With no depreciated frontiers left to settle, like Smith Street in Cobble Hill or Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, durably prosperous Brooklyn Heights has essentially sat out the borough’s restaurant revolution. Sure, steady crowds at Perelandra and Garden of Eden attest to residents’ long held passion for provenance, probiotics, and kale, but it’s hardly reflected by the eateries that have largely monopolized Montague Street, embodied by deep-pocketed franchises such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries. So a tip of the hat to the five-month-old Friend of a Farmer for taking a chance on what must be scandalous rents, in Brooklyn’s culinary equivalent of the Wild Wild West.
With a menu that dutifully lists all of their farm partners, and a greenmarket’s worth of produce displayed on artfully worn shelves and wicker baskets outside of an open kitchen, they’re obviously all-in with their local/sustainable theme (not that it’s disingenuous, as they were early farm-to-table adopters, when they opened their original, Gramercy Park location back in 1986). Damask wallpaper, gourds propped on sideboards and vaulted ceilings hatched with wide, dark-wood beams complete the pastoral Hudson Valley portrait, although a row of banquettes were evidently designed with the vigilantly toned backsides of the modern-day Brooklynite in mind, suitable only for sipping carrot and rosemary martinis; like a juice cleanse with a kick.
For anyone else who wishes to indulge in a full-on, countrified meal (beginning with gratis pans of corn bread, saturated with chunky apple butter) far better to settle in a padded, sage-painted chair instead, under the dim, magnanimous glow of one of four working fireplaces. Because even though we’re well into spring, Friend of a Farmer remains seemingly married to the rustic, husky fare of winter and late fall: think chicken pot pie baked in cast iron, and duck magret paired with butternut squash risotto, sauced with sour cherries and pinot noir. Though it’s odd to find nary a ramp or fiddlehead in sight at an emphatically seasonal spot, it’s hard to hate on expertly rendered short ribs over butter-drunk mashed potatoes, and soirees into signature dish territory (cheddar and apple-stuffed chicken balanced on cakelike lemon bread, plagued by a saccharine excess of citrus honey raisin sauce) prove Friend of a Farmer is best when they stick to the classics. And besides, the aforementioned item will likely ruin you for dessert, which would be a pity, considering the lineup includes chocolate chip cookie skillets with maple syrup and ice cream; s’mores constructed from banana chocolate chip bread; and apple pie for two (which, like all the greatest hits at Friend of a Farmer, arrives in its own, fresh from the oven crock). Granted, it’s hardly more figure friendly than a trip to Five Guys; so before retiring to their stately townhouses and brownstones, locals might want to consider taking a power walk around the promenade first.
76 Montague Street, Brooklyn Heights