Dining at The Pines

Dining at The Pines

Ah, Brooklyn. It doesn't really get much better in New York City. The streets are wider and less crowded, you can find a seat in your favorite bar and walk into a new restaurant without reservations. This is what I did, late Saturday night, when friends and I decided on a whim to try a recently opened establishment, The Pines. It is located in Gowanus, a neighborhood down the street from my Park Slope abode where new restaurants and bars are popping up amongst the large loft factories, in a manner curiously similar to Williamsburg in the early millennium. In simpler terms, it may just be "the next big destination." At 10 p.m. the restaurant was bustling and we sat down at a tiny table in the corner, very near the open kitchen where chefs were whipping up the small, flavorful menu. The décor was minimal but warm; exposed re-purposed wood walls, glowing lights and antique touches, like the  cheap-motel-esque wall of keys, set a modern-cozy ambiance, which was excellently complemented by the drink menu; cocktails such as the "Baked Apple" (bourbon, scotch, honey crisp apple, maple bitters and fall herbs) were as complex and expertly prepared as the food. And let me get to that, because the meal was superb. We began with the madai, a rare sashimi-grade fish that was seared on one side with the scales, while the other side was cut bare and left at sushi temperature. Divine—the fish was melt-in-your-mouth fresh with a subtle sauce making for a riveting first course. Following that, baked sweet potatoes arrived, spilling fresh, creamy ricotta, pistachio nuts and a sinful buttery goodness. Our mains came finally, a house-made pasta with ragù, the Wagyu steak with a smoky sauce and a perfectly crisped duck breast with blood oranges. It was a truly harmonious meal, and the menu changes daily, which only means I have many more dinners to look forward to, each time with new surprising additions. These days, it's expected that an establishment stand apart from other restaurants by adding something a bit unexpected, which isn't a bad thing, at all. And naturally, The Pines followed suit: Though they had already impressed with drinks, service and food, they went a step further by offering patrons 'Smores ingredients and a fire pit on the back patio, encouraging a social DIY aspect to the experience and a quirky addition to their in-house desserts.

The Pines, 284 Third Ave., Brooklyn, 718.596.6560