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.
Williamsburg standby Dumont is known for serving comfort food classics--their sister restaurant's Dumont Burger made our list of the best macaroni and cheese dishes in New York, and that dish is also on the menu here at Dumont. While the dining room at Dumont is tiny, in the warmer months they open up a sizable back garden area that easily triples the size of the place and provides the perfect setting for the longer spring evenings we've been enjoying in the city lately.
We started with a special on the menu, Stuffed Calamari ($13). On any given day, Dumont offers a number of seasonally inspired specials, and on the day we visited more than half the appetizer menu was made up of these. The stuffed calamari was a more ambitious dish than we'd expected, given Dumont's comfort food reputation. Two calamari were stuffed with brandade, a creamy mixture of cod and potatoes, and topped with a lemony frisee salad with crispy fried chestnuts and blood oranges as well as the squid's tentacles, grilled to a crisp. The whole thing sat on a bed of tender romano beans.
It may sound like ingredient overload, but the salad really came together to form a cohesive whole. This may not have been the most filling option on the menu, but it was the most memorable dish of the evening to be sure.
We followed that up with an order of the Ginger-Molasses Ribs ($14) and Fries ($5). The ribs, stacked like meaty Jenga tiles on the plate, were pleasantly meaty and perfectly cooked. The ginger molasses glaze sweetened the meat, reminding me more of spare ribs at a Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown more than anything else. The order was larger than expected after the modestly sized calamari.
The fries were great; it may be hard to get excited about a big pile of french fries but these were perfectly cooked and definitely rounded out the meal for a mere $5. I'd be happy to munch on these fries and enjoy a drink after work any day, especially when the weather is warm enough to enjoy the garden.
Dumont's kitchen pumps out solid dishes, and everything we tried was delicious. We ended up just $1 over our target price of $15/person. While we left full, this wasn't the biggest or most filling meal I've had for Apps Only; on a dollars-to-bites basis, there are better deals to be had in the city. That being said, great service from the staff and the ability to dine in their beautiful back garden (which also has its own bar) made this meal one of the best I've had in a long time. If you're looking for a light bite and a drink in a beautiful setting, Dumont just might be the place you're looking for.
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