Old School Brooklyn: Carroll Gardens Restaurant Does PB&J French Toast and Maryland Crabcakes
Old School Brooklyn, a month-old restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, is quite the trek from the Financial District. A quaint restaurant, complete with iron fixtures reminiscent of The Meatball Shop, old black-and-white photos with the occasional empty frame, a corner china cabinet, and gorgeous Florentine-esque dishes, the interior paints the picture of your grandmother’s, or great grandmother’s, dining room, ready to receive guests and give you a rickety cup of tea.
The brunch fare we tasted included the Love Me Tender, two doorstop pieces of French Toast sandwiching a peanut butter and jelly spread, topped with banana maple syrup, sliced maple syrup-soaked bananas, and fresh strawberries; the Red Hook Tower, a plate with smoked salmon, arugula, bacon, hot-house tomatoes, capers, and bagel chips spread with herb marscapone; and the Maryland Crabcake Sandwich, an all-meat crabcake lightly dusted with cornmeal flakes, with avocado, a spicy aioli, and shaved cucumber salad.
The cool and sweet crabcake was complemented by the spicy kick and aftertaste from the aioli, which mimicked the kick of vinegar in traditional a Maryland crabcake, and while the breading was minimal and the cake was all crab — a test for a good Maryland crabcake — I should note that the dish was best consumed as a sandwich, rather than the crabcake standalone. The cornmeal flakes were brushed on, making the Maryland meat sweeter than it should normally be, and because of the minimal breading, was best eaten the bread of the sandwich, as the meat came apart in bites very easily. The French toast blended sweet with a little savory, featuring a complementary however not overwhelming amount of peanut butter and jelly (in my mind, however, there can always be more), enhanced by the thickness of the toast, banana maple syrup, and the slightly sour zing from the fresh strawberries. The feature of the brunch, however, was the Red Hook Tower. The plentiful amount of salmon was perfectly smoked, and complemented by the arugula, tomatoes, marscapone, bagel chips, and bacon. The dish had cool savory and fresh flavors that never tasted fishy, and worked together to form a Mediterranean-inspired meal. The dish took me back to my Nonna’s kitchen during breakfast, where a compilation of what was good at the time beat pancakes and eggs any day — always featuring some tomatoes from the vine, seafood, bread, cheese, olives, and an assortment of complementary treats.