In New York for a week — did I pick restaurants well? (Brooklyn Edition)
- orpheum Feb 11, 2010 07:37 PM
Good evening, Chowhounds! I've been lurking on these boards for a while now, largely as part of my research for an upcoming trip to New York City (Feb. 23 — Mar. 2). I've scoured every resource I can and come up with a tentative list of restaurants (or specialty shops) to try. Below are the places I'd like to visit in Brooklyn; I have another post geared for Manhattan.
Would anyone recommend against anything on this list? Add anything crucial to it? Any help you folks can offer would be appreciated. And let me know if you'd like to grab a bite to eat! :)
Char No. 4
Sometimes I hear myself and think that I sound too repititious on my recommendations but....
You obviously are meat centric so I'd definitely add Peter Lugers (best in NYC) & Henry's End (game menu is now in season) for dinners & they have a good beer and wine menu). Neither is inexpensive but are worth it.
We recently had brunch at Char No. 4 and it was simply amazing. The grits, the pancakes, the eggs, the BACON, even the applesauce. Service was a little slow but we didn't mind since we were being leisurely. DH even got to try the Hudson Valley Baby Bourbon from their unbelievable bourbon list.
just got back from Char 4 brunch and have to second the recommendation. reminiscent of a New Orleans meal: a boozy, caloric, porky and delicious meal. the three of us had the poached eggs with bacon/cheese grits, the prix fixe sampler (exactly how you'd imagine) and the special french toast with a side of house cured bacon, all great. a couple of bloodys (bourbon not vodka) and i'm ready for a nap and/or angioplasty. highly recommend
Don't know Bark.
Char No. 4 excels at brunch
Prime Meats is fine, but nothing special. I'd vote for Peter Luger
Haven't been to:
(Man, I gotta get over to Williamsburg more -- I'm out of touch.)
I'd add in:
-- applewood in Park Slope if you're looking for high-end food in a cozy room.
-- Lucali for some of the best Pizza on the east coast in a charming room in a charming neighborhood
-- Di Fara if you're looking for a *real* Brooklyn adventure
-- Locanda Vini et Olii for some of the best tuscan food in a *very* unexpected setting
-- Dumont for some simply delicious food with great service
-- Jack the Horse Tavern or Noodle Pudding if you're looking for good food after exploring Brooklyn Heights (a very frequent tourist destination)
Other favorites to investigate are:
Frankie's 457 (Carroll Gardens -- they own Prime Meats)
Buttermilk Channel (Carroll Gardens)
Convivium Osteria (Park Slope)
Franny's (Park Slope)
Vinegar Hill House (Vinegar Hill) for decent food in one of the most surreal neighborhoods in Brooklyn
The Good Fork (Red Fork -- by far the best in the neighborhood and some of the best in the borough)
These are terrific recommendations! Based on your initial list I'm assuming you're here for meat and beer. Definitely stop by Bierkraft and Spuyten Duyvil - you've nailed the two most interesting beer purveyors in the borough. Seeing as this will mean a trip to Park Slope and one to Williamsburg , I'd recommend considering the following restaurants in/around each neighborhood:
--- Al Di La (Cozy, immaculate Piedmontese Italian; I prefer it to Frankie's 457 if Italian's on the agenda, though it's tough to go wrong at either place)
--- Applewood (Seconded for their refined-yet-approachable market-fresh creations and neighborly atmosphere)
--- Beer Table (Eccentric beer selection from a wonderful, warm family operation. Check to see which nights they're serving food, and to what extent)
---Fette Sau (The borough's best bbq; fabulous fatty high notes, but also occasional misses, so search these boards to see which a la carte items appeal to you most; wondrous bourbon list and interesting beer from the folks at Spuyten Duyvil across the street)
--- Dumont or Dumont Burger (I heartily second Peter's recommendation, but I actually find the service to be the only drawback; either way, the burger and the mac & cheese are top-notch)
--- Diner or Marlow & Sons (Sibling restaurants, each perfectly capturing the neighborhood aesthetic while packaging innovative, inspiring flavors in hearty, constantly-rotating seasonal specials)
--- Peter Luger (Simply put, skipping this would be inexcusable for a steak lover. Get the bacon too.)
--- Egg (If you dare brave the brunch crowds, the Eggs Rothko is a revelation, and the rich Southern fare is as comforting as it gets. Absurdly affordable given the quality. Go later in the afternoon to beat the rush and take advantage of the mixed lunch/brunch menu, or better yet go for breakfast on a weekday)
I like Bark, though the dogs veer a bit too close to haute territory for many purists. The super-reasonably priced beer from Sixpoint brewery helps to compensate.
Haven't been to Rye yet, but I've heard good things.
If you can make it to Lucali and don't mind the wait, call ahead to put your name down, bring your own bottle of wine or growler of beer, and don't forget to order a calzone alongside your pie. It's a unique, transporting experience.
Honestly, you won't go wrong with any of the recommendations I've seen so far on this thread. Enjoy your visit!
What a wealth of delicious-sounding restaurants! I've heard of Egg, and the Rothko dish definitely caught my eye. I'm tempted by Prune and Char No. 4 for their own brunches, but I won't rule Egg out. I don't mind if Bark is closer to "haute dogs" than dirty water dogs — I'll be going to Gray's Papaya for my comfort food fix. ;) These are certainly going on my list of places to research further. I wanted to thank you for your friendly, and very thorough, responses to both of my threads. :)
Gray's (Marathon/Sabrett) and Nathan's Coney Island hot dogs are just plain better, tastier and snappier than Bark's dogs. But Bark's dogs are OK, and the Six Point Ales nicely priced and you can sit down and enjoy your beer and hot dog in a not entirely unpleasan space.. I'd consider Bark a very good bar, with a excellent rather cheap local beer on tap that also happens to serve a decent, if overpriced, hot dog to accompany the beer. All in all a good t hing. As good a place as any to sample the Six Points brews.
Going along with others' suggestions, I might steer you towards Applewood or Al di La over Prime Meats or Char No. 4. They are both restaurants with a lot of wow factor, very worthy of a splurge. Prime and Char are definitely in the same price range, but to me, Char is sort of a glorified bar (I felt like the food I've had there was basically a snack, bu I haven't been for brunch) and while I haven't been to Prime Meats, I haven't heard a lot of swoon-worthy reports from either these boards or friends. One thing I'd recommend is a Smith Street bar hop, where you could include a six point draft and a shot of rye at Char, a fancy cocktail at Clover Club, and maybe a beer flight at Bar Great Harry.
A bar hop! What a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion! I've heard too many good things about Char No. 4 not to give it a try — I mean, c'mon, what can go wrong with bacon and bourbon? — but I'm thinking I'll give Prime Meats a pass for this trip.
I still can't believe how many places I haven't even heard of before today. It is truly staggering, even for someone who grew up in Los Angeles County (admittedly, in the suburbs), to behold just how many restaurants — many of them excellent — reside in New York City. It's evident why NYC is considered a culinary mecca.
I second (or third?) the suggestion of Al di La over Prime Meats. I'm not a pork eater so I can't speak to Char No. 4. If you do end up at Char No. 4, definitely go to the Clover Club. Clover Club also does brunch; from what I remember, the food is fine, but it's the gin fizzes (with egg) that lure me there, which is why I can't really comment too much on the food... Oops.
Oh, and HELL YES to the suggestion for Barcade. It's a bar! It's an arcade! It's Barcade! Sorry. The 12 year-old boy in me just came out. Great beer selection with arcade games (only a quarter). They've got Tapper. If you're near Barcade, there's Dumont ... and Spuytin Devil ... and...
Okay, so how are you going to try all these places (incl. your Manhattan picks) in the space of a week? You need a good month...
Barring logistics, I recommend:
Franny's - not a great value and I guess that's not a great way to start a recommendation. But the food is truly excellent, one of the best thin crust pizzas in NY. Their cured meats are done in-house and superb (one of the best Guanciales I have tried). And since you like specialty shops, you will be in close proximity to Bklyn Larder, one of the finest specialty shops in Brooklyn, selling some food stuffs and cheeses you will not find at the venerable Di Palo.
Good Fork - Exceptional and unpretentious neighborhood restaurant serving Asian accented, American fare. Their steak and eggs is expertly prepared and flavorful. I also love the tempura onion rings. Best of all, the restaurant is located near Baked, one of the best bakeries in New York and one you should not miss if you like cake with perfect crumb.
Egg - the place for brunch. The prices are much more reasonable than Manhattan and their biscuits and gravy sweep me away to Tennessee's finest. Their fried chicken is crispy, juicy and fresh tasting. And it is located near Bedford Cheese Shop where you fill find an eclectic variety of local specialties.
I would avoid Applewood, I have eaten there four times (twice dinner, twice brunch), trying very hard to at least like it because I love the idea of it, the local, seasonal produce, etc. Literally every time I ate there, I have been underwhelmed by the preparation and execution of the food. It has been mediocre, not terrible, but sub par for the expense.
Fette Sau has fantastic barbecue, some of the best I've had and I have relatives in Tennessee and North Carolina, but I wouldn't consider it a must unless you love barbecue because there is no exceptional bakery or chocolate shop nearby and you can't have barbecue without cake. Lastly, their sides are quite weak.
Peter Lugers gets a nod for porterhouse, simply the best. If you have the cash, it is a destination restaurant. If you don't have the cash, you can still go for lunch and enjoy a beefy burger with the best savory bacon, hearty fries, and soak in the history (i.e. luscious smell).
Well, I don't know if I'll make it to all of the places that have been recommended to me in this trip, but I shall certainly make a note of them for the next time I find myself in NYC. As for the restaurants and shops on my list, I don't think it's unreasonable — two or three meals a day, and wandering around specialty shops in between (just snacking, probably). It's still a lot of food to process in a week, I'll grant you, but I feel up to the challenge. I'll waddle home, fat and satisfied, and know that I truly enjoyed an extravagant swath of New York's culinary spectrum. :)
I appreciate your recommendations as well, Pooki — I've heard quite a bit about Egg, and shall have to review their menu again. There seem to be an embarrassment of riches when it comes to New York restaurants, and many appear to have lauded brunches, so I'll have options for many subsequent trips to (and possibly future residence in?) NYC. :)
I also agree that Applewood isn't very good. Their brunch drinks are amazing, the food quality is great and the decor is lovely but the cooking is underwhelming. I've rarely had anything there that struck me as delicious (I used to live across the street and frequented it often).
My favorite restaurants:
Williamsburg-- Bozu (great japanese), Mesa Coyacan (authentic Mexican in a rustic chic space), Diner, Dumont, and Egg are good too, but I don't dream about them like I do Mesa Coyacan and Bozu
Bushwick- Roberta's (locavore, organic italian and pizzas- not too be missed. it really embodies so much of what is avant garde in brooklyn cuisine.)
Park Slope- Palo Santo- pan latin-american. amazing. my mouth waters thinking about Jacque's pork tacos. everything is great and his wine list is terrific
Blue Ribbon Sushi
Al Di La is good, but I'd skip it for Roberta's, which is way better and cooler.
Carroll Gardens- Lucali's, but again i'd skip it for Roberta's
Queens, which I realize isn't Brooklyn but Sripraphai in Woodside is worth a trip for great Thai
Wow. This goes to show that everyone has to rely on their own personal experience.
While I agree the *brunch* at applewood can be hit or miss, I've had so many great dinners there -- including a few that are in the top 5 of my life -- that my wife and I talked them into closing down on a Friday night so we could have our wedding rehearsal dinner there.
To each their own. :-)
im standing up for applewood with peter here. ive been going since 2004 and its been outstanding every time and im a huge critic. i was last there in oct of 2009 for my birthday and wasnt as impressed as the past but i ordered the steak...a bad idea. stick with veal, pork, and goat and you are set.
i grew up in manhattan beach, lived in the slope for 5 years and now live in the village. the only places mentioned here that i would steer a tourist to are:
lugers (my grandfathers favorite restaurant)
applewood (they do what they do better than anyone else)
vinegar hill house (exceptional food...great ambiance)
al di la (cant stand the crowd or the wait but the food is insane)
next tier would be noodle pudding, buttermilk channel, and maybe prime meats but mostly for the atmosphere.
I am glad that others have had a good experience at Applewood, I had heard many positive things about it and wanted very much to like it.
It's not like anyone wants to spend $65 on a meal and not enjoy it. Unfortunately, all four visits have been disappointing. From uninspiring food, sloppy preparations and inattentive service, there was not once that I thought it was worth the money or wait.
And regarding Al Di La, I think it is a MUCH better value than Applewood and simply stellar food. My only gripes are that the menu is small and hardly changes and some of the dishes have too similar a flavor profile that compounds the problem. I've had EVERY dish at Al Di La and several multiple times. As good as it is, they need to change the menu more often. Also, the wait times are ridiculous. It is always, always busy. Lastly, I didn't mention Al Di La because it seems like almost every town has an excellent Italian restaurant in this vein and even as good as it is, I wouldn't say Al Di La is the best Italian food in New York City (although perhaps the best value).
Agreed that Al Di La is more moderately priced and therefore may be a bit higher on the "value" ladder. That said, I find value in being able to make a reservation at applewood and always be seated right on time... as opposed to Al Di La where they don't take reservations, the wait is frequently 90 minutes, and you either wait in the freezing cold or in their wine bar which is as packed as an Uptown 4/5 train as it approaches Grand Central at 8:50am.