Finally, fall is here! There’s a slight chill in the air and a light breeze swirling leaves around the sidewalks. Arriving just in time for Jim’s birthday, Friday night’s autumn-appropriate weather helped us celebrate at Applewood in Park Slope.
Established in September 2004 by Laura and David Shea, Applewood is known (and loved) for its use of sustainably-grown, local food products. Low lighting, yellow and exposed-brick walls, and small pots of herbs on each table contribute to the restaurant’s homey feel. After walking into the friendly warmth of the dining room on Friday night, I immediately felt my muscles relax, something I needed after an especially long week.
Reading through Applewood’s menu was to stroll through autumn’s natural bounty. Jim and I considered ordering some of their fabulous-looking seasonal cocktails, but in the end we shared a bottle of wine from the extensive list. We started with a roasted red beet salad, the ruby-toned root vegetables surrounded with toasted, crunchy hazelnuts, foamy fromage blanc fondue, and delicate red bowl lettuce ($10). The meaty, charred flavor of the sautéed Maine lobster with caramelized potato gnocchi and wilted pea shoots was an earthy contrast to our light salad ($15). It was also our favorite dish of the night. Throughout our meal we snacked on complimentary wheat and multigrain bread. Whether slathering it with Applewood’s french butter, cream cheese and garlic, and white bean and bacon spreads, or using thick slices to mop up broth from the lobster dish, we just couldn’t stop eating it.
The rest of our evening was spent in Vermont: Jim chose the grilled Vermont pork with rapini, caramelized pears, and mustard-pork jus for his entrée ($23) while I went with the grilled Vermont lamb special served with rainbow chard, white turnip purée, and lamb jus ($26). My lamb was soft in texture but strong in grilled flavors. It was perfectly cooked and heartily complimented by the tangy vegetables upon which it rested. The pork, while gentler in taste, was subtly accented by the sweet pears.
Then it was time for dessert: the Italian plum-chili cobbler with arugula ice cream ($7). Now I know I don’t need to explain our fondness for arugula again. Once we heard that the ice cream was made on-site at Applewood, there was no going back. And we didn’t want to, not after taking a bite of this spicy treat. To be honest, the ice cream didn’t scream arugula flavoring to me, but it wasn’t supposed to; just a hint was all we needed.
Even though it took us a long time to get to Applewood, now I can’t wait to go back. In between meals at the restaurant, I’ll have to make do with visits to its new cookware store, Applewares, around the corner from the restaurant. This airy, light-wood hued store offers all the basics: ceramics, pans, knives, appliances, and more. Now, do I really need another vegetable peeler?
Applewood: 501 11th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues in Park Slope, Brooklyn) 718-768-2044
Applewares: 548 10th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues in Park Slope, Brooklyn) 718-576-2484