Dining Out: Culinary landmark opens in Coney

It’s not just the views inside Coney Island’s latest venture, Kitchen 21, that are awe-inspiring. Shortly after its ribbon-cutting, we were treated to a tour-turned-tasting at the new, five-in-one eatery – and, boy, were we impressed.

The restaurant – which combines five different concepts under one freshly restored roof – sits in the storied, long-vacant Childs Building. Originally constructed in 1923, the landmarked Childs Building served as home to Childs Restaurant until the 1950s when the space was converted to a candy manufacturing facility before shuttering. That space had been left run down and vacant – until Kitchen 21 came along.

Owned and operated by Legends Hospitality and Craveable Hospitality Group, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, iStar and Live Nation (which run the adjacent Ford Amphitheater), Kitchen 21 is a culinary powerhouse that comes complete with five separate eateries – the Café, Test Kitchen, Community Clam Bar, Parachute Bar and Boardwalk & Vine – each unique in its own way.

Local residents and tourists alike can stop in for a quick bite from the Café (and return back to the beach at their leisure) or sit down with friends at either the Test Kitchen (where they can experience the latest in food and wine trends from across the city), the Community Clam Bar (where the focus is on freshly caught raw seafood), the Parachute Bar (a gastro-pub where there are 32 different beers on tap, including a brew of its own) or the rooftop’s Boardwalk & Vine (an upstairs eatery serving small bites, local favorites and – perhaps most notably – wine on tap).

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Meaghan McGoldrick
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Meaghan McGoldrick

With Boardwalk & Vine still awaiting finishing touches and the Café geared more towards quick bites, we chose to sample the chef’s personal favorites from both the Test Kitchen and the Community Clam Bar’s respective menus, as well as a brew or two from the Parachute Bar’s extensive tap selection.

We started with a dish that’s already a fan-favorite: Kitchen 21’s Raw-Bar-In-A-Box. The platter (which could easily feed a table-of-four as a starter) goes for $49, but includes an array of local oysters, jumbo shrimp cocktail (and they mean it when they say jumbo), little neck clams and chilled lobster. Each platter comes served with pink peppercorn mignonette sauce, sundried tomato cocktail sauce and beet horseradish. We’ll keep this one as short and sweet as this dish was fresh and flavorful – we’d come back for more.

Then came from the kitchen a Brooklyn Pizza – an entire personal pizza pie topped with sliced prosciutto, ricotta salata, arugula, balsamic syrup and truffle, that goes for just $13. This was perhaps our favorite dish. The ricotta salata made for a sweet and savory base on the pie, which, with even more mouthwatering toppings like the prosciutto and the balsamic glaze, made for an unforgettable burst of flavor that had us devouring Every. Single. Slice.

We also tried the Lump Crabcakes ($24 for three) which came paired with lemon poppy slaw, avocado cucumber coulis and micro greens. These little cakes were far from little – they were big and bold and left us feeling plenty satisfied. They were also as full of flavor as they were noticeably fresh and delicate. Long story short – we’ll take seconds, please.

We washed down all of this — as well as some chef-favorite specials like a perfectly-cooked branzino fish and a delectably decorated slab of pork chops paired with couscous — with the eatery’s signature Kitchen 21 Black Stage Draft which went down as smooth as the massive eatery’s many wondrous dishes.

All in all, our experience was delightful, with as much beauty and history to take in as there was unforgettable food. Make no mistake, we’ll be coming back to the Coney Island Boardwalk sooner rather than later.

Kitchen 21
3052 West 21st Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Sunday through Wednesday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Café is open for breakfast everyday starting at 9 a.m.

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