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.
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.
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 blogBROOKLYN CAFE 220 Sandy Springs, Circle, Sandy Springs 404-843-8377 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