WOODLAND – BROOKLYN
Average price: $28- $50
About two days before my vacation to New York, I had just woken up and was in bed, checking
my phone’s notifications as you do. I was scrolling through my search feed on Instagram and
saw a video of people turning up at brunch having a whale of a time. I just had to find out where
this spot was because I wasn’t going to The States without visiting it. The name of this place
was Woodland, a Caribbean-American cuisine restaurant on Brookyln’s infamous
Flatbush Avenue, about a one minute walk from Bergen Street station.
Day 3 in New York and I’m there. It was a Thursday afternoon so it wasn’t lively like what I had
seen on social media. It tends to get very high-spirited on weekends. Furthermore, I was greeted,
seated and shown the menu. Woodland’s has a very nice layout, from the bar to the high seated area,
the low seated area and a section that is enclosed but you still can see everything that’s going on
– this is where I sat.
I chose the Woodland Rum Punch to drink, after seeing that it contained Wray and Nephew
rum. Us Jamaicans love a bit of Wray. For some reason, in my head, I’m this heavy drinker
who can handle her liquor. In reality, however, I’m not . My head got a bit light after this
cocktail which means the drink done its job!
I decided to have three appetisers. First up, was the wings cooked Caribbean style. I loved
that they were big and juicy and that the skin had a soft yet crispy feel to it. I would have
however, liked for these to have had a bit more flavour. I felt that for a Caribbean style dish,
they were a little bit bland. Nonetheless, the jerk aioli that came with the wings made a great
Additionally, the calamari was done how calamari should be. I rarely taste calamari
alone – every bite usually has to have been dunked in sauce because that’s what usually
makes the dish. However, with this calamari, I could really taste the spices and due to
this purpose, I enjoyed it with and without the dip. Also, the squid meat wasn’t too chewy.
Furthermore, the ackee and saltfish spring rolls were probably one of the most creative things that
I have tasted. They were unbelievably mouthwatering. The saltfish wasn’t too soft and had the perfect
amount of salt present. The ackee was tender and balanced out the saltfish nicely. Vegetables
such as: steamed spinach, cameralised onion, pepper and habenero had also been incorporated
which gave a sweet, spicy and wet taste. The outer layer of the spring roll was thin, firm and
crispy. This was simply an amazing mix of flavours and textures. This dish alone was a 5/5.
What’s more, this was my first time having grits – a porridge like meal that is heavily associated
with the southern states of America. Whenever I have seen grits they haven’t seemed appealing.
More like something you would give to someone as a punishment, kind of like prison food. I’m
glad that Woodland’s proved this thought to be wrong. I had shrimp with my grits which is a
common combination. The flavour and feel of the grits was unusual. A porridge-y, mash potato,
creamy, cauliflower, cheesy, buttery flavour is the best way that I could describe it. A lot I know,
but this truly is the what my palate detected. It was like a smooth paste with small lumps throughout.
The jerk sauce that came with it was marvelous and added to the various, unique flavours that
already existed in the grits. I tasted onions and ginger in the sauce and was happy that the
ginger wasn’t overpowering: it gave a sharp aftertaste. The shrimp were large and luscious and
the proportion of shrimp to grits was excellent!
- Food presentation
- Food quality
- Service & Organisation
Woodland is a phenomenal place aimed at giving its guest an American experience with a Caribbean twist. I believe that they pulled this off very well. The staff and service is great along with the atmosphere. The presentation was pretty simple but the food tasted amazing. Prices are good too for the portion sizes and food quality. I would definitely recommend and will be back the next time I come to the States to turn up for Brunch. It’s a must!
Ackee & Saltfish Springrolls
Shrimp & Grits