Restaurant Review: Korzo
Brookyn, New York
Caught in a storm, pelted by finger-nail sized pellets of cold rain, my recently reunited boyfriend and I were pedaling hard to safety. Banal and dramatic, huh?
But there is nothing trite about Korzo, a beloved Czech-inspired South Slope institution that made for a serendipitous respite on our now rain-obliterated bike ride.
We settled in to watch the rain and appraise the familiar menu.
As a 26-year-old woman who’s just shorn her lifelong vegetarianism, each dish leaps out to me as newly possible. My eyes scan the elegant menu and meat phrases dance off of the page and into my mouth’s imagination. I’ve still got my share of qualms about the return to eating animals, but that’s another essay unto itself.
Korzo is famous for its deep fried burger, beet ketchup, and wide array of Czech beers on tap. I opt first for a Broucek Black Lager and Liam orders a Staropramen Pilsner—a beer he first tasted in Prague and had never found elsewhere until he first discovered it at Korzo three summers ago.
Today we start with the Atlantic Cod ‘n Korzo “Chips” ($15) for some much needed warmth and bodily comfort. It delivers.
The cod is deep fried, but lightly so somehow—wrapped in an airy, uncompromised batter that strengthens the fluffy fish underneath.
Unlike the frozen onion rings of everywhere, this breading doesn’t peel away from the fish it’s honoring, Each tartar sauce-dolloped bite is a new joy.
The fish is served with chips, which here means house-cooked potato chips crunchy in their confident, well-seasoned finish. There are sweet potato fries on the plate too, and some spring greens.
The dipping sauces are superb, too:
- Korzo’s house-made, sweet and hot pepper blended, hot sauce
- The suddenly ubiquitous but rarely not tasty spicy mayonnaise dip
- Tartar sauce
We pause for a moment after the fish and chips. We’re talking with abandon to the rain, with the pleasure of finding ourselves together, unexpectedly dining and drinking our way through a decadent Sunday afternoon.
Eyes back on the menu, now the words
Mussels, spicy chillies, lardons
catch me and won’t let go.
And so we order the small Late Harvest Riesling-Steamed P.E.I mussels, ($8) and I learn that lardon is what I will describe as small chunks of bacon meets ham. Even I (with unusually high gluttony standards) consider Liam’s order of Buttermilk-Crusted Fried Hermelín Brie ($9) a touch debauched, but here I will admit I have an unusually low appreciation for Brie that is not made by angels and served with the crunchiest, very best French bread. Liam’s is served with radishes, and I concede that the buttermilk crust is fantastic.
But the mussels! These mussels are glorious, bathed in the quintessential white wine sauce but with tender, wild mushroom slices and shallots soaking together in a bowl of joy. They come with first-rate French fries too, which we gladly dip into the mussel sauce.
The mussels themselves are fresh and taste of sea. A deeply satisfying bivalve embodiment of the rain, which has relented for moments, though not long enough for Liam and I to stop ordering food.
My last order is The New Crop ($12), a giant delight of a salad that boasts a crispy mushroom dumpling and crystallized gouda goodness. A whole plate of greenery to enjoy with the mussels and the fries, brie, and more beer.
The salad is dreamily comprised of greens and radishes in a tangy spring mint dressing that coated but did not overwhelm the very fine, very fresh vegetables. All this and some impactful crunchy smoked chickpeas rolling around on the plate.
I am brimming with glee; equal parts gorged and content. Both this unplanned celebration—all the more joyous for the absence of anticipation and pretense preceding it—and the exploration of so many new tastes. The odd coursing of our meal has does nothing to diminish its quality and satisfaction, although the fish and chips remain a happy standout for me. Now we are stuffed silly, but the rain abates long enough for us to bike to our next bastion of safety.
Post and Photos by Tess Sanders.