Editor's note: In "Apps Only," Ben Fishner will be eating his way through New York's appetizer, bar, and lounge menus as your guide to fine dining on a budget. He blogs at Ben Cooks Everything.

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Fried green tomatoes at The Good Fork. [Photos: Ben Fishner]

There are only four seats at The Good Fork's bar, but if you can score one of them, some of the best small plates in the city can be yours. On a recent Friday night, every table was booked for dinner, but I sidled up to the bar with three friends to try some appetizers and sides at this Red Hook New American-Korean joint.

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Jumbo lump crabcake.

The Roasted Beet Salad ($12) was a fine start, with cubes of roasted yellow and red beets tossed with romaine and topped with goat cheese, candied walnuts, and an apple cider vinaigrette. Pickled apples added an unexpected finish and necessary tang to this classic salad. Beets, walnuts and goat cheese aren't the most original combination, but this iteration livened things up. The Jumbo Lump Crabcake ($12) came with a spicy aioli, pickled onion and a lemony fennel and carrot slaw that nearly upstaged the crab itself. For its part, the crab cake was nearly all crab, to the point that it was falling apart--held together only by a deep, dark sear on both sides, it was tender and fresh.

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Fried oyster po'boy.

The Fried Oyster Po'Boy ($13) gets you two slider-sized sandwiches, each with a plump and meticulously fried oyster topped with remoulade and more pickled red onion, and served with a side of... guacamole? While I certainly wouldn't have thought to pair the two, the combination gave the already rich sandwiches a silky touch. (Surprise, surprise—avocados made something more delicious.)

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Roasted brussels sprouts.

The Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($12) were an ingenious twist on a Caesar salad: arugula and the roasted brussels came dressed in a creamy, anchovy spiked caesar dressing. The whole thing was topped with a runny-yolked poached egg and Serrano ham. Pig and brussels sprouts are a well-traveled combination, with good reason, but the egg completely took this dish over the top.

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Shrimp scallion pancakes.

When we dipped into the sides menu, the Good Fork's Korean influence really came to the fore. Two great values here: Kimchi Rice ($6) and Shrimp Scallion Pancakes ($7). The kimchi rice, a heaping portion, has the fermented flavor of kimchi without the aggressive spice. The pancakes, meanwhile, were like a fine dining upgrade of the chewy scallion pancakes you find in most Korean restaurants. The sweet, earthy dipping sauce completed the dish, adding a sweet-salty kick.

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Kimchi rice.

We ended up spending $62 on our food before tax and tip at The Good Fork, just over our $15/person target price. Everything we ate was not just delicious, but interesting, unexpected without being over the top. If you're in the neighborhood, don't miss the Good Fork; even if you're not, it's worth the trip.

The Good Fork

391 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn NY 11231 (map)
718-643-6636
goodfork.com

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