Recently, we had the pleasure of seeing my sister, Mary, for a weekend in Brooklyn. Mary has quite the adventurous spirit when it comes to dining out, so we took her to a new restaurant in Prospect Heights: Woodland.
Chris and I rarely eat at restaurants when they first open, because the service isn’t usually very good. The food can be hit or miss as well. Given that the weather was spectacular when Mary arrived, we were looking for al fresco dining–Woodland has a huge outdoor seating area off of Flatbush Avenue, so we opted to eat there. After being seated, our goal was to try a diverse array of plates, which allowed us to get a true sense for the eatery’s culinary perspective.
- Clams and Crayfish with Hunter’s Sausage, Maple Sap Cayenne and Carrot Frites: Chris and Mary were in love with this dish, based on the sweet hints of spice strewn through the seafood broth. The shoestring style carrot frites added a nice crunch.
- Grilled Oysters with Leek Creme: We agreed as a table that the leek creme, tangier than expected, brought out the flavor of the grilled oysters quite well.
- “Grilled Cheese” with Clover Honey: the grilled cheese is simply that–grilled slices of cheese with wonderful accents of honey! I believe the cheese was Haloumi.
- Wild Boar Sausage with Legumes and Lemon Thyme Marmalade: None of us had eaten wild boar sausage previously, so this was a nice treat. Although the sausage was a little dry, the marmalade lifted the sausage flavor out of hiding. The slow simmered legumes were a nice touch as well.
- Wild Mushrooms and Grains with Foraged Mushrooms, Cayuga Grains and Lemon Verbena Pesto: I imagine that this entree will appease to vegetarians, but it fell flat for us. Surprisingly, lemon verbena pesto couldn’t save the dish.
- Duck Fat Red Thumb Potato Smash: Given my uber love of mashed potatoes, there was no way I was passing these mashers up. They were too heavy for Mary and Chris after eating so many other items, but I loved them. I would order them again.
- Lamb T-bone, Turnip and Green Onion Gratin with Westfield Goat Cheese and Spearmint: The lamb t-bone killed it. We fought over each scrap of the meat–it was perfectly cooked–fresh spearmint was great as well. Although it was a fun twist to the usual gratin, goat cheese overpowered the side dish. I enjoyed the red thumb potato smash as a side over the gratin.
Our primary complaint about Woodland was the slow service. They just didn’t have enough staff to accommodate a busy Friday dinner, but our server was extremely friendly. He asked for our opinion on the food and service after dinner, then listened intently when we gave constructive feedback of every dish–he graciously offered an apology for the slow service as well. New restaurants are often too caught up in generating buzz, but not focused enough on customer retention. I suspect Woodland will do well in our neighborhood long term if they continue to focus on their customers. I certainly look forward to going back again soon–here’s hoping they’ve gotten their staffing under control when we visit next time.