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Brooklyn Cafe restaurant review, Sandy Springs

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A crock-pot pot roast recipe using powdered salad dressing and gravy mixes is one of the leaders among recipes recently “pinned” on Pinterest, an online communal bulletin board.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

On Pinterest, users come together to share food, much like in a restaurant. Yes, yes, I know Pinterest folks just share images of food. And recipes: recipes that often consist of cream of mushroom soups, powdered sauce mixes and other handy tricks for making a quick, casual and homey (often diet-blasting) meal. The Pinterest community wholeheartedly embraces these comfort foods, repinning them repeatedly to save them for later use.

Similarly, Sandy Springs embraces Brooklyn Cafe, a casual neighborhood eatery serving what it calls “sophisticated American fare,” with many comfort food favorites like those on Pinterest. Owners Jeff Trump and Mike Horosh each brought 15-plus years of experience at Houston’s, a restaurant known for serving American classics, when they bought the cafe in 2005, converting it from an Italian concept.

These two restaurateurs hoped to create an upscale but welcoming neighborhood spot affordable enough for diners to return on a weekly basis. Brooklyn Cafe’s staff has the welcoming down. Guests receive hearty greetings all around and, according to Trump, regulars are handed their usual beverages as they breeze through the door.

The menu at Brooklyn Cafe was designed to strike a note of familiarity with diners. Trump said the restaurant offers “a collection of things we know are good.” Home cooks may notice flavors (both good and not so much) from their own repertoires. Maybe it’s the fries with a twinge of freezer burn, the cup-shaped ice cream round encased in frost crystals or the Reddi-wip topping the dessert.

Maybe the familiarity lies in the sauces. For example, the house-made barbecue sauce slicked on the pork tenderloin sandwich ($13) and the Italian-style vinaigrette on the monster smoked turkey sandwich ($11) share close kinship flavor-wise to bottled versions at the corner grocery.

Jack’s Creole Chicken and Sausage ($18) is laden with cream, with a soupy sauce that packs a wallop of Worcestershire and heat.  Photo by Becky Stein / Special

Jack’s Creole Chicken and Sausage ($18) is laden with cream, with a soupy sauce that packs a wallop of Worcestershire and heat. Photo by Becky Stein / Special

Likewise, a bottle of Worcestershire looms large in Jack’s Creole Chicken and Sausage ($18), a dish named after Trump’s oldest son. This Pinterest-worthy recipe, laden with cream, engulfs grilled chicken breast and chunks of nondescript Italian sausage in a soupy sauce that packs a wallop of Worcestershire and heat. Those two flavors dominate, making it difficult to discriminate the other 14 ingredients used. Not a keeper.

And remember that pot roast recipe on Pinterest? Sample a glorified version in the short ribs ($24) here. These pull-apart tender boneless short ribs, seared on the grill and braised all day in a beefy red wine sauce, mimic the satisfying home-cooked simplicity of a family roast recipe.

I take a mental snapshot of the grilled avocado and crab appetizer ($7) at Brooklyn Cafe, a recipe I might like to re-create. A boat-like charred avocado half holds a load of well-seasoned jumbo lump crab awash with olive oil and a sharp balsamic reduction that balances the creamy avocado and sweetness of the oil-swathed crab. Note to self: Try this at home.

Another familiar favorite, and one of Brooklyn Cafe’s most popular dishes, is the shrimp tacos ($16). At the restaurant, the kitchen grills flour tortillas to a slight crisp and then fills them with seared jumbo Gulf shrimp, tangy cilantro-lime slaw and a mild serrano sour cream sauce. Though drippy, this is the money dish — creamy, crunchy, tart — and the one I’d order again.

There’s a great deal to like about Brooklyn Cafe: the welcoming staff, the fun pastel color-blocked walls and the well-priced seven-ounce home-pour glasses of wine ($7-12). Yet, the restaurant seems to struggle with it’s dual ambitions of providing upscale fare and creating a low-key neighborhood spot. Perhaps it should find a way to preserve only the best snippets.

– Jenny Turknett for the AJC Food and More blog

BROOKLYN CAFE
220 Sandy Springs, Circle, Sandy Springs 404-843-8377
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Food: Contemporary American
Service: Welcoming, friendly and helpful
Best dishes: Shrimp tacos
Vegetarian selections: Salads, vegetable sandwich, vegetable plate
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 :30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Children: Fine
Parking: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Moderate
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes
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27 comments Add your comment

Baltisraul

July 5th, 2012
7:20 am

Jen……if you had Jack’s Creole Chicken & Sausage and Jack’s Cajun Chicken & Sausage on the table, would not the Cajun style be hotter & more spicey? My definition may be way off, I thought Creole was milder and had some French sauce influence. Going to the pro for your thoughts.

Ned Ludd

July 5th, 2012
9:07 am

Good point…The late,great Justin Wilson always said that in Creole cooking three chickens would feed one family while a cajun would feed three families on one chicken. The Creole roux would use butter (ala French cuisine) and perhaps be spicier since they had access to markets where they could get imported spices, while the Cajun used lard for his roux and spiced it with whatever he found in his outdoor ’supermarket’. The cajun cook was a little more freesyle and perhaps assimilated peppers into his recipes quicker than the Creole once they were introduced to the area. Who knows…Love them both.

Jenny Turknett

July 5th, 2012
9:40 am

Baltisraul — true. Cajun dishes tend to be spicier, though both can have heat. And Ned Ludd, you’re right about the fats used in the roux of each cuisine, which is another marked difference between the two.

SueB

July 5th, 2012
1:09 pm

Ouch, harsh review and got a little lost in the Pinterst business.

I enjoy BC particularly the crab cake salad. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever tried there. There are a bunch of things on the menu, like most of the things you mentioned, I have no desire to try but that’s true of most restaurants.

The friendliness is downright startling and a welcome change from most places.

Ols

July 5th, 2012
3:10 pm

Why does the Optimist review link to this one>?

BC

July 6th, 2012
12:46 pm

The service is always prompt and friendly but I haven’t gone back after trying the restaurant 3 or 4 times. The last time my dining partner got sick after partially eating the crab cakes (which were dripping with some white mayo-like mystery substance). The restaurant has the odor of mildew or otherwise dirty carpet or something. Parking is really difficult at peak times as well.

Dave Davis

July 6th, 2012
1:48 pm

When we bought our home in Sandy Springs, I asked the sellers what they would miss most and they immediately responded, “the Brooklyn Cafe.”    I understand why.  My wife and I love the place and have tried everything on the menu a couple of times.  The ever-changing Salmon is always great, the crab cakes are true lump  crab wonders and the shrimp tacos are awesome.  A large percentage of the patrons are regulars from Sandy Springs or just across the river in East Cobb because the food at BC is so consistently good.  Brooklyn Cafe is simply a great Sandy Springs neighborhood place and they have created a wonderful atmosphere with great food and great service.   In my view this reviewer got it more wrong than right but fortunately for Jeff and the great crew at BC most people in Sandy Springs these days get their local news from the Sandy Springs Patch and the Sandy Springs Reporter.  

steve brown

July 6th, 2012
2:11 pm

Your review angers me. I looked for your biography to see if there is any substance to your writing and could not find one. The dish you have pictured above is an all time favorite of mine having had it for lunch many times.

I love food. I lived in New Orleans for 10 years and dined at the great restaurants of old many times (Mosca’s, Manales, Begues, Galatoires, Antoines, Arnauds, etc.). In Atlanta the same is true.

As with film critics (I spent many years in the film business) I often deplore their reviews as it influences other people to, perhaps, miss seeing a film they might truly enjoy. The same feeling hit me reading this review, deplorable. People take my advice, try the Brooklyn Cafe you just might love it like I do.

Nancy Berger

July 6th, 2012
3:05 pm

I not only eat at BC at least twice a month but have also had Jeff and team caters many events for me. I always get rave reviews from my guest and have enjoyed all of the menu items at the restaurant. The smoked salmon is a family favorite as are the crab cakes. The atmosphere Jeff delivers is one of friends having an enjoyable meal together which is something you don’t find many places these days. Rob always has a glass of wine or cucumber cocktail ready for me when I arrive. And if you are lucky enough to get a coveted reservation to one of the wine dinners you will not be disappointed. I hope readers will disregard the above review and see what all of Dunwoody and Sandy Springs know to be true – Brooklyn Café is a great place for fantastic meal!

miller31

July 6th, 2012
6:50 pm

This review is ridiculous and overly negative…you didn’t even try the house smoked salmon, one of their specialties! The gazpacho and steak salad are also delicious.

Jim

July 6th, 2012
6:54 pm

The food here is adequate, not great, and the vibe is very welcoming. I’ve been a couple times, and I think the biggest criticism would be they set too high an expectation with their prices. For what they charge for their entrees, you’d typically expect dishes with a bit more refinement and the mark of a chef, which you don’t get here (but certainly will at plenty of other places around town for these prices). It’s a fun place – if they present themselves like a bar (and price the food accordingly), then they’re a nice bar with good food. If they price themselves like fine dining (as they are now), then they’re a comfortable fine dining spot with below average food. I think they should go with the former.

Wink

July 6th, 2012
7:34 pm

I am not sure if you went to the same Brooklyn Cafe that I go to based on your review. I find the food excellent and the service and hospitality better than anywhere else I go. Every server knows my name and why I am there. Good food. Excellent service with a personal touch. Neighborhood atmosphere. I have been to many “fine” dining restaurants in Atlanta and when I compare their same menu items (crab cakes, pan seared trout, halibut, etc) there is no comparison to my Sandy Srpings “Cheers”. If I ever stray from the nightly special I always go to Jack’s creole Chicken. I could not find your direct email through the AJC. Based on your review, I can see why you would shield yourself from the responses of the people that love the Brooklyn Cafe. At least we know that we will not have to vie for a seat with you. You missed it in a big way and most of the loyal customers would agree with me.

Jenny Turknett

July 6th, 2012
7:57 pm

Wink, you’ll find the link to my email address on this page opposite the first comment. But here it is again: jennytajc@gmail.com. We regularly converse with readers by email and are happy to do so.

Sandy Springs Gal

July 7th, 2012
12:02 pm

This is one of the best places around. You should try it again. My friends and family and I love this restaurant and we have pretty discriminating taste. The Brooklyn Cafe is always packed and has been in business for a very long time – 2 qualities that a one star place cannot claim.

Jim

July 7th, 2012
4:19 pm

Actually, sandy springs gal, as a “worthy neighborhood addition”, it’s not surprising that it’s lasted a while. Sounds like the neighborhood agrees with the reviewer….

GymBrown

July 7th, 2012
5:40 pm

Jenny, my family and I have eaten at the BC a few times and our experience did not resemble your description above. I may not have a sophisticated palate, but I know good food. It sounds like you may have hit them when either you or the chef was having an off day. Consider strolling in and giving them another try. But watch out! They do have a loyal clientele. There must be a reason for that. Maybe its their neighborly attitude.

lexi

July 8th, 2012
5:03 am

“each brought 15-plus years of experience at Houston’s, a restaurant [chain] known for serving American classics, when they bought the cafe in 2005, converting it from an Italian concept.”

“…making it difficult to discriminate [?] the other 14 ingredients used.”

“Yet, the restaurant seems to struggle with it’s [sic] dual ambitions of providing upscale fare and creating a low-key neighborhood spot.”

The food is better crafted than this review.

Claudia

July 8th, 2012
10:23 am

I disagree with everything the reviewer has to say. My husband and I, who are in the restaurant business for over 21 years, eat there at least twice a week for lunch. We have never been disappointed and we have eaten everything on the menu. I think the pork sandwich is my favorite, because of the BBQ sauce. I am from the Eastern Shore and the crabcakes are as good as mine. The french fries are probably the best in Atl., always piping hot and I break my diet every time I eat them. I think you need to go back and give Brooklyn Cafe another chance, because they truly do a tremendous job and are some of the nicest hosts in town

Rob

July 8th, 2012
10:27 pm

Jenny,

In a word, OFFENDED!!!! You must be speaking of a different restaurant than the Brooklyn Cafe I frequent in Sandy Springs. I disagree 100% with your review. And I don’t claim to be a professional writer or reviewer, but what’s with all this Pinterest nonsense? Seems elementary to me. Almost like you went in the restaurant with a bad taste in your mouth from the get go. The one dish you complimented,(Shrimp Tacos) you still found the need to call them “Drippy”. At what “Corner Grocery” can I find these delectable sauces? I’d be a regular there too. Also, you use the term “Comfort Food” quite a bit. Do you really think that’s appropriate for smoked salmon, fresh salads, NY strip steaks, artichokes, crab cakes, lobster, shrimp and grilled chicken???? You’re way off. The comment about the fries and ice cream made me laugh out loud!!! What are you talking about??

My point is this, you need to give Brooklyn Cafe a second chance. I have been 100% satisfied with the food and service every time. The same goes for the many customers, friends and family I have introduced to this fantastic restaurant. Whether it’s a customer meeting for lunch or a nice dinner with family and friends, Brooklyn Cafe gets it right every time.

P.S.- Don’t get me started on the Halibut, a favorite weekend special of mine

Bobby Brown

July 9th, 2012
6:20 am

Wow…. i thought “THAT” Judge left American Idol.?????? So…. there is another Simon in the world….. sounds to me like he is following in the same foot steps……. maybe trying to bring another “show” into the area…. just saying…….

Bobby Brown

July 9th, 2012
6:25 am

whatdoyahave whatdoyahave!!!!!! bet……you wouldn’t go down there and write the same thing…..

Bobby Brown

July 9th, 2012
10:37 am

was kind of waiting on the same song and dance to imply to this……… i guess he has gotten so use to Jenny kicking the hornet’sNest so often….. that he does not even post to defender her anymore…. where you at???? “Johnny ?? (Kessler).

[...] Food and More with John Kessler ← Man shot in Westside park Cancel Reply [...]

Berly

July 10th, 2012
4:45 pm

One star? Wow. Brooklyn Cafe not only has good food, pricing and great quality, but is very involved in charities. Ripping this establishment apart and sounding so ignorant at the same time with the silly pinterest and incorrect descriptions is ridiculous. I’ve visited this establishment for years and have never had a bad experience. I’m surprised any person or business would take this “reviewer” seriously after this article.

RK

July 10th, 2012
4:55 pm

Yeah, I didn’t get the Pinterest analogy, either. It makes it sound like the restaurant is using poor ingredients.

I haven’t been in a while, but I’ve always enjoyed it. It feels like a solid 2-star — a “worthy addition to the neighborhood”. As someone pointed out, the house-smoked salmon is quite good.

It’s been around 8 years; something must be working.

PJ

July 11th, 2012
6:52 pm

“A worthy addition to the neighborhood, but the food may be hit or miss” sounds about right from both my experiences & this review. As someone who is often on Pinterest (& yes, that instantly ID’s me as female), I can easily see the comparisons with some of the dishes. My favorite Pinterest recipe is a roast in the crock pot with 2 cups of water, a packet of brown gravy mix, a packet of Italian dressing mix & a packet of ranch dressing mix. Sounds bizarre, but tastes amazing after going low & slow all day. There is nothing wrong with this type of comfort food & I believe that is what this review is saying. But then again, I don’t want to pay $20+ for the same sort of dish that I can make at home & feed 4, with leftovers, for under $10.

Personally, I like the food at Brooklyn Cafe, but definitely feel it is overpriced for what it is. It is not somewhere I choose to go unless I am in the neighborhood, therefore justifying it as a worthy addition, but not a destination.

Mark Olson

July 11th, 2012
11:37 pm

Nice service, terrible food. Greasy artichokes choking on more oil, Risotto not done well…overcooked and clogged with starch so it was inedible. Short ribs tasted like it was made with soup. They have had bad reviews for quite a while. Wonder why the owners don’t see the light. Don’t waste your money or your time.
A real disappointment since we need a few good restaurants in Sandy Springs.