9/07/2012 11:20:00 AM

First Bite: Palmer’s Gourmet Diner, A Flashback in Fort Greene

About a month ago, Palmer’s quietly opened in the bottom of the towering Avalon Fort Greene apartment building on the corner of Gold Street and Flatbush Avenue, in what might be Downtown Brooklyn. Though, given that the border is a little hazy, it might also be part of Fort Greene. Either way, situated near the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, this shiny new eatery is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The team behind Palmer’s is the same that opened the stylish Building on Bond, a quirky eatery in Boerum Hill that serves up fundamental café grub like burgers, salads, and pasta dishes. Palmer’s is equally chic and sports an old-school-diner style that incorporates letter boards, a counter looking over the kitchen, rounded ceilings, cozy corner booths and a dark, steam-punk-looking bar in front. Like its sister restaurant, Palmer’s remains laid back and inexpensive, but, unlike Building on Bond, this eatery features a larger menu reaching beyond basic grub into the gourmet-diner food area.

Take the pizza. Here the restaurant serves a large pie with a super-thin crust with toppings like clams and roasted garlic or arugula and mushroom - there's also a meatball version. With this dish, the chefs take golf ball-sized meatballs and evenly distribute them across the cheesy oval, as if they are ready to be hit into orbit. You can’t easily eat this pie without a fork - they also add Swiss and Gruyere to the mix (which the menu does not state), just to up the goo factor.

Bob’s cobb salad was also a hit, which isn’t surprising given that Building on Bond also serves the same version. What makes it special is the addition of thick-cut, candied bacon and fresh-herb encrusted chicken slices. The Portobello Reuben also had a unique kick to it by substituting the classic corned beef or pastrami with an umami-rich mushroom. Yum.

Whether you sit at the dark bar, or sidle up to the food counter like a handful of single patrons did on a recent Sunday night, you will want to get a drink. There's a version of the iconic Arnold Palmer, which takes iced tea and lemon and spikes it with strawberries and rose petals. On the alcoholic beverage side, there's classics like a Pimm's Cup and  a solid wine selections (it may just be the the best option this close to Borough Hall). Given the early morning breakfast hours and late night nibbling times, the crowed in Palmer’s is eclectic, though they appeared pretty tame on our visit. The greatest draw to the space comes from forgetting you are in a modern building and instead, imagining you are Dr. Who in a quaint café between times. Combine that with the $10 to $20 price range, stylish space, and solid eats, and we're predicting a hit with the neighborhood eaters.

The Details: 343 Gold St., Brooklyn; 718-858-5866; www.palmersnyc.com


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