|Fresh stradette pasta with lobster, corn, butter, and herbs|
Continuing our exploration of the burgeoning Gowanus restaurant scene, we next visited Runner & Stone, a boulangerie and cafe featuring the superb creations of former Per Se head baker Peter Endriss. Situated across the street from Littleneck, Runner & Stone has the opposite decor – a sleek and modern two-level space with a skylight illuminating one room (don’t worry, there is still some exposed bricks; it is still Brooklyn). The French-inspired bakery is paired with a reasonably priced seasonal Italian-influenced American menu. Many of the best dishes seamlessly incorporate the bakery’s creations.
|Duck pastrami with pickled cucumbers and onions, beer mustard, and triangles of rye|
|The olive croissants|
Before we could order anything, Runner & Stone wasted no time showcasing Endriss’s originality, bringing us, as an amuse-bouche, some olive-filled square croissants, an unlikely but excellent combination. The layers of the dough were crispy and buttery, and the olives added a nice salty kick. Why can’t more croissants be square?
We also enjoyed the bread basket, especially the slices of buckwheat baguette with salted, room temperature house-made butter.
After our carbo-loading, we finally received one of the dishes that we actually ordered – a pepper and coriander rubbed duck pastrami with pickled cucumbers and onions, beer mustard, and some triangles of rye. It is probably Runner & Stone’s best dish, with all the spices, pickles, and mustard coming together in bold harmony on top of the soft rye.
A baby beet salad with yogurt walnut dressing was fine but not spectacular; the yogurt dressing tended to overpower the more mild beets.
|The braided raviolis|
We loved the fresh stradette pasta with lobster, corn, butter, and herbs. Stradette is a thick, ribbon-shaped pasta, made with cornmeal, and it imparted a great corn flavor. The rich dish reminded me why both corn and lobster are always well-paired with good butter. At $17 it was also a great value, though I would have paid more for more lobster.
Another inventive pasta dish was a braided ricotta ravioli with tomato jam and basil oil. The tomato jam was essentially a thick tomato sauce with its full cooked-down flavor enhanced by the strong tang of the basil oil. The braided raviolis had a very interesting shape, which added to the presentation.
|Sea bass and monkfish in a lobster broth|
A two-fish special of sea bass alongside pieces of monkfish in a lobster broth somehow worked nicely. The bass was served crispy skin-side up and allowed you to explore the various textures of the dish.
The service made us feel welcome, helpfully explaining certain dishes, and offering our pregnant dining companion a refreshing grapefruit mocktail. (Every respectable restaurant should have a good mocktail available; it goes a long way with customers who are pregnant or who otherwise do not drink so that they do not to feel left out).
Runner & Stone also staffs various farmer’s markets with their breads, including a relatively new Sunday market in Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The homemade pretzels are to die for. Use their baguettes to make crostinis for your next party.
Runner & Stone
285 3rd Ave (between President St & 4th Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Recommended dishes: duck pastrami ($9); braided ravioli ($15); lobster & corn stradette ($17); pretzels and croissants ($2.50)