To visit Prime Meats for dinner, you need the Goldilocks plan. A couple of months ago, I arrived at 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday evening, when the wait was quoted as two hours. That was too late. (I dined at the same owners’ Frankies Spuntino instead.) Last week, I was so over-eager that I arrived at 4:45 p.m., which is considered the lunch shift. That was too early. Maybe next time will be Just Right.
In any event, I had traveled an hour to get here from Washington Heights, and I was not going to waste the opportunity. Prime Meats at 4:45 is almost empty, which is delightful. You can sit back, relax, enjoy the late afternoon sun, and not feel guilty that a hundred other people want your table.
With its Germanic Alpine theme, Prime Meats is an odd follow-up from two guys who opened a pair of Italian snack & sandwich places, both called Frankies Spuntino. It shares with them its rustic homespun décor, a commitment to locally-sourced ingredients and making as much as possible in-house.
They also share a no-reservations policy, and until recently credit cards weren’t taken either. Sam Sifton spent four paragraphs of an otherwise glowing two-star review complaining about that, and within a week they caved. American Express is now accepted.
At lunch, Prime Meats serves a much abbreviated version of its dinner menu, and the items in common are a dollar or two cheaper. (Click on the image above for a larger version.)
I’m sure that either Steak Frites ($25) or a burger ($15) would be just fine, but I wanted a better example of the restaurant’s Teutonic theme, so I decided on the Vesper Brett ($14), an “Alpine tasting board” with mixed charcuterie.
It’s a bit like a sandwich without the bread—an Atkins-friendly appetizer. I won’t try to describe the different meats, all excellent, which included everything listed on the menu and more (e.g.,duck prosciutto, fanned out in the lower-left quadrant of the photo).
Like the charcuterie boards at most restaurants these days, the Vesper Brett works best for sharing: it’s really too big to be an appetizer for one. As I was alone, I settled for that and a side dish of sautéed spinach with garlic ($6)—again, too much for one person, but very good for what it was.
The bread service, though, was underwhelming.
There is an alcoholic punch of the day ($5), which on this occasion featured gin, mint, and lime, with a hint of grapefruit juice. It came in an itsy bitsy glass, and even with the restaurant empty, it took a long while for the server to notice I was ready for a re-fill.
If you don’t live in Carroll Gardens, and you’re not keen on waiting for an hour or more, it’s hard to find the right time for a visit to Prime Meats. One of these days, when the time is right, I’ll try again.
Prime Meats (465 Court St. at Luquer St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)