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The Finch

Clinton Hill Brooklyn New American

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 22 February 2015 - 09:11 PM

The Finch is a standard-issue New American restaurant that recently opened on the corner of Greene and Grand Aves. (i.e., ridiculously close to Daniel's) in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Its chef/owner, Gabe McMackin, is most noted now for having worked at Roberta's -- although it's perhaps more pertinent, for understanding this restaurant, that he also worked in such places as Sperry's in Saratoga (and yeah, I guess I should say it, BHSB and GT) and as a corporate chef for Martha Stewart.

This is a very good New American restaurant. The problem is, that style is so played out, it's hard to be distinctive. So -- once a certain quality level is reached (as it certainly is here) -- what counts are convenience (good for me, Seth, and Aaron; amazingly good for Daniel; not so good for the rest of the rest of you), atmosphere/ambience, and price.

As for atmosphere, I'd say this place is sort of like Prospect -- but much nicer. The GM wears turn-of-the-20th Century formalwear, an affectation that struck me as kind of charming if silly. The room is not dominated by the bar, the way Prospect's is. Well, the much less-appealing front room is (in a more ambitious restaurant, it would be used as a separate tavern room with its own menu). But the main dining room, in the back, is lovely, emphasizing the attractive bones of the building they're in, fronted by a dining counter on the kitchen. It's very nice.

As for price, people complain it's expensive for the neighborhood. And maybe it is. But you're not going to get food quite like this for less than the $20-$30 their entrees cost. So the question is, can these "new" Brooklyn neighborhoods support restaurants of this quality (high-end neighborhood dining)? Park Slope has shown it won't. I'm not optimistic for Clinton Hill.

It's a tough choice. I could see someone saying that, to charge more than the local competition, you should be offering something much better, rather than marginally better. But I can also see the response: this is why we can't have nice things.

If The Finch were a bit better -- like, say, Dover -- the issue wouldn't come up.

COMP DISCLOSURE: A plate of pasta and some extra wine pours. (If you want to get treated regally by a new restaurant, come in as a solo upper-middle-aged male, apparently knowledgeable about wine and willing to spend on it, on Valentine's Day. You can see them comtemplating the potential gold mine.)


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#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 22 February 2015 - 09:11 PM

This is a place that would benefit enormously from a two-star Pete Wells review. Which is well within the realm of possibility.
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#3 Suzanne F

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 01:19 AM

Benefit in increased business, or benefit by being called out on its insufficiencies (assuming they would pay attention and make the necessary changes)?


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#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 01:33 AM

Increased business.

People in the neighborhood might see more justification for spending money on their food.
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#5 Daniel

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 02:25 AM

Exciting. May I ask what you ordered
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#6 Sneakeater

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Posted 23 February 2015 - 02:36 AM

Egg salad on toast with mackerel confit.

Some lamb dish that I think was a special.

I was comped the buckwheat orrechiette with dandelion greens, yoghurt, and smoked egg yolk.
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#7 Neocon maudit

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 12:07 AM

I had been wondering whether Clinton Hill had sufficiently gentrified for me to move into this former SRO.



#8 Daniel

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 12:53 AM

I love myself, some Clinton Hill.  


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#9 Sneakeater

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Posted 13 March 2015 - 05:26 PM

I walk by that building all the time on the way home from Daniel's.


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#10 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 05:30 PM

Mentioning this place in the Meckelburg's thread made me realize that I haven't been back in more than a year and a half.  So when a local dinner date came up at the last minute, I went back.  This place is perfect for that kind of thing:  it's good, it's comfortable, and you can get in.

 

The Finch is probably a little better than I initially gave it credit for.  The food really is well thought out, well prepared -- and delicious.  For example, the pork shoulder I had for my main dish was prepared pretty nigh perfectly, so that the skin was crispy and the meat moist and tender -- much better than the run of the mill for this now-common NYC restaurant dish.  As for the shaved lamb's tongue I had for an appetizer -- well, with peas, black garlic, and chili oil, what's not to like?

 

My date thought that the food was too complicated -- but I see that as her problem.  God forbid I'm ever able to take her to Olmsted.

 

So I highly recommend The Finch -- more highly than I did last year.  Worth a trip?  I have no idea -- but you won't be unhappy if you go.  Worth its Michelin star?  No, are you crazy?  (More to the point, are they crazy?)  But it is one of the better restaurants in Brooklyn.

 

(I do have to correct something I said last year.  The Finch is better than Dover.)


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#11 Daniel

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 06:10 PM

I pop into the Finch regularly for a glass of wine or a cocktail..  I really think their Wine Director and Manager Alex Petry is super talented and knowledgeable.  


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#12 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 06:11 PM

It's a nice list.


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#13 Sneakeater

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Posted 15 August 2016 - 06:21 PM

I've heard a rumor that they sous-vide all or most of their proteins at The Finch, only finishing them over fire.

 

If so, that pork shoulder shows one of the occasional advantages of that approach.  The meat on the inside was almost meltingly tender -- not a hint of dryness.  The skin was crisp and crunchy.  How often do you have pork shoulder without a hint of dryness?

 

I am NOT an advocate of the promiscuous use of sous vide.  But this dish showed that, on occasion, it brings something to the table.


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#14 Daniel

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 03:15 PM

Stopped in last night to take advantage of the Finch's "take a shot of whiskey and scream in our walk-in special"  We had a couple of cocktails, were marched into the basement where we yelled and drank whiskey.. 

 

Then we had their lamb tongue pastrami with smoked egg yolk and rye toasts..  One of the first pieces of sous vide meat I have enjoyed..

 

 

 

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We had a couple of really nice cocktails, had a couple of plates of food and we were home by 10:30 to watch South Park with Miss K..   I love Clinton Hill 


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