Restaurant Name: The Vanderbilt
Restaurant Location: 570 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn
The Vanderbilt is a relatively new restaurant on the Brooklyn dining scene. It's a beautiful space, though one that is divided up and used somewhat oddly. There is a bar in the front with a long row of elevated banquet seating across from it. In this part of the restaurant you can only order drinks and appetizers (no small plates), which seems odd since it probably seats nearly 30 people. Next down the length of the restaurant is a kitchen bar where you can sit and watch the action while ordering off the full menu (this is where we sat). The back of the restaurant appears quite small and provides table seating for the lucky few who are able to get there early enough or are willing to wait long enough for a table.
The food is all small plates served tapas-style (to share) and most of it was quite good.
To start, we tried the brussels sprouts with sirachia, lime, and honey, which were sweet and crisp-tender but could have been a little spicier. We also had the homemade jerky, which was incredibly flavorful (clearly made from high-quality beef). We also tried the duck rillets with quince, which were classically prepared and tasted just as they should (nothing amazing or special here, though), and the smoked Jagerwurst with German potato salad, which was a universal favorite - very juicy, tender, and full of flavor.
Other dishes we sampled included the crispy pork belly with lentils (a generous portion with tender layers and a crisp skin), the grilled Merguez sausage (spicy, but I found it a little dry), the steamed Bouchot mussels with coconut, basil, chili (really plump and flavorful mussels, awesome Thai accent), and the grilled Spanish octopus with cranberry beans (great flavor, but slightly overcooked and chewy)
As the evening wore on and the tasty drinks flowed, we ordered even MORE, including grilled pork loin with parisian gnocchi (very passable, but nothing special) and a dessert of spiced donuts with pistachio ice cream. Unfortunately, the donuts were a real miss, dry and unappetizing.
Overall, with tip, drinks and more food than we probably needed, the meal came to around $135 per couple. This isn't outrageous for New York, but seemed a little steep for the overall quality of the food. My final assessment: very good but not mind-blowing. I'd return and probably order a little more wisely. If you go, don't miss out on the Jagerwurst, the mussels, the jerky, and anything with polenta (the chef gave us a taste of some polenta he was working on to see if we liked it -- it was *incredible*). This is also a nice place to just grab drinks; they have a creative bar menu with some real winners (favorites: black cherry rickey and the Pimms cup).