Bellwether is one of the newest restaurants to join the Williamsburg food scene. It is owned by the husband and wife team Josh Cohen and Blair Papagni, whom over the past year have successfully opened both Calyer and St. Vitus. Manning the kitchen at Bellwether is head chef Dan Ross, from the ever popular Fatty Cue. We first heard about Bellwether from a friend who told us that the menu had an array of unique food not found on many menus. Since we can't resist trying unique and unusual foods we jumped at the chance to visit Bellwether.
The menu at Bellwether offers a selection of unique dishes, the majority of them featuring seafood with Spanish influences. These dishes include such combinations as fried oysters on a bun with tartar sauce, pickled jalepeños. Roasted blue fish with corn, nardello peppers & pickled chanterelles. Steamed clams on toast with roasted nardello peppers. If you are not a huge seafood fan there are plenty of other options such as pork sausage & bacon braised with cranberry beans & kale or a cheeseburger & fries with tillamook cheddar, red onion, b&b pickles & mayo. The only bad part of the menu is also the best part, it changes every few weeks to include seasonal ingredients and specials. With so many options we decided to get a variety of dishes and share them around the table.
What We Ate:
Stuffed Squash Blossoms - stuffed with seafood and topped with salsa verde
Marinated white Anchovies - With toasted bread & butter with sweet pickled peppers
Lamb Tartare - with fried bread, minted yogurt, pickled egg, capers & toasted spices
Spicy twice cooked oxtails - with lots of herbs, peanuts & fried shallots
Pan Seared Grouper - with a fresh vegetable salad
Braised Chicken - with cilantro & almonds
White pound cake - topped with icing and a fresh apricot sauce
Warm Chocolate Cake - filled with handmade peanut butter
The dishes at Bellwether were reminiscent of our favorite restaurant Traif. They offered fresh ingredients mixed together and cooked in unique combinations. We started the night with stuffed squash blossoms. They were filled with seafood and topped with salsa verde. The blossoms were similar to Asian dumplings, the stuffing was a salty mix of what seemed to be crab and shrimp. The mild seafood flavor mixed with the intense salsa verde provided the perfect bite to start off the meal.
The next dish to arrive at the table was marinated white anchovies with toasted bread & butter with sweet pickled peppers. We have never been the biggest fans of fish, so this dish was a bit intimidating but we decided to go for it anyway. Who would have thought we would actually like anchovies. Since they were marinated and pickled they did not have the fishiness we were expecting. The anchovies combined with the sweet peppers and toast were actually one of our favorite dishes of the night. It was light but intensely flavorfull and has turned us on to pickled anchovies at least for the moment.
We didn't think anything could make us more squeamish than trying fish, but we were wrong, next to the was lamb tartare. The idea of eating raw meat has always seemed a bit taboo. We always hear that you need make sure your chicken is not pink and that your pork reaches 160 degrees, but somehow tartare is ok. We were hesitant staring at the uncooked meat but decided that sometimes you just need to leap without looking. We took our first bite and were pleasantly surprised. Wrapped in a bit of pita you could not even tell that the lamb was not cook. The combination of spices and ingredients made the lamb taste like a freshly made gyro. We are not normally huge fans of lamb, but it was much less gamey than we thought it would be. We never thought we would have liked lamb tartare but yet again Bellwether has broadened our horizons.
After cleaning our plates, the entrees arrived to the table. The best dish we had was the spicy twice cooked oxtail with plenty of herbs, peanuts & fried shallots. It was then topped with a lime infused soy sauce. The oxtail was extremely tender but had the perfect crispy crust on the outside. The oxtail had a pleasant beef like flavor that paired nicely with the shallots, lime and cilantro. The meat effortlessly fell off the bone as we tried to soak up as much of the sauce as possible in each bite. The only way this dish could have been better was if there was more of it.
The next dish we had was pan seared grouper with a fresh vegetable salad. Since we already tried anchovies, the grouper was a walk in the park. It was a delicate white fish with a nice sear. It was well seasoned and was paired perfectly with a fresh salad of mixed vegetables. This was a nice dish, but was over shadowed by the huge flavors from the oxtail.
We also ordered the braised chicken with cilantro & almonds. Just like the oxtail, the chicken was fall off the bone tender. It was seasoned well and was braised in flavorful broth. The chicken had a nice crispy skin which helped contrast the tenderness of the chicken. While we enjoyed this dish and it was a very satisfying, it could not compare to the oxtail.
After all of the amazing food we ate, there was still dessert to be had. We made a little more room in our stomachs and dug into white pound cake with apricot sauce & warm chocolate cake with homemade peanut butter. The white cake was light and a bit plain but the apricot sauce instantly elevated the dish. It was super sweet but not overpowering. It melded perfectly with the neutral vanilla flavors. The real star however was the warm slightly molten chocolate cake filled with freshly made peanut butter. It was very rich but 100% satisfying. We could have used a gallon of milk each, but even without it we still devoured every morsel of cake.
Should or Should Not Eat:
Bellwether offers up some of the best dishes in Williamsburg. With fresh ingredients and unique combinations the food at Bellwether is a Should Eat. Bring your friends for a night of good drinks, food and a relaxed dining experience.
Brooklyn, NY: 594 Union Ave.> 347.529.4921