People love farms. Or at least they love the idea of them. Farms embody the spirit of the nation. Farms grow things that taste good. Farms have cool machines that sort of look like Transformers.
And yet that's probably the extent of what the average New Yorker knows about them. For most of us, the word "farm" has really become more of an adjective than noun, used to imply that something is "good" or "probably not covered with Doritos."
"Excuse me, what's in the omelette?"
"Three farm eggs and heirloom tomatoes."
"Farm eggs, you say? I do want that. And throw in some farm fresh asparagus."
We also like our restaurants to be farm-centric whenever possible. That was certainly a factor that piqued our interest when we found out that The Finch, a new restaurant in Clinton Hill, is owned by a chef who spent time at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. He spent time in a lot of other restaurants too, but Stone Barns is by far our favorite farm, so TELL ME MORE.
The Finch actually makes no claim to being a particularly farm-centric or farm-focused dining establishment, but it definitely feels like one. The restaurant occupies the entire bottom floor of a brownstone on Greene Avenue, but also seems like it could just as easily exist in the Hudson Valley next to its very own grain silo. There's a sort of warm, rustic comfort to this big and beautiful room, and it's the kind of place you want to hang out in long after your meal is over. There aren't many spaces in Brooklyn with a vibe this good, and the food is excellent too.
Despite never actually using the word, the menu at The Finch definitely has a Blue Hill-esque "farm" feel to it, in that each dish is all about the quality of the ingredients, rather than relying on some rich sauce or heavy handed seasoning to make an impression. For instance, we found ourselves surprised but appreciative of the fact that our squid ink pasta tasted like squid ink pasta and not just starch with lemon juice and chili pepper and butter and salt. We also appreciate that we saw no evidence of what we'll call "farm flexing," in which some rare strain of basil from the Triassic period shows up on your plate to impress you even though it does indeed taste like dinosaur. Instead the flavors are mostly familiar and restrained, and almost exclusively enjoyable.
Maybe that's what we like most about The Finch. We didn't expect this place to be so good and yet so unassuming. Some might even call it modest in it's excellence, just like the hard working farmers this country was built on.
God Bless America.
Baby Kale Salad with Smoked Ricotta, Balsamic & Pistachio Butter
The smoked ricotta and "pistachio butter" make this kale salad a bit more interesting than the one that some guy cracked an egg over for you yesterday. It tastes better too.
Beets and Burrata with Roasted Treviso & Pine Nut Brittle
We usually get a little spooked when "brittles" start getting introduced to our plates, but this one is good and the crunch it provides is a pleasant counterpoint to the beets and cheese in the dish. Order it.
Squid Ink Spaghetti with Red Shrimp, Brussels Sprouts, & Saffron
An excellent pasta that will make you wonder why all other pastas don't taste like this. Also, if red shrimp are different than all the other shrimp I have had, they are officially the best color of shrimp.
Beef Flat Iron & Cheek with Potatoes, Roasted Onions, Salsa Verde
Good steak, some potatoes, and a little salsa verde on the side. This is something you want.