Editors’ Note: This is the first in a series of posts about the art of dining for one. FIRST UP: Comfort staples The Bounty and Anella.
I’m not sure where my penchant for solo dining originated, but it’s brought me many good meals and, perhaps paradoxically, much good conversation. One fateful dinner alone at the bar of my favorite restaurant in my then home of Denver actually landed me my second full-time job. Leaving Copenhagen a day after my friends departed enabled me to drop in for what still stands out as one of the best meals I’ve ever had, complete with a tour of the kitchen thanks to rapport struck up with bartenders and servers over the course of the meal.
Now a New Yorker, my solo dining game seems even more in play whether enjoying solitude amidst the city’s hustle and bustle, finding camaraderie in spite of anonymity, or bypassing the line out the door. One of the things I love most about Greenpoint is the sense of community, so it’s no surprise that so much of the quality local restaurant scene greets the individual diner with open arms. My “locals” are a significant part of what I love about the neighborhood. If I’m not at a concert I’m likely perched at the bar at Anella or The Bounty, my favorite spots for a solo meal.
Coming home to Greenpoint late after a work event, I’ll direct the cab to Franklin and Green instead of my own street, the task of making dinner highly unappealing at that hour and needing to decompress from the day. I typically crave Anella’s spiralized vegetables with goat cheese and Romesco, wine and a moment alone, aside from a welcome exchange with the bartenders whom I’ve now come to know. Or if it’s the G train that’s brought me back to Greenpoint, I can’t resist the inviting candle-lit interior of The Bounty upon surfacing from the Greenpoint Avenue stop, their burger, a glass of recommended wine and a familiar seat at that dark wood bar calling my name.
Bartenders set the tone for their domain and can make or break the solo dining experience. The friendly and knowledgeable crew at both Anella and The Bounty are so much of the reason I keep going back on my own—not really alone—somehow feeling a part of the action, connected by their warmth and command of the bar as helm of the restaurant.
At Anella (222 Franklin Street), my favorites now on the seasonal menu are the Grilled Artichoke Salad (arugula, parsley, pistachios, parmesan $13), Pappardelle (short rib ragout, shiitake mushrooms, crème fraîche, pecorino $20), Bucatini a la Carbonara (pancetta, poached egg, parmesan $18), and the Roasted 1/2 Chicken (broccoli rabe, polenta, Romesco sauce $26). A biscuit and jam is a must at brunch, and as for the signature house-made bread baked in terra cotta flower pots, well, I dare you not to eat the entire thing. I have yet to have a meal without finishing one off myself.
Over at The Bounty (131 Greenpoint Avenue), where the bread is also baked in-house, it’s the Whipped House Ricotta (lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, chives, grilled baguette $10) and the Duck Liver Mousse (candied kumquats, grilled baguette $12) that are probably intended to be shared but I manage to enjoy “for one,” whether as an accompaniment for The Bounty’s awesome $1 oyster happy hour (5-7pm daily) or prelude to an entree.
Current favorites on the dinner menu include the burger—a fixture on the often changing menu—(house made roll, tomato jam, mayonnaise, red onion & fries $15; add cheddar!), and the 1/2 Roast Chicken (grilled ramps, parsnip puree, parsnip chips, natural jus $23). Always ask about any specials, and trust bartender recommendations.
Next time you find yourself coming home to Greenpoint after a long day, don’t be afraid to fly solo at one of these worthy spots—I’ll probably see you there!
Stay tuned for more tips on how and where to solo dine in the next installment in our series.