Park Slope

Made in Brooklyn, Park Slope, Shops

Phin and Phebes Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream

Last week, in need of a mid-afternoon jolt, I wandered over to Union Market to get a cup of coffee. But when walking by the frozen dessert section, I spotted something way better: Vietnamese coffee ice cream.

Phin and Phebes is a small-batch ice cream company that originated in Brooklyn. Jess Eddy and Crista Freeman started the company a little over three years ago, testing new ice cream flavors in their home kitchen. Now the ice cream is made upstate, using milk sourced from a dairy cooperative of family-run farms in Lewis and Jefferson Counties. Oh, and the hand-drawn packaging is pretty great too. What's not to love?

Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Brunch at Rose Water

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.

Italian, Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Lunch at Al di La

I lived in Park Slope for 2 years before I finally tried Al di La. My old apartment was a mere 3 blocks away, and I had heard such great things about it, yet I had always been intimidated by the long lines of people waiting outside for dinner. (Like many restaurants here, they don't take reservations.) My friend Elizabeth said the trick was to get there at 5:30pm and wait for the first seating; otherwise, be prepared to stand outside for a while.

So when I finally tried it, it was for lunch on my 30th birthday last year, a lovely surprise from my friend Barb. The restaurant was calm and relaxing, busy but not overly so. I loved it before we even started eating.

Park Slope, Shops

Lush English Toffee

For most of my life, I've been a toffee-holic. Whereas many people are content to limit their toffee eating to the holiday season, I would happily indulge in it year-round. It might have something to do with the fact that Chinese families love gifting tins of Almond Roca for any and every holiday, including birthdays, graduations, and Chinese New Year. More often than not, there was a tin of Almond Roca sitting around the house. I have many fond memories of watching TGIF or Nick at Nite after dinner and chomping on almond buttery toffee for dessert.

And then I found out there was more to toffee than just Almond Roca. Like See's Toffee-ettes, which are even more dangerously addictive. Or homemade toffee. And last month, while at Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope, I came across a display for Lush English Toffee, based out of New York. Which, of course, I had to buy and try.

Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Lobster Butternut Squash Bisque at The Soup Bowl

Winter is never my favorite time in Park Slope, but the saving grace is the return of The Soup Bowl by the 7th Ave. F/G stop. (During the warmer months of the year, the location is home to Uncle Louie G's.) Yes, it may be a takeout soup stand, but on weeknights when you've come back from Manhattan only to realize there is nothing in your fridge, this shop is a lifesaver. And the fact that there is a rotating roster of 10 to 15 freshly made soups, and a perpetually friendly staff, makes me a loyal customer.

I've tried practically everything on the menu, but the one I go back to time and time again is the lobster butternut squash bisque. At $4.50 for a small cup, it doesn't have any lobster pieces, but rather a strong lobster aroma from the shells used in the stock. It's rich, creamy, and reliably delicious.

Japanese, Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Broiled Mackerel with Ponzu Sauce at Taro Sushi

Taro Sushi may be my favorite sushi restaurant in all of Brooklyn. I had been here for dinner many times before and always order the same appetizer: broiled mackerel with ponzu sauce (first pic above), so crisp and perfect with the slightly tangy sauce. Don't think. Just get it.

The restaurant itself is spacious and serene, but also manages to be a comfortable neighborhood spot. The sushi, while not world-changing, is always reliably fresh and so good. For lunch you can choose between an assortment of sushi roll, noodle, and bento box combos with soup and salad for around $11. If I lived closer I’d come here every other day.

Park Slope, Restaurants and Cafes

Burger at Thistle Hill Tavern

thistle-hill-burger

My friends Barb and Max, who moved to New York a few years ago from Los Angeles, often lament that back in L.A. it was hard to find places to dine outside. For a city with almost perfect weather year round, it has surprisingly few restaurants or bars with outdoor seating. So they were happy to find, upon moving here, that New Yorkers are pretty hardcore when it comes to dining al fresco, even in the midst of garbage cans, bus fumes, sirens, and the occasional crazy person.

Fortunately, Park Slope offers much less of a sensory overload than almost anywhere in Manhattan. I walk by Thistle Hill Tavern at least a few times a week and noticed that since Saturday the outdoor tables have been filled, even when it was in the low 50s.

So yesterday, on the last day of winter, which felt like the first day of summer, we took the opportunity to have dinner outside. (In March!) And what better food to have while celebrating the start of outdoor eating season than a nice juicy grassfed burger?  The big fat salt and pepper fries don't hurt either, or the happy hour price of $15 for a beer and a burger.

P.S. Thistle Hill also has a beautiful newly renovated bar that seats about 3 times more people than before. After closing down for maybe 3 days to renovate. Everything in New York should get built this quickly.

Thistle Hill Tavern
441 7th Ave. (at 15th St.)
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Park Slope
(347) 599-1262
Map

Park Slope, Shops

Cheerwine

Have you ever tried Cheerwine? I look my first sip a few weeks ago, after spying it at Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope.

Despite the name, there’s no alcohol here, just a bright (one could also say, cheerful) burgundy color reminiscent of cherries. This extra-fizzy, cherry-flavored soda from North Carolina, has a long history; the same family has been overseeing its production since 1917. The kind that comes in a retro bottle, like the one above, uses cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, which is probably why it tastes about 10 times better than Cherry Coke. Available only in the Southeast until just a few years ago, various versions of the soda pop can now be bought online.