seating open in the summer.
Chef owner Juventino Avila, formerly of Bonita and Double Crown, serves top-notch homestyle dishes that are fun and refreshing. From starters to desserts, there’s not one dish that I was dissatisfied with.
I’ve tried three of the salads. The Bloominghill autumn salad with pickled carrots, apples and smoked pistachios is a refreshing balance of flavors from the fresh greens with the sour taste of the pickled carrots, acidity from the sliced apples and the smooth smokiness of the pistachios. What a way to kick start a meal. The grass-fed beef and squash salad with tomatillo-yogurt dressing is light, despite the layers of sliced beef, again because of the freshness of the ingredients. The beef melts in your mouth while the squash salad cleanses your palate between each bite of meat. The slow-braised beets with herbs and toasted walnuts (image above) can be ordered as a side or salad. I love Chef Avila’s use of tarragon to complement the sweet, rich flavor of the red beets, rounding the dish off with a little rootiness with the walnuts.
Not to go into overkill, but allow me to touch upon the shrimp pasta appetizer briefly. The Florida rock shrimp have a springiness to every bite. They go with the thin wide sheets of homemade pasta with fresh herbs like hand in glove. A moderate splash of balsamic vinegar and white truffle honey give the dish flavor but don’t overpower. The dish reminds me of two Chinese dishes I grew up eating: Shanghainese shrimp wontons, in which the wonton skins were so thin and the shrimp and pork filling inside so flavorful, and sautéed Shanghinese rock shrimp that we would dip in black vinegar. While Chef Avila’s dish is of no relation to either of these Chinese dishes, the flavor profiles are reminiscent.
Another favorite of mine is the swordfish tacos entrée. It’s served on a wooden slab with a loin of swordfish, half a grilled lemon, a full head of roasted garlic, Chef Avila’s mom’s homemade corn tortilla stacks, tomatillo sauce and a red salsa. The stacks are outrageously good and it’s a lot of fun to compose each taco DIY-style.
While I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, there are certain types of desserts that I can’t refuse. They tend to fall in the category of anything egg-based and custardy, i.e. flan, crème brulee, crème caramel, pot de crème; you get the idea. Get Fresh Table and Market’s butterscotch pudding is now one of my favorite desserts. The texture is of fine pudding, smooth and creamy, and the caramel-tasting butterscotch reminds me of my custards. It’s small but just right.
From starter to dessert, Get Fresh Table and Market is like a fairy tale: everything is “just right.”