570 Vanderbilt Avenue, btw Pacific St. and Dean St., Prospect Heights (718) 623-0570
Getting There: C to Clinton-Washington Avenue; 2,3 to Bergen Street, B,Q to Seventh Avenue
Restaurant Review: The Vanderbilt
The trend of restaurants serving food using the “small plate” method has gradually grown in popularity in New York City over the past few years. Consumers in general are in favor of trying five small dishes instead of committing to just one as their prime entrée. The problem being that when too many eateries try this, an oversaturation of the niche occurs and restaurants may shutter quickly after they open. Luckily this is not the case for The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights.
Situated on a picturesque corner of the street which it is named after, The Vanderbilt is one of many eating establishments in the newly gentrified neighborhood. Upon entering the restaurant, the open layout provides a great flow. High top tables and a long bar fill the front of the house while a more traditional dining room sits in the back.
As we followed the hostess to our table, we gazed at the large chalk boards lining the walls, each of which listed either the seasonal beer or the evening’s food specials. These daily specials play right into the Vanderbilt’s overall theme and like so many other restaurants have become a part of the “local” movement; they pride themselves on buying all of their meats and produce from local farms in the New York and New Jersey area. Since the food selection changes on a daily basis, we felt it only right to allow our server to make all of our food choices for the evening. She stated that we should try a little from each area of the menu, and we eagerly obliged.
The first suggestion was to have a vegetable course, which was featured on that night’s appetizer menu. We decided to go with the homemade pickled vegetables ($6) and the Brussels sprouts ($5). The pickled vegetables ran the gamut from tart carrots to sour and sweet beans. The Brussels sprouts were a great small plate as well, with a sweet honey glaze and were crisp and had a distinct bite. Even with the glaze present, one could still taste the flavor of the fresh sprouts.
After the refreshing vegetable starters, we moved on to the slightly bigger plates. We began with a dish of clams in a garlic and white wine broth. The portion size was perfect for two people and the garlic and white wine broth provided the right jolt of flavor to the delicate clams. And once they were done, a bread basket came in handy to mop up the delicious sauce.
Being an adventurous eater comes in handy when a place like the Vanderbilt is offering exciting local fare. Thus we decided to try the duck pate with pistachios ($14). The presentation was fantastic, and the pate looked extremely fresh. The taste was tastefully complimented by the delightful presentation. The rich flavor of the duck liver jibed incredibly well with the pistachios giving the dish a very earthy taste.
The final dish of the night landed us on the entrée list, which are all big enough to share but are also sized appropriately for eating solo. We were pointed in the direction of fish, and decided on the fluke. The portion size was perfect to end the meal on a high note, without feeling like we were overeating. Fluke, a light flakey fish, was paired with a thick white cream sauce, and joined by some locally grown Cauliflower. The cream sauce melded effortlessly with the fish, and made for a consistently delectable taste with each bite.
There are plenty of restaurants claiming to be a part of the local food movement and after our meal at the Vanderbilt, we can vouch that they are following this local creed to a tee. The friendly and informative staff, the open welcoming dining room, and most importantly, the fantastic food itself make Prospect Heights’ The Vanderbilt a destination for any food lover.