The Good Fork
391 Van Brunt St (Coffey St)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 643-6636
Fax: (718) 643-6643
Hours: Tuesday — Saturday 5:30 pm — 10:30 pm Sunday 5:30 pm — 10:00 pm
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Cuisine: Comfort Food
2nd Cuisine: Eclectic
Area: Red Hook
Red Hook in the dead of winter can be a bit desolate or I should say very desolate. It's also proven to be a difficult place for restaurants to navigate. Some of the first to try, like 360, didn't survive. But others have managed to flourish thanks in large part to the strength of the artist community they serve. One of the them is The Good Fork.
From the outside you might not even know it exists if not for a golden sign above the door and two slim windows. But what we found inside was a thriving restaurant drawing large crowds.
The space is warm and cozy with exposed brick, curvy banquettes and an arched ceiling. There are vintage pictures on the walls and lots of bricabrack to catch the eye. After a 15 minute wait we were seated in a back room with mix-matched tables, string lights and cheesy plastic roses hanging from the ceiling. In the corner, a Sylvania turntable console (circa 1970s) was spinning tunes. Folks seated next it get to play DJ. Tonight that was us, picking from a slightly warped collection of vinyl ranging from jazz and avante-garde to Hank Williams and The Clash. It instantly brought back memories of what music used to be like before the iPod came along. And as I sipped my delicious Hemingway Daquiri, I couldn't help but wonder what Hemingway would have thought of this place. My guess is he would have felt right at home.
The Good Fork is run by husband-and-wife team Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim. He's a carpenter and actor. She's a chef who's cooked at Annisa and Blue Hill. Her dumplings even earned her a "Throwdown" with Bobby Flay.
Our first order of business was to try those dumplings ($8) are truly little pockets of heaven. They're stuffed with ground duck with hints of cilantro, scallion and chive. A thick hoisin dipping sauce served with them gets added kick from chili paste and habanero peppers. The Panko-crusted shrimp ($11) was another winner. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside served with a brussels sprout, grapefruit, pickled onion, cilantro remoulade. The crab cake ($12) is also a work of art. It's light and fluffy served alongside a spicy chili aioli. But probably the best part of the dish is the accompanying endive salad; crisp endive leaves topped with radish sprouts and a lively dressing. I could eat that salad every day.
Entrees are equally as rewarding thanks to an extraordinary mix of flavors. Seared duck breast ($22) served medium rare arrived atop a bed of French lentils with duck confit, olives and eggplant. The accompanying red wine reduction is perfect for slathering the duck slices in. The special this night was a short rib ($26), thick and beefy, and so tender you could cut it with a fork. Beneath it was a mix of brown rice, whole chestnuts and what I believe were dried cherries. It was magnificent in both presentation and taste. Even a standard burger ($8) was anything but standard. 8 ounces of ground beef on a homemade roll and oversized tempura onion rings that filled the plate. It was too much for my son to eat, but it made for a great lunch the following day. Other dishes on the menu include a braised Berkshire pork shoulder ($19) with farro and dates, wild mushroom risotto ($18) and "Steak and Egg" ($20) served Korean style.
Don't skip out before trying one of the desserts. A pear crisp hot from the oven with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream on top is simply too good to pass up. And a "complimentary" piece of flourless chocolate cake with creme anglaise and rasberry sauce was heavenly.
The Good Fork is truly good eats! Go!
Review By: Thomas Rafael