Fourteen months ago, Chef and Owner Justin Warner garnered attention for foie gras doughnuts and mad names for his unconventional dishes. His restaurant Do or Dine became a destination for adventurous New York City diners, patient enough to take a pilgrimage down to Bed-Stuy. I only learned about Chef Warner’s journey a few months ago after he and his staff decided to serve the original Momofuku Noodle Bar menu on Do or Dine’s one-year opening anniversary (this decision was not endorsed by David Chang whatsoever). Then I began to take even closer notice once I found out he was previously a manager at The Modern.
Chef Warner and Do or Dine had always been on the food blog radars. When Justin Warner wasn’t getting bombarded with hate mail from foie gras ban activists, he was racking up a win at Adam Platt’s Ultimate Picnic Challenge against Anita Lo and Ignacio Mattos (formerly the chef at Isa). I’ve never seen an episode of Food Network Star, but it was more than big deal when he won season 8.
Now, the entire country is waiting for him to make his next television appearance. For now, he’s still manning the telephone line on weekdays and serving delicious meals. Starting next Sunday, he’s putting an end to brunch as well. Chef Warner already hated brunch and the restaurant felt the need to meet the demand for the full menu on weekends. The crosstown G Train doesn’t seem so dreadful anymore.
A doughnut should rarely cost eleven dollars. But when it does, the doughnut better be absolutely delicious. Do or Dine purchases a delicate yeast doughnut from Dough, a bakery in Bed Stuy and fills it with a foie gras mousse and mystery Smuckers preservatives. After Dough’s doughnuts got shat on by Josh Ozersky, I almost felt inclined to hate the doughnuts as well. But Do or Dine’s doughnut is worth every penny. It’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s tart. The creation from the Dough or Dine collaboration is a delightful treat at the beginning of the meal.
Maybe these gyozas had one night stands at a Mexican drive thru. Our fried dumplings arrived at the table, dressed with gouda, cheddar, and masago sour cream. They are no tortilla chips in this concoction. I’d imagine that Taco Bell Japan would eagerly serve this to hungry drunk crowds during late night. I would certainly be the first in line.
The deviled eggs (pictured at the top) were one of the highlights of the night. The E666 (the mark of the beast) eggs are stuffed with bacon and culantro (cilantro’s cousin) and then tempura battered. It’s topped with a dot of sriracha to give a subtle kick.
The rice-skate looks like a dish that might have been plated on a stressful episode Chopped. Fortunately, each component agreeably flows together. The perfectly seared skate, the sweet mango, and the crunchy puffed rice lend tropical elements. My favorite part of the dish is the black beans and black bean paste that taste like concentrated jjajangmyeon (cha jang mien) sauce.
The chimichanga wasn’t as popular as some of the other dishes of the night. We did love the crunchy outer crust and the summery strawberries, but the dish fairly tasted bitter. The menu indicates that the dish primarily consists of eggplant, cilantro, and strawberries. This gave our table the impression that it was on the list of options purely to please the vegetarians and vegans.
The chicken and woffals was the biggest hit of the night. The cornish game hen goes through a process of roasting and frying which gives a crisp exterior and moist interior. The waffle under the whole chicken is pleasantly sweet, providing a wonderful match for the chicken. Unlike Roscoe’s or the Waffle House, Do or Dine serves its chicken and waffles with a spoonful of chicken liver pâté. It’s a buttery supplement to the finger-lickin’ good chicken.
At last, the grand finale of the night. The dish is a crunchy whole snapper served with fries and yuzu-shallot vinaigrette and topped with fish eggs. The snapper is moist and easy to breakdown, paving way for the yuzu-shallot vinaigrette. Remember that the fish comes intact which means you’ll have to work around the bones (not a problem for our table). The fries, however, can certainly be a long term issue for many people. It’s limp and soggy which makes me contemplate whether these chips forgot to enter their second (or third) bath. It’s not the thick, glass like crust that I look for in wonderful French fries. Perhaps it is negligible because the snapper and the vinaigrette are a delicious combination.
It’s still surprising to me how Do or Dine still isn’t as busy as other restaurants in Brooklyn. Chef Warner mentions that web traffic has immediately skyrocketed in the past few weeks after his season 8 win.
However, the restaurant doesn’t hit peak hours until 8:30PM on Friday. It’s still easy to get a table around 8PM on Saturday nights.
Perhaps the welcoming service and the innovative menu options will gradually help build longer lines in the early hours. Until then, I’ll be marking my territory in the downstairs bathroom and planning my next journey for Chicken & Woffals and doughnuts.