Van Brunt Street is an unlikely restaurant row. This despite, as Red Hook boosters will have you know, the idiosyncratic charm of 360, the retro-chic appeal of Baked, and the engaging beverage bounty at LeNell’s, the local liquor “boutique.” But little by little, it’s getting there, and the latest arrival makes one of the neighborhood’s strongest culinary impressions yet. The Good Fork opened quietly late last month, but felt, at a recent dinner, already warmly embraced by a grateful (as well as noisy, and maybe slightly drunken) local crowd. Built and operated by carpenter-actor Ben Schneider and his wife, Sohui Kim, who’s cooked at Annisa, Blue Hill, and the Sony Club, the Good Fork feels homespun, with mini-booths and a vaguely nautical curved-wood ceiling (a garden is in the works). It has personality and warmth, just like the eclectic food that comes out of the quasi-open kitchen: Pork and chive dumplings feature a superbly delicate dough wrapper and a vibrant dipping sauce. A nice bowl of gumbo teems with okra, shrimp, chicken, and kielbasa. The “hot wings” aren’t particularly hot, but they are meaty and compulsively edible. And vegetarian diners will appreciate the concessions made to them by the short, Asian-accented menu, which offers alternate versions of dishes like “steak and eggs” Korean style (the Korean-American Kim happily substitutes tahini-slathered tofu), served with savory kimchee rice. She uses spinach from the local farm (yes, Red Hook has a local farm) to stuff her ravioli. And she proudly offers Steve’s Key-lime pie, another local specialty, for dessert—a community-building gesture, sure, but also a wise confectionery choice.
The Good Fork
391 Van Brunt St., nr. Coffey St., Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-643-6636