I have to say that when a friend of mine suggested dinner at Relish, one of the 4 or 5 co-opted diner structures in Williamsburg, I was a little bit suspicious (at best) about the possibility of an enjoyable meal. Was I wrong!
My companion and I happened to be early arrivals by New York City dining rules-- we had to make a 9 pm movie in an entire other neighborhood, so we arrived at 6:45 at Relish on Wythe Street. We were seated immediately, by a congenial staff member, in a front-window booth overlooking what I suppose is the increasingly famous (infamous?) motorcycle shop/biker bar across the street.
Cognizant of the now typically-Williamsburg hipster factor, I have to admit I expected a certain amount of disdain either despite or because of said early arrival, or simply because of the locale. Neither was not the case. We were treated as kings no matter the hour, and the table next to us, which eventually seated a family with two adults and two children each under 7, was met with equal measure of solicitousness.
Cutting to the all-important food: because of time constraints, we skipped the appetizers and went straight for the entrees. My friend had rainbow trout with herb spaetzele and corn puree. Pure heaven, per his indication. I had one of the evening's rather inventive (and perhaps this was/is my surprise, their straightforward inventiveness) specials, pan-roasted weakfish over sauteed spinach, tabouleh, and orange and cardamom sauce. Quite honestly, I was taken by how well these all mixed, much less how lovely they tasted with a Brooklyn Lager brewed all of maybe 7 blocks from the site.
What really pulled the curtain back for me, though, was dessert. We had decided to share the laugh of what was listed as merely a homemade doughnut, we were handed a plate of fresh, warm cinnamon-sugar coated doughnuts (three!) with a tidy ramekin of espresso mousse. To tell you that the mixture of these was heaven would not be enough. You should all experience the magic of a simple, unadorned Relish meal for yourselves.
When all was nearly said and done, I asked the t-shirted maitre'd for a phone book so that I could call a car service to Fort Greene for our movie viewing. He offered to call them himself, and indicated that a car would be just outside our booth in three minutes, which it was. Their well-thought-out cuisine made for one of my favorite New York dining experiences of late; their good nature and hospitality ensured that I would write about it here.
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