This week, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells gives two stars to Brooklyn’s Dover, a restaurant that introduced Wells to a dish he had been missing in his life — broiled oysters.
“Specifically, these were Wellfleet oysters, keeping warm under a lightly toasted blanket of one of those eggy, creamy Gallic sauces,” he says. "Vaguely old-fashioned, the oysters were just rich enough to feel like an extravagance without bringing on gloomy reflections about the brief duration of our time on earth.”
Wells also realized that he was missing the style of cooking at Dover, calling it “French in spirit if not in all its particulars.”
“It is both refined and generous, and it responds to the time of year not just in its choice of ingredients but in its instincts for feeding seasonal cravings," Wells continued. "It is a style that Dover’s chefs, Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern, practice fluently and charmingly. If the rigorously tweezered austerity that is in vogue in the city’s kitchens has begun to seem as comforting as an icicle, Dover’s cooking will strike you as a sweet relief.”
Describing its ambience and décor, Wells says the restaurant has “the elegant severity of a 19th-century parsonage inhabited by a very neat, unmarried New England minister.”
“Fifty or so pale bentwood chairs match the bare wood tables set on bare wood floors. The walls are white or brick, and the paint on the paneled wainscoting is the color of modeling clay… There is also a bar in one corner, suggesting that the minister enjoys his cocktails.”
The menu at Dover is not light. “Dover’s chefs do not cook for hummingbirds,” says Wells.
“The servers, bright-eyed and polite, may tell you that it is designed for four-course dining, or may suggest three courses instead. As a professional overeater, I will tell you that four followed by dessert is too much. Three is a fun route if you are hungry and curious, and two with dessert is what, in another era, used to pass for a full dinner.”
He specifically recommends the vegetables, saying “the chefs handle them very nicely. An appetizer of roasted cauliflower with toasted hazelnuts and raisins built contrasts (sweet and savory, crunchy and soft) so successfully that every bite was different.”
Dover’s chefs Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern are “cooking to please, whether they are carefully balancing the lemon juice and cream in an artichoke sauce for black sea bass or trying to inject luxury into the buckwheat served with a terrific duck breast that has a filet mignon tenderness.”
For Wells' full review, click here.