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Camperdown Elm

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Back in May on the Racines thread, when Liebrandt first started his gig there, I asked about this place.


Aarons responded...

I had dinner there last august and thought it was kind of hard to evaluate, in part because we were with our kids and that constrains what we order and drives up the cost etc. its a lot more ambitious than the average neighborhood restaurant, especially in park slope, so the menu reads well and it was a lot more interesting than what you can find elsewhere in park slope. but I didnt like most of the apps we ordered and in the end I didnt think it was much more than a solid neighborhood restaurant. the mains (especially the sauce on the beef) were a lot stronger than the rest of the meal, maybe we ordered wrong? Id say its like a lesss olmsted if that makes sense. if you need to be in south slope for other reasons its definitely the best thing I know of, but we havent been to hugo and sons.

I think liebrants food is special and will be disappointed if our meal next month is not more than a good neighborhood restaurant meal, especially considering that we are likely to spend more on wine than we would at a place like camperdown elm. the fact that the food cost is comparable is a good illustration of whats wrong with dining out here now.



We finally made it here last night, meeting Park Slope friends, sitting at the bar for happy hour ($7 wines, $1 oysters, a few other cheap ($4) snacks like patatas bravas and fried chicken).  There have been a few changes at the top; original chef/part-owner evidently is off exploring se Asia, sold his part to the remaining partners, etc. etc., one of whom is from Basque Country, and there is a lovely whole jamon leg in the back of the room, waiting to be beautifully hand sliced.
Enjoyed ourselves greatly; oysters are shucked much nicer than at Ten Belles, but that's not hard to do. The other food we shared (from the main menu) was good too ( the Wildair little gem thing, a Hamachi collar, more that I don't remember) though sharing single plates between 4 people, while sitting at the bar, could drive me crazy.  And it's been too long for me to compare it to a place like Olmsted, so I won't.
So we'll go back to sit at a table and hopefully enjoy a nice dinner. If this were in our neighborhood...
Coincidentally, I was leafing through a recently received Wine Spectator while having breakfast this morning, and there was an article about this very place. 

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Finally popped into Camperdown for a meal the other night, after meaning to for awhile. I'd actually been once before, but only for dessert - a friend and I had a terrible dinner at one of the local red sauce joints earlier, and decided to clear our palates with an amaro at the CE bar. The two desserts looked good so we ordered both and they sure didn't disappoint. So we made it a point to return for dinner proper.

Awesome neighborhood place that punches -just- enough above its weight without ever getting pretentious. Everything was sort of Spain-oriented but some dishes had a note of something that "touched" Spain in one way or another. A special of lamb ribs - cooked just right, toothsome so they chewed nice but didn't completely dissolve off the bone - had hints from Morocco to the South. The yogurt sauce could've used a touch more salt, but when eaten together with the ribs it was fine. Octopus and potatoes came in a barbecue sauce that was more like a morcilla ragu, with tart tomatillo bits to cut through the sweet/rich blood notes. I would've liked more morcilla, personally - maybe some chunks of it - but it'd be a great "approachable" dish for a diner who might first balk at blood. A pork shank for two was a steal at $55, though you have to like those fatty & gelatinous parts. Luckily, we do.


Killer wine list, and the owner/GM/somm is clearly very passionate about the subject. A bottle of Verdejo Pet-Nat took us through most of the meal, with a glass of Tempranillo from the same producer (Microbio / Ismael Gozalo) after, and a phenomenal sweet Jurançon with a great acidic backbone for dessert (though it'd be fantastic with foie gras...)

Are they redefining the wheel? No. But every dish had a touch of something creative to it that took it a little beyond what you'd find at a typical neighborhood place. Staff couldn't be lovelier. Great corner spot. Hopefully it does well - it's a tough neighborhood. While there's definitely a lot of money about (though they're hardly expensive expensive) it's at heart a people-with-kids neighborhood, and the places that seem to survive are all of the kid-friendly, obvious, "predictable cuisine" variety. Chef-driven places don't seem to last in the Slope, with the exception of the few places that have become institutions like Convivium, Al di La, etc. The demographics are changing slowly - there's definitely a younger, seemingly child-free contingent packing places like Double Windsor and Greenwood Beer Garden, though whether Camperdown is the place they want to hang or if they're just looking for bad red sauce joints to pre-game at, I couldn't say. 

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