Originally posted Feb. 2, 2010
This past Friday I was treated to lunch by a great friend of mine at The Brooklyn Warehouse, marking my first visit to the much talked about establishment. We walked into the noisy and crowded dining room and were lucky enough to land a window seat right away. When I say noisy and crowded I mean it in the best way possible – this place was absolutely packed to the gills with enthusiastic diners having upbeat and energetic conversations. I was happy to be there. I am not sure if it was the combination of happy Friday diners, laid-back and pleasant servers, the unique sleek-and-trendy yet artsy-and-retro interior, and my fantastic company but there was definitely something going on in The Brooklyn Warehouse that worked for me.
Not to even mention the menu. I thoroughly enjoy this lunch menu; its fresh, its local, its creative, its simple and its diverse, its old and its new – all at the same time. It is anything but boring. This menu really is not very extensive yet there seems to be something for everyone – including something creative and well thought out for vegans and vegetarians too, which is great to see.
We kept things simple, being on a lunch hour time constraint and all, and simply went with a glass of one of their house reds each (William Cole Pinot Noir, Chile) and straight to our mains. (Note: Nice touch having the drink lists waiting at each place setting for when patrons sit down. I have to comment on smart selling moves when I see them). My lovely lunch date went for the classic and irresistible sounding Mac & Cheese made with extra old PEI cheddar, elbow macaroni, breadcrumb-Parmesan and a side of Sweet William’s sausage and roasted tomato vinaigrette. She only allowed me one bite (not that I blame her) so I don’t have extensive notes, however, I think it was the extra old PEI cheddar that did it – that one bite was deliciously creamy, rich and delicious.
My choice was the very interesting and totally tradition-insulting Carbonara. This particular “Carbonara” is one of The Brooklyn Warehouse’s vegan options. I love their healthy and innovative twist on the old Italian classic, instead using angel hair pasta, smoked tofu, almond milk, roasted green beans and topped with portobello crisps. In my opinion this totally works. Obviously Chef Ruppel knows what he is doing in the vegan realm; using almond milk to create a nutty and flavourful cream sauce, a rich and smoky tasting tofu, perfectly cooked green beans to throw in some textural variety and also great shape and texture with the mound of angel hair pasta. This dish is topped with some portobello crisps and mesclun greens. The portobello crisps look great – I didn’t find them really adding much flavour-wise, though. The smoked tofu had the best flavour and texture out of any I’ve tasted. This was a perfect lunch dish for me: healthy, light, tasty and creative.
A return trip to The Brooklyn Warehouse is certainly in the works, based on my first experience. Our service was great: friendly, confident and comfortable. The what I like to call “trendy with deliberate retro accents” interior style of the restaurant gives a vibrant disposition and a notable feel. It may just be the power of suggestion from their name, however, I do feel that their style is somewhat upscale Brooklyn diner. This tangible character paired with the buzz from the clientele (both of whom were dining there that day and those who were not) created an atmosphere that left an impression on me as notably different from other Halifax establishments. I do agree that The Brooklyn Warehouse is doing something different and I am excited that they are part of the growing slow and local food movement in our city.