211 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205-4042
Everybody has their neighborhood place; the spots that, without fail, they go to eat. They are the spots you go to celebrate small but important events like birthdays and promotions. They are the spots you bring friends and parents because they will be content with the meal. You go there because the food is consistently good without being overly adventurous, the atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, but retains a “night out” feel, and as always the prices are fair. Our spot is, without a doubt, Chez Oskar on Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene Brooklyn.
We actually ate at Chez Oskar the night we signed the lease on our apartment and it has been our neighborhood spot ever since. The cuisine is French with a sometimes Mediterranean edge. We strolled down to Chez Oscar this Monday for two reasons: warm French food on a cold winter night, and The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn. The Blue Vipers play live every Monday night at Chez Oskar from 8:00pm to close. Nothing beats munching on escargots and frites while listening to authentic washboard jazz and Dixie blues. The Vipers are SO much fun we hired them to play at our wedding! (Apparently Lisa Loeb had the same idea because they played her wedding too.) One of them even takes part in the Django Reinhardt festival at Birdland each year. But I digress from the food.
We started the night as we usually do, a glass of Cote du Rhone for Jess and a Leffe for me. We ordered he salmon tartare for an appetizer. The salmon comes in a healthy portion plated with a yogurt and cucumber salad with an avocado cream and citrus vinaigrette. Little waffled potato crisps act as a crunch to the salmon’s soft and supple texture. The citrus vinaigrette enhances the salmon flavor with a bright finish, while the cucumber, yogurt and avocado add creaminess and subtle flavor to the dish.
For entrees we decided on two long-standing favorites: the roast half duck and the moules frites. The moules comes in the classic marinieres style of white wine, shallot and garlic broth. The frites are slender and crispy and salty salty salty (in a good way!). You could easily be in a street side in the 4eme arrondissement with your first bite, careful to pull out your moules using an empty shell rather then a fork in true Parisian fashion. This meal simply satisfies, with shallots and garlic broth so good you spoon it up like soup and drown frites to soak up the last drops. Moules are cooked to perfection; soft briny bites of flavor. The roast duck wins, of course, with wild rice and cremini mushrooms (which are possibly the best part of the dish). A light sauce of orange beurre blanc adds a sweet to the savory meat. The duck is succulent with a crisp skin. I have never left this dish less than completely cleared.
You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but other notable eats are the moules moutarde, which adds a creamy mustard sauce to the broth. The mustard rabbit is tasty but each time I ordered it, it was a little dry. The hamburger is surprisingly great for a hamburger. For appetizers try the escargot, the crab cake is fantastic and the paté du chef as well. Excellent entrée choices are the free-range chicken and the steak frites with the Béarnaise sauce.
At this point we would usually roll ourselves out the door, but again for the sake of the review…we ordered dessert. Go with warm flourless chocolate cake, and crepes with Grand Marnier sauce. Unfortunately the espresso is eh, but the coffee is good.
The service is so-so, for American standards. We’ve often asked for things that are forgotten unless asked for a second (sometimes third) time. In their defense, the servers are mostly French. One time we waited 20 minutes for our dessert while our waitress actually sat down (at the next table!) with a French family and had a full-blown conversation. Since we understand enough French we realized they were from the same town, just outside of Marseilles. If it wasn’t so charming and très Français we’d probably have left.
In short, Chez Oskar is a great night out, a fabulous lunch spot, wonderful for brunch, street side coffee or live music three nights a week…it’s our favorite neighborhood spot, maybe because of the laissez-faire French service – hopefully it will be yours too.