The Vegetarian Option: Beer Table
One of the reasons I love Beer Table in Park Slope is that there was obviously a lot of thought and care put into selecting their beer menu. Although they are not currently serving dinner, they recently launched a new lunch service, and thankfully they have put the same amount of thought into the food as they have into the beer selection. The savory part of the lunch menu is separated into three sections: snacks, small plates, and large plates. Though none of the large plates are vegetarian, enough of the snacks and small plates are that you can put together a delicious meal for very little money.
A good way to start any meal (or drinking session) would be with the straightforward radishes with butter and sea salt ($4). The trick here is to dip one of the crisp radish slices into just enough of the creamy butter, and then to dip that into just enough of the crunchy, grey sea salt. When you get the ratio just right, you get the perfect combination of flavors and textures. This humble, traditional dish is just the right way to whet your appetite for the food to come.
Then you should move immediately on to the roasted cauliflower salad ($6). The browned florets are matched with pickled red onions and capers, as well as parsley for freshness and red chili flakes for spice. Cauliflower can be a little bland on its own, so the acidity from the onions and the saltiness of the capers make it a dish to remember. It's all doused in olive oil, which helps blend all of the flavors together.
At the top of the page you see the closest thing to an entree that you'll find on the small plates portion of the menu, the roasted potatoes soft egg, and thyme ($6). The potatoes are slightly crisp, wonderfully salty, and pair nicely with the room temperature soft egg. A bite of both together reminds you of the best breakfast dish you've ever made at home; nothing fancy or fussy, but rustic and homey and delicious.
Of course you shouldn't forget the beer itself; on my visit one of the beers on tap was the excellent Kuhnhenn Prometheus, at $7 more expensive than any of my dishes. The beer's slightly sweet, creamy flavor matched well with all of the food that I ate, making it a worthwhile investment. Based on Beer Table's tiny kitchen, with a hot plate and a convection oven, you wouldn't guess that they could produce such good food. I've written before about how some bars here in NYC are putting out food that's way above the level of traditional "bar food", and Beer Table is a prime example of that.
About the author: Howard Walfish is a Virginia native who has been living in New York since 2003. He is, in fact, a vegetarian, and is the co-founder of Eat to Blog and the creator of BrooklynVegetarian.