Nowadays in Brooklyn and particularly in the Williamsburg area we, as New Yorkers (or transplants) have come to expect new, usually over-hyped foodie restaurants popping up on what feels like a weekly basis. The new standard operating procedure for foodie (or wannabe) destinations is farm-to-table marketing slang, small plates, uber expensive menus and highly difficult to get a reservation at. Admittedly, this can turn a young faux-hipster, such as myself, into a bit of a pessimist when trying out a new spot … But every once in a while you find a gem in the rough.
Lately, I have felt as though there haven’t been many new restaurants that fall under the “affordable” but “foodie approved” quality in my neighborhood of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. There are certainly fixtures that I frequent often like Beco, Traif, Diner, Shalom Japan and Marlow & Sons, but one can only go to the same group of restaurants so many times. Don’t get me wrong, I love the food that is coming out of Williamsburg, but being a late 20s workaholic who isn’t making six figures on Wall Street, I can’t and don’t have the desire to necessarily drop $300 on a single meal for my girlfriend and I every time I go out.
Thus, when I heard about the newest edition to Brooklyn’s food world, Semilla, my assumption was it would be the same as the others: good food but overpriced for the quality and quantity. But I quickly found out that was FAR from the truth.
Stepping through the front door, you immediately feel welcomed and at home. With a beautifully crafted wood U-shaped bar with seating for 18 and a view of the kitchen. We were greeted by two smiling members of the front of house staff and seated immediately. Since it was still only 2 weeks since opening night, there was clearly a mixture of excitement and nervousness exuding from the staff that made the feeling of the space even more authentic.
With no menu the only decision that we had to make was what bottle (who am I kidding bottles) of wine or beer we wanted to drink with the meal. Although they don’t currently offer a wine pairing option (my preferred choice in a tasting menu), the waitress was very helpful in selecting a bottle that would go well with all of our courses.
Once the bottle was popped and the first sip was taken, the anticipation for the food began to build. I felt like a 10-year-old kid on Christmas Day getting ready to open up all of the presents. You know what you asked for but you’re not totally certain about what you’ll get. The chefs did not disappoint.
Not only was each course impeccably displayed and delicious, they were also very filling (an unusual experience for me with vegetable-heavy meals). The best part of the meal is that a different chef comes out to serve and explain each of the 10 dishes.
Each course was different and built upon the other to set up an incredible experience. Some of the highlights include a plate of celeriac paired beautifully with a glass of wine from Algote, a pumpkin soup (yes it’s inside a pumpkin) and an incredible mushroom, carrot and sunset pear dish that reminded me of a fresh out-of-the-oven Roberta’s pizza.
After several glasses of wine across 2.5 hours of a completely relaxed eating atmosphere with the added bonus of great conversation with both the chefs and front-of-house staff, I can confidently say that this place is absolutely worth a try. Amazing for dates, friends or the adventurous by yourself type. Chef Ramírez-Ruiz has brought us a gem in the rough and I for one cannot wait to go back for more.
As in cool? The dope one-way mirror in the bathroom that lets you see the chefs at work.
Written by: John Ferguson
Edited by: Kimberly Romanello