Fried oyster & lemon sandwich: Hello, delicious.
Photo by Joshua Kristal
It was the Ipswich style oyster sandwich that sold me on Strong Place. There’s a certain genius to the mingling of deep-fried lemons with deep-fried oysters in a top-loading lobster roll bun. The surprise bite of citrus elevates the prodigious delight, generously slathered with a cabbage-apple slaw and tartar sauce, to an indecent level of eating pleasure.
Here’s the kicker: At Strong Place, you will be encouraged to accompany the fried oyster sandwich with one of the restaurant’s 24 beers on tap. This, after all, is a place that could just as easily be called a bar with excellent food as a restaurant with an amazing beer list.
Owner Jeff Lederman, a Cobble Hill dad, also owns the lovely, casual Italian small-plate restaurant Bocca Lupo on Henry, and Nectar, serving wraps, salads and fresh juices on Court. With Strong Place, he’s created a space that feels more homey than fancy. Lots of wood and iron give the eatery a nautical/industrial feel. Two booths at the windows are cut off from the street by wooden planks. A long wooden bar and line of beer taps are followed by a raw bar piled high with ice, lobster and shrimps to a back seating area overlooking a garden. Tables extend for larger parties.
Chef Kenny Tufo hails from Boston, and says his inspiration for items such as the oyster sandwich comes from traditional Clam Shack offerings.
The menu takes cues from various cuisines, but the universal language is comfort food. Take the crispy duck leg confit: This is sweet, melt-in-your-mouth meat that you will not want to share with your friends. Wait for a cold night to order the savory mushroom bread pudding topped with a poached egg: The dish warms from the inside out.
Produce lovers need not feel left out. The market vegetable salad varies with the season. One recently featured a healthy infusion of flavorful kale that had my friends and I elbowing to fork the last bites covered in tangy vinaigrette. Vegetarians will appreciate the flavorful beet tartare (there’s an excellent steak one for carnivores, as well), playfully arranged in a disk, topped with feta and sided by addictive papadam, a thin, crisp Indian bread.
Sides should not be ignored. No matter what your order, make a diet-busting excuse to order the excellent waffle chips–crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside–that come sided with a tangy onion dip. Note: If you don’t want to order the chips as a side, simply get the lamb burger topped with feta and in-house ketchup, as they come with the burger–a steal at $12. The burger is excellent, juicy and full of flavor.
Best of all, portions are small enough and prices low enough to allow for nibbling across the menu. If there is a wait, it’s usually not of the two-hour variety that’s now standard at many of the neighborhood’s better no-reservation restaurants (Prime Meats for example). The raw bar showcases appreciated standards such as oysters, chilled lobster and Mayan shrimp cocktails.
Some online commenters have taken offense at the draft pours at Strong Place, which are served in 12 ounce glasses. It is something to note. The bar serves $5 or $6 drafts including Sixpoint, Victory and Allagash. Despite the grumbling, it’s my opinion that in South Brooklyn, the neighborhood of the $4 cappuccino and $25 pizza, Strong Place is more than reasonably priced.
Bartender Joanna Kocab and the lamb burger, fries and beer.
Lederman says his inspiration for Strong Place’s design came from South Brooklyn’s storied history as a working port town, where dock workers would disembark for a day and come for food and drink. The building was built in 1906, Lederman says.
“We wanted this place to look as if the dock workers had built themselves a place to hang out, using only the materials that were available around the environment back in the day,” Lederman says. Indeed, the place features lots of old wood, iron and crates.
He said in formulating the menu, beer is of ultimate importance.
“If we are thinking of a new menu item, we try to fit a tap beer with that,” Lederman says. “Food and drink go hand in hand. The bar drives what happens in the kitchen. Actually, it’s beer first, then food.
“When people come in, we want to make sure they have a good time.”
270 Court Street, between Butler and Douglass
Mon-Thu 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Fri 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sat 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sun 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Serving brunch Saturday and Suday from 10:30 to 3 p.m.