Ana Nita 4 p.m., Feb. 22
Birds, bees & oysters are out at Brooklyn Girl
Exemplary spring fare and a new oyster bar in Mission Hills
Last month, I was asked by U-T San Diego for my idea of a perfect spring meal. I noted lamb as the quintessential springtime protein and made mention of peas, morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns, including a note that the latter can be very hard to find. Little did I know then that, just weeks later I’d be digging into a dinner including a plate of pickled spring veg featuring this lovely but rare gem as well as an earthy pea soup, a halibut dish adorned with deliciously meaty morels, and Colorado lamb sirloin with pea and fava bean risotto.
The site of this archetypal spring ensemble was Brooklyn Girl (4033 Goldfinch Street, Mission Hills). I was there to preview some upcoming dishes and left impressed with chef Colin Murray’s smart and extensive use of the season’s best. The lamb was tender and made extra tasty with a puree of salsify, a sweet, earthen vegetable that isn’t utilized nearly enough by local chefs.
The halibut was moist, flaky, and seared to golden brown perfection, but even with that precision, the morels and a creamy, acidic pickled ramp butter sauce were the stars of the show. Then there was that vibrant pickle plate with fiddleheads, ramps, and multiple varieties of radishes and turnips. It was a stunning example of just how poignant and influential seasonal vegetables can be in the spring when used fresh and intelligently.
The night I was there marked the test run of Brooklyn Girl’s new oyster bar, which has been installed in place of the restaurant’s former pantry/take-away area. The bar will offer three varieties each of East and West Coast oysters, clams, dueling lobster rolls (Murray’s mayo-adorned traditional version plus a drawn butter-dressed style owner Victoria McGeath is a fan of), a spicy seafood stew and New England-style clam chowder that have been on the restaurant’s regular menu for awhile.
There will also be warm shellfish preparations including green lip New Zealand mussels coated in a buttered, baked mix of breadcrumbs, almonds and garlic; Clams casino; and a dish called Oysters “Roc-a-Fella.” That’s a misnomer. The only similarity the dish has to Oysters Rockefeller is that it features baked oysters. But these bivalves are topped in a delicious, spicy mixture of cream cheese, chilies, breadcrumbs, and Murray’s soft and delicious house-made chorizo sausage. It’s the best from the new bar so far.
With such exemplary seasonal fare and the brand new seafood options, there’s plenty of good reason to make a side trip to Brooklyn. Girl, that is.