Late Friday Dinner in Brooklyn
I'm getting into town next Friday around 10 PM. It will be my first meal in what I hope will be a great weekend of eating. I'm looking for a fairly casual but good place to kick off the weekend. Basically the only limitations are good food and open late. I'm looking for quality over any particular type of food.
Places I've considered are:
Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated.
Having eaten at both in the last week, I'd say Buttermilk Channel hands down over Vinegar Hill. Any given dish at Vinegar Hill can be anywhere from "meh" to "delish" -- but it's hard to guess which. Also, the portions are REALLY small for the money. You leave there hungry or broke.
Buttermilk Channel ranges from "delish" to "Oh My God!" with only the very, very rare "not bad but I don't think I'd order this again."
(For those who went to Buttermilk Channel early on but didn't return because of how loud it is, they've added a LOT of sound mitigation material and every time I've been since it's been downright pleasant.)
FYI, I live in Brooklyn Heights. Vinegar Hill is anywhere from 12 to 25 minute walk depending on which end of the Heights you start from. Buttermilk Channel is further. 20 minutes minimum. As much as 33.
You mention traveling by subway but *neither* of these restaurants is logically accessible by subway. By the time you walk to the subway stop closest, transfer to the line that gets you near the restaurant, and then walk to the restaurant... you may as well walk all the way to the restaurant -- they're both interesting walks.
It's an under $5 cab ride to either though the cab will have no idea how to get to Vinegar Hill and you'll have to have a car service pick you up 'cause there are no cabs there. The cabbies will all know how to get to Buttermilk Channel (they won't know it by name but if you tell them you're going all the way down Court Street." you'll be fine.) and there are endless cabs to take you back just 1 block West of the restaurant on Clinton Street.
If scene matters to you, Vinegar Hill is mostly semi-hipsters in their 20s and early 30s, with the occasional couple in their 40s or 50s -- though still a pretty hipster 40 or 50. No families. No kids. No grandparents. Buttermilk Channel on the other hand is all over the place. Get there early and there's a toddler at a number of tables. Get there late and it's all couples in the 20's on 1st and 2nd dates. In between? It's everyone.
Lastly, you mention getting in around 10pm. You have a good chance of both of these places being hopping around then.
Other options? Frankie's 457 on Court Street in Carroll Gardens. A shorter walk than Buttermilk Channel and just as delicious and very affordable.
Have a great meal and let us know where you went and what you had!
I think I am the only person who hasn't been blown away by Buttermilk-- but I haven't eaten there since last summer, and then I only ate there probably 4 times for dinner and once for brunch. I'm guessing it's gotten a lot better since then? Frankie's will be very busy around 10: it will be packed and there will be a wait. You can go across the street and get drinks at Minibar, and they can call when something opens up. While I'm no longer a huge fan of Frankie's-- don't get me wrong, the food is fine, but there's too much hype and too much effort for a place that was a really good neighborhood spot-- the beer & avocado salad is awesome, I like the crostinis (especially the ricotta one), and I always enjoy the lambrusco. And the prunes are good for dessert. For dinner, I don't really think Prime Meats is worth it, and I wasn't totally impressed with any of my cocktails there, and I've had wait staff that didn't know how to properly pour the beer. (All these places are within about 2 blocks on Court).
I just realized this is a really complaining post! Sorry! These places are all good, I guess it's been too much overexposure for me (used to live very nearby).
What about Al di La in Park Slope if you're cabbing it anyway?
I ate at Buttermilk Channel about 3 weeks ago and wasn't blown away either. The duck meatloaf was quite good, but the much bally-hooed fried chicken was rather bland. We haven't felt compelled to go back -- especially since, acoustical mitigation or not, it is still a rather noisy place.
For fried chicken, I believe the standard bearer is Blue Ribbon, which is, sadly, quite expensive. Henry's End comes in a close second.
For late night eating, Blue Ribbon in Park Slope is open until like 4 and will certainly be hopping at 10-11. It is fairly easy to get to from Brooklyn Heights on the R train (to Union Street stop.) It is, however, on the expensive side. While the food is always quite good there, imo, the increasing prices have led me to go there less and less. However, it is still our go-to spot.
Elecsheep9, I totally agree with you about the fried chicken! Blue Ribbon is soooo much better. I put off getting it for the longest time because it's so expensive (for fried chicken!), but it is mighty fine. Also, I remember being terribly disappointed with Buttermilk's waffles. Really bland.
Saul and Grocery are accessible by subway and have truly wonderful food. They are approximately the same distance from Brooklyn Heights as Vinegar Hill.
The short rib and ribeye steak at Saul is perfectly executed. The foie gras is lovely. Just about everything I've had there has been superb.
The tasting menu at Grocery is on par with some of Manhattan's finest restaurants.
If you are looking for quality, I think either restaurant would serve you well.
Saul and Grocery are (or are among) the class of the Cobble/Carroll neighborhood, to be sure. However, to some they would not qualify as "casual", and the prices certainly wouldn't. I'm not sure about a 10+pm seating either, though surely their websites/opentable would.
I'm not sure what time Bocca Lupo (Warren and Henry St) closes - but the food and drinks are certainly worthy. That's my first thought when I hear casual, good, and late.
If you like Sushi, Ki is my favorite and is probably open late.
And of course, I can't skip recommending Henry's End - if they're open late enough, a terrific game menu that you can't find just anywhere. Also $$$$.
Also, n.b. your two starting selections (Buttermilk and Vinegar Hill) are very far apart, sort of the polar opposites of the surrounding area. I'm assuming, then, that you're willing to walk/car anywhere.
For Brooklyn late night dining, I can only think of Blue Ribbon on 5th Ave. at 1st Street. Large menu (including raw bar), very good food (but can be pricy), and great atmosphere.