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Don’t get too excited – this restaurant has nothing to do with The Pines of Fire Island. Keep that in mind before you decide to show up in a speedo looking for a party. The Pines of Gowanus is actually a new restaurant from the team behind Littleneck, the beloved clam shack just a few doors down the street. It’s been said that if Littleneck is a restaurant of the sea, then The Pines is a restaurant of the land. And good land it is. This is one of the best places to eat in Brooklyn right now.
Upon first inspection, we were a little bit wary of The Pines. Not because we were worried that it was inspired by New York’s favorite gaycation destination (that would actually probably be awesome), but because it looked on the surface like another one of those self-righteous restaurants where every plate is insufferably over-thought and overly-composed (see, Isa). The menu at The Pines is rife with the usual suspects from that kind of place – ingredients like salsify and purslane and all kinds of other sh*t that only cocky chefs and PhD level botanists know about. We were absolutely sure that we were leaving unsatisfied after seeing things like kaniwa, nduja, treviso, and hibiscus listed in the descriptions of our food. I was actually convinced that they were gonna ask us to forage for most of it. But almost every plate turned out to be a surprising and excellent demonstration of how to use interesting things in the kitchen and still make it taste good. We absolutely loved almost everything we ate, and we ate the whole damn menu.
And just in case that wasn’t enough to convince you, we’ve got a few more reasons for you to love The Pines. First of all, this is hanging over the ATM. WHAT THE F*CK IS THAT? Second, the staff here is super cool and very knowledgeable, making it a very good candidate for the ultimate Gowanus Neighborhood Hang. And finally, The Pines has one of the largest and nicest back patios in all of Brooklyn. Maybe you should show up for dinner in that speedo after all.
Yes, this dish was simply a plate of apples with sheep’s milk, sesame, and hibiscus, and it was awesome. That’s a good sign when food shows up looking like something you made yourself for lunch when you were ten and tastes like something you’ve never had before.
Another simple salad of just jicama with cocount, pancetta, and sorrell mushrooms. Order this if it’s on the menu. Actually, any and all of the five or so vegetable/salad options at The Pines are a safe bet.
If you like tofu, you’ll f*cking love this bowl of the silky stuff with turnips, buttermilk, garlic and chives. If you don’t like tofu, you’ll probably think it’s icky. Just ask Steinthal.
This was the one thing at The Pines that we didn’t love. It’s a big bowl of pasta with what appeared to be a quail egg, some burdock root, and bottarga. And even though it looks pretty good, this just came off too heavy to be enjoyable.
This pasta, on the other hand, was absolutely incredible. Italian for “misshapen noodle,” it’s basically a bunch of ragged looking pasta with mussels and burrata. What it lacks in uniform shapes, it makes up for with incredible flavors. Get it.
Kaniwa is somehow related to quinoa, and by that I mean it’s a tiny grain that probably tastes like nothing/sadness until many other things are added into it. This dish is a bowl of the stuff with huckleberry, straciatella, and lobster mushrooms – all of which definitely add flavor. Think of it as dinner oatmeal. We loved it.
We’ve never had short ribs that look like this, and we’re gonna bet you haven’t either. Instead of this looking like, well, one short stubby rib, it was a plate of short rib cubes that were perfectly cooked and paired with some carrots and squash. Unique and incredible.
This dish was another stunner, partly because of the unique presentation of pork cubes rather than one big chop, but also because it was probably the most tender pork we’ve had at a restaurant that doesn’t have “at Stone Barns” in its name. This is an absolute must order.