New Neighborhood Haunts

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Until Rob and Robin and the $25 and Under crew give us their full reports, these are our first impressions of new, neighborhood restaurants.

The General Greene photo by Erin Gleeson

The General Greene, Ft. Greene, 229 DeKalb Ave. at Clermont, 718-222-1510
Cuisine: New Brooklyn Southern. Choices like candied bacon and pigs feet with collards are balanced by a surprising number of lighter, veggie-friendly plates. Menu is reasonable, too: an after work cocktail or glass of wine (lots of Long Island and California on the list) and light dinner can be had for under $30. Brunch should start in two weeks.
Vibe: Décor inside is Restoration Hardware chic with outdoor seating along Clermont Ave.; diners are a lively, diverse neighborhood mix.
Name Chefs: Owner is Nicholas Morgenstern, the former pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern (and the peach crisp we had was indeed fantastic). Ryan Skeen, of Resto, lends a hand in the kitchen.
What We Liked: We loveloveloved the Clermont Bubbly (a refreshing combo of St. Germaine, pear and Prosecco), Cobb salad, summer squash with pistachio pesto, and homemade chocolate pudding. Once it cools down, definitely dig into the ribs and the ridiculously rich ham-and-gruyere bread pudding.
What We Didn’t: With the back half lacking tables, the place feels slightly unfinished. Yet it’s been packed every night we visited or walked by, so it should break the curse — which took Sol, then June — of this corner. — Annaliese Griffin

Peaches Market Café, Stuyvesant Heights, 393 Lewis Ave. at Macdonough, 718-942-4162
Peaches photo by Melissa SandsCuisine: Greenmarket-driven American cuisine, weighing heavily on southern and barbecue. Prices are remarkably low for such quality ingredients and preparation: $5-$7 apps and $11-$16 entrees (cash only).
Vibe: Homey and chill. Wood interiors with red and yellow accents, banquettes lining the walls and a small, street-level outdoor patio. Service is friendly and efficient; clientele is pan-Brooklyn.
Name Chefs: The newest restaurant from Craig Samuel and Ben Grossman of Smoke Joint and Little Piggy (Market).
What We Liked: Perfect fried green tomatoes, watermelon salad with pickled ginger, barbecued shrimp.
What We Didn’t: Considering the restaurant is brand new, the team behind Peaches really has it together. The only misstep on one visit was a dry, cornbread side ($1). –Rachael Rakes

Abigail Café and Wine Bar, Prospect Heights (or Crown Heights, depending on who you ask), 807 Classon Ave. at St. John’s Pl., 718-399-3200
Cuisine: All-day, seasonal American menu — from morning muffins to small bites, salads, panini, and entrees — with European influences. BYOB for now; wine and beer to come soon.
Vibe: Spacious, arty and modern with exposed brick and large windows. Deep red chandeliers and walls give a warm glow, and the huge, empty wine rack is a hint of what’s to come. Crowd is a mix of locals and just-bought-our-first-condo-in-ProHi couples.
Name Chefs: Owner/chef Abigail Hitchcock of Camaje in Greenwich Village.
What We Liked: For appetizers, the chévre-stuffed peppadews and balsamic-topped artichoke crostini. The artichoke, tomato and pea orecchiette (usually made with shrimp) had a not-too-rich cream sauce that highlighted the summer vegetables. Also good: Arctic char with dill sauce, served on a cabbage and leek fricassee.
What We Didn’t: Even for a leisurely dinner, service was a bit slow, and the entrees seem overpriced for the quality and atmosphere. For a casual meal at a better value, stick to the small plates — especially when the wine bar is in full swing. –Chrysanthe Tenentes

James

James, Prospect Heights, 605 Carlton Ave. at St Marks Ave., 718-942-4255
Cuisine: Seasonally driven, new American fare. Classics with a twist.
Vibe: Upscale Brooklyn — you know, pressed-tin ceilings combined with dark leather banquets and an imposing floral arrangement on the bar. Perfect for dates, dinners with parents and special occassions.
Name Chefs: Bryan Calvert, formerly of Bouley and Union Pacific.
What We Liked: The seared diver scallops with preserved kumquats are light but flavorful and a lamb special was cooked to juicy perfection. James’ Revenge, a bourbon cocktail with burnt citrus bitters and kumquat juice, is a bittersweet, thoroughly grown-up treat.
What We Didn’t: Although everything was delicious, nothing amazed us. James feels like a restaurant that’s been around forever, a staid standard with no surprises. –A.G.

Annabelle’s, Red Hook, 46 Beard St. at Dwight, 718-643-1400
Photo of Annabelle's by Melissa SandsCuisine: Seafood-heavy menu including a selection of po-boys ($14), oysters on the half shell (m/p), steamed mussels ($13) and a handful of meat and fish entrees ($18-$22). Menu will focus on bar snacks when (the new) La Bouillabaisse opens next door later this summer.
Vibe: Mellow, dark and near empty when we visited at 9 pm on a Thursday, exaggerating the odd atmosphere. Splashes of bright blue and soulless neon lighting ruin the old, well-maintained interior of the front room, and the pond, flower garden and multi-level patio out back has potential, but is still a work in progress. The service, however, is pleasant and competent.
Name Chefs: Neil Ganic of Petite Crevette and the old La Bouillabaisse
What We Liked: The cocktails are strong and the beer is cold.
What We Didn’t: The food was uneven in execution — a side salad was slimy and overdressed, and a plate of mussels contained an inexcusable number unopened. Hopefully they’ll bring the food up to the caliber of the charming staff for La Bouillabaisse’s opening, or lower their prices. –R.R.

Photo of The General Greene by Erin Gleeson, photos of Peaches and Annabelle’s by Melissa Sands. James photo courtesy James.

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