Maria’s Restaurant was my father’s “turf” for entertaining both family and guests both business and social. His long association with Maria’s left him confident knowing that Maria and her staff always had his back. In my career, I have been looking for my own “turf,” much as my father had. I may have found it in a local family-run restaurant.
The Brooklyn Grill is located on Euclid Avenue in Bristol, Virginia. While presenting an unassuming exterior (the Statue of Liberty is a nice touch), its interior is quite comfortable indeed.
The main dining area is paneled in dark woods with sturdy furniture of an equally umber appearance. There is seating for 80 or so patrons at tables draped in white linen napery. At left rear is Brooklyn Grill’s “snug,” a smaller dining room providing extra coziness and privacy for special occasions.
Just such an occasion presented itself when my dining partner and I joined our dine-around friend the Retiree, fresh from her latest cross-country jaunt. Wanting the evening with our globetrotting friend to be special, I made a phone call to the Brooklyn Grill to reserve a table and get additional assistance from Laura, Brooklyn Grill’s very helpful and friendly “front of house.”
Upon arrival at the time specified, we were greeted pleasantly by Laura in person, who welcomed and showed us to a table specially chosen for privacy, yet offered us a good view of the restaurant.
Crab cakes appetizer: As I scanned the menu, I asked Laura what she would recommend as an appetizer for the three of us. Without batting an eye, Laura recommended an order of the crab cakes ($14) which my dining partner and the Retiree agreed to.
The crab cakes were served New York-style, loaded with crabmeat both claw and backfin, with minimal seasoning other than some salt and a few twists from the black pepper mill. No trace of green or red pepper chunks or other Maryland crab boil seasoning elements was found. Crab cakes New York style is very tasty indeed.
French onion soup: Laura also mentioned that the soup of the day was French onion ($6) which immediately got my dining partner’s attention, as she uses soups as an indicator of how good the restaurant’s kitchen is.
In this case, Brooklyn Grill’s French onion soup was truly exceptional: scratch-made beef broth, wonderfully savory onions, with a touch of dry sherry adding a note of mischief. Topping it with some nutty Emmentaler cheese and a good piece of French bread as the “lid” made for a delicious first course.
Fried oysters house special: As we continued to discuss our dining options with Laura, she made it known that one of the dinner specials was fried oysters, sided with steamed fresh broccoli and boiled red potatoes ($32).
My dining partner is a big fan of fried oysters. Instead of the usual eight-piece oyster entrée you’d find at any old seafood house, my dining partner’s fried oyster entrée numbered eighteen to twenty (Blue Point?) oysters, each so plump and succulent that they had to have been hand-selected.
Offered a ramekin of cocktail sauce, my smiling partner waved it away; only a few slices of lemon were needed as she raised knife and fork to do battle with the bivalves.
Grilled Veggie Sandwich with house salad: As I’d had a substantial business lunch, I wanted some light fare, and ordered a grilled vegetable pita ($11) with a house salad. Laura informed me that they were out of pita bread, suggesting that we try it on a fresh-baked Italian bun instead, which was fine by me.
I was pleasantly surprised when, instead of the usual finely-chopped veggie mixture, my sandwich was packed with diced yellow squash, sliced shallots, sliced mushrooms, coarsely-chopped zucchini, sweet onion, some garlic cloves with chevre cheese providing a nice salt-and-butter counterpoint to the tangy pungency of the mix. I gladly deconstructed my veggie entree with knife and fork, not wanting to miss any morsel.
Chicken Marsala with capellini pasta: Meanwhile, the Retiree was tucking into one of Brooklyn Grill’s signature entrees, Chicken Marsala ($20). Needless to say, Brooklyn Grill’s kitchen did not disappoint, especially when our friend requested capellini pasta instead of potatoes.
The chicken breast was pounded, then pan-fried with mushrooms. With the chicken bedded down on capellini pasta, the sauce reduction of deglazed fond from the bottom of the pan, Marsala wine and dry sherry was then poured over the chicken and mushrooms. With steamed broccoli florets added to the plate, the Retiree had a smile to match that of my dining partner’s.
Re-crossing state lines: The three of us had a marvelous evening at Bristol’s Brooklyn Grill. A dining venue both friendly and cozy, Laura’s impeccable assistance in providing the three of us a meal of unsurpassed delectability and depth of flavor. Brooklyn Grill will meet and exceed your exacting standards for fine dining as well.
Be advised that, for the foreseeable future Brooklyn Grill will only be open Tuesday through Saturday and only during the dinner hours. Please make reservations to be assured of a table at your specified date and time, and who knows, you might find, as I did, some “turf” of your own.
Recommended by the Mystery Diner (and friends).
Brooklyn Grill & Café
2125 Euclid Ave.
Tue-Sat, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Available on Facebook
Credit cards accepted