The latest incarnation of the Saint Clair Restaurant, located at the corner of Smith Street and Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill is in the words of W.C. Fields the “overdog” of old school Brooklyn diners. With its reasonable prices and great quality, this place is still knockin’ its competition out the box.
I first tried the St. Clair shortly after their re-opening. I had come from the Bergen Street stop of the F train after a full day of work in Manhattan. It was dinner time and even though I had ordered a mere hamburger, the pickle and coleslaw came to the table complete with a toasty slice of bruschetta. It was a thoughtful and tasty touch.
This is very much in the spirit of its self-identification as a restaurant. Call it what you want, this place gives you the kind of value and service that has almost disappeared from New York City. Their affordability has much to do with the St. Clair’s roots in the formerly working class communities south of Brooklyn Heights that once upon a time were collectively known as “South Brooklyn”. In recent years, the real estate industry and new residents have attempted a resurrection of this name. The map below christens the area with the eye-rolling handle of BOCOCA. Many natives would simply call this downtown. Whatever your choice of terms for its home turf, know that the Saint Clair has been successfully reborn.
In the four or five times I’ve returned since that fateful visit, my menu choices have been limited to hamburgers, fries, egg creams and the steak sandwich. In my opinion these are the true litmus tests for quality. The tricolor coleslaw and pickle platter never disappoints; it’s free of the sulphuric pre-made taste that has become too common. The slaw, accented with golden raisins is wonderful. The pickles, not too soggy nor too dill. The bruschetta, when they have it, makes loyal dinner patrons feel appreciated.
Their charbroiled burgers taste like they should; their juicy flavor reminiscent of an outdoor grill. While I normally substitute a salad for my fries, the chances I’ve had to sample their steak-cut carbohydrate treats did not disappoint; these guys are pros all the way. Their egg creams are as they should be, effervescent and fun.
That might be a good way to describe the atmosphere here; the waitstaff is both considerate and amicable without being too bubbly. The cost of a meal is such that looking at menu prices is not really necessary. This is a place to decompress after a long day. Leave your worries out on Atlantic Avenue friends, the Saint Clair welcomes you!
I gave the Saint Clair a 5 for affordability, 5 for value, 5 for service, 4 for food and a 4.5 for atmosphere. Based on an average of these 5 criteria, the New St. Clair Restaurant receives a total score of:
4.7 out of a possible 5 inanimate objects