Reporting from Gowanus, Cafe Mars

Been meaning to try Cafe Mars for a while. Made a reservation for dinner two months ago but stuff happens and we had to cancel.

I was wondering what to do for dinner tonight so was checking through the various reservation apps. Noticed on Tock there was a last minute Saturday night spot so I took it on Tock. Not very good alliteration there.

It’s on a stretch of 3rd avenue in Brooklyn that used to be pretty desolate in the evening but it’s a changing. Anyone who thinks NYC is dying should take a drive down 3rd.

From the outside on a blustery Saturday evening it looks bright and warm and a bit kooky. Lots of light and bright colors.

We were seated and then offered an on the house pour of either Prosecco or a nonalcoholic bubbly. What do you think we chose?

You pick a colorful glass for the complimentary bubbles. The place is riotous with colors.

We had the olives in Negroni jelly. Really a fun way to start a meal. I’m inspired by this to make Negroni Jell-O shots for our next party.

The contrast is textures and taste was really appealing. But I like olives and Negroni is a favored cocktail.

We then ordered a chicken liver mousse and fluke crudo Parmesan starters.

The lovely wife dearly loves chicken liver and she adored the mousse. I on the other hand gravitated to the crudo. Never had freshly grated cheese on raw fish before but it worked.

The lovely wife had bucatini with mackerel and I ordered skate.

The bucatini was very similar to the Sicilian style pasta with sardines except the mackerel was raw and marinated. She loved it. The picture I took is not so good.

The skate wing was huge and came with a thickened butter reduction and capers. Fried and fabulous. A side salad of tomato, corn and green beans was a refreshing contrast.

Until about a week ago, I had no idea what paw paw was. Read a story about it and how Native Americans are trying to reintroduce it back into their food ways. Well what do I see on the dessert menu but paw paw. I ask our server about it. She tells us that it’s in season for only a few weeks a year. The only native tropical fruit to North America. So I have to order it. One of the chefs brings it out and talks to us about it.

Creamy, custardy. Tastes like a blend of apple, pineapple and bananas. Reminds me of soursop. Unique. Won’t be there next week I’m told. Lucky us.

Really friendly staff. Everyone was incredibly helpful and spent time telling us about what they were doing with the food. Been open for only 5 months or so we were told. Get there before it gets too crowded.


The skate wing and salad with it look fantastic!

I can’t get my head around cheese on raw fish, but I’ll take your word for it :joy:

(Like your wife, I love chicken liver anything.)

The pawpaw is native to the eastern U.S. and Canada, but although it’s part of a family of tropical and subtropical plants, it grows in temperate climates, even in New York City. And, yes, its season is very short – your timing was good!


Interesting looking fruit. Similar to soursop with the big seeds. Thanks for posting the picture.

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Thanks for the report, and for reminding me that this place exists.

The flavor is much more gentle than soursop, and not as sweet as sweetsop. I have a friend that grows some. Yield is low. There’s a festival in Maryland where you can got your filll, but the line to buy pawpaw gets really long.