Elegant and delicious dishes are the signature at South Brooklyn Foundry, an eatery nestled on Third Avenue just off Bay Ridge Avenue.
The atmosphere at the restaurant — which is located in the old Nordic Deli space — is as appealing as the food, and the attentive service is equally impressive, adding up to a delightful dining experience.
Of course, a restaurant is only as good as its food, and the inventive cuisine carefully prepared and plated by Rey Martinez, a one-time “Chopped” contestant, who has a chef for a father but no formal culinary training, was as appealing to the eye as it was to the palate.
A key, said Martinez — who started as a dishwasher in Bobby Flay’s kitchen and worked his way along the line before getting the chance to run a kitchen thanks to Cebu’s Ted Mann — is committing to using high quality ingredients.
From there, his imagination takes over. “Because I didn’t have traditional culinary training, no one told me don’t do this or that,” he explained. “That freed me up.” Most of his dishes, he said, are “an homage to ‘90s dishes, but I try to give them my own unique twist.”
For example, his cumin-inflected fried chicken is served on a bed of smashed potatoes with a dish of corn, baby corn and devil’s corn alongside. That dish, he noted, is “made with what a chicken eats.” It’s not only logical, it’s delicious, a stellar example of the “modernized American food” that Martinez specializes in, and which highlights ingredients that are sometimes difficult to find locally, such as duck.
The chicken was one of half a dozen offerings that we tried during our lunch, many new to the seasonally-driven menu.
Each was flavorful and distinctive, from the Hearts of Palm salad, which features the succulent vegetable accompanied by radish slices, grape tomatoes, crunchy shards of romaine lettuce and a sprinkle of feta cheese, all enhanced by a smoked tomato aioli, to the Flash Fried Brussels Sprouts, crispy and addictive, served with a silky saffron sauce.
We also sampled the Beet and Burrata Salad, served on a bed of arugula and dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, brought to the table with the exquisitely creamy burrata hidden in the middle, ready to be discovered like a jewel in a gift box, and the Beet, Black Bean and Barley Burger, cushioned by a pillowy roll and slathered with a sauce combining yogurt and feta cheese with sumac, a distinctive Middle Eastern spice that adds a tart note. Alongside were hand-cut freshly made French fries, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside – no frozen fries at this restaurant!
Finally, for dessert, we indulged in Foundry’s Apple Crisp, squares of crisp pastry piled on each other with cubes of tender, cooked apple in between, and garnished with powdered sugar and a delicate sour cherry sauce.
Its drinks are also special, thanks to mixologist Alyssa Tirrito, who uses fresh fruits to take the quaffs from good to spectacular. Among them is the Pier 69, which combines mint, lime, cucumber, Lillet and Prosecco, and that’s just the beginning.
Open for just six months, the restaurant has been building its reputation, said Agnes Kelly (who owns South Brooklyn Foundry with Martinez and Sam Dabas, the owner of the Family Store, next door). It’s already been viewed 23,000 times on Yelp, where it has a four and a half star rating, and it’s also creating a niche by offering a range of entertainment from comedy shows (one is coming up on April 12) to a psychic night (already sold out) to musical performances (with old-time rock and roll coming up April 26).
For Dabas, having the empty storefront next door was a motivating factor. “I didn’t want another hookah bar or 99¢ store to come in, so I rented it and sat on it for three or four months,” he recounted. “It was initially going to be an offshoot for the Family Store; then I found Rey, which took a lot of pressure off me.”
The eatery eventually developed to mirror the neighborhood, with Mediterranean, Latin and French influences. “That’s why we called it the Foundry,” said Dabas. “Bay Ridge is a melting pot and we wanted to represent the cultures we have here. There’s something for everyone.”
SOUTH BROOKLYN FOUNDRY
6909 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11209
Tuesday-Friday, noon-10 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.