Apps Only: Woodland in Prospect Heights
Woodland is a new restaurant with a robust cocktail service and a deceptively large menu located on Flatbush Avenue, right on the border between Park Slope and Prospect Heights. It's staffed by the same team as Vandaag; as that East Village establishment closed before I could give it the Apps Only treatment, I made sure to get to Woodland right away.
We started with a few selections from Woodland's menu of snacks, which made up the majority of our meal (this restaurant's menu offers a lot of snacks). The fun actually started with the bread basket, consisting of thick slices of walnut raisin bread and butter flecked with smoky black sea salt. But that butter...there was something going on there. It's sweet, with a distinct flavor that reminded us of pancake syrup. According to our server, this comes from the addition of walnut bitters to the sweet cream butter. A totally unexpected surprise, this butter was a highlight of our dinner, but far from the only delicious turn our meal took.
The Pulled Pig Head Croquettes ($6; top image) are crispy little guys filled with tender, warmly spiced pork that's fatty-but-not-too-fatty. This is pig's head that even the most squeamish can enjoy. Served with a tart honey mustard, they were a bar snack of the highest order. Smoked Quail Eggs ($5) were exactly what they sound like, but perfectly cooked: runny in the middle, with yolks that were liquid but not too messy to eat at the bar.
Listed on the menu as Terrine with Huckleberry ($9), our server informed us that the terrine was a "duck scrapple." It was really just a duck terrine, but a really, really tasty one, with spices reminiscent of jerk seasoning. Served with a thick slice of grilled bread and huckleberry jam, it was another highlight of the meal.
The Trapper's Snack ($6) is just my kind of snack, salt on salt on salt: housemade beef jerky comes served with sharp Cabot Clothbound cheddar and sliced cured ham. The jerky looks dry and leathery, but it turns out to be super tender, plenty sweet but also savory enough. The ham and cheese are really just added value, and this plate turned out to be one of the best values of the dishes we tried.
At this point, we were pretty much satisfied. This could have been a great Apps Only meal, consisting entirely of snacks and under budget at $26. But we felt like we needed some vegetables, so we ordered the Legumes ($10), one of three salads on the menu. The salad is a combination of fresh favas, shell peas, sugar snaps, haricots verts and romano beans topped with thin slices of raw aged Leonardsville soft cow cheese. They're all tossed in a simple, peppery vinaigrette, and sit atop a smear of totally incidental pea puree. Woodland definitely engages in some ingredient fetishism: the menu proudly stated that the salad included "pulled white bread croutons," or, as I like to call them, croutons. Still, the salad was quite good, letting the vegetables shine with their natural sweetness.
At first, Woodland seemed a little themey for my tastes: there's a satyr on the menu and an entrée of foraged mushrooms and grains listed as "market price" on the menu. But as my dining companion and I ate our way through our dinner, we were pleasantly surprised that everything tasted great. We were a bit over the $15/person target price, at $36 for the two of us, but barely—you could easily eat well below that limit (although you'll have to reconsider your budget when it comes to the selection of draft beers and good-looking cocktails). If you're in the neighborhood but don't want to deal with the brutal service at neighboring Flatbush Farm, Woodland is a great addition to the area.
Editor's Note: This article previously mentioned that Woodland is owned by the Vandaag team; it's in fact owned by a restaurant group, but the team does come from Vandaag. Our apologies! We've updated the article to reflect this.
About the author: Ben Fishner is currently planning his next meal. In addition to contributing to Serious Eats and working at SEHQ on various technical projects, he blogs at Ben Cooks Everything. Follow him on Twitter or Tumblr, won't you?