As reported by Kevin Duggan in the Brooklyn Paper, the legendary downtown restaurant Gage & Tollner, at 372 Fulton Street, under new ownership and with a new kitchen and floor crew, will resume indoor dining, with customers limited to half capacity, this Thursday, April 15. Before it closed in 2004, G&T had been a favorite of many Brooklyn Heights residents, including your correspondent, who had his first dinner there in 1973, long before he moved to Brooklyn, and his last not long before it closed.
It was with some trepidation that I examined the new menu. I knew that re-creating the G&T menu I knew from before, with its multiplicity of clam, oyster, and other seafood preparations, would be, if not impossible, at least off-putting to today’s attention span challenged customers as well as burdensome to kitchen staff. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had managed to include, along with the expected raw clam and oyster appetizers, a “soft clam belly broil” (definitely old G&T), along with oysters Rockefeller, and an intriguing newcomer called “clams Kimsino,” which features bacon and kimchi. I wish they could have included one of the old G&T oyster panroasts; perhaps they will in time. A welcome carry-over from G&T’s last incarnation, when the chef was Edna Lewis, who brought elements of Carolina-Georgia Low Country cuisine, is she-crab soup.
Seafood entrees are Spanish mackerel, whole broiled porgy, shrimp Scampi, and monkfish Barigoule. There’s fried chicken and roasted chicken breast, and a pork pot pie. For non-carnivores there’s “twice-cooked cauliflower steak.” Like the old G&T, there’s a selection of beef, veal, and pork steaks and chops.
At the risk of the new owners dismissing me as a “Gage & Tollner superfan,” I have to put a word in for one dish from the old menu I wish they could revive. That’s Crabmeat a la Dewey, my most frequent order at the old G&T, and even available during the Edna Lewis period. It’s a very rich, and admittedly, I’m sure, not cholesterol reduction friendly, preparation of crabmeat in a cream sauce with green peppers, pimento, and cheese. I had assumed, given the restaurant’s late 19th century origin, that it was named in honor of Admiral Dewey, hero of the Battle of Manila Bay. I later read that it was probably named for the restaurant’s managers at the time, who were brothers named Dewey. At least I have the recipe, but my wife is allergic to green peppers. C’mon guys, you can do it!
Update: Kevin Duggan in the Brooklyn Paper has a story on G&T’s opening yesterday.
Photo: Steven J via Wikimedia Commons. Used with permission.