Ka-Wana Jefferson may have been born and raised in the Bronx, but she is making her mark here in Brooklyn. In 2016, Jefferson opened the popular booze and brunch spot Sweet Brooklyn Bar on Nostrand Avenue near Atlantic in Crown Heights.
Then about a week ago she expanded her reach down Nostrand into Little Caribbean with the grand opening of Sweet Catch, a more ambitious, less raucous (but still fun) restaurant starring a terrific array of “seafood made with soul.”
The executive chef at Sweet Catch is Bryan Lindsay, who is from Jamaica, now lives in Prospect Lefferts, and elevates what could have just been a comfortable if unremarkable local spot into something special. Lindsay, who apprenticed in France and spent time in several Michelin-starred restaurants, knows how to cook.
“I’ve been in hospitality since 2009,” he tells Brooklyn Magazine. “Worked my way up from dishwasher to where I am now, which gave me an appreciation for how each part of the brigade is important. I give all respect to every aspect of the kitchen.”
Lindsay’s Sweet Catch menu, which he created with Jefferson, is tightly focused, mostly seafood, and has its roots in African cuisine, via South Carolina. If you’re here with at least one companion you’ll want to order the “Signature Sweet Catch Boil,” a giddy party of a platter featuring plump, meltingly tender scallops, a bunch of snappy shrimp, a whole mess of crab legs, and a split langostino lobster tail.
And it’s not just the swimmers that shine in this dish. The roasted corn kernels, the sweet, nearly caramelized onions, even the potatoes, usually relegated to filler status, have real presence here. It’s all tied together with a lively, creamy sauce that contains a crazy amount of butter. It’s a bargain for $48.
Get the boil with a couple of sides and you have a hefty meal for two. Lindsay’s macaroni and cheese, served in a sizzling skillet, hits the spot, as does the crock of collard greens. Also on the menu are Charleston red rice and candied yams.
There are slabs of housemade cornbread to be had, and Chesapeake crab dip with plantain chips, and black-eyed pea fritters with tamarind dip that I wish we had room for on our already-overfilled table. Next time.
You can go the more traditional appetizer-entree route here too. The Thomas Downing broiled oysters, named after the 19th-century abolitionist and one-time “NYC Oyster King,” are superb, topped with gobs of sticky manchego and a splash of whiskey.
Larger dishes include a first rate version of shrimp and cheesy grits (don’t be scared off by the inclusion of “truffle oil” on the menu, Lindsay keeps it subtle), a seared branzino, a shrimp and waffles combo, and, for the piscine-averse, a BBQ cauliflower concoction and a gruyere cheeseburger.
In addition to serving some terrific food, Sweet Catch is also just a pleasant place to hang out, decked out in light wood, splashes of color, whitewashed brick, and hanging plants. There’s seating for roughly 40, mostly at a banquette along the wall, but there’s also a few stools at the bar and VIP-style booth toward the back.
Caribbean-themed cocktails run about $14, and there’s beer and wine available, by the glass or bottle. On the night we went the soundtrack was all hip hop bangers.
Sweet Catch is located at 1222 Nostrand Avenue, between Winthrop and Hawthorne Streets, and is currently open on Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. (347-240-7799)