03/20/17 1:13pm
The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

A few weeks ago a friend who lives in Long Island City invited me to come over, mentioning that if we got hungry we could pop around the corner from her house to a Japanese izakaya where we could grab some snacks and sake. I’ll admit it, I was dubious. Long Island City has lots of choices for Asian food, but none that I’ve loved. There’s mediocre Thai in spades, just like the rest of New York City. Mu Ramen has delicious food, but the wait is always a problem and frankly, they’re just not that friendly. Hibino I do like, but I wouldn’t call it an izakaya.

What I was shocked to find, tucked behind the 108th Precinct, less than a block from the Vernon-Jackson stop on the 7 train was a perfect neighborhood restaurant, a place you can indeed pop into for some snacks a beer, but that also feels fancy enough for a special night out. (more…)

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03/14/17 5:24pm

Let me be blunt for a moment. All those delicious Pi Day pies and snow day stews aside, this is the worst time of year for cooking. Late winter and early spring are a challenge in in the kitchen. The chicken pot pies, roasted vegetables and bean soups I was so excited to make in October feel heavy and boring now, and it’s going to be more than a few weeks before the first spring edibles show up at the farmer’s market.

We’re in luck though, fellow cooks. A new book came out today that will help get us all over the hump and into nettle, asparagus and pea season.

Vibrant India, Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn is the first cookbook from Chitra Agrawal, cook, writer and owner of Brooklyn Delhi. She wrote a great guide to eating all over the subcontinent by taking a day trip to Edison and Iselin, N.J. for us a few years back, and if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at cooking South Asian food, but have never quite been able to make sense of all the spice roasting and grinding, this is the book for you.

Agrawal’s recipes are not the heavy butter chicken and saag paneer type fare–which is generally Northern Indian in origin–that often represents Indian cuisine in the U.S. In the foreword she explains that her cooking is very much informed by the vegetarian cuisine of South India, Bangalore specifically, which is based around rice, beans, pulses, fresh vegetables and spices like mustard seed, hing and tumeric.

What does South India have to do with late winter cooking?

Many of the recipes in Vibrant India are variations on rice and dal, which are not just hearty, durable, winter fare, they’re also fragrantly spiced and lush with coconut, ghee and curry leaves. This combination of new flavors and cooking techniques is sure to hold your attention until the farmer’s market is full of ingredients for her spiced spring vegetable and coconut polenta recipe.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how to build up a pantry of spices and the techniques for cooking Indian dishes at home several times, never with much luck. There are several South Asian cookbooks on my shelf and I’ve never prepared a single dish from any of them. I get overwhelmed by planning what to make, gathering the ingredients and understanding the techniques. This book feels so much more accessible and easy to understand than my past forays into subcontinental cooking. (more…)

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03/13/17 9:29am
The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

If you eat animal protein, there’s generally little reason (if any) to opt for a veggie burger instead of a luscious patty of ground beef. That said, veggie burgers can be delicious in their own right, if you know where to go, and from David Chang’s so-meaty-it-bleeds veggie burger, to Superiority Burger in the East Village which New York Times food critic Pete Wells referred to as “Shake Shack for vegetarians,” they’re really having a moment. (Cara Nicoletti, a butcher at Foster Sundry in Bushwick just did a video for Vice Munchies on how to make them at home, if you’d prefer to stay in for your veggie fix.)

For the most part, these burgers are best considered as unique food items. A chicken sandwich or a falafel are not the same as a burger, and you wouldn’t hold their lack of beefy heft against them. Same here. We picked six of our favorite veggie burgers in Brooklyn–these sandwiches can stand their own, we promise!

For the beet lover: 61 Local

In Cobble Hill, 61 Local serves up local foods and good vibes. The restaurant’s menu features a delicious and earthy beet burger made with chef Lukas Volger’s special blend. (Volger, a former employee and now the owner of the brand Made by Lukas, developed the recipe while working at 61 Local.) The patty is topped with pickled red onions, miso “mayo,” baby greens and ketchup and served on a ciabatta roll.

61 Bergen St., Cobble Hill


For the milkshake drinker: Dutch Boy

Burgers and milkshakes go together like…fries and ketchup, peanut butter and jelly, pickle juice and whiskey shots. Dutch Boy in Crown Heights is as well known for its spiked milkshakes as it is its burgers and so we had to include them on this list. The veggie burger here is house-made and distinctly simple, but for two reasons we love it. One, it’s served with chipotle aioli, which delivers a heat-packed punch and two, you can (and should) wash it down with a root beer schnapps-spiked milkshake.

766 Franklin Ave., Crown Heights (more…)

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03/06/17 2:18pm
Photo: Georgia Kral

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem | Photo: Georgia Kral

Good. Simple. Made by thoughtful people. These are the criteria that come into play in nearly every facet of the operation at Ops, from the local, farm-fresh ingredients, to the rotating natural wine list, to the ethos of the place.

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem opened this petite and homey spot next to Variety Coffee in Bushwick, in October of 2016. It’s quickly become a neighborhood restaurant where locals converge for pizza, salads and meat and cheese plates. The centerpiece is the wood-burning oven, sparkling with colorful blue tiles behind the rustic bar.

The pizza is different at Ops, too. Fadem makes it with sourdough, which he lovingly tends to and feeds twice a day.

“We wanted it to be like a classic pizzeria,” Fadem said. “People can’t get enough of pizza.”

The pair wanted a restaurant that was both welcoming and inviting.

“That’s why we do everything ourselves,” Tribouilloy said. “We have a relationship with the customers. We’re both here and on the floor.” (more…)

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03/01/17 11:57am
Drink a beer at Three's Brewing on March 7, or any one of roughly 20 restaurants and bars participating in Brooklyn Feeds, a borough-wide event on March 7 to help combat food insecurity. Photo: Three's Brewing

Drink a beer at Three’s Brewing on March 7, or any one of the 20 restaurants and bars participating in Brooklyn Feeds, and help combat food insecurity. Photo: Three’s Brewing

This coming Tuesday, March 7, roughly 20 restaurants around Brooklyn will be offering a deal for diners: eat or drink at their restaurant, and they will help feed people who cannot afford basic meals.

The event, called Brooklyn Feeds, is the brainchild of Jennifer Friedlin, a former journalist and founder of the marketing firm Hungry Marketing, whose clients include both non-profits and restaurants. For a while, she’d been cognizant of the disconnect between those well-off enough to dine out in Brooklyn, “where everyone comes to eat, while there are many people in the borough who are going to bed hungry.” Then a story last fall spurred her to action. As The New York Times reported in September, we have the highest rate of food insecurity in New York City, meaning 20% of households here have “limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”

“When I saw that, it backed up what I’d been feeling and thinking,” said Friedlin. So she decided to do something about it, and created an event that would benefit restaurants at a time when business is generally slow, while also serving non-profits that help the hungry.

The restaurants, bars and cafes who are a part of the inaugural Brooklyn Feeds are all donating a portion of their proceeds on March 7 to CHiPS, a soup kitchen and homeless shelter for young women and their babies in Gowanus, and Neighbors Together, an organization in Bedford-Stuyvesant that provides food to over 10,000 New Yorkers a year. Neighborhood staples like Three’s Brewing, Therapy Wine Bar and Franny’s are all taking part, and Applebee’s has agreed to donate 10% of revenues from all seven of its Brooklyn locations.

Friedlin expects to raise several thousand for the two charities. Help Brooklyn Feeds meet its goal and pave the way for future editions by eating or drinking here on March 7:

02/26/17 7:20pm
Photo: Velo

The No. 3 combines whiskey, tomato and basil. Photo: Bar Velo

Sometimes you’re in the mood for a cocktail, but you’re not in the mood for a bar. It happens to the best of us, especially when you’ve been living in Brooklyn for a few years and the thrill of elbowing your way past a crowd of post-collegiate revelers with no fear of hangovers for a beer-and-shot-special has faded.

Fortunately for people like us, there is no shortage of grown-up restaurants that can easily double as watering holes. Bar Velo in Williamsburg is the perfect example of such an oasis. In the former Moto space under the elevated JMZ track, Bar Velo offers well-crafted cocktails in an aesthetically pleasing setting that hasn’t changed much at all since Moto closed in the fall of 2016.

Photo: Bar Velo

It’s an inviting bar. Photo: Bar Velo

The spirit of Moto lives on at Bar Velo because it’s under the same ownership, and really, it’s more of an update than a wholesale transformation. Owner John McCormick wanted to re-open the restaurant with a fully vegetarian menu, but the space itself is nearly indistinguishable, save some new cycling-themed design touches. The striking oblong bar that serves as the space’s centerpiece remains intact, and that’s where we recommend you settle in for some adult beverages in the company of adults. As a bonus, the round-edged bar means you can get away with a party of more than two and still include everyone in the conversation. (more…)

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02/23/17 9:14am

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The Lobster Shift is a monthly column by Kenneth R. Rosen that explores the city and its inhabitants in the hours between dusk and dawn.

Nothing had yet caught fire. After my late shift, I fell fast asleep.

I’d spent the night wandering in a haze, a low mist applied across the city invariably and without discretion. I stepped around patches and had nowhere to go but home, wondering whether there was somewhere for me to be and all I’d done was forgotten it. A strange tickle lapped at my neck and I felt like someone was behind me. I turned fast. No one was there, but every few steps along Queens Boulevard I took to turning back. Checking just in case.

Eventually I found my way home, careful as I crossed the streets, dodging headlights sponged in mist. I could see a police cruiser down the block, and counseled myself, No way, it’s not for you.

This state of paranoia never settles, and is often encouraged by the anonymity of nighttime. In my bones I feel an unshakable guilt, a teasing disruption in my liver and heart, a menace trapped inside my own menace. Sometimes I misplace it and then seeing a police officer sets it upon me. The paranoia stays and becomes second-nature. It is necessary to survival. I have lived with it always.

Someone once told me that if I were to look skyward more often, into the haze above Manhattan, I would come to see more, feel more grounded, become better situated and aware of these feelings inside this unnatural spree of concrete and metal. Hear something enough and it becomes your own philosophy. I heard those words—look up, dammit, look up!—and learned that my compass relied on the two towers that could be seen from almost anywhere–The Empire State and One World Trade. There are the pencil skyscrapers, light dribbling out the windows, but nothing like these. That’s where the collective hopeful ambitions come from. Excelsior!

My childhood in the city was spent looking down, navigating cracks in the sidewalks, bursting through crowds gathered at crosswalks. I had a fast pace, strode like I belonged, moved with a purpose and, for that reason, never gleaned much of the city. So I’m starting to look up these nights, pacing around on the streets, mindless and enthralled just the same. It’s when I am in this trance that I can peer up at these buildings and see inside them vignettes of lives I will never lead. (more…)

02/20/17 9:02am
Come by for a game of shuffleboard. Photo: Georgia Kral

Come by for a game of shuffleboard. Photo: Georgia Kral

Chef Dale Talde and the Three Kings Restaurant Group may have just closed two Brooklyn establishments–Pork Slope and Thistle Hill Tavern–but they haven’t turned their backs on the borough.

Instead, they have opened Atlantic Social, a massive restaurant (130 seats) and sports bar (50 stools) that they hope will appeal to Brooklynites and guests visiting the nearby Barclays Center.

“We want this place to be for the die hard sports fan but also the people who could give two shits,” said Three Kings partner David Massoni. But “at the end of the day, you can’t deny there’s a sports bar element. There are 16 TVs.”

Sixteen televisions, indeed. Atlantic Social also boasts a game room, which Massoni says they are calling “the parlor,” with a shuffleboard table and classic arcade games like Ms. Pan-Man and Big Buck Hunter. There are leather couches and an inviting gas fireplace in the room, too. A pool table is on its way. The game room is open to anyone but can also be rented out for parties.

“We want it to be feel like a friend’s parents’ basement,” Massoni said. (more…)

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02/13/17 10:33am
Jip Bap is a traditional Korean meal. Photo: Mokbar

Jip Bap is a traditional Korean meal. Photo: Mokbar

For Chef Esther Choi, her food is her life. Literally.

Choi, owner and chef at the Chelsea Market Korean ramen shop Mokbar opened a Brooklyn location of the restaurant last Wednesday. And she lives right upstairs.

“I wanted to babysit!” she said.

For a chef whose cooking is heavily inspired by her family and cultural heritage, it makes sense that her home and work life are so entwined.

More jip bap to love. Photo: Mokbar

More jip bap to love. Photo: Mokbar

At Mokbar Brooklyn, which is on Flatbush Avenue near Bergen Street, Choi wanted to show “how I eat at home and how I grew up eating. How my grandma cooked for me everyday.” To that end, the menu expands greatly on the Chelsea Market location with larger dishes and a focus on jipbap–“real, traditional Korean cooking,” she said.

A jipbap order consists of a main dish, usually a protein like short ribs or pork belly, accompanied by soup, rice and a variety of banchan–small, seasonal, vegetable dishes.

“We bring it out in a big tray,” said Choi, excitedly discussing the format of the meal, which she emphasized was created with non-Korean diners in mind. “On the tray we have soup, rice, mains and seasonal small plates that wrap it all together.” (more…)

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02/06/17 11:08am

I know it’s supposed to be 60 degrees on Wednesday, practically outdoor movie weather, but it’s only the beginning of February folks, we’ve got lots more winter to make it through. How do we get the chill out of our bones (and hearts)? Eat. And do it with friends and loved ones.

Here are seven of the the hottest dishes in Brooklyn–served piping hot, swimming in spice or just imbued with that magic so-hot-right-now-sauce. They’ll lift your spirits, stop your nose from running and maybe get your eyes and mouth watering at once.

Making uni and sweet potato pierogies at Olmsted is a labor of love. Photo: @olmstednyc

Making sweet potato and uni pierogies at Olmsted is a labor of love. Photo: @olmstednyc

Sweet potato and uni pierogies at Olmsted

Chef Greg Baxtrom and crew keep hitting the nail on the head with their stylized version of American classics at Olmsted. First came the crab rangoon, which were made with kale, served in a take-out Chinese style box and now the acclaimed Prospect Heights restaurant is making their version of pierogi, filled with the “it” ingredient that just won’t stop: sea urchin. These babies are another fine example of what can happen when high meets home-y.

Olmsted, 659 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights (more…)

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