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What restaurant is missing from the hood - Cobble Hill, etc.

  • t
  • TR May 23, 2006 05:20 PM
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This is in reference to the recent closings on Smith Street, e.g. Baluchis et al. What do you feel is lacking in the neighborhood as far as food goes? What would be your ideal?

For me? I don't think the issue is a lack of variety. We have plenty of variety of cuisines. I think the area needs to take a step or two back and for the restaurants to get back to the basics - meaning a focus on good tasting fresh food, good service (i.e. take credit cards and charge properly for what you are serving), and responsiveness to the customer. I would love to see an "American" restaurant that serves a bit of everything. A great neighjborhood joint. Think Blue Ribbon. Entree sized salads, fresh fish, good standards - exectuted excellently. Exciting specials when you want something different. For me, that would be a good beginning.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Have you tried Cafe on Clinton? It seems like ya'll would be a perfect match!
    It doesn't get much love around here, but it's my favorite low-key neighborhood spot. The food's great, the specials are worthwhile, the price is affordable, the beer is cold.

    5 Replies
    1. re: EJC

      I agree with places like Cafe on Clinton, Caffe Carciofo,Fragole,and others that are unpretentious and priced right. Some of the Smith and 5th ave joints think they are in Manhattan! Ours is a real neighborhood.

      1. re: cobblelurker

        A raw bar/seafood restaurant would be great. I'd be willing to pay good money for quality oysters, clams, etc...
        Also, another Gownaus Yacht Club type place would be helpful. Love the vibe, but it's usually too damn crowded.
        Finally, a really great Mexican place with outdoor seating like Pacifico, with Alma quality food.

        1. re: Chowfiend

          Trout (formerly the patio of Gravy) might be worthwhile. Right now it's just an outdoor bar serving a limited Gravy menu - but when the weather warms up they're supposed to have fresh shucked clams and oysters. And keeping in Yacht Club tradition, they have great tap beers and cheap PBR cans.

          1. re: EJC

            I'll second the Trout rec. as an alternative to GYC. cheap beers, cheap burgers, good music and not as cramped. plus high chairs (what can I say, I have a 1 year old and am trying to hang on to my early adulthood)

          2. re: Chowfiend

            Alma does have outdoor seating, I remember freezing our you-know-whats off while enjoying the view, and that was the best part of our meal. Their food is mediocre @ best, their service was spotty, the menu was just OK and they’re somewhat pricey for Mexican - def. NOT exciting, special or exectuted (sic) excellently as the OP requested.

      2. Be careful what you wish for. I live in the Slope and we've *got* a Blue Ribbon. Although some people love it the predominant opinion is that the food is fine but overpriced. I don't think that's what you're looking for.

        Link: http://www.blueribbonrestaurants.com/...

        13 Replies
        1. re: Bob Martinez

          Your are right - the variety of a Blue Ribbon without a more toned pricing structure.

          1. re: Bob Martinez

            Carroll Gardens has Chestnut, which has modern American cuisine excellently prepared and at much better prices than Blue Ribbon. It's my favorite neighborhood restaurant; it's not without ambition, and yet still quite affordable.

            Personally I would welcome a GOOD Indian or Bangladeshi Chinese or Vietnamese or Indonesian or Burmese place with moderate prices.

            Or basically, anything other than generic French, Italian, Thai, or middle-Eastern.

            1. re: Sir Gawain

              Yup, I would take Chestnut (and Grocery and Crave and Saul) over Blue Ribbon anyday.

              I'd love to see a good authentic Korean restaurant, but I'd settle for Chinese takeout that is reliable, tasty and inexpensive. Oh, and good tacos.

              1. re: Pupster

                Pupster: Amen to decent Chinese and to tacos. I only eat Chinese at lunch in the city now because our options are so unbelievably horrible. And I second the recs for Saul, Grocery and Crave over Blue Ribbon. Have yet to eat at Chestnut. Not sure why. Need to do that this weekend.

                1. re: David B

                  Try them on a Tues or Wed night when they let you have the 3-course prix fix, choice of anything on the regular menu, for $25.

                  Beat that, Blue Ribbon!

                  1. re: Pupster

                    Isn't there a night when Blue Ribbon has a $25 soup and sandwich combo? (Oh - wait - that's every night... he he he)

                    1. re: Lambretta76

                      Yeah, but soup and sandwich for $25.... lame! and expensive. Should be $15.

                      You get a real three-course dinner for $25 at Chestnut. www.chestnutonsmith.com

                    2. re: Pupster

                      I have had the new pre-fixe at Carciofo for $19.95, anything on the menu including specials that is hard to beat in the nabe.

                  2. re: Pupster

                    Agreed on a great Indian restaurant and a Korean restaurant. Esp a Korean BBQ would be nice :)

                    How about a German place with wurst/great german beers/etc? Or better yet, something more bistro feeling like Blaue Gans...every bistro doesnt have to be French.

                    And could use another 'nicer' establishment like Saul/Grocery/Chestnut. Still kinda slim pickings if you want to go out for a special occasion.

                    1. re: Nehna

                      "And could use another 'nicer' establishment like Saul/Grocery/Chestnut. Still kinda slim pickings if you want to go out for a special occasion."

                      Unfortunately, I would like to slightly disagree with you here. With Boullibaise, Royal's Downtown, Cube 63 and Taku in the neighborhood, and 360, Noodle Pudding, Queen, Henry's End and the choices in Park Slope I think those bases are covered, though I suppose there can always be more.

                      Although I wouldn't object if one or two higher-end places showed up in the neighborhood, given the choice I would much rather have reasonably priced places that cater to the tastes and needs of residents rather than 'destination' restaurants that attract those from elsewhere or a place just for special occasions. Solid places where I can eat as a regular, and if they are really good renditions of ethnic eats all the better.

                      My biggest objection to Taku, though it has good food, is that it is too pricey for eating at every week. If it were at a slightly lower price point, I would be eating there all the time. I think the prices explain the recent CH reports from there that say that despite the good food the restaurant is always half-empty. Not enough regular, off-the-street business.

                      1. re: Pupster

                        I love Taku but maybe that's the thing, Taku isnt really someplace I'd go for a special dinner (unlike, say, Saul) yet it's too pricey for every day. So I dont include it with Saul/Grocery/Chestnut (and I only loosely include Chestnut honestly). Cube 63 isnt one I'd put in this category of 'special' meals either. I love Cube 63, but thats more of a casual sushi meal to me. Not a destination.

                        So I still say we could use another one on Smith. I'm not including stuff as far away as Henry's End, etc, just thinking about my immediate walking distance choices.

                        But I do agree with you, that we really do need more great 'every day' options. When Apt. 138 first opened, I liked it for that. But then the service quickly went down hill and got to sporadic. Something like 138 but done better, would be nice.

                    2. re: Pupster

                      We already have that- Fast and Fresh Deli on Hoyt between Atlantic and State. Looks like a bodega from the outside, but sells dead-on tacos, tortas, etc. Simple and delicious.

                      1. re: pac

                        Yes, I've been a off-and-on regular at Fast&Fresh from very long ago, but I have two objections: 1) they tend to re-heat, sometimes badly, many of their offerings and 2) it's too far for me, a denizen of lower Court. I would love a Pio Maya type place closer to me -- selfish, I know. ; )

                2. I'd like to have a good raw bar and maybe a tapas place. And I agree about needing to get back to the basics. We need more places with simple but flavorful dishes that focus on quality and seasonal ingredients.

                  1. You're in luck: Downtown Atlantic already exists. I haven't had fish there, but there are good entree-size salads, good classic meat mains, excellent soups, good wines, good beers, and good cupcakes. You can sit at the bar, or there are comfy well-spaced tables. Try the mah-jong shrimp rolls.

                    1. In no order-

                      1. "real" Viet, more than Hanco
                      2. better Indian.
                      3. a vegetarian/ natural place that might also feature -salads-. Hello? Why are salads so damn hard to find? Y'know....salad. Anyone?
                      4. A burger joint beyond a place that has good burgers.
                      5. a Jewish deli, now that Nosh is no more and was only good the 1st couple months anyways.
                      6. Greek

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Marty Berber

                        Good call on Greek. I would LOVE a Greek place in the hood.

                        And yeah, a nice seafood (non sushi) style place, with raw bar, etc.

                      2. Chinese. Chinese. Chinese.

                        It's amazing that with all the different cuisines that have sprouted up in this neighborhood in the past decade or so, there still isn't one decent Chinese place to be had. There wasn't one when I was a kid and there isn't one 20 years later.

                        In fact, the same can be said for Downtown Brooklyn in general.

                        1. I miss Pier 116 and its delectable fried clam sandwich in the worst way. (Not that I mind the new occupant of the space -- I love Taku!) Blue Star's oyster po'boy was the next best thing, but it's gone too. I'd love to see a great seafood shack to fill that void.

                          I second the "good Chinese" -- there is a hell of a lot of imitation Chinese. (Which can be perfectly fine when you want it, but sometimes you crave a lobster in ginger-scallion sauce.) Lichee Nut has some decent dishes on their menu, but it's not as good as a real-deal Chinatown place.

                          I'd also love to see some good Malaysian/Indonesian. There's a newish place on Atlantic (somewhere around Bond, I think) that I have yet to try -- if it's any good, I will jump for joy!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Stella

                            I think you're referring to Mai, and in my opinion it's very good. I've been there twice and liked what I ordered.

                            1. re: Tom

                              You're right, it's Mai. I'll have to check it out.

                          2. There are enough ethnic/cheap/not so great places.
                            I would love to see a French country/Provence style restaurant. It should be a full service restaurant in a very attractive space with professional service, fine food, good wine list. It should accept credit cards. Prices for dinner in the $50-%75 range.
                            A really good Chinese restaurant would be nice. too.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: Fleur

                              Great idea! And put it in my hood - Brooklyn Heights.
                              Takes reservations. No takeout. An adult restaurant place where you can enjoy a fine meal in a pleasant setting with no blaring music, crowds.

                              1. re: Fleur

                                Well, it looks like the new French place in the former Baluchi's space will be Southern French, at last based on the writing on the (outside) walls.

                                And there are never enough cheap good 'ethnic' places.

                                1. re: Fleur

                                  have you tried Quercy on Court? it never seems to get much buzz on this site, but I find it consistently very good with classic french fare in an adult-like setting (the best steak au poive that I've found in Brooklyn, as well as other excellent choices). and they take credit cards.

                                  1. re: Fleur

                                    First, 'ethnic' and 'cheap' does not equal 'not so good.'
                                    Second, I couldn't disagree with you more, either that we have enough ethnic and cheap places in the neighborhood or that we need another French place taking up space.

                                    PS. I also recommend Quercy, a solid choice.

                                    1. re: Pupster

                                      I am looking for a restaurant more upscale than QUERCY. In design, service, ambiance and food.

                                      1. re: Fleur

                                        I would argue that Quercy is about as upscale as the neighborhood will go for. This is Brooklyn, after all.

                                        1. re: jimmyjazz

                                          A neighborhood like Brooklyn Heights where the houses start at $4 million, and Cobble Hill, where they start at $2.5 million is an area that has the demographics for fine restaurants.

                                          Brooklyn is not a dirty word. We would love to go to restaurants here and not have to drive into Manhattan for a fine restaurtant experience. All our friends here feel the same way.

                                          1. re: Audrey

                                            Brooklyn is not a dirty word. But although the demographics in this area are good, there is still no significant corporate business. Very little tourist business either. Without those two revenue streams, it is difficult for a fine dining establishment to make it.

                                            1. re: Audrey

                                              I never said that Brooklyn is a dirty word, far from it. One of the reasons I love living here is the general lack of pretense, especially among the restaurants. Manhattan can keep their Le Bernadins, etc. To me, Quercy fits the bill. Very good food but not transcendent, reasonably priced and a friendly atmosphere. For the meal of my life, I don't mind hopping the subway.

                                              1. re: jimmyjazz

                                                Lack of pretense? You must be talking about Brooklyn of long ago what my parents always called "ethnic Brooklyn".

                                                I would love to see better restaurants and shops in Brooklyn.

                                                The Brooklyn of Brooklyn Heights and more recently Cobble Hill is full of pretentious Yuppies, thinking they are living on Park Avenue. As for Park Slope you might as well be living in Hippie Berkeley.

                                                A restaurant like le Bernadin has wonderful food, an elegant ambiance and a classy crowd.

                                              2. re: Audrey

                                                You are out of your mind. The money it takes to keep a top flight restaurant going in Manhattan relies on the massive influx of tourists and visitors daily. Brooklyn doesn't have the hotel traffic to support a Le Bernardin. Maybe one with six tables. Brooklyn Heights has the same amount of people as two blocks in midtown Manhattan, and Nobody's coming across the bridge this way. Thusly we have Gage and Tollner no more.

                                                My ideal for this neighborhood (where I called home for 10 years until my recent move to Ditmas Park, but still work) would be to see some more diverse ethnic eats- A great vietnamese, a great chinese, a real seafood restaurant, and we could stand to lose a few of the joints that just eat up space.

                                                I love that we have Saul, Taku, Noodle Pudding, and the Queen. Henry's end has gone downhill, unfortunately. I like a few of the bistrots, but really are mostly mediocre, and mostly too similar- luluctabacbouillabaisequercybananiapitstop...

                                                Even if they're decent, none of the m make me say I gotta go here. I am aware that banania closed, but thank heaven a new frenchy took it's place in the former Baluchi's.

                                                Haven't tried Chestnut, am totally unimpressed by the Grocery, Haven't tried Frankie's Spuntino. Savoia- mediocre, Paninoteca- i like it ok, but boy are they fickle. Cafe Dore is pretty good. Zaytoons is disgusting. Sur- over. Caserta Vecchia- decent, but totally uninspiring somehow- maybe it's the desperation of the service.

                                                Copper restaurant seems promising, but I haven't been in- What do they have, like two tables?

                                      2. If only some brave souls could capture large enough spaces where high volume at low enough prices could be cranked out in a methodical way, I'd vote for the following to descend on Brooklyn in both the Slope and on Smith/Court in a hurry:

                                        1-A Portuguese churrascaria serving charcoal cooked, marinated butterflied chickens with all the trimmings and great broa bread. Plus, the special leitao (whole roasted pig) on the weekends. If Ferry Street won't try it, then what about the "Original Chirping Chicken"? - it's still around and decent.

                                        2-Old German beer-hall type where a couple of bratwursts and a beer would come in around $15 bucks - throw in some red cabbage and potato salad.

                                        3-An Uzbeki soup, salad and kabab place just like Cheburechnaya (Rego Park).

                                        What the neighborhoods need are everyday people places, where there'd be a temptation to go every other day - IF the price is right!

                                        My gut feeling though is that if no established ethnic population exists where a guaranteed crowd would come for Sunday family dinners, then what would the point be of opening outside the enclave? But then, did that stop Mr. Falafel, Mr. Wonton or Yamato or Thai Sky?

                                        If you build it (and it's decent quality) they will come.

                                        1. vietnamese!

                                          1. Completely second the churrascaria suggestion! That would be a grat addition to the neighborhood, especially if they had a big garden.

                                            How about some ethiopian? There's not nearly enough of it anywhere in the city.

                                            I think we've got enough french as it is -- I feel like half the restaurants on Smith are French.