With The Grocery’s debut in 1999, Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens—once the land of lawn chairs and “social clubs”—had its culinary coming out party. Chef-owners Sharon Pachter and Charles Kiely, late of Savoy, brought a Manhattan finesse to then-barren Smith Street, and enterprising foodies braved the F train for slow-rendered duck breast. Despite the neighborhood’s sea change during the intervening years, this shoebox-size 30-seater has managed to stay true to its vision of dressed-to-impress farm fare. The menu may be as trim as the moss-colored space—only 12 items are offered—but the ambition is evident in dishes that refuse to settle for bare-bones simplicity. A pork ragu with homemade gnocchi comes accompanied by a formidable cornucopia of charred peppers, roasted tomatoes and cranberry beans. A toothsome Slavic subtext runs through roasted carrot buckwheat blintzes and duck plated with kasha and cabbage. Odd-couple pairings like chili-dusted scallops with sticky rice and leeks actually pull off their complex flavorings. In contrast, the décor is streamlined, each white linen table adorned with only a single orange. Though the storefront intimacy can tend toward an awkward dinner party vibe, the back garden provides much-needed congestion relief during the bare-as-you-dare months.
288 Smith St. (near Sackett St.), Brooklyn, 718-596-3335, thegroceryrestaurant.com