The entrance to The Elm Interior: View of the open kitchen in the back, bar (left), and dining area
Table setting Amuse bouche of olive and cheese financier
Entrance to The Elm; Bar/Dining area; Part of our table setting; Amuse Bouche: Olive financier

I’ve been a fan of Chef Paul Liebrandt’s elegant, modern, envelope-pushing food for a while now. I’ve eaten at his now closed 2* Michelin restaurant Corton a few times (my most epic, humbling experience was the 20-plus course birthday tasting menu I ate two years ago) pretty much affirm my adoration of his food.

When I heard from Paul earlier this year at New York‘s Culinary Experience that he was opening The Elm, it comes as a mild shocker to me since I thought Corton seemed to do very well then and of all places he chose to have a restaurant in the heart of hipster Brooklyn?

At any rate, I finally went to The Elm to celebrate my mother’s birthday this past weekend. She heard, read and seen my photos of the mentioned Corton meal, she was intrigued of his food and wants to eat at The Elm.

Riding the L train over (being packed like sardines on a summer-like evening) to Williamsburg, we arrived to the restaurant in the shiny glass complex of the King & Grove Williamsburg hotel.

The restaurant and its bar were buzzing with diners grabbing a quick dinner before heading out to clubs, celebrating their birthdays, or having a date night. The bright open kitchen with the dining counter was all the way in the back. When we look at the menu, the prices are very affordable knowing the caliber of cooking Chef Liebrandt and his crew does.

We were seated at the tables not too far from the maître d’ and not too soon, we were presented with an amuse bouche of black olive financiers topped with what seemed like whipped mascarpone cheese, finely diced olives and a delicate edible flower.

Foie gras with Concord grape gelée, Champagne grapes and spiced brioche
Foie gras

We started with the foie gras ($18), a three-inch diameter puck of luscious fatty duck liver topped with Concord grape gelée with delicate slivers of Champagne grapes to add some sweet acidity.

Pouring the sauce for the Duck Duck

The cube and slice of slow roasted duck ($20) breast was supple and subtly sweet with the honey that lacquered the bird. The small rounds of bitter daikon and radishes added some refreshing crunchiness to the dish.

Lamb (after sauce is poured)
Elysian Fields Lamb

I adored the intensely flavored lamb ($23). It’s a de-boned lamb neck that was fork tender, silky, and melted in my mouth. It was plated with a inky pool of smoked, purred baby eggplant, smoked baby eggplant and its caviar and a shiso leaf to make it refreshing.

Atlantic Skate, Marcona almond, brown butter vinaigrette
Atlantic Skate, Marcona almond, brown butter, caper and raisin vinaigrette

The Atlantic skate, Marcona almond, brown butter, caper and raisin vinaigrette ($20) was a wonderful fish dish that has a Mediterranean feel. The fish was cooked evenly and perfectly and the sauces (the other would be a curried cauliflower puree) rounded out the dishes well ranging from sweet, sour, savory and nutty.

My mom's birthday cake - Black Forest with Sour Cherry, Dark Chocolate Brownie, Cherry Kirsch Eton Mess with Tristar Strawberry, Violet Crème, Brown Butter
My mom’s birthday cake – Black Forest & My dessert Eton Mess

Though we’re getting full at this point, the kitchen sent out desserts for us (we originally ordered the tart for two). My mother’s birthday “cake,” the Black Forest. It’s a log of rich dark chocolate brownie soaked in kirsch, topped with ganache and embedded with tiny sour cherries then enrobed in a shiny chocolate glaze. She was ecstatic from both the gesture and how delicious the dessert was.

At the same time we did receive the Eton Mess, an ode to Liebrandt’s British roots. The Mess was interestingly, a light and airy one – and certainly not messy. (The traditional Eton Mess tends to be very rich.) This version made by Pastry Chef Jeffrey Sytsma was made of small baked meringues, which one of them was topped with tiny, super sweet tristar strawberries, violet cream, and creamy brown butter ice cream.

Summer Red Fruit Tart Summer Red Fruit Tart
Summer Red Fruit Tart (covered at presentation & uncovered)

The crowning jewel of this meal (literally and figuratively), the Summer Red Fruit Tart for two ($22). It’s so delicate that it needs to have it’s own glass dome and my mother can’t help but squeal in delight how pretty this tart is. This tart was simply delicious. It’s a cheesecake-like tart that’s topped with a raspberry gelee, fine red fruit crumbles, a mixture of raspberries, blackberries, piled on top, small squishy soft cubes of fresh lemongrass marshmallows, and wafers of baked meringues. If I had more stomach space and much more selfish, I would eat the entire thing myself.

Petit fours - Coffee financiers Pâte de Fruit (forgot the flavor but it's fruity)
Petit fours

Just in case we were not full enough or had enough sweets, we were served with bite-sized coffee financiers and the softest, freshest pâtes de fruit I’ve had in a long time. A short but sweet ending to a fantastic meal.

To view more photos of this event, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):

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The Elm

Inside King & Grove Hotel
160 N 12th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Telephone: (718) 218-1088


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

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