One of my favorite things to do last summer when coming home late from work was to walk the two blocks from my home in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to the Good Fork. By that hour—after nine—the busy restaurant would be winding down, and with a friend or my husband we would sit outside in the light-bedecked garden and order one of the special cocktails—my favorite is the blood orange margarita—and a few appetizers, such as the crab cake and the pork and chive dumplings. The first time I had that crab cake, it was bliss—succulent, moist, and flavorful—by far the best I had ever eaten. I told Ben Schneider—co-owner with wife/chef Sohui Kim—how I felt about it. “You’ve been hooked,” he said. He was right.
As with all of the great joys of my life, I like to spread the news. But who am I to write a restaurant review? I know something about oral fixations and the pleasure principle, yet food, though I love it, is not my area of expertise. Further, Ben and Sohui are my very lovely neighbors—clearly I am biased.
Enter Gail Zweigenthal. I met Gail eight years ago at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies, where we were both psychoanalytic candidates, and we have been friends ever since. Gail is on her second career, her first having been thirty-odd years at Gourmet Magazine, the last nine as editor in chief. I was so excited to introduce Gail to one of my favorite restaurants. Off we went one recent evening, with our party of six, to dine at the Good Fork.
We were led through the small restaurant—reminiscent in décor to an interior of a tastefully decorated ship, with its finished, curved wood panels—to the back room, an enclosed patio with 3 or 4 tables. We all had a round of drinks, sampling the restaurant’s special cocktails. I knew I could count on the blood orange margarita and was delighted as well by a sip of Gail’s deliciously refreshing “whiskey smash” cocktail. We chose an affordable bottle of wine—the 2007 Marcato Baratarro Pinot Nero—and my bridge and tunnel guests were surprised by the quality for the reasonable price.
When at Gourmet, Gail spent a week in New Orleans reviewing restaurants and always ordered the oyster po’boy. “It’s my favorite sandwich and I have one whenever I see it on a menu,” she says. The Good Fork’s rendition stood out.”Serving it on a mini brioche was a brilliant riff, as was the accompanying guacamole in addition to the more traditional remoulade—it was really special,” said Gail.
Gail also loved her braised Berkshire pork belly. “The juicy meat was beautifully smoked and with a good proportion of meat to fat. The arugula walnut pesto, with its slight bitterness, was a perfect foil to the richness.” Around the table our friends ordered the buffalo skirt steak, the duck breast, and homemade pappardelle with lamb ragout. My own choice—the wild striped bass—was cooked to the perfect degree of flakiness and served with delicious parsnip crisps. (Photo above is of steak and eggs, Korean style).
We ordered a round of desserts, of which the chocolate bread pudding was the standout— melted dark chocolate was blended into layers of moist, warm bread pudding—almost overkill!
There was little disappointment around our table—it had been a thoroughly enjoyable dinner among friends. If I had to nitpick, I guess I could point to some initial confusion between our servers about our drinks. And I would have preferred a more delicately textured pasta to the more rustic linguine in my scallop appetizer. But all in all, the service was helpful and friendly, the atmosphere warm and comfortable, and the food truly delicious.
391 Van Brunt Street
Group photo, left to right: Jennifer Lieber, John Battis, Gail Zweigenthal, Michal Tziyon, Ron Lieber and Jennifer Wade.