Friday, January 14, 2011

The year of the Ox

By Helen Klein

Fans of Ditmas Park’s Pomme de Terre may have rejoiced when a veteran of that kitchen took over the Newkirk Avenue spot earlier this fall. But don’t expect the same experience at new Ox Cart Tavern.

For one, chef David Pitula’s spot, though still rocking an upscale vibe along a strip dominated by bodegas and Chinese take-out joints, is not as pricey as its French predecessor.

“Ox Cart Tavern is a gastropub with a much more casual vibe,” said Pitula.

And, of course, there’s the matter of food, with the tavern offering up American comfort food, with a twist.

“We serve classics and some things that are not too far off the beaten path,” said Pitula. Think duck confit pot pie, or chili-dusted onion rings spiked with lime.

You don’t get more American than hamburgers, and Pitula’s are thick and sumptuous, with lots of variations, including a vegetarian burger and one made with Ahi tuna that was so popular it was recently promoted from a special to a regular menu item.

On a recent visit, the plain Ox Burger ($11) was certainly good, but the star on the plate was the pile of very crispy French fries, salted just right.

The pan-roasted half-chicken ($16) was also lovely, with a crisp skin and flavorful, not gamey, meat, served on a thick bed of vegetables that added color and texture to the presentation.

Besides such hearty choices, there are also options for those watching their weight in the raw daylight that is the post-holiday season. That includes a grilled chicken breast on ciabatta ($10) and smoked salmon tea sandwiches ($7.50). Both are served with creamy dressings that can easily be eliminated for calorie counter, without losing too much flavor. So feel free to dig in.

Ox Cart Tavern [1301 Newkirk Ave. at Argyle Road in Flatbush, (718) 284-0005]. Open for dining, Monday-Friday, 6 pm-midnight, Saturday-Sunday, noon to midnight for dinner, bar open until 4 am Thursday-Saturday. For info, visit


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