Brinkley’s may be new, but this pubby Nolita spot has an old-school preppy vibe, with Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers playing on the stereo. Outfitted with a huge backlit bar, subway-tiled dining room, and horseshoe-shaped banquettes good for parties of six, Brinkley’s draws a similar bankers-and-ex-debs crowd as Southside downstairs.
Still, there’s a downtown edge to the darkly lit space with industrial light fixtures, vintage prints on the wall, and coy wallpaper in the bathrooms with illustrations of farm animal breeds (including an “Improved Tennessee Sheep”). It’s as if your old friend Dorrian grew up, developed some taste in food and decor and moved to a loft downtown.
Since they could probably survive with just a spacious, cacophonous bar filled with patrons, Anthony and Tom Martignetti, also the owners of Southside, make the food better than it need be. British-inflected, it touches on trends like pickled vegetables in Mason jars.
Brinkley’s are quite good and lightly vinegary – in fact, they do a lot with vegetables here for such a masculine place. Chef Ben Towill, formerly of Kingswood, is in the kitchen.
The duck liver pate ($10, a gentler term for foie gras?), on the other hand, would benefit from a different serving vessel: It’s hard to get your knife in this one. But Brinkley’s has a nice foie gras, and the red onion balsamic jam served alongside is the perfect complement.
The zucchini carbonara with smoked Virginia bacon is a clever twist on the original carb-laden version: There’s a smoky flavor throughout, and the zucchini are cut like fettucine. The moisture of the vegetables combines with the egg yolk and bacon infusion to create a DIY sauce that’s good and inventive, if a bit watery.
An excellent fish-fry, monkfish fritters have just the right crispy seasoned crust – though the mushy, undersalted peas alongside don’t really add much.
The apple, oatmeal and stout banger ($13), arrives charred on the outside and juicy within, just the way Dad makes ‘em. Alongside is an amazing gravy tasting of caramelized onions and winter spices, dressing up some good mashed potatotes.
Brinkley’s showcases the sort of civilized comfort food that can pull you through the winter. Their specialty is a sort of one-pot meal – or at least the meal that’s finished all in one cast-iron dish so the flavors meld together, like the short ribs with baked sweet potato and Satur Farm stir fried greens ($21). Here too we detected some holiday spices in the braise – allspice? The sweetness of the sweet potato flavors the sauce and the beef. The kitchen needs to hold back on the salt though, since the whole thing was a little on the salty side – especially the crazy-salty greens.
Brinkley’s serves their nicely roasted guinea fowl with toasted orzo. I wish more restaurants served orzo as an accompanying starch, since it’s so good at soaking up all the delicious pan juices. Again the flavors all meld together here in a little cast-iron dish.
We tried to eat the bubble and squeak, which consists of vegetables removed from a roast after cooking, but the forced eating of cabbage brought up bad memories from childhood. More successful are the sides of cauliflower cheese and creamy leeks, though counterintuitively, you’ll need to add some salt to this.
Just as you wanted to hang out with your friend’s cool older brother when you were a kid, you’ll want to return to Brinkley’s. Maybe they’ll put Synchronicity on the stereo and let you hang out all night.
406 Broome Street (where Broome meets Centre Street, behind La Esquina)
New York, NY