Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Marlow & Son's: An American Bistro

While the word "bistro" is commonly associated with French food, I believe the label is appropriate for any small restaurant serving hearty fare at reasonable prices. Enter Williamburg's Marlow & Son's; a restaurant located in the back of a general store serving up plates of oysters, chacuterie boards and a list of rotating specials. Locals and Manhattanites alike routinely flock to this neighborhood joint for its use of seasonal ingredients, simple preparation and excellent execution. Tempted by a recent Grub Street article highlighting Marlow & Son's Brick Chicken, YW, her husband JC, MW and I decided to visit the restaurant.

Quaint might be too generous an adjective when describing the dining conditions at Marlow & Son's, as we were literally bumping shoulders with our neighbors. A steady stream of indie rock played in the background of the dimly-lit room as we were seated next to a chalkboard containing the day's specials. My only issue with the the restaurant was with its layout; a single unisex bathroom designated for the entire restaurant created a line that resulted in half of our table being constantly assaulted by pointy-elbows of the bearded kind.

The menu at Marlow & Son's works similarly to their adjacent sister-restaurant Diner; basically containing a few appetizers (soup, mussels and pasta) and entrees (brick chicken, swordfish and meatballs) that vary slightly depending on the availability of seasonal ingredients. We began with the Chicken Liver Pate. The pate was blended very fine and was quite smooth but had a great flavor and was a perfect start to our meal.

There were two salad specials that evening so we opted for the Spinach Salad with Ham, Cherries, Pistachios and Red Onions with a Buttermilk Dressing. Like the pate, the salad was a hit with everyone. The saltiness of the ham worked well with the sweet cherries, crunchy pistachios and tangy buttermilk dressing.

Next came A heaping bowl of Mussels in a Saffron Broth and Ramp Puree. These Mussels were gigantic. Unfortunately, the mussels lacked a lot of flavor; tasting mostly of water. The saffron broth was underwhelming and didn't bring much flavor to the dish and the ramp puree was so strong that it overpowered the rest of the components.

The Meat Plate was huge, both in its size and in flavor. A generous portion of Toscano, Soppresata, Coppa, Nostrano and Prosciutto were thinly sliced and tasted great with some crusty bread. 

The pasta of the evening happened to be a Ravioli stuffed with Goat Cheese and Nettles with a Brown Butter Sauce and topped with shaved Parmesan. The pasta was nice and al dente with the goat cheese providing a tart contrast to the nuttiness of the brown butter and parmesan cheese.

The first entree to appear was the Middle Eastern Spiced Meatballs over Toasted Farro and Garbanzo Bean Puree with a Yogurt Sauce. This unfortunate dish was a victim of over seasoning. The meatballs were so salty that they were only edible when combined with the rest of the components on the plate. 

The Swordfish was served with a Ragu of Spring Vegetables (Shaved Asparagus and Mushrooms) and was the lightest of the three entrees. The fish was moist, cooked medium rare, and benefited from the sweet asparagus and earthy mushrooms.

The last dish of the evening was the Brick Chicken served over Greens and Fingerling Potatoes and was easily the best dish of the evening. The half-chicken, deboned and butterflied, had a perfectly crisp skin yet remained incredibly moist. After my first bite it became clear why this dish was a Marlow & Son's menu staple and everyone agreed this dish alone warranted a return visit.

Like any good bistro Marlow & Son's succeeds in serving simple food that tastes great without any gimmicks or fanciful presentations. There are no micro greens or foams here. Instead, the focus is on taking seasonal products that accent the flavors of the menu items that keeps the loyal regulars coming back for more.

Marlow & Son's
81 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 384-1441


To see all our pics, please click the flickr link.

Marlow & Sons on Urbanspoon

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