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LORE: Brooklyn’s Buzzy Fusion Gem

LORE: Brooklyn’s Buzzy Fusion Gem

LORE Brooklyn

LORE alludes to traditions of storytelling, and the food at this buzzy Brooklyn restaurant is both imaginative and inviting.

LORE, a name that stems from Chef Jay Kumar’s hometown in Mangalore and alludes to traditions of storytelling, is a culinary experience that invites guests to create their own narrative with each imaginative dish.

Even on a chilly Wednesday night, the Park Slope restaurant is buzzing with couples, young Brooklyn families, and friends catching up at the latest sought-after reservation. The vibe here captures the spirit of Brooklyn – exposed brick walls, moody candle lighting and a carefully curated selection of art adorning the space.

The Chef

Chef Jay Kumar – an Indian-born, Oman-raised, Basel-trained culinary maestro – proudly exclaims, it was love that landed him in Brooklyn.  And what better love story than falling for art curator Daria Brit Greene over a six-course meal prepared in Jay’s Basel kitchen, while she was in town for an art fair? The two eventually married their love and artistry, and opened LORE where their passion for their craft permeates through the restaurant.

At LORE, you can expect to find Chef Jay ambling about between guests, introducing himself with a warm smile and offering his menu recommendations. He’s just as much a fixture of the establishment as any server or bartender, contributing to its snug ambiance.

Lore Brooklyn

The Menu

The story of LORE evolves with the seasons, so expect to find a rotating menu of items that take inspiration from local purveyors. Its fusion menu reflects a catalog of Chef Jay’s travels. And while his food may not be centered on Indian cuisine, there is a clever hint of South Asian in almost every dinner menu item. In an ode to Brooklyn’s Caribbean roots with the Jerk Chicken option, Jay’s rendition enlivens this staple by adding coconut basmati rice. Or how about coating roasted carrots with tadka, a mixture of spices tempered in oil.

An eye-catching detail of each menu item is the long list of dietary restrictions it accommodates. You can anticipate finding 10-11 options under many menu items, catering to various dietary needs such as halal, dairy-free, and even tree nut-free. This is the kind of rare establishment that leaves you feeling better than when you walked in.

In a place like New York, where service standards are typically high across the board, it often takes something exceptional or abysmal to capture your attention. And exceptional service is what the restaurant modeled from start to finish.

The Starters

As a Brooklyn resident, and a South Asian constantly on the quest for interesting, flavor-infused foods, Chef Jay’s menu gave me a newfound perspective on a cuisine I thought I knew too well – and that feeling kicked off from my first look at the starters.

The Roti Ravioli, for me, is the star of the show. The innovative vegan dish is well-crafted to marry two unsuspecting cuisines together. Roti dough is shaped into a ravioli form and filled with a mélange of smoked eggplant and spaghetti squash. The ravioli is served on a vindaloo sauce and topped with curry leaves and pomegranate. Each bite is better than the last, with hints of sweet complementing the nutty, spicy filling. The result is a flavorful punch of earthy Indian spice with the comforting consistency of Indian roti, perfected with the convenience of the Italian ravioli.

The Fermented Dosa might be the only thing on the menu with no hint of fusion, and all roads capturing the essence of Indian flavors. A bite of this authentic dosa took me right back to my mom’s kitchen, staying true to its traditional roots. The crispy thin, crépe-like dish is made of lentils and ground rice, stuffed with potato, then sprinkled with gunpowder–a spice blend– giving the dosa its smokiness. Don’t skimp on scooping from any of the three chutneys on the side.

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Fermented Dosa (left), Summer Squash (right)

The Mains

Chef Jay’s deep understanding of flavor profiles combined with elements from his travels, create pairings that may come unconventional to most palates.

Take the Sea Bream Ssam, his take offers a spicy twist on a Korean classic. Ssam, meaning ‘wrapped’ in Korean, is best enjoyed by slicing a piece of sea bream and wrapping it inside the crisp butter head lettuce leaf, then topping it with a condiment in this case, two types of chutney, be it mint or hot red. Each bite-sized morsel delivers an unexpected kick, courtesy of Chef’s marinade infused with a quartet of essential Indian spices green cardamom, black mustard, cumin, and coriander.

After much deliberation and a sweeping endorsement from our server, we opted for the Ribeye Steak Au Poivre as our second main course. The steak, meticulously seasoned with a peppercorn rub, is a textbook example of the dish. The peppercorns not only created a spicy textured crust but offered a refreshing crunch and flavor to each bite. Inside, a subtle glide of the knife reveals an effortlessly cooked rosy, pink center, with steak juices flowing out. Seared to perfection, each cut is full of flavor. And as if it couldn’t get better, the plate is served alongside masala butter and fries.

Sea Bream Ssam

The Drinks

Cocktails are named after poets, paying homage to famous quotes that leave you with a little inspiration behind each sip. You can thank Chef Jay’s better half, Greene, for the clever personification and pairings. Take the Dove, named after Rita Dove and preceded by the quote: “If you can’t be free, be a mystery.” Illustrating its namesake, the airy concoction made with blanco tequila, lime, peas, and faccio brutta centerbe, is light and easy to sip. Be sure to try my favorite, the Rimbaud, featuring a blend of maharani gin, toasted cashew, and cardamom bitters – an intriguing flavor profile that pairs perfectly with each dish and leaves you wanting more.

While our stomachs couldn’t hold another bite, we had a long list of items we wanted to try. Encouraged to return for brunch, I’m already dreaming up what the Mushroom Uthappam might taste like, one LORE adds its touch by cracking a fried egg for brunch.

441 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Dinner Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 6:00PM – 10:00PM; Sunday, 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Brunch Hours: Saturday-Sunday, 11:00AM – 3:00PM

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