At first glance, with its bare white walls and rather industrial decor, Elberta is completely unassuming, and upon entering, you don’t really know what to expect. But then, you’re handed a menu. You start salivating just glancing at the appetizers and you realize you’ve come to the right place.
Elberta is located in the Prospect Heights area of Brooklyn – a crossroads of various neighborhoods and cultures, which is reflected in the menu. The food there is hard to define. Each dish seems to have myriad inspiration, with American, Caribbean, French, Mexican and Asian influences. You’d think this would result in a total mess, but you’d be wrong.
The restaurant was named after the elberta peach to pay homage to the space’s previous occupant – Velvet Peach Café. And, you’ll be happy to learn that several of the kitchen staff trained with Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster fame. Considering the reasonable prices and how accessible it is by public transit (even for you Manhattanites), you’d be crazy not to have your next meal there.
As per recommendation of our helpful waitress, my date and I started with the braised goat ravioli. Fresh al dente pasta stuffed with tender shredded goat meat (if you’ve never had goat it’s similar to lamb) and gently cooked cauliflower florets tossed in a floral coconut curry with golden raisins. The first taste is all about the gamey goat and tender pasta, but as the palate gets acquainted with the dish, the focus shifts to the warm curry and sweet raisins. I am in awe of this surprising and well-balanced dish.
Next up, octopus ceviche. Paper-thin slices of octopus, topped with a medley of bell peppers and cilantro, with beets and a generous drizzle of olive oil. It was amazing how the fruity olive oil seemed to tie the sweet beets and meaty octopus together.
Finally, my date and I split the jerk chicken entrée. Upon ordering this, I was expecting something homey and maybe even messy, but what arrived was a stunning, sophisticated dish. The spicy skin-on white meat chicken was served on a bed of citrusy green salad with mango slices instead of with a predictable starchy side. It was light and oh-so-summery.
There was nothing I would add or take away from these dishes. Every taste and sensation was immediately complemented by another taste and sensation. This meal was intriguing and exciting; simply put, a constant party in my mouth.
You’d think you have to go to a fancy, white tablecloth type of place to experience food that is spectacularly executed like this, which definitely speaks to the recent shift in New York food culture. It seems that we no longer seek to be served by stern waiters in “fine dining” establishments; we want to plop our elbows down on the table and feel at home.
Note: The menu at Elberta changes seasonally. Also, check out their weekly Tasty Tuesdays 3-course $25 tasting menu.
Originally published on Forkology