Last night, Corlette held their official grand opening, celebrating fine Caribbean cuisine.
The owner of the restaurant, Bernard James, has lived in Bed-Stuy for the last 14 years and wanted to bring a Caribbean restaurant to Nostrand Avenue in northern Bed-Stuy, far removed from the several Caribbean restaurants on Fulton.
"I want something different in the area," James said. "I want something more upscale."
The restaurant is named after Bernard's late wife, Corlette. "She always said, 'You should open a restaurant,' '' he said. Corlette passed away two years ago, and James is dedicated to living out her dream.
He also has a waffle named for each of his children. The Brianna comes with fresh fruit, and The BJ comes with eggs, bacon or sausage, and syrup.
Corlette offers a mix of modern and traditional decor, combining regal drapery and exposed brick with blue and purple lighting and Rolling Stones collectibles framed on the wall. The result is a lounge feel for a fine dining establishment, and it put me in the mood for a drink.
I started off with a red wine sangria, sweet with only a slight tang from the wine. The sliced apples add a slightly sour flavor to the drink, which I liked, and if you eat any of the apples, they have soaked up the wine flavor and make for a delicious garnish.
The white wine sangria is distinctly sweeter, and the addition of sliced kiwi in the drink makes for a tropical taste. A great choice with one of Corlette's many seafood options, such as the mussels au vin or the spiked shrimp.
The mussels au vin are made with sea moss, a commonly known Caribbean aphrodisiac, generally made into a sweet juice. Mixed with the slightly bitter, yet creamy taste of the wine sauce, the mussels have a unique flavor, unlike any butter or wine sauces I've tasted with seafood. For an alternative take on mussels, this is definitely worth trying.
The philourie is an appetizer that originally hails from East India, but manager and chef Linden Clark explained that the Caribbean version of philourie has evolved to be vastly different from the Indian equivalent. The crispy outside gives way to a moist, dense, warm soft center. Seasoned with coriander, cumin, and Caribbean produced curry powder, each bite is spicy and full of flavor. The philourie comes with a mango sauce that freshens each bite and adds a sweet, acidic flavor.
My personal favorite at the restaurant is Corlette's take on a jerked beef patty. This was my first experience with a fine dining version of a beef patty, and it is incredibly tasty. I am a sucker for savory pastries, and this is one of the best I have had. The jerked beef is sweet and slightly spicy without being too heavy. This surrounded by a soft, buttery, flaky puff pastry makes for the perfect appetizer.
For an entree, I had the Chicken Supreme with okra and coconut rice. The okra was crunchy with a juicy, spicy center, and while the seasoning was strong, it didn’t overpower the flavor of the okra. I am not always a fan of okra, but I enjoyed this side thoroughly.
The chicken had a sweet and peppery seasoning which I liked, although I found the meat itself slightly overcooked, with a dry center. The meat was covered in a spinach cream sauce that was mild and refreshing and helped moisten the dish.
While I didn’t get to try any other entrees, I was more impressed by the appetizers, which came in fairly large servings and offered a taste of Caribbean specialties, with unusual twists such as the sea moss paired with mussels. For the full experience, I recommend splitting several appetizers with friends, and enjoying a drink or two while you’re at it.
Corlette offers nightly specials, such as Poetry Night, Monday Football, Vet Recognition Night, and Ladies Appreciation Night. They are located on Nostrand Avenue between Hart and Pulaski Streets.