There’s a lot of fun being had in the kitchen at Cooklyn.
Though the cuisine at the modern-rustic restaurant, which opened in November, is billed as seasonal New American, chef Anthony Theocaropoulos’ Italian-Greek roots are evident. The most interesting example has to be the lamb bun ($5), with lean meat braised down to its earthy essence, sprinkled with feta cream, pickled daikon and fresh dill, then wrapped in a pita-style Chinese steamed bao. (Has anyone else melded Asian and Greek concepts before?)
Plating occasionally veers into fussy territory, with simple presentations sometimes asking too much of too few ingredients. But the chef and his food both shine when he sticks to what he loves, and that’s Mediterranean-influenced hearty fare. He can tease perfect tenderness out of octopus ($14), then adds a ton of flavor by searing and topping it with an assertive watercress pesto. The Cooklyn Salad ($15) combines dragonfruit and generous lumps of lobster and shrimp with a sesame creme fraiche that would make a satisfying lunch.
Among the entrees, the squid ink cavatelli ($16) distinguishes itself with a Meyer lemon sauce, outshining the accompanying scallops, shrimp and calamari. And brunch, which just launched last weekend, will delight young-at-heart foodies: The ricotta-stuffed French toast ($12) gets punched up with Key lime; warm frisee salad ($14) with lardons and a poached egg is topped with a bacon vinaigrette; and to wash it all down, Fruity Pebbles cereal milk ($5).
But if you’re looking to make an impression on Valentine’s Day, pastry chef Brian Sullivan (Ai Fiori) has created something truly sexy. The poached pear and pickled rose petals ($7) are accompanied by wafer-thin rosemary merengue that cracks with a touch and melts instantly to create something even more decadent than chocolate cake.
For the wines, the reds are not for the conventional (one among our pairings tasted like it had been aged in a whiskey barrel), but the whites are a flawless collection of sophisticated bottles.
Cooklyn is located at 659 Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. 347-915-0721.