Category Archives: In The Neighborhood

On a Mission.

As has been well-established by now, I am not one to jump on the sceney-restaurant bandwagon. It’s not that I don’t want to try the latest and the greatest; I do. But a combination of minor social anxiety (does anyone ever feel skinny and well-dressed enough for trendy new restaurants? Please say no), a growing dislike of crowds (not at all caused by an inherent lack of personal space here in New York—why do you ask?), and a low tolerance for two-hour wait times at tiny spots that don’t take reservations for parties of less than five means that I just don’t tend to enjoy evenings out at this city’s hot spots.

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One solution to this problem? Brunch.

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Ten Things In 2012.

As 2013 rapidly approaches, we pause to take a look at our top food memories and discoveries of the year.

Jill: My itinerant adventures included a spring trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rice, summer visits to New York City and Cleveland (yes, a worthy destination) and a last-minute trip to San Francisco spurred on by World Series baseball. Below are a few things of note as I look back at the year that the world was supposed to end.

1. One-Course Meals.

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In 2012, I realized that while I may not be able to afford three courses of fine dining, I can create my own buffet of great eats by visiting several places for one course each. San Francisco was the perfect backdrop for this style of eating, and I found myself slurping oysters not once, but twice in the ten-day stay. The key, by the way, is to be upfront with servers from the beginning. And to tip a little extra before heading out for the next snack.

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Green Dreams.

On Friday night, I ate so much barbecue I thought I felt my arteries hardening. Seriously. (Wild-boar rib chop, though—totally worth it.) Yesterday,  I had a brisket sandwich for lunch and Shake Shack for dinner. Today, all I can think of is vegetables.

My mouth is currently watering over the memory of this smoked-trout salad from Boerum Hill’s Rucola, in which bitter frisee and radicchio, coins of soft, creamy potato, and pungent flakes of Shelsky’s fish are roped together with a horseradish dressing and punctuated with crunchy, tangy pickled onions. Yes, please.

Rucola
190 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York
718.576.3209

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Fried Chicken Find.

I’m not going to lie. I was on the way to Wendy’s for their #2 (regular size, Diet Coke, no mayo) when I saw Mya’s Fried Chicken saddled up to the Super Food Mart at the corner of Pacemont and High Street in Clintonville. I was feeling a little guilty about the whole drive-through thing, and was happy to find a reason to substitute it with a local (and trendy!) business for my lazy lunch.

In a food truck shuffle, Mya’s recently showed up to fill the void left by Ray Ray’s Hog Pit when they moved down to Ace of Cups. They have a basic menu of fried chicken and house-made (truck-made?) sides, and reviews, Tweets and blog posts about the place have been blowing up the internet.

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Blue(grass) Balls.

For more than a decade, when I’ve heard the Mermaid Avenue version of Woodie Guthrie’s “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key,” I’ve thought that the word were “Way over yonder in the monarchy. Ain’t nobody that can sing like me.” In my mind, Natalie Merchant was folksily letting us all know, without a trace of arrogance, that she can sing better than pretty much all of the Queen’s people.

This is all a preamble to what were to be the first three words of this post about a meatball.

Way over yonder where Worthington meets Clintonville, there’s a new pizza shop that showcases bluegrass music and coal-fired pizza. Coal. Bluegrass. Sounds like the Ohio river moved a couple hours west and joined us in Columbus. I haven’t spent enough time at this place, but I think that I will like it.

This is a 4-inch meatball covered in tomato sauce, a little Parmesan cheese and some flat leaf parsley for a little color. It cost $6.25 and was their special for the evening. (I love that the special was a single ball of meat and not, say, a coal-fired pizza.) Our server said that they kept running out, that the kitchen was in constant production of giant meatballs.

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Gastronomical Geography.

I never pay attention to where I am when I visit New York City and her boroughs. Instead, I blindly follow the natives — mainly Maya — around from restaurant to bar to coffee shop to bar to restaurant. And the touristy things? They’re pretty low on the list of priorities. I’ve seen more of Buttermilk Channel than I have the Statue of Liberty.

In my most recent trip, we shared Maya (and her one bedroom apartment) with her mom and sister; she wasn’t as available as she’d been in the past. With the exception of a few meals, we would be navigating the city on our own, with heavy reliance on the map function of the iPhone. The result was mixed: more mess-ups on the subway and a chance to do something touristy. (Enjoy the shot above taken from the Staten Island Ferry.) Somehow, though, we managed to stay hydrated and well fed.

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Hooky Day.

Last week, I took a day off.

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I slept in. I had a leisurely breakfast and a large cup of bodega coffee, then hopped the train to the Rockaways.

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Higher Latitude.

Rooftop. Beer. Garden. Separately, I love all these things. So when the sum is greater than its parts and when the sum’s location is Latitude 41, well, I’m a happy gal. Ben’s astute eye on the goings on of Twitter alerted me of the Latitude 41 Rooftop Beer Garden. The happening was fortuitously rescheduled to align with his mom’s birthday celebration. (Hi, Cindy!)

The premiere event took place next to the fourth floor rooftop pool, allowing for delightful views for folks in love with both slow-roasted local pork and downtown Columbus, accompanied by live music from Jason Quicksall.

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A Dynamic Transformation.

When the folks at Dragonfly Neo-V announced late last year that they’d be changing their concept, I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by everything they claimed Till Dynamic Fare would become. They’d serve cask beers and wine on tap, but grown-up cocktails as well. Biodynamic burgers would live peacefully on the menu beside their celebrated classic vegan fare. And their target audience would grow immensely. No longer would they primarily serve vegans with extra pocket change; Till would become a place to bring your kids, your best friend, your grandmother.

The changes — dramatic and subtle — worked. I’d dined at the original restaurant twice in eleven years. (Don’t judge!) Now that Till’s in town, I’ve been twice in three months. And I can see myself going again, soon.

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Big Game, Bigger Burger.

For a fan of club soccer, summers can be misery. Even with the season’s bountiful warm-weather distractions, the months between when the Premiership ends in May and revs back up again in August can seem interminable: With no actual games to watch or performances to analyze, the papers are full of little but gossip and speculation. It’s a sad state of affairs when the odd newsy tidbit comes as a welcome relief.

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Every two years, though, there’s a respite from the mundane. In 2010, we had the World Cup; this summer, it’s the Euros. (The games might not be as thrilling, but hey, football is football.) As those of you who follow me on Twitter have surely discovered, I’ve been watching the tournament religiously— not, however, without a little bit of guilt over spending perfect June afternoons in a bar instead of in the sunshine. For the addicts among us, there are a few spots that strike a healthy balance between the two with outdoor screenings; last weekend, in lieu of making the trek to Astoria’s beer garden, I found myself in Williamsburg, pulling up a seat in Iona‘s backyard.

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