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  • Soul and southern American
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Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Buttermilk pancakes at Seersucker
Carroll Gardens

Southern comfort foods have been enjoying a prolonged heyday in New York City, encouraging Yankees to abandon their pretensions (and silverware) and tear into regional American meals. So when chef-owner Robert Newton (formerly of Le Cirque) opened a Brooklyn eatery promising polished takes on the food he grew up on in Arkansas, Brooklynites swiftly crowded the joint’s wooden banquettes and zinc-topped bar. There’s plenty here to excite a displaced Southerner (Newton also channels the cooking of Florida, Mississippi, the Virginias and the Carolinas), but his often junky, authentic-to-a-fault food holds limited appeal. While a fried-bologna sandwich (a filling $5 starter) was a faithful and delicious rendition of the classic—caramelized lunch meat with grainy Dijon in a split English muffin—other dishes weren’t so successful. A pimento-cheese appetizer (served on an otherwise agreeable “Southern snack tray” with radishes, house-made potato chips, deviled eggs, pickled ramps and okra) was a gummy, artificial-tasting spread with cheddar, roasted pimentos, mayonnaise and cayenne pepper. True to its origins? Perhaps. Delicious? Not so much. Entres also could have been plucked from a kitchen table in Little Rock, with scant evidence of a professional chef’s touch. Chicken and dumplings had a home-cooked quality, with gritty white gravy, dense, floury dumplings, stewed carrots and shredded meat—but at $18, a little refinement is in order. Though sophistication came through in a beautifully cooked pork chop, juicy, thick and blackened with grill marks, its accompaniment of cloying sweet-potato puree spoiled the tasty plate. Only desserts consistently captured the region’s flavors with finesse. An individual pecan tart was a compact puck of smooth, buttery filling, topped with glistening nuts on a crumbly crust. Rice pudding was as light as whipped cream, stippled with nutty grains and topped with rhubarb compote. Factor in a quaff from the all-American wine and beer list, and Seersucker is suitable for a cheap snack or sweet. But without more thoughtful expressions of Dixieland cuisine, the place will head south fast.—TONY

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Venue name: Seersucker
Address: 329 Smith St

Cross street: between Carroll and President Sts
Opening hours: Tue–Fri 6–10:30pm; Sat, Sun 11am–2pm, 6–10:30pm
Transport: Subway: F, G to Carroll St
Price: Average main course: $19. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC
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4 / 5

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