Good News/Bad News The Brooklyn Star

Williamsburg: Just over two weeks ago Momofuku alum Joaquin Baca opened his solo venture The Brooklyn Star on an unremarkable block in Williamsburg. Given his resume, the small, southern-influenced joint has received a fair amount of buzz, and thus, some early reviews. So far, it's been a mixed bag, but there is one consensus: Baca's side dishes are right on target, even, at times, overshadowing their mains. Check out some early thoughts:

The Great News: The Food Doc praises nearly everything: "The place strives to feel like the neighborhood pub, and I certainly felt at home there, especially with most of the staff having previously worked at Momofuku. I had the corn bread with jalapenos and Benton's bacon on my first visit: the oven made the bread fluffy and light rather than heavy and dry, and it was just heavenly. Easily my favorite was the chicken wings: although the wings were a tad bland, the accompanying salad -- cubed tomato, corn, bacon and cilantro with vinaigrette dressing -- was bursting with sweetness and flavor. For the main course, I first had the country fried steak with mashed potatoes and hot slaw: the hot slaw was dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and was peppered with Benton's bacon, and the mashed potatoes were creamy and buttery. I could eat that steak every day...." [The Food Doc]

The Mixed News: FreeWilliamsburg writes that while there are a few kinks to work out, they have faith in Baca: "The menu, divided between small and big plates, with oddly overlapping price ranges, offers plenty of eye-catching choices and seems affordable, on average. The mac and cheese ($9), with bacon (of course), a layer of béchemal, and a golden crust, drew envious stares and, surprisingly light, rivals Dumont’s for best in the neighborhood, if not beyond. However, the fried pigtails ($11), too interesting to pass up, were unpleasantly, if unavoidably, greasy and tasted like mere chicken wings, with extra bones. This side-besting-the-main phenomenon repeated itself with the whole roasted trout with creamed corn ($21)...Baca, trained in rapidly shifting Momofuku menus, will learn to push these highlights and weed out dishes that are better on paper than plates..." [FreeWilliamsburg]

The Fantastic News: A suspiciously ecstatic Yelper reports back with high marks across the board: "I have eaten at the Star a number of times since they opened and everything has been excellent. The prices are very reasonable considering how generous the portions are. The cornbread is served in its own tiny little cast iron pan, and is delicious with hot peppers & bacon - so good. One night when I was there they had a home made fresh baked bread that was fabulous. The Dr. Pepper ribs are INSANELY good... and so are the pig-tails, though I had to be convinced to order those by a friend. Definitely try the chicken & dumplings. This place is going to be hot, and despite the Williamsburg location and the Momofuku association, the Star completely lacks pretense, and is a really cozy, intimate new restaurant." [Yelp]

The Bad News: A Menupages user pans everything from the lighting to the cornbread: "The lighting doesn't make sense for a restaurant. It's way to bright and there's no intimacy. The large table in the middle of the space cramps the booths on the inside, so that dinners and servers are constantly having to squeeze past. The cooks kept staring at us to see our response to the food. I don't even know where to begin. The corn bread is more like a corn pancake, fluffy and insubstantial. The fried green tomatoes were flavorless, and the accompanying sauce was no help. Everything else was undeniably too salty. It overpowered all flavours. The chicken fried steak was all fry and little steak. By the way they don't have any steak knives, so good luck with this dish. Value: This place is simply over-priced for the quality of the food. There are far too many great restaurants in the area, and we won't be back unfortunately." [Menupages]

The Not so Great News: Time Out NY's Gabriella Gershenson writes for Eater's Journal: "...The Southern menu, enticing in a junk foodie way, delivered dishes that were consistently heavy-handed. Run-of-the-mill tasting bacon appeared unannounced in several items, including the mac and cheese and the mashed potatoes (I’m pretty sure the croutons in the wedge salad were cooked in bacon fat). Vinegary fried pigs tails and fork-tender Dr. Pepper-basted riblets were fun finger food, but the charm wore quickly due to their one-note richness. The best thing we tried: Sweet and salty biscuits..." [Eater]
—Matt Duckor

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