By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Eating Our Words
To behind the scenes at Brooklyn Athletic Club to see them prepare a dish and get a look at the space in our slideshow: Club Fed: Behind the Scenes at Brooklyn Athletic Club.
The porkobuco arrived juicy and steaming, earthy notes of mushrooms and bacon wafting across the room in its wake. It's an entire pork shank cooked in the style of osso buco, first browned, then braised, until the meat is falling off the bone. It's served over a hash of firm potato medallions, mushrooms, asparagus and thick chunks of perhaps the most divine applewood-smoked bacon I've ever encountered.
The pork on the bone was so tender I found myself completely forgoing my knife. And then I found myself with two forks, the salad fork and the dinner fork, one in each hand, stabbing at the amalgamation of supple pork and smoky hash in an effort to get it more quickly into my mouth.
601 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77006
I remained a two-fisted eater throughout my meal at Brooklyn Athletic Club that day. Who cared that outside, games of bocce were going on? Who cared about the more dignified clientele at nearby tables? I was there for the food.
We'd had no idea what to wear to the place on a Friday night. The menu sounded upscale, but how do you play bocce in heels? The wine and beer lists are extensive and include some pricey offerings, and the cocktails are stylish takes on classic combinations. But then there's the food truck parked in the courtyard. And the picnic tables. And the name: Brooklyn Athletic Club. Would spandex be more appropriate than silk?
As it turns out, it doesn't matter what you wear; Brooklyn Athletic Club accommodates itself to all its guests.
Temperatures have warmed considerably since the restaurant opened in January — when the weather was perfect for cuddling up by a fire with a glass of wine and one of chef Jeff Axline's hearty offerings.
And though the notion of eating a pork shank in the hot sun may not be as enticing as it was in the winter, the food is still sinfully good.
The restaurant sits on a corner lot on Richmond Avenue in Montrose, somewhat removed from the sounds of traffic and the bustle of the city. In the fenced-in courtyard, diners can play a round of bocce on one of three courts or duke it out in a game of beanbag toss. There's a backyard bar for those who simply wish to kick back with a beer, and though it's now too hot to sit by a fire, the patio's fire pits become veritable s'mores factories on chilly spring evenings. Add a few tents, and diners might never have to leave.
Restaurateur Shepard Ross had been germinating the idea for BAC for some time, and when the space that was once home to Zimm's Little Deck opened up, he telephoned Axline in Austin, and together they got the (bocce) ball rolling.
Brooklyn Athletic Club is the third partnering for this dynamic duo, who previously worked together at Glass Wall and BRC Gastropub, where Axline created a Texana menu to complement Ross's cozy craft beer haven. Both eventually split from BRC, but now they've reunited to form an edible homage to both Brooklyn and Houston.
Ross developed the concept for the restaurant, based on a club his grandparents frequented in Brooklyn, and Axline created the menu, which he describes as "Americana." Ross wanted a Reuben and a meatball sub, while Axline wanted his famous mac and cheese and a slew of specials that could change with the season. It's an odd mix of gourmet and comfort food, white linen napkins and sweaty outdoor sports.
As it should be in any good restaurant, though, it's really the food that ties together the concept and the execution. Those who seek out that picnic-and-croquet vibe can order burgers and beer, while those hoping for an upscale, country club-esque experience will be pleased with the lengthy wine selection and perfectly cooked meat.
The menu is simple and short: one oversized page of appetizers, salads and entrées and a few specials offered every evening. The lunch menu differs from the dinner menu in that it includes fewer plated meat and fish dishes and more sandwiches, but most appetizers are featured on both menus.
Each appetizer could be a meal in itself for someone with a normal appetite, but who are we kidding? This is Brooklyn in Texas, baby! We put ribs in our mac and cheese! We don't serve cups of corn chowder — we bring you a bowl and invite you to swim in it!
Everything on the menu seems made for sharing, but you might not want to. Even after consuming the better part of a pork shank the previous evening (and the rest for breakfast), I had difficulty sharing my sweet potato gnocchi with my mother at lunch.
The gnocchi appetizer features plump, irregularly shaped dumplings with the sweetness and texture of yam pudding that very literally melts in your mouth. The plate incorporates apples for more sweetness and acidity and mushrooms that give the sage cream sauce an earthy depth. Again, I found myself holding two forks, one with a lump of gnocchi on it, the other skewering an apple slice. Had I possessed a third hand, I would have dipped my fingers wantonly into the cream sauce, manners be damned.
Vivid, well balanced, lusty prose, delivered by an unabashed lover of food. I will look forward to seeing more form this reviewer. Objective enough to acknowledge when items disappointed, but generous in appreciation of the extreme enjoyment of others- mouthwatering!
Rave review, flimsy references, absolutely no counterpoint or anything that constitutes any real depth. I miss the good old days, even if she was a Shill some of the time.. There is a definite reason why this is the only comment...