Last February Joaquin Baca's year-old restaurant Brooklyn Star burned down. In retrospect that wasn't such a bad thing. For one, we gained Best Pizza, which took over the old space (plus the same serious wood burning oven), and sometimes comes scarily close to fulfilling its bold moniker.
The other benefit is that Brooklyn Star, which reopened in March and whose menu has been updated, but still features a heavily Brooklyn influenced take on classic Texas favorites, is now in a much larger space on the other side of the expressway. This is both an asset and a curse. The interior is oddly bland, with green and white walls and wooden tables and floors. If it weren't for the obligatory hipster waifs you wouldn't know this is Williamsburg. There's a sense of humor though, with a nod to Chuck Norris and a declaration on the menu that the Fritos are sourced from Plano, Texas.
On to the food...
Our buttermilk biscuits arrived first. They were fine, but hardly memorable, with the buttermilk providing a background tanginess and leaning towards the buttery side (especially when I slathered on even more butter).
In contrast, the two cornbreads served in iron skillets were fantastic. The jalapeno bacon cornbread in particular was straightforward yet delectable, especially the browned edges.
No one could say a bad word about macaroni and cheese with bacon, sufficiently creamy with macaroni that had just the right amount of bite.
Dr. Pepper Ribs may have come into contact (or been in the same room) with the cult soda at some point, but I couldn't detect it. Still, the ribs were tender and moist without being cooked too long.
Our obligatory vegetable dish: brussel Sprouts with ham, apple and spicy chow chow. The brussel sprouts were not caramelized enough for my taste, but went over well with the rest of the group. I say either embrace their rawness or go full-caramelization, don't try to please everyone (sorry, I'm clearly particular about the doneness of my brussel sprouts).
The arrival of our fried pig tails with hush puppies signaled our transition into the deep-fried portion of the evening. Many people were disappointed with the tails, claiming they didn't have enough meat on them (I think people were expecting oxtail). Instead, the thin tails had crunchy fried meat adhered to the cartilaginous bone, like the bark on a dry rack of ribs.
Fried Sweetbreads with hominy and ramp mayonnaise was easily my favorite dish of the evening (and most everyone else's). Displaying deep skills with a deep fryer, the large pieces of tender veal sweetbreads were as well fried as the kernels of hominy (can you still call hominy a kernel?). The hominy didn't need the mayo, as it was impossible to resist on its own (OK, a squirt of lime helped too). I have a can of hominy at home and I'm making them ASAP or demanding that more (or any) bars serve them.
The last and largest dish to arrive was Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and hot slaw. Topped with a creamy gravy, it was difficult to get a full bite of steak without the shell of breading falling onto my plate. Once I managed to mash everything together in my mouth, the flavors were solid, if a little conventional. However, I did appreciate the hot slaw, a favorite of mine that I haven't seen on many restaurant menus.
I'm not sure whether it was lack of motivation or enthusiasm of our options, but we passed on dessert. Overall, our group of 7 managed to spend slightly over $20 apiece (without alcohol)-- a good value, but probably skewed by our size.
So now all is well in the universe. A disaster spawned Best Pizza and Brooklyn Star has been reborn, slinging Texas inspired cuisine deep in the heart of Brooklyn.
593 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211