As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes a body needs to eat something that's both tasty and healthful. Man cannot live upon steak and offal alone. Hence my recent visit to The General Greene. I’d heard this newish spot slings up some fresh seasonal fare along what some would call haute barnyard lines. Since the menu necessitated a “Have you dined here before,” rap from the waiter I started off with a cocktail called The St. George. The combination of St. George Absinthe, Junipero gin and dry vermouth along with a rosemary sprig placed across the inside of a martini was quite refreshing. As the cocktail washed over my brain the menu didn’t seem so complex. It was divided into three sections: bar snacks and cold and hot shared plates. I wasn’t quite ready to start eating rabbit food just yet, so I started off with a bar snack of bacon-wrapped dates that combined sweet bits of fruit with salty, caramelized bacon.
Next up a less cholesterol-laden bar snack: radishes with sea salt and anchovies. I've never seen radishes served as a high-falutin bar snack, much less a plain one. The only time I eat them these days is at taco trucks, to be honest. Not that I have anything against radishes. And after trying this dish, I plan to eat more of them. It’s a heap of razor-thin slices of black radish and chunks of its milder cousin, the French breakfast radish. Mixed into this mountain of root vegetables is a delectable combination of goat cheese, chopped anchovies and crunchy Portuguese sea salt. My only regret was that there was no bread to mop up the savory slick of salt and anchovy fragments once I polished off the radishes. Since The General has such an easy-going vibe, I briefly considered licking it off the plate.
Watermelon, arugula, goat cheese and tiny patties of fried lamb aren’t exactly the first things that I’d toss together to make a salad. But it works, hitting that savory-sweet pleasure center with crisp watermelon, creamy cheese, peppery arugula and rich lamb meat. Those disks of ovine goodness owe their richness to lamb shoulder meat that’s been braised in duck fat.
Never let it be said that I’m a man who resists temptation easily. Thus my visit to The General ended with an order of candied bacon. Thick slices of decidedly unhealthy bacon rimmed with a generous layer of fat and glazed with maple syrup. It was decadent. Sweet. Fatty. Meaty Maply. Salty. I saved the last chunk to go along with my chosen digestif, a glass of Pogue bourbon. The smoked pig belly made this small-batch bourbon taste like some fatty, smoky single malt. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. By the way, the irony of the fact that this attempt at healthful eating started off, and ended, with bacon isn't lost on me.
The General Greene
229 DeKalb Avenue, Fort Greene NY 11205 (near Clermont Avenue; map) 718-222-1510
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