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“Arthur on Smith”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American Brooklyn Moderate Good

Butter is an ingredient I have some affection for. I love to cook with it, to spread it on thick cut slices of toast, to watch it melt over summer's white corn. But at restaurants it can be tricky. It's often overlooked, served thoughtlessly cold so it just rips into the bread, tearing it to shreds. It's almost criminal. It should be served soft, room temp, so it's creamy and warm, like it's been sitting in the sun for a bit. That's the way I like it at least, and that's the way it's served at Arthur, a new restaurant on Smith Street where it's drizzled with honey and sea salt and served with a wooden basket filled hearty slices of warm bread from Il Forno in the Bronx. According to our waitress, who wore a bowler hat, like some distant relative of Charlie Chaplin, the butter is from Salem Farm, and is 99% fat. "Just like me," I thought as I happily buttered up my bread.

The restaurant, which for many years was Po on Smith Street, has been redesigned with walls covered in deconstructed pallets from various Home Depots. It feels very Barnyard-in-Brooklyn, with chalk boards listing hyper-local wines and beers, both served on tap (Channing Daughter, Gotham Project, Red Hook Winery, and Paumanok are all in attendance). A pair of big bay windows is thrown open to the street. In between courses you can watch the Brooklyn world stroll by: families, friends, and couples making their way along Smith Street, stopping in at By Brooklyn for local ginger syrup, popping by at Shlesky's for bialys and smoked fish, heading into Refinery for a pair of clogs, stopping to chat and greet friends from the playgrounds or bars, depending on age group and child count.

Arthur is a terrific addition to this super strip of retail and culinary wonder. The chef, Joe Isidori is also cooking at the South Fork Kitchen and is someone I got to know when he was cooking at a place called Harbor, a little restaurant-as-yacht on Hudson Street that served some inspired seafood but shuttered early in its promising life. This restaurant is a tribute to his father, Arthur, who for many years encouraged Joe to "make sure people are happy and stop making such a fuss." At his father's recent passing, Joe decided to honor his memory with a restaurant that combined his own passion for local farmers and modern cuisine, with his father's old-school Italian repertoire of stick-to-your ribs fare.

This sort of cross-generational cooking means you'll find choices like Spanish ... [more, click below]

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