The resumes of these Brooklyn restaurants are starting to look the same. Chef trained at some fancy restaurant (Daniel, French Laundry, Alinea, etc) and wants to cook more casual, seasonally driven food, in a restaurant with an outdoor patio, of course. They all look the same, but it’s a formula that works. The latest addition to the pedigreed Brooklyn restaurant community is Oxalis in Prospect Heights. The chef Nico Russell trained at Daniel and Mirazur in Menton, France, and now it looks like people might be seeking him out for work, seeing as how Oxalis earned a Michelin star this year. The Oxalis tasting menu was quite impressive–and relatively affordable!–and was proof that the star was well deserved.
The five course carte blanche tasting menu starts out with some small vegetable bites. I knew how much I was going to like this place based on the pepper barbajuan fritters. They were fun and tasty, and reminded me very much of Fritos, which is always a party in a snack bag. The tempura broccoli with caramelized anchovy were not too shabby, either, and were devoured in seconds.
I initially thought Oxalis might be a Mexican restaurant. Maybe it’s because the name looks somewhat similar to the word Oaxacan. As my visit confirmed, it’s definitely not Mexican, but it doesn’t have a definitive point of reference, either. Like many of these modern, New World restaurants, it seems to be influenced by the popular trends from around the globe. The lightly smoked trout could have either been Nordic or Japanese in origin. The fall squash in a lapsang tea broth was especially memorable and reminded me a lot of Buddhist temple cooking. Wherever the country, Oxalis picked the best places for inspiration.
The subsequent protein courses were reminiscent of dishes you could get at an acclaimed Scandinavian restaurant. It’s funny that Oxalis bills itself as a neighborhood joint, because that’s very much underselling its capabilities. Sure, if by neighborhood joint, you mean Relae in Copenhagen. I was particularly a big fan of the hearty and robust grilled beef shoulder. If this were an a la carte option, I would choose this as my go-to pick for an entree.
With the dessert course, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. Sweet potato, yogurt and chicory could either be a delicious treat or some sort of baked potato bar. Luckily it was more of the former, and it was quite fantastic. There was great texture from the crispy puffed rice bits and some splashes of lemon. Again, it’s not something that your neighborhood bistro could pull off. So let’s call Oxalis what it really is – an ambitious, Michelin star restaurant wearing casual clothing, but that’s not fooling anyone.
791 Washington Ave (between Sterling Pl and St Johns Pl)
Brooklyn, NY 11238