Looking in from Smith Street.

I wanted to like Seersucker, Arkansas native Robert Newton’s much-hyped new restaurant in Carroll Gardens. Really, I did. Tasting Table gave it great reviews and said it’s the “real McCoy” among Brooklyn’s new southern establishments. Grub Street intriguingly called it “cleaned-up southern food.” Maybe that’s the problem. For me, cleaned up read as bland. Soul food, this is not. For appetizers, we ordered the potato chips and pimento cheese basket and the fried catfish with spicy mayo over a light iceberg slaw. I loved the chips–they were light and crunchy and well salted–but my husband likened the pimento cheese to eating cheesy toothpaste. The catfish–well, it’s catfish. For dinner, we had the chicken and dumplings–by far the most appetizing thing we tried, thanks to the use of copious amounts of butter and the oddly delicious piece of crispy, crunchy chicken skin garnish–and an uninspired bowl of shrimp and grits. I thought for sure the rice pudding dessert would offer redemption, but it too fell short, not so much because it didn’t taste good–it was delicious–but because it wasn’t pudding. It was whipped cream studded with rice and crunchy sweet clusters and really stellar strawberries. Delicious, just not pudding. I’ll definitely give it another chance. Chef Newton has cooked at Aquavit, Le Cirque and Tabla, after all. But when I do go back, I’ll plan on doing what we did this time and having a nightcap at Gowanus Yacht Club. Not only is it the perfect mix of fun and low-key, it’s also one of the only places in New York to serve Carling Black Label, which anyone attending the World Cup this year knows is basically the Budweiser of South Africa.

The wall of pickles and preserved foods separating the dining room and kitchen.

Chicken and Dumplings.

Shrimp and Grits.

The "chef" at Gowanus Yacht Club grilling up some hot dogs. Like 40 of them. At midnight.

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Filed under Arkansas, Food, Restaurants

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