If there is a place in the hood where I have my food pulse tuned into, it’s the stretch of Manhattan Ave. between Greenpoint Ave. and Java St. Quite the small focus, I think of it as the La Taverna/McDonald’s line. Dead center of that line was the restaurant Happy End: an old school Polish spot that drew me in with a 70′s looking brown and orange sign and made me a customer with the curvy counter and the simple menu.
More than that, the owner Martin kept me coming back. Over the years we developed a friendship and discussed the restaurant in it’s old incarnation, at length. A few weeks ago he popped his head from the newly painted roll gates and said with a big smile, “doing some work, but it’s a secret.”
Last week that secret was let out of the bag with the re-opening of Martin’s place under the banner Brooklyn Point Cafe. Of course I was one of the first people to pop in to get the low down (It’s only 23 ft from my front door.)
It has been gutted and turned into a fresh new restaurant with a menu that is anything but Polish. Of course they kept the grilled Polish sausage on the menu to stay tied to their roots. Continue reading →
Last year we, the crew over at Forking Tasty, held our first Bike-In-Theater on an abandoned street you now call the New York Waterway ferry stop. Who knew our theater venue would become such a high profile spot. This year we are doing it again bigger and better but we need a little help. That’s why we’ve set up this Kickstarter to help cover permits, infrastructure and bring some fun new components. Can you say movie trivia and gourmet food service? Read more and please contribute, spread the word and polish up that fixie.
Last Saturday Anthony and I were privileged to be invited, for our third year, to the annual Best Wings in Brooklyn competition hosted at Red Star Bar. This year we took a different approach and got a little clever in our presentation of each wing we critiqued. We wanted to give all contestants an equal chance to shine and to do that we needed to devise a way to put them all on a level playing field. Our skewer idea was a pretty cool way to do this plus, it allowed us to create the awesome “franken-wing” above.
The contestants were back in force this year with a few newcomers in the mix. As usual, the line extended all the way down Greenpoint Ave. curving around the corner to Franklin. That’s a long block and with the addition of some big boy wind gusts the wing loving line stood strong (500 deep at least) to get a FREE taste of Brooklyn’s best.
We thankfully tackled the competition and avoided the wind pre-doors allowing us a less crowded Red Star to chat, taste and shoot these luscious flappers. So without further preamble here are the contenders, our thoughts and, at the end, a video revealing our favorites.
I’ve lived in the neighborhood for years and have pondered this question for as many of them as I can remember. “Why don’t more truly great restaurants open up in Greenpoint?” I can still count on my hands the establishments that I consider SOLID. I’ve been on this food roller coaster for a while and I still feel like I am climbing towards the first big drop. When Anella opened I thought we were over the hump. When Le Gamin opened I though for sure we were headed into a double corkscrew. The crazy coaster into restaurant heaven seems to be a much slower and gradual ride than I anticipated with the last excitement being this summers Lobster Joint.
Hopefully we are about to get crazy. The next stomach pleaser opens in a week on Manhattan Ave between Kent and Java. When I heard it was a new sandwich shop, something I know a bit about, I was even more excited. The semi-famous, mini empire of No. 7 Sub, you may know them from Fort Greene or the ACE hotel location, has taken up residence in the former Polish Diner space. You may remember that storefront as the Polish buffet or, before that, just a Polish restaurant pseudo club named Damis. Regardless of it’s past, it’s future is bright. Bright to the tune of a revamped sandwich menu and an accompanying liquor license.
If you are unfamiliar with the No. 7 Sub menu just know their talent is putting amazing ingredients that you would never think go together between a crusty, in-house baked, submarine roll. From the GENERAL TSO’S TOFU (Yellow Squash, Shiso, Pickled Ginger) to the BRISKET (Chinese Mustard, Pickled Mushrooms, Parsley) the ingredients harmoniously live together delighting your tastebuds and olfactory system to new heights. In the image above I was lucky enough to score a BROCCOLI, Lychee Muchim, Ricotta Salata, Pine Nuts sub for lunch.
While visiting I spoke with owners Matt and Tyler last week to get the scoop. The space is completely renovated in the aesthetic of their ACE hotel outpost but is 4 times the size. Tyler explained that this will allow them to augment the sandwich menu with some other “awesomeness.” The awesomeness details were not revealed but with the larger space and larger kitchen I think they will have the luxury of whipping up some specials when they see fit. The sandwich shop will stay true to its roots and not become a bar with great sandwiches according to Tyler. The sandwiches will always be the focus but now you can enjoy with a beer or a scotch. Your choice.
Since I have watched the shops renovation progress from my window and love their unique twist on a global classic, it’s safe to say I’ll be sampling quite often. Never fear. I’ll provide a full rundown of the eats once the shop opens it’s doors and is in full swing. Perhaps we’re at the crest of that big roller coaster and by spring we’ll be shooting down the big drop not knowing what tasty restaurant to eat at first.
Six weeks ago I pitched a solar powered ice pop truck to my client, Sungevity, I didn’t think I’d be standing in Rockefeller Center yesterday basking in the orange solar glow of a push-button, auto-articulating, air ride equipped, natural ice pop dispensing, ex-postal step van. Nor did I think I’d be watching the 30 person line double in size by the minute with happy NYers grabbing their hibiscus mint or Mango flavored all natural ice pops. But I was. And today I am doing the same thing at Grand Central and Bryant Park. From NYC this baby heads to Boston and then Jersey and maybe even as far as Maryland. Unfortunately we are not hitting Greenpoint.
What’s on board are these beautiful delicious pops made by the guys at Good Pops, out of Austin.
This May the first ever Bike-in-Theater will be held by the crew at Forking Tasty Suppers, the local monthly dinema supperclub we hope you have all come to love. To launch their new season they are “going public” with their 2 story high projector and inviting anyone on two wheels to come join them.
A few things you can expect; lots of bikers, an old school hit movie and some delicious snacks. It wouldn’t be Forking Tasty if they didn’t provide some delectable morsels to munch on during what is sure to be a unique evening.
A peek through the lowered rollgate revealed a narrow table of twenty that was nestled in between the towering wine shelves and the purposely dark hum of a refrigerator bank.
Through the steel and glass you could hear only muffled conversation, the clang of plates and the reverberation of laughter as it filled the converted shop and snuck out the cracks in the front windows. Last Saturday 20 lucky singles mingled it up after hours in a little Greenpoint wine shop to sip some vino, taste some edibles and meet their possible spring fling. I’d say the evening was a fantastic success being that our guests made a connection with more than the food. To pull this supper off we partnered up with Dandelion Wines to provide the space and wines that complimented our four course feast. We then summoned some singles who were up for a gastro-guzzle-blind date.
The idea came from my realization that daylight savings time forces us to lose an hour each year as we hurdle ourselves into the future. This imposed, careless disregard in hopes of getting closer to the impending spring is a cheap trick that strips us of the commodity that seems most scarce these days, time. I thought it might be smart, and fun, to hold onto those 60 minutes and see what happens if you anonymously were put into a room with nineteen strangers. Below is the glutenous mystery that unfolded.
As the final customers picked and purchased their Sunday night, night caps, we were busy finalizing the table settings of our conversion from wine shop to true pop-up restaurant. With every detail triple checked the menus were set and we fired up the small stove in the back of the shop to get the make shift kitchen into high gear. While Aimee browned the polenta and I started building the first plate of chicken cacciatore our guests snacked on some cheese and dried sausage while sipping Dandelion’s first selection a “La Gaudrelle” Cremant de Loire Sparkling Chenin Blanc.
Soon enough our first course was ready to be passed. We like to keep our guests standing for a bit so they can easily move around the room and meet others. The food worked it’s magic as each plate simultaneously became an interruption and a catalyst .
Chilled jumbo prawns with arugula pesto and a lemon aioli.
Braised chicken cacciatore on fresh polenta with caramelized balsamic onions.
Every year we lose an hour as we spring ahead to…well…spring. What if those lost 60 minutes held a secret? What if that secret was filled with attractive singles, delicious food and rich, luscious wine? Would you tell? Or, would you keep your mouth closed and smirk with content?
On March 13th we are teaming up with Dandelion Wines and converting a wine shop into a dining den to celebrate this seductive lost hour. As the rest of the world skips past these valuable and mysterious minutes ten single men and ten single women will be indulging with gluttonous disregard. A 4-course gourmet dinner will be crafted to perfectly match hand selected, small batch vintners favorite wines.
Quietly reserve one of the 20 seats below and treat yourself to an evening that will be full of visual surprises, olfactory inspirations, tongue tantalizing moments and perhaps, by the end of the evening, even those little hairs on the back of your neck will be at attention. Who knows, you might even share a bite and a sip with your new spring lover.
Red Star Bar and Forking Tasty are teaming up this Sunday for a semi-star studded Oscar party. FEBRUARY 27th, beginning at 7:00 pm. It’ll be more fun than watching from your living room plus their will be comics, red carpets and prizes but there are only 50 seats available.
Red carpet arrivals Wine and cheese cocktail hour 3-course dinner Drinks in their upstairs event space Prizes for Best Dressed and Best Ballot Picks Champagne toast to the Best Picture Winner
Award nominated comics Jason Saenz and Nick Turner (aka “Too Cool For School”) will handle the hosting duties, providing comedic commentary throughout the commercial breaks as well as doling out prizes for the evening’s trivia contest winners. We hope to see a bunch of you there.
Tomorrow, February 12, 2011 at Redstar Bar in Greenpoint. Doors open to the public at 2pm! This event is FREE! No cover, No charge for sampling the wings!
I realize last Sunday was a rough day for many of us. You might be saying to yourself, “I can’t gorge again this weekend.” Of course you can but that isn’t much fodder for swaying your decision so I thought it might help for you to read a bit about last years delicious chicken arm madness. Many of the same players are back in the ring to defend or uncrown so research carefully and make sure you hit your prospective favorites first.
Let’s get to a few contestants. It’s a long recap so if you want the full run down from last year pop over here. We’ll start out strong, drop in the middle of the pack and then close with my favorite traditional entry.
I loved this crew. They were chatty, smiley and super happy. Their wings…totally broke the mold. In the restaurant the selection is ridiculous. You can choose from Ginger Buff, Trini Tamarind, Bajan Merry Mango, Island BBQ, Chili Cilantro, Spice Island Rub and Lava. They served Ginger Buff with Lava Sauce. I screamed, cried and then hit seconds. Nothing like a traditional wing BUT they did it right. They started with a meaty wing that was not too big. This was smart because there was so much flavor that too much meat would actually kill the flavor profile. I know, I never use big cooking words like that, but here it was necessary. The lava sauce on top was a nice break from the blue cheese and complimented the Ginger spice wonderfully. So, turns out I was not the only person who though this way. They took first prize. Nice work ladies. I’ll be by the restaurant really soon for more.
Wings from a BBQ joint always peeks my interest. Off the bat they were a talkative team. I love that. Lots to say about the wings, the competition and their restaurant. Their entry was definitely of the BBQ realm. A saucy entry that had a spicy yet sweet BBQ sauce on it. I loved it but yearned for that taste on some pork. A rib, brisket some pulled shoulder, anything, would have held up to that sauce better than a wing. Let me be clear, I loved the taste. It was the wing that fell a little short. I will say, they did something no other team did. They served the whole wing intact. Still connected at the joint I needed to change my eating approach to devour this morsel and I enjoyed the challenge. I am dying to head down to Carroll Garden’s and try some of their pork creations. I am sure they will not disappoint.
I don’t have one note, memory or story to tell about this wing. I guess that says it all. So, let’s move on. Ohh, wait…they were best dressed. Doning Valentine’s Day red chef coats they were the cleanest and most professional looking of all the teams.
They were from Flatbush Ave. and entered with a jerk wing.. No blue cheese dip, just straight up Jerk. This Trini team kept it real West Indian style. A sucker for jerk chicken I reveled in their wings and reminisced about Mr. Biggs roadside jerk spot in Negril. An absolute must every time I am in the birthplace of Bob Nesta. A good non-traditional wing but a little small and dry when I got to the meat. Jerk holds up much better on a leg or thigh so I suspect a trip to Flatbush is in order.
After about 2 hours I had made my way around all the tables, once for pics and a second time for eats. With a belly full of 28 wings and a memory card full of 280 photos, I gulped down the rest of my pint and slipped through the now shoulder to shoulder crowd and out the front door.
As food competitions go, The Best Wings In Brooklyn Competition had a good showing. Two hours in and there was still a line outside Red Star. Considering the G train was broken and the temp was hanging around a windy 25 degrees, I’d say Brooklyn takes their wings pretty seriously.