Expect your meal at Battersby to begin with warm flatbread and whipped ricotta, presented quietly and without elaboration by a server. You will break into the crackling crust, brushed with a little good oil and salt, so that steam rises from a warm, pillowy center. It's a disarming gesture, a welcoming simple pleasure that makes you feel as though you're in good hands. You are. When fine-dining vets Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern opened this restaurant in Carroll Gardens in 2011, neither expected it to become a destination. "Battersby was originally supposed to be a small restaurant where Walker and I could get started and get our names out there," says Ogrodnek. "We didn't have high expectations of the food menu because the place was so small and our means were so limited. We opened that restaurant on a shoestring; we had a budget that any sane restaurateur would laugh at. But after we started working there, we kept trying these ambitious menu items, because that's really what we know, what we trained doing, and probably what we do best.” They do it so well, in fact, that queues often form before the restaurant opens, as diners fight for one of the few walk-in seats from which you can order à la carte from a rotating roster of dishes. (You can reserve a table only if you commit to the tasting menu.) More than four years into its run on Smith Street, one of the most impressive things about this place remains its attention to detail. Servers present dishes and confidently list ingredients. The drinks list is thoughtful and intelligent, whether you're considering a subtle twist on an old-fashioned (made here with maple syrup) or a glass of wine. Amuses hint at later courses, as they would in a four-star temple of fine dining. And all this from a restaurant not much bigger than a telephone booth, where the kitchen staff is forced to plate dishes on what looks like an Ikea island wedged between the galley and the bar. Walker now oversees daily operations, and Ogrodnek and Walker have also turned their attention to Dover, their new venture nearby, where they have more room to flex their creative muscles. Back at Battersby, the team continues to strive for luxury, simplicity, and honest cooking, and it deftly achieves all three.
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