01/23/17 1:08pm
Colonie serves an expectation-defying bowl of brussels sprouts. Photo: Colonie

Colonie serves an expectation-defying bowl of brussels sprouts. Photo: Colonie

When Colonie opened on Atlantic Avenue in the winter of 2011 it was the most Brooklyn a restaurant could be.

The spot was long and skinny, with exposed brick and rough hewn wood, rustic and elegant at the same time. It was lauded as the neighborhood restaurant that the area had long been wanting. Alex Sorenson, the opening chef, had spent time in the kitchen at Mas (Farmhouse), one of the the earliest, and best, contributors to the city’s farm-to-table fanaticism. Pork belly, foraged mushrooms and Greenmarket root vegetables all found prominent spots on the menu. The restaurant had been partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign.

It got a star from Sam Sifton in the New York Times, love from the food blogs and quickly became a go-to for anniversary dinners and special occasions.

Six years later, New York is obsessed with fancy pizza and fried chicken and farm-to-table principles have been co-opted by fast casual concerns like Sweet Green and Dig Inn. Does Colonie hold up? (more…)

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01/16/17 9:50am
fried rabbit

Why settle for pancakes when you could have fried rabbit and biscuits? Photo: Barano

If you’re anything like me, when you wake up hungry on the weekends you eat something at home fairly soon after rising and then start thinking about LUNCH. Not brunch.

I will always choose Chinese food for breakfast. Thank (insert whomever or whatever you worship here) for dim sum! Don’t get me wrong, I love a fried egg and toast slathered in butter and preserves with a fiery passion. But I can make that myself, at home, at 8 or 9 a.m. in about, 3 minutes?

Sadly for me and the others like me, New York City is a brunchers town. Everyone just loves brunch– though I suspect it’s only a certain group of 20 and 30-somethings who truly partake, and the rest of us are meant to wax nostalgic about the days when we were out until 3am, waking up at 10 or 11 a.m. and wanting food ASAP, preferably with a cocktail on the side.

Not all hope is lost, however. Some restaurants understand that simply putting an egg on top of an entree doesn’t necessarily make it better. And there are always spots that don’t traffic in brunch at all–typically sandwich shops and “ethnic” restaurants. Bless them.

Here are some of those places. And the next time it’s a Saturday or Sunday and you want to eat goddamn food at lunchtime that’s not eggs and bacon or pancakes, thank me. Actually, thank these spots! (more…)

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01/09/17 10:28am
From the outside, The Islands doesn't look like much, but don't make the mistake of passing it by. Photo: Georgia Kral

From the outside, The Islands doesn’t look like much, but don’t make the mistake of passing it by. Photo: Georgia Kral

In this series, we take you inside the restaurants we keep going back to–neighborhood spots that always deliver on their promise of good food and hospitality, even if they don’t necessarily look like much from the outside.

The facade is unassuming. Located next door to a Key Food and sharing the grocery store’s awning, you may miss it the first time you look for it. But The Islands (803 Washington Ave.) is a Prospect Heights gem: the food is phenomenal and the ambiance unparalleled.

Windowed doors open into a shoebox-sized room. Along one side is the kitchen, big enough for two people, tops. A counter with three stools abuts the prep area and there’s room for maybe five people to pick up food to go or wait to sit at one of the four tables upstairs. To get to the “dining room” guests must climb up a blue ladder and through a hole in the ceiling. No joke. Diners over six feet tall may have a hard time eating in, as the ceilings are quite low upstairs.

But that’s all part of the charm. The Islands is equally known for its unconventional space and its fiery Caribbean dishes.

I’ve visited The Islands many times and each time I tell myself to try something new. But I just can’t. That’s the true test of a dish. Can’t go without it? Crave it? There’s something happening that you can’t control. My order: jerk chicken, curry vegetables and a side of mac and cheese. If I’m dining with more than one person, curry goat or stew peas and dumplings get added to the mix. (more…)

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01/02/17 10:34am
Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Brooklyn will be home to even more exceptional pie in 2017. Photo: Gentl & Hyers

There’s plenty to be excited for in 2017, dear BB readers, at least as far as your tastebuds are concerned.

Here are some highlights, from the second official location of the best pie shop in the entire city to the reopening of a beloved–and formerly tiny–Vietnamese restaurant, to a new permutation of the fried chicken craze that has had its hold on New York for the past year or so.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

The Elsen sisters are opening their official second location (not including pop-ups and the small sandwich and pie window at the Brooklyn Public Library) in February. Located on Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton, in addition to pie the Prospect Heights 4&20 will also pair beer, wine and cider with its famous salty honey and salted caramel apple slices for diners. It will be open all day, serving coffee in the morning and harder drinks into the afternoon and evening.


(more…)

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12/18/16 9:25pm

The time has come to reflect on 2016. Luckily, I write about food and not politics–this has been a great year for food in Brooklyn. We’ve been graced with openings from renowned chefs, quiet sleeper hits and pizza, pizza, pizza.

I started thinking about this in terms of a “best of” list and quickly realized I wouldn’t get anywhere just thinking about what was “best.” That is both a limiting and tired way of looking at any subject. So here I’ve broken it down into some of my own personal favorite categories (including pizza, burgers and wine) to highlight the real standouts from the past 12 months.


Photo: Olmsted

Photo: Olmsted

Best vibes: Olmsted

Olmsted has been getting so much love from the city’s foodies, critics and well, everyone, that it’s almost like, what do I have to add?

The food is refreshingly clever and yet still accessible. The dishes are pretty to look at and delicious to taste. (Nobody likes carrots that much and yet the carrot crepe is one of the best items on the menu.)

But what Olmsted is really owning is its reputation as a homey, down-to-earth Prospect Heights restaurant. Its well-known and loved edible backyard is now a winter sanctuary complete with heat lamps and Pendleton blankets. To turn the crown jewel of the restaurant into a year-round destination is pretty genius. Who can think of a better way to spend the early days of Trump, which will coincide with the deep days of winter, than in a joy-filled Brooklyn garden, mugs of booze in hand?

659 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights  (more…)

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12/12/16 2:54pm
A Hinterlands tee might help you look local. Photo: Hinterlands

A Hinterlands tee might help you look local. Photo: Hinterlands

Unless you live on the south side of Prospect Park there’s a good chance you’ve never explored Kensington, Windsor Terrace or Ditmas Park. These perfectly lovely residential neighborhoods are not quite a destination for Brooklynites who fear long haul subway rides with transfers. There’s also not a heck of a lot going on nightlife-wise in this neck of the woods, a big reason why Hinterlands, which opened this summer on Church Avenue, was greeted with cheers and wide open arms by locals salivating for a watering hole to call their own.

The name indicates self-awareness of Hinterlands’ geographical niche, and the owners, Matt Kuhn, Sharlene Wellington, and Stuart Wellington, co-host of The Flop House comedy podcast, and staff are as happy to see you as the neighborhood was to see them.

Self-described as a dive bar, Hinterlands would be easy to overlook in, say, the East Village or Williamsburg with its modestly kitschy decor, surplus of cheap beer, and a decidedly non-exotic rotating cocktail list that stretches the boundaries of what could be considered “seasonal” (there were *two* ginger beer drinks on the rocks in early December, which felt more boat drink-y than holiday festive). The lights and music are kept low, the better for having an actual conversation with your date or chatting up your barstool neighbor. There’s wifi and outlets at the L-shaped bar and the narrow counter seating on the opposite walls, bar-speak for “laptops are welcome, within reason.” A small table-and-chair seating area in the next room leads to a garden, which stays open in the colder months for those seeking fresh air or nicotine.

That combination–wifi, mellow volume, backyard, should be enough convincing for a certain drinkers to make this their new favorite place. For the rest of us there’s also the mostly well executed cocktail list, cheap beers and friendly patrons. Plus sandwiches.

(more…)

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12/07/16 9:01am

peapod-combkbased

Take the stress out of this busy time with Peapod.com. They bring everything you need to your door from roasts to wreaths. And you won’t pay more for the convenience.

Two of us at Brooklyn Based tried it—one order was delivered to Brooklyn, one just outside NYC. Compared to the prices we’re used to paying to get quality meats and produce delivered to our door, it’s shocking how inexpensive Peapod is.

For pre-cut veggies like butternut squash or zucchini noodles you’ll get twice the amount for nearly the same price you usually pay, be able to buy organic milk by the gallon (not an easy find even online) and save on household items, too.

To stretch your dollar even further, get $25 off your first order and pay nothing for delivery for the first 60 days with the code BKBASED.*

They also offer endless recipes to help inspire your meal planning at fromthepod.com, like the one below.

Ready to see how far your dollar will go? Try Peapod.com with code BKBASED.


fromthepod-com

 
You have a lot of holiday parties ahead of you. Make something warm and decadent like baked crab dip using this recipe at fromthepod.com.


*Discount only valid for local Pick-up or Delivery of Peapod groceries. The $25 off your first order will automatically be deducted online when you correctly enter your valid promotional code (BKBASED) at checkout. Free Delivery on your first order will be added as a credit at checkout. Minimum Order for the $25 off promotion is $75. Offer valid for new customers only. Use promo code 60DAYSFREE on your second order to receive 60 days of free delivery. Minimum Order amount for free delivery is $60. Not valid with any other offer. Expires on 12/31/2016.
12/04/16 10:14am
Cardiff Giant serves New York State-made beer, wine and liquor. Photo:

Cardiff Giant serves New York State-made beer, wine and liquor. Photo:

There’s a fernet that is distilled in Brooklyn, and you can drink it at Cardiff Giant in Clinton Hill. The bitter, minty, Italian-style digestif, just two months old, launched at this unassuming bar on Myrtle Avenue in a partnership with Industry City Distillery in Sunset Park.

This close relationship between a small business and a craft producer exemplifies the mission at Cardiff Giant. The bar opened last year with an intensely local premise: all the alcohol they stock–from beer to cider to wine to liquor–is made in New York state. And since the majority of craft producers only make small batches, the bar’s inventory is constantly changing giving products like Arcane Fernet a distinct home.

Owner Steven Baird, who is also a managing partner at Owl Farm in Park Slope, said that he saw the growth of New York-produced alcohol and beer as a big opportunity, an expansion that has made Cardiff Giant a viable business.

“This would not have been possible five years ago,” said Baird. (more…)

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11/28/16 12:04pm
Dim sum at dinnertime, anyone? Photo: Levi Miller

Dim sum at dinnertime, anyone? Photo: Levi Miller

Craft cocktails and dim sum don’t usually go together. Yet there I was, drinking an Imperial Mai Tai while enjoying delicate steamed soup dumplings on a recent evening in Williamsburg.

Yes, I was eating dim sum at night. And drinking alcohol. At the same time.

Kings County Imperial opened in 2015 in a compact space just around the corner from Union Pool. Blink, and you’ll miss it. But that would be a real shame for anyone with a passion for Chinese food. The restaurant serves classic Chinese dishes made from high quality ingredients. King’s County Imperial is to most Chinese delivery places as the burger at Diner is to a greasy spoon cheeseburger–the same dishes, but made distinctive by care and quality. The owners, who also operate the neighborhood restaurant Stone Park Cafe in Park Slope, opened Kings County with press-ready selling points like the soy sauce on tap, as well as many cocktails, including that Mai Tai, and Chinese vegetables and herbs grown in the backyard for use in the kitchen. (more…)

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11/21/16 4:55pm

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Since Thanksgiving, you’ve likely explored in the far reaches of your kitchen where you hide the gravy separator and the tart pan. You were probably reminded of how many pots and platters you never ever use, which is a good thing, because on Tuesday, Dec. 13, we’re inviting you to bring your tired cooking tools and trade up for fresh goods at Brooklyn Based and 61 Local’s Great Cook Swap.

Gather all your gently used cookware, cookbooks, unopened spices and fancy foods taking up precious space in your kitchen and apartment, and bring them to 61 Local, where you can find the cookware you want and can actually use.

When you arrive you’ll get tickets for trading based on the tiers listed here. (If you want to trade in a different category, just bring enough items to get to that tier.) As a Great Cook Swapper, you’ll also be able to score $6 beers and $9 wines all night using a secret code we’ll supply the night of.

The party starts at 6:30 and runs until 10pm. At 9:30, we’ll announce three random winners who will each get a $100 gift certificate to online grocer Peapod.com, and open up all leftover goods to anyone who wants them.

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