Cornelius on Vanderbilt, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Cornelius has long been a favorite because of their $1 oysters during happy hour, an offering they now have all day everyday (score!). We hadn’t visited in a while so we wanted to confirm their oyster hours and learned not only of this fact, but also that their menu has changed. So we stopped by and met the new chef Dave, who came out wondering who was ordering all the oysters and the specials. I like that touch. A chef has rarely come out to tell me (sincere or not) how much he feels that my gusto in sampling all his/her dishes is flattering to him. Dave sent over a half portion of the only special we were not able to try, and also a warm pecan pie on the house. I love being loved by restaurants, especially in New York. I think the love makes or breaks them. In this city where restaurants are a dime a dozen, you’d think everyone would catch on to that fact.

A normal start of two dozen oysters

By the end of the evening the restaurant had our coveted phone numbers to call us whenever there were interesting specials (especially seafood ones), and to let us know when their signature Kumumoto Dragons would be out. Kumo Dragons are simply Kumomoto Oysters (fave!) topped with sea urchin (heaven!). The result is a creamy briny flavor explosion you can really only handle one or two servings at a time. At our rate of 2 dozen blue points per person before dinner, this was an honest assessment!

Infamous Kumo Dragons

Crab and red pepper mac N cheese

We remembered their Mac N Cheese as being good from a previous visit, but that evening it was on special with crab meat and red peppers, upping it a few levels.

Crispy pork belly

We had the pork belly appetizer special, the skin of which was nicely broiled to an even golden crisp.

Oxtail and gnochi

I’m also a big fan of oxtail and how it is almost always amazing owing to the fat content of this meat. Just like with short ribs, it’s hard to go wrong with oxtail. Dave gave us a half portion of this dish but we were so stuffed that we took it home and made it into nice little crostinis for a dinner party.

Fish special

Our party of five begins with a dozen each.

We are such huge fans of the oysters here because they are fresh, tasty, served ice cold and very clean. Also, the $1 price is just unbeatable.

House burger

Nice sized tasty burger for the purist did not disappoint.

Braised short ribs

Just like oxtail, hard to go wrong with short ribs.

Chicken gumbo

The gumbo sauce was strangely separate from the rice, but tasty and deep-flavored anyway.

We loved the rest of our orders we downed with their house sauvignon blanc ($4 during happy hour!) which was just lovely. Upon further research I discovered that the place was named after Cornelius Vanderbilt, an aristocrat fond of bivalves and whiskey (of course!). I love great neighborhood places. It makes it so hard to leave our five-block radius for food.

565 Vanderbilt Ave
(between Pacific St & Dean St)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 398-6662

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