Clinton Hill, Restaurants and Cafes
For the last two weeks, my friend Elizabeth and I have been switching up our morning walks from Prospect Park to other neighborhoods. It's exercise and work at the same time. She scopes out sites of architectural or historical significance for her work, I scope out food for mine. With mornings like these, I actually don't hit the snooze button 20 times like I usually do.
Earlier this week, we did a nice little walk through Fort Green and Clinton Hill. One of the stops was the Pratt Power Plant, an amazing old steam-generating power plant from 1877 that's just sitting there and open to the public at Pratt Institute. (Tip: make friends with a historic preservationist. It'll improve your life dramatically.) But more on that later!
Afterwards we ended up at Urban Vintage, a café and vintage furniture shop rolled into one.
Red Hook, Restaurants and Cafes, Shops
A coffee and a breakfast cookie might be the best way to end a long morning walk to Red Hook (exercise- and work-related.)
Baked is one of those places that serves up your childhood dessert favorites — chocolate chip cookies, brownies, blondies, and whoopie pies — in some of the best possible versions. Everything is substantial and goes well with a mug of coffee. Or if it's later in the day, a tall glass of milk.
It's the rare New York food business that survives past its first few years, but this bakery/cafe has been rooted here on Van Brunt Street since 2005. And it was one of the first businesses to reopen after Hurricane Sandy last fall, even with basement damage, becoming a haven for locals and a gathering spot for volunteers in the weeks and months that followed.
Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Restaurants and Cafes
Here's a gratuitous shot of a bubbly chocolate egg cream to start off your day.
I have a big thing for old-fashioned diners and soda fountains. I don't know if it's the vinyl booths, swirly bar seats, jukebox music, or overall nostalgic atmosphere, but every time I visit one, especially in Brooklyn, I come out feeling happier. Maybe I've just watched Radio Days or Brighton Beach Memoirs too many times.
Yet there aren't too many diners like this left in the borough anymore. Especially ones like Tom's whose decor hasn't really changed since the 1930s when it first opened. (Note: this is not to be confused with the Tom's Restaurant in Manhattan of Seinfeld fame.)
Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Restaurants and Cafes
The first summer I moved back to Brooklyn from San Francisco back in 2010, ramen joints had taken the city by storm. In the three years that I was gone, places like Ippudo, Hide-Chan, Toto Ramen, and Rai Rai Ken (just to name a few) had sprouted around town. Having recently traveled to Tokyo, I was ecstatic that I wouldn't be missing those very tasty noodles. The only problem? The restaurants were all in Manhattan and required a subway trek (and in the case of Ippudo, a two-hour wait.)
So I'm pretty thrilled with the new ramen shops popping up around Brooklyn these days. Dassara on Smith Street is a go-to-spot. Chuko and Ramen Yebisu are on the next-up list. And Ganso in Downtown Brooklyn has just become a new favorite. Even before the restaurant opened, it had already received a good amount of press. (One of the owners, Harris Salat, is a cookbook author and blogger at The Japanese Food Report.) And after, well, plentyofdining critics plus a whole bunch of friends on Instagram were thrilled that it lived up to the hype.
Greenpoint, Restaurants and Cafes
It's barely spring and I'm already daydreaming about a summer of lobster and fried clam rolls. The past winter, as with most winters, shellfish-eating got pushed aside in favor of soups, casseroles, and hearty meaty braises. But now that it's warmer, this New England-bred gal has been seriously hankering for some fresh seafood.
While in Greenpoint today, I walked right by Lobster Joint, near the top end of Manhattan Ave, and did a double take. I had been planning on going to a cafe and getting something more economical and mundane for lunch, like a sandwich, but the big "open" on the glass door told me I really didn't want just any sandwich. I wanted one filled to the brim with lobster meat. And fortunately, here they also served lobster rolls Connecticut-style, warm with melted butter, instead of just Maine-style with mayo and celery. (My beloved Red Hook Lobster Pound may be the only other spot in NY that makes it both ways.)
Cobble Hill, Restaurants and Cafes
Van Horn Sandwich Shop, just a short subway ride away from me, is a great spot to grab lunch to break up the monotony of working from home. And, as I found out today, their Sweet PLT is quite the sandwich.
For anyone who loves stuffing potato chips into their subs and sandwiches: Van Horn turns your guilty pleasure into a legitimate meal. PLT stands for sweet potatoes, lettuce, and tomatoes. Crunchy smoked sweet potato chips stand in for bacon. With a good amount of aioli is smeared on the bread, this sandwich is pure comfort food remixed.
Boerum Hill, Italian, Restaurants and Cafes
A few months ago, I found myself OD-ing on reading restaurant reviews, and becoming so paralyzed with indecision, that I gave up choosing new restaurants altogether. I'd leave the decision up to my dining companion(s), who were surely less cursed with the paradox of choice than I was. Or I'd just visit the same favorite restaurants over and over again.
When my friend Ami suggested this week that we try out Krescendo in Boerum Hill, I agreed in a second. I didn't know much about it, except it recently received a great review from Pete Wells in the NY Times and slightly less enthusiastic reviews on Yelp. Which is more than fine with me.
Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes
There are so many great brunch places in Brooklyn, but my absolute favorite, the one I revisit again and again and recommend to anyone visiting, is Rose Water.
I've never had even a mediocre meal here. When I first started coming here, I was obsessed with the baked polenta with goat cheese and couldn't think about ordering anything else. Then there was the challah French toast phase. And lately I've been loving the smoked tuna fishcake, which comes with poached eggs, mesclun salad, and a slice of cranberry bread.