One of dishes that lure Fork and Spoon to a restaurant every time is the promise of great fried chicken. It was this very promise, Brooklyn’s best fried chicken and cheddar cheese waffles that drew Fork and Spoon, followed along by Knork and Spork, to Buttermilk Channel. Buttermilk Channel is in Carroll Gardens and gets its name from the stretch of water between Brooklyn and Governor’s Island. It was said that this stretch of water was so rough that milk going to market would turn to butter before reaching the other side.
Let’s start off by telling you, they don’t take reservations, and on the weekends they are packed all the time! According to the bartender, people are already there and waiting at the door at 4:30pm. During the week is better. Before 7:00 is better. Be willing to eat outside or at the bar. We faced an hour wait or sit at the bar. The four of us commandeered the corner of the bar and had a grand old time – until everyone waiting for a table decided that standing at our end of the bar was a good idea and putting their drinks down in the middle of where we were eating. Nice manners.
Trust us, even with this slight annoyance, the food is fantastic and this is definitely a place to go!
Iced tea, fresh, cold, huge glasses, and bottomless. We always find surprising the places that offer bottomless iced tea and those that don’t. We would have thunk higher end restaurants would not – and for the most part they do and the more casual places would – and surprise, surprise, they don’t. Enough about tea!
In looking at the menu, there were so many wonderful dishes that Fork and Spoon wanted to try. The only solution? Order a few small plates and one main course. Always works for us! As we were drooling over the menu and waiting for Knork and Spork to finally decide what to order, our wonderful waiter/bartender brought over a plate of popovers. Light and airy, tender, buttery, yummy, sprinkled with sea salt and a slightly sweet syrup. What a great way to start a great meal!
Knork and Spork don’t really like to share, so we let them do their own thing. For starters Spork ordered the Maine Butter Clam & Corn Chowder. The chowder was lovely, smelled delicious, and Spork actually shared a spoonful. It was delicious and fresh. The clams were delicate and buttery. The chowder creamy and smooth.
We all also had Maple & Bacon Roasted Almonds. It’s worth the trip to have these! They’re served in a small sundae glass, but there is nothing small about their taste or flavor. Almonds are oven roasted with bits of bacon. This alone would have been enough to send the Cutlery into heaven, but there, of course, was more. The bacon and almonds are then candied with maple syrup. What a combination – nuts, bacon and maple syrup. And as you reach for these almonds over and over you occasionally grab something that you think is a small nut, but it’s a nice surprise, a hunk of bacon covered in maple syrup! A little sea salt sprinkled over the top just elevates this a little further. Fork and Spoon now know the reason why these are served in a small glass – you could eat bucketfuls of these and then have no room for the goodness yet to come!
Our second nibble were Hush Puppies with a Green Chile Aioli for dipping. Again, served in a small sundae glass, what appeared were four perfectly golden brown and crispy spheres of deliciousness. These were not dry. They were moist and totally unlike any hush puppy Fork had tasted before. They weren’t coarse from the corn meal the way hush puppies usually are, they were tender and smooth on the inside. The outsides were perfect. Just the right amount of crunch, sprinkled with sea salt, with flecks of fresh herbs throughout. The green chile aoili sat at the bottom of the glass. Each of the hush puppies just sitting at the edge of the aioli. The aoili was spicy and tangy and so wonderful with the smoothness of the hush puppy.
Our last nibble was Mustard Glazed Grilled Bacon. And, yes, it was as good as it sounds. This was amazing. Thick slices – no, slabs, really – of house-cured, meaty, flavorful bacon. The bacon is grilled so that it was crisp on the outside, while still tender on the inside. Now, take it from a piece of Cutlery that has tried to grill bacon, this is no easy feat. We nearly burned the backyard down grilling bacon! From now on we’ll let someone else do the bacon grilling! The mustard glaze was sweet, tangy, and spicy at the same time, large flecks of mustard seeds throughout. Each rasher of bacon equally covered. The bacon was served with a simple salad of sugar snap peas, micro greens, a light dressing and hearty whole wheat croutons - well, more like soldiers that croutons. Perfect for sopping up any of the mustard glaze that may have attempted to make an escape. More, please!
Knork does not play well with others. Knork doesn’t share, nor like to have dishes photographed, but Knork occasionally goes along with the program so he’s invited along. On this adventure, Knork refused to try the dish that we all were drawn to Buttermilk Channel for, the fried chicken. Knork ordered the Creekstone Farms Delmonico Rib Eye with Greenmarket Potato Salad & Horseradish Vinaigrette. The steak was small, especially for the price. Knork said it wasn’t very tasty. The potato salad was just plain old potato salad. We were very sorry Knork was disappointed. Fork and Spoon and Spork all did a little homage to Grace Adler and did the ‘Told Ya So’ dance – though quietly and behind his back.
Fork, Spoon and Spork all had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Cheddar Waffles and Savoy Cabbage Slaw. Buttermilk Channel us known for their fried chicken. It’s been written about, blogged about, featured on television, and is one of the leaders of the fried chicken craze in New York City. We were served a large half chicken, with the crispiest coating imaginable. The coating was flavorful, well seasoned and nicely salty. The chicken nestled inside the coating was very, very moist. One wouldn’t think one could have both, the serious crunch factor and the moist chicken, but they managed it. The fun doesn’t stop there. The fried chicken sits on top of a cheddar cheese waffle. The waffle is light and fluffy, with a light crispness to the outside. There isn’t so much cheese to make the taste overpowering, but enough to give you a subtle notion that there is cheddar cheese there. The powdered sugar on the waffle is so great with the salty coating on the chicken. Next to this is a scoop of savoy cabbage slaw. Great dressing. Really rounds the dish out. And that little pitcher? That’s maple balsamic syrup. Drizzle a little of that on everything and anything and you have just entered nirvana. Best part of this chicken? It’s available for take-out! Call up, order, run in and grab and you have yourself a feast any time the spirit moves you.
Spork had to have an ice cream float for dessert. For a kid from Brooklyn, there is no better dessert than an ice cream float, but add the grown up Manhattan Special Soda instead of root beer and you’ve now crossed the line into adulthood. This was no small float either. Gigantic glass, filled with vanilla ice cream and Manhattan Special Soda. For those of you who don’t know Manhattan Special, it’s an espresso flavored soda, definitely not for the faint of heart.
Fork and Spoon shared two desserts. If we had realized the sheer size of these beforehand we would have opted for one, but once in front of us, we trudged on like the troopers we are.
Dessert One - a Strawberry Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Crumble and Vanilla Ice Cream. The tart shell was crisp and buttery. The filling was sweet and tart, a nice combination of rhubarb and strawberries. The crisp topping was brown sugary and buttery and very crunchy. Put a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top and you have a dessert worth stuffing your face for.
Dessert Two – Doug’s Pecan Pie Sundae. Our waiter/bartender recommended this, and it was very good. But very, very, make-your-teeth-ache, sweet. Another giant fountain glass. This time the glass was layered with what can only be described as pecan pie filling (everything but the crust) and vanilla ice cream. The coldness of the ice cream made the caramel pecan pie filling hard and become gloriously chewy and candy like. This is not a dessert for one person, certainly not one person who had just eaten everything we ate during dinner.
Please, if you want to only pick one place in Brooklyn for dinner and you are a fried chicken fanatic, this is the place. The fried chicken is knock your socks off good! I know the cutlery in Fork’s draw will be enjoying take-out from Buttermilk Channel for many moons to come! Call. Go. Take out. Eat. Enjoy. Let us know what you think!