When it comes to dining out we are always in pursuit of a spot that knows our wants and needs. Firstly, the said spot must have good food (because why settle for bad food?) secondly, good vibes and finally but not lastly good service. The Pines in Gowanus goes above and beyond excelling at all three of our needs.
We have a soft spot for South Brooklyn and are excited by the creative energy bustling from this former industrial neighborhood. The Pines is an intimate 40 seat, modern American dining experience that refuses to disappoint. Executive Chef John Poiarkoff is committed to a focus of seasonal and house-made ingredients for all of his dishes. The quality of produce and meats is intentional and well-researched, he is completely invested in sourcing the highest quality farm fresh ingredients (you know we are all about supporting local and our support is exponential when it comes to what’s on our plate).
Chef John’s fresh take on seasonal ingredients is both inspiring and intellectual. Classic dishes like The Fluke Tartare, Charred Radicchio and Agnolotti have complex, flavor profiles that strikes a curiosity for a what’s next on the menu mentality.
If the menu offerings were not incentive enough for a visit, The Pines wine and cocktail program is definitely a must- try in Brooklyn. The Pines is one of the only restaurants in the country to offer natural wines (we highly recommend the Gamay). Our Piedmont Sour perfectly complimented our Fluke Tartare in color and was exceptional in taste. We could go on about our love for this spot but we will let you hear the facts from Chef John himself. Keep reading for more about a delicious dinner series at sister restaurant Willow and how John respects his veggies and turns them into a main act.
284 3rd Ave, Brooklyn
How would you describe your menu?
Creative, market-driven, New American
Sourcing the highest quality meats and vegetables seems to be your thing. Who are some local purveyors that excite you?
- Beef - Happy Valley Meats. They're based in Brooklyn and source whole beef from small farmers in central PA.
- Veg - Star Route Farms, Lucky Dog Organic. Both are great farms in the Catskills.
Perfect meal for a dinner for two:
Cocktails to start, followed by a bottle of natural wine to go with foie gras cookies, fluke tartare, a vegetable dish or two, a pasta, duck breast (if it's on the menu. we only get 6 ducks per week and age them for 14 days before we serve them), then chocolate cake and an amaro.
So into your philosophy of respecting your vegetables. Tell us more about the thought behind your market fresh menu options.
We treat vegetables with just as much respect as meat and fish. Vegetables that come from a good farm where they are cared for and treated well, have much more flavor than those that are mass produced, just like chicken, beef, etc. We prepare vegetables in many ways, based on their flavor, density, application, etc. Whether they're roasted, charred, pickled, fermented, cooked sous vide, or served raw, the idea is always to bring out the natural flavor of each vegetable.
Where do you eat when you're not having family meals at The Pines?
As a chef, it's hard to dine out without being disappointed. There are only a handful of restaurants that I frequent. In Brooklyn, I love Vinegar Hill House (my brother is the chef), Franny's, and Sushi Katsuei. Those are my go-to places. In Manhattan, any USHG restaurant is a safe bet. I have a long list of restaurants that I'd like to try, but not enough time away from the restaurant to do so.
The blade steak is calling our name for our next visit. Can you share more about your aging process for your meats?
Some cuts, we age on the bone for an extended period of time. Happy Valley Meats ages their whole sides of beef for 2 weeks before they are shipped to us. When our ribeyes and strip loins arrive, we place them on racks in front of the fan in our back walk-in. We have a dehumidifier in there that controls the moisture in the room. We age our beef anywhere from 45-90 days. This is after the initial 2 week hang, so we're looking at over 100 days on some of the beef we serve. The aging process intensifies the flavor of the beef and naturally tenderizes it. The blade steak actually isn't aged as long, as it's a muscle within the shoulder that is cut off the bone before we get it. To add extra flavor, we cook the blade steaks sous vide with rendered fat from our aged beef.
Looking forward to visiting your sister restaurants Willow in Bed-Stuy and Tamarack at Smorgasborg. The three locations seem to really compliment one another, what’s your favorite thing to eat/drink at each?
That's a hard question! Hopefully everything is great. At The Pines, we have a great, non-traditional pasta program that people love. I really like our tilefish dish right now. We pan roast the fish with the scales on and they puff up and get super crispy. It's served in a brown butter dashi broth with several kinds of autumn squash in different applications, as well as some mushrooms and a squeeze of lemon. I love the roasted cauliflower at Willow, with pumpkin romesco. At Tamarack, I'm partial to the kielbasa sandwich. It's something I grew up with and it takes me back to my childhood every time I have it.
We are officially in the holiday stretch! What do you all have planned for the upcoming season at your restaurants?
A lot! We're doing tasting menus for New Year's Eve at both restaurants. The Pines will be a long menu for $125 per person and Willow will offer a 7-course vegetable-forward sharing menu for only $65 per person. We're also starting a Sous Chef Supper Series at Willow. Starting this week, My sous chefs will each prepare a 5-course menu for a set price each Monday. Neel is going first, preparing Indian food with a farm-to-table philosophy... New Indian-American.