Brooklyn Food News: Sunken Harbor Club, Mad For Chicken, and more

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There’s no place more delicious than Brooklyn. Here, when you think of the most incredible thing you’ve ever tasted, it isn’t a single bite; it’s an entire tier of delights. It’s the melt-in-your-mouth, broth-soaked roast beef sandwich at Brennan and Carr. It’s the bright explosion of flavor packed into the pomegranate and radish chaat at Corner Delhi. It’s the thick layer of salted chocolate frosting on the yellow cake at the end of a perfect meal at Bar Bête.

Would you rather step into Colson Patisserie, where the air is so sweet with sugar and butter that it leaves you lightheaded, or feel the blast of air from into the parking lot at L&B Spumoni Gardens, where the kitchen exhaust fan kicks out the holy aroma of cheese, sauce and dough? The answer, of course, is both.

In the last two years, our bars and restaurants have been through the ringer, and so have we. Today, writing a restaurant review feels like telling a comeback story. I’m so excited to let you know you what’s new and focus on what’s good, but for this column to cover all the best stuff Brooklyn has to offer, I’m going to need your help. Got restaurant gossip? A hot tip from the construction worker renovating a neighborhood storefront? A favorite underrated restaurant? A must-try dish? Please email me at kara@brooklynbased.com.

A League of its Own: Sunken Harbor Club

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Sunken Harbor Club, the pearl in the oyster of Gage and Tollner, serves tropical cocktails in a space that feels like the cabin of a ship. Photo: @sunkenharborclubnyc

You’ve got to plan ahead to snag a table at Gage & Tollner during dinner hours (and personally, I think it’s entirely worth the wait), but if you’re more of a spur-of-the-moment type, you can just show up at their door as close to 5pm as possible on Wednesdays through Sundays and sneak up to their dark and nautical second-floor bar, the Sunken Harbor Club. You can’t reserve a table in advance, but you can put your name on a list if the seats are full. With tufted leather banquettes, wood-paneled walls that feel pleasantly snug and off-kilter, and thick ropes weaving around the old-timey glass lamps that hang from the ceiling, the space feels like the captain’s cabin in an old clipper ship.

The tropical cocktail list grew out of long-standing a weekly tiki pop-up at owner St. John Frizell’s Fort Defiance in Red Hook. The drinks are categorized by potency, from lighter concoctions (In The Shallows) to total knockouts (The Abyss). You can’t go wrong with the moderately boozy (Twilight Zone) Tijuanna Taxi, a white negroni that involves smokey mezcal and sweet banana liqueur poured over a giant ice cube, as clear as polished glass. It’s like the drinkable version of a campfire on deserted island, and it pairs well with the broiled pork spare ribs, which are juicy and sticky with duck sauce. Then get another round—each drink is seemingly engineered to taste even better than the last—and save room for dessert. It’s impossible to choose between the sea salt-dusted double-chocolate ice cream sandwich, which is layered with amaretto toffee, and the sweet-salty-creamy miso butterscotch pudding, heaped with fresh whipped cream and a crunchy sprinkling of toasted coconut and arare, tiny beads of Japanese puffed rice (pictured below). Fortunately, nobody says you have to pick just one.

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The miso butterscotch pudding at Sunken Harbor Club makes a strong case for a cocktails-and-dessert date. Photo: @simonleungphoto via @sunkenharborclubnyc

Insider tip: If you’ve got a case of the olds, bring your reading glasses and perhaps a small flashlight—it’s much darker up there than these photos indicate, and the extreme beam of your iPhone can only spoil the mood.

Tidbits: Mad For Chicken, Bạn Bè and Black Seed Bagels

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Mad For Chicken comes to Smith Street! Photo: Kara Zuaro

New Vietnamese bakery in Cobble Hill: After a series of sell-out pop-ups, Bạn Bè hopes to open their 187 Sackett Street location on a more regular basis starting this April or May.

Red Hook Tavern closes, for now: I’m really bummed to report that an electrical fire on the lower level of the restaurant has forced my favorite burger spot to close up shop. While they rebuild, you might consider donating to support their staff.

Some better Red Hook news: The Good Fork is reopening as the Good Fork Pub! According to their site, it will be opening as soon as “ye olde aging hipsters can finish it. Hopefully by Spring!”

Stinky Brooklyn takeover: Rumor has it that the owners of The Castello Plan in Ditmas Park are setting up a new business in the old Smith Street cheese shop.

Feed your fried chicken addiction: Mad For Chicken, a beloved Korean fried chicken chain, is now open at 174 Smith Street.

Canadian bagels abound: Black Seed Bagels has opened another outpost for their Montreal-style bagels at 214 Berry Street in Williamsburg.

What I’m cooking: These easy baked chicken meatballs from Pinch of Yum are my picky kid’s favorite, and they’re delicious enough for the whole family. (Use Progresso Italian-Seasoned breadcrumbs instead of panko and cook them for only 20 minutes so they don’t dry out.)

What I’m listening to: Observatory from Aeon Station, the solo project of longtime Wrens member Kevin Whelan, has been lifting my spirits since it came out in December, but even more so since the band brought all their good energy to TV Eye on Saturday.

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