Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Best of...places to go, things to eat

This must be the week for awards. What with Time Out New York's kudos to New York City food neighborhoods (with a shout out to Ditmas Park) and now AMNY's and the Village Voice's Best Of, we're inundated with new places to try in Brooklyn.

We digest some of the choices from the lists, which are like our Oscars and Golden Globes for city living, and which have bestowed a bevy of honors on our fair borough, below.


Like TONY, AMNY highlighted Ditmas Park as the "new foodie neighborhood," spurred by the opening of Tom Kearney's Farm on Adderley three years ago and now represented by spots like Picket Fence (so homey), Mimi's Kitchen (also the best for hummus, they note) and Kearney's Pomme de Terre. Also on the radar: the soon-to-open Purple Yam, as well as Pies 'n' Thighs up in Williamsubrg, set to open Nov. 1 and which gets the paper's unique vote for "most anticipated (and delayed) reopenings." Best opening? They say Rye, from chef Cal Elliott (a graduate of the DuMont and Dressler schools), also in Williamsburg. He certainly knows what he's doing.

General Greene in Fort Greene (229 Dekalb Ave.) gets a nod for its salted caramel pretzel by AMNY, which names it best ice cream flavor for its "perfect hybrid of dulce de leche and brown butter," and the interesting texture added by the pretzels. For something a bit more spicey, we would like to add the Wicked flavor - chocolate combined with cinnamon, nutmeg and chipotle - from Jacques Torres ice cream parlor (62 Water Street), which offers some bite with its ice cream cool.

Char No. 4 (196 Smith St.) in Boerum Hill gets two nods: one for its pork nuggets (it's McDonald's for the foodie set, says AMNY) and another from the Voice as best Brooklyn whiskey bar (one of several Brooklyn-centric honors), as it boasts 100 American whiskeys. The two are perfect for pairing. There must be something in the water on Smith Street. For more hard liquor fare, head south to The JakeWalk (282 Smith St.) and imbibe.

Fried chicken. It's all the rage (especially in North Brooklyn). And who makes the best? AMNY crowns Egg in Williamsburg for their celebrated and authentic Southern fare. Though when Pies 'n' Thighs does reopen, I'm sure it'll give it a run for its money.

In your face, Magnolia! Baked NYC gets the Voice's nod for best bakery (sharing it with Grandaisy Bakery), which was swooned by their vanilla cupcake. Also, Cake Man Raven in Fort Greene gets some love too, named "Best Place to Get a Weird Themed Cake." So who wants a seven-foot replica for the Brooklyn Bridge?

The Brooklyn Flea could get a lot of "bests" (best flea market, for one), but the Voice singles it out for its quesadillas, where you can find one of the Red Hook ballfield vendors every Saturday. Yeah, those are good, but also deserving of mention are Calexico Carne Asada, new to Carroll Gardens. Have one and there's no turning back (especially when dipped in their addictive crack sauce).

What's a best of list without pizza? AMNY passes, but the Voice gives its best Naples-style pizza honor to Roberta's in Bushwick, which grows its own herbs and greens in its backyard and beating out places like Motorino by a slice.


All eyes were on Knitting Factory when it closed its Manhattan location and reopened in Williamsburg last month, getting nods from AMNY for best reopening of a classic. If its CMJ schedule is anything to go by, it's doing well for itself already. Another hotly anticipated opening in Williamsburg this year was Brooklyn Bowl, which, with its bowling-Blue Ribbon restaurant-concert space trifecta, gets AMNY's nod for best all-in-one nightlife venue. Which also has some decent fried chicken to chow down on.

Other Brooklyn venues that get a special shout-out by the Voice in some self-explanatory quickies include Williamburg's Barcade (Best $10 Recession-Friendly Bar Zone-Out); Fort Greene's Brooklyn Masonic Temple (Best Venue for Massive Hearing Loss); Park Slope's Union Hall (Best Bar for Large Get-Togethers); Gowanus' The Bell House (Best New Music Venue That Has a Ring to It); and, slightly less self-explanatory, Black Mountain Wine House (Best Bar to Spirit Yourself Away to the Adirondacks).


Brooklyn galleries, publishing houses and miscellaneous places were highlighted this year by the Voice, beating out some stiff competition. The aptly named Brooklynite Gallery in Bed-Stuy got their Best Brooklyn Gallery nod. Yes, a gallery not in Williamsburg. Exactly because of that, the paper says is at the "main stage of real Brooklyn life," allowing it to expose street and pop art from around the world in a "manner that is innovative, interactive, and extremely attainable to audiences." On the literary front, Melville House, a recent transplant to DUMBO, is the Voice's pick for Best Small Press, thanks to its avant-fiction roster and dominating in-house design team. Tomorrow, Thursday, they celebrate a new addition to their Contemporary Art of the Novella Series, so go out and help them celebrate. From 7 to 9 p.m. at 145 Plymouth St.

This one's pretty special. The Voice's Best Mini-Golf in Brooklyn went to - drum roll please - The Putting Lot. That's the only mini-golf place in Brooklyn, mind you. But because of its pioneer element, devotion to urban development (on a mini scale) and urban sustainability, as well as just the sheer creativeness of it, the place holds a special place in the list. While the lot has closed for the season, another fun thing you can do yearround can be found at the Espana/Streb Trapeze Academy in Williamsburg: trapeze classes. It's the best way to fly.

New York City has miles of waterfront space. But the best waterfront hang out? Red Hook, says the Voice. With the perfect views, great food offerings (food vendors at the ballfields, Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies) and non-touristy element, that one's pretty hard to beat.

Kudos also need to go out to Eugene Mirman (who recently hosted a comedy festival right here in Brooklyn and can be seen weekly at Union Hall's Tearing The Veil of Maya) for the Voice's best stand up comedian, and Cymbals Eats Guitars for their best new Brooklyn band. I guess you can't hold it against them too much for being from Staten Island. Decide for yourself and catch them tomorrow (Thursday) in, but of course, Brooklyn, late (12:30 a.m.) at Public Assembly.


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