Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Top Brooklyn Foodie Spots In Park Slope


When I moved to Park Slope nearly two years ago, I thought the neighborhood was lovely, charming and full of life.  I loved all the cute restaurants and shops, plus its proximity to the bustling noise and urban center of Manhattan.  However, I didn't realize, until my foodie friends started sending me articles, that it is an epicenter for some of the best food, restaurants and other culinary businesses in the entire New York Metropolitan area.  Yes, Park Slope is famous for something other than baby carriages and puppies (as it is portrayed on the new HBO show, Bored to Death ) - its culinary hot spots.  Park Slope has everything Manhattan has, without the hectic crowds and the noise.  It's also a bit less expensive, which is good in these economic times.  I have found that my trips into Manhattan for dining are far less frequent these days, because it's all right here, and don't let any Manhattanite tell you otherwise.

Below, I highlight some of my favorite food-related spots in "The Slope," in no particular order.  (Note: to be fair, a best of Manhattan entry from me is soon to follow in the next couple of weeks, since I did live in Manhattan for 8 years, before realizing that Park Slope existed).

1.  Bierkraft - Bierkraft is an entire store that specilizes in beer.  They carry every beer (thousands, literally)you could possibly imagine, and those that are simply beyond your imagination, from domestic and international breweries, large and small.  This is the best place in the New York Area, hands down, to buy beer from the typical brews to the eccentric.  If it's a beer, you can find it here, and they also always have 10-12 beers on tap in the store that you can purchase in growlers (click here for the current menu). My favorite season at Bierkraft is fall (specifically October) when they have an enormous selection of pumpkin ales and Octoberfest beers from breweries all over the world, large and small.  In addition, Bierkraft carries a wide selection of cheeses (better than Whole Foods, in my opinion), chocolates and some of the best sandwiches in the New York area.  My favorite sandwich is their Waygu beef sandwich with cheddar cheese, arugula, horseradish, mayo, tomato and onion.  Yum.  The search for the perfect sandwich ends here.  The staff is helpful and always friendly.

2.  Rosewater - I am a big fan of the farm-to-table approach to cooking and dining.  This is one of the reasons that I like Blue Hill, in Manhattan, which I wrote about in December.  Rosewater is just as good, but a fraction of the price.  This is the best brunch in Park Slope, hands down, and that says a lot given that New Yorkers come from every part of Brooklyn and Manhattan for Park Slope's famous brunches in the spring, summer and fall.  Everything is made with farm fresh, seasonal, organic ingedients.  In the summer, they have a duck entree with peaches that is one of my favorite dinner entrees ever.   Some other favorites; pumpkin cashew soup, quince crepes, duck confit sandwich.  They don't take reservations for brunch (so get there early), but make one if you are going for dinner on the weekends because it is a small restaurant, which enhances the lovely dining experience.  The dinner wine pairings are also excellent.  Their use of seasonal organic vegetables and fruits in their original cuisine is second to none.  In the winter, have some of their hot apple cider or hibiscus iced tea.  My husband loves their soups as well, so make sure to order whatever soup they are featuring when you go.

3. Al Di La - Al Di La is Park Slope's most famous restaurant.  There is always a long line and an hour wait for this wonderful small Italian, even if you go at 7 PM on a Monday.  Don't give up because it is worth the wait, and once you get seated, it is quite affordable.  Get the tasting menu as everything is fresh, delicious and artfully prepared.  If you want to avoid the wait, try getting there when they open at 5 PM.  If that's not good for you, check in and wait at their own wine bar around the corner.  The wines there are excellent, and they will tell you when your table is ready.  Once you sip some of those wines, an hour will pass quickly.

4.  The Chocolate Room - The Chocolate Room has two locations, one in Park Slope and one in nearby Cobble Hill.  We went here a couple months ago with visiting friends from Colorado.  They have everyhting from homemade chocolates, to chocolate cakes, to chocolate beer floats.  Once you leave, you may actually need a week or so to take a break from chocolate.  This is a great alternative to going to a bar on a Saturday night, and has a fun, lively nighlife feel to it.

5.  Weather Up - When one of our friends in nearby Prospect Heights told us about this bar, she accidently referred to it as Weather Underground, which brought nothing but hits for Bill Ayers when I searched for it on google.  I'm glad I finally found it though.  Weather Up is a new bar owned by Sasha Pestrake who owns a bunch of similar style prohibition-era speakeasys in Manhattan: Milk & Honey (the address is a secret; I've never found it myself), East Side Company Bar (more for the proletariat) and Little Branch, my favorite of his bars.  His drinks are masterpiece cocktails, artfully created in ways that few could imagine.  I especially love their "Flips," which incorporate an egg white into the cocktail. Don't be afraid to try it, as your whole conception of the cocktail will never be the same.  There are some other good prohibition era speakeasies that I will recommend in my Manhattan editition in a couple weeks.

6.  Clover Club (In Cobble Hill / Carroll Gardens) - Clover Club is another wonderful prohibition-era speakeasy (see No. 5 above), located in nearby Caroll Gardens/Cobble Hill.  Clover Club is actually one of my two favorites of these bars anywhere in New York.  It is a very pleasant environment to have a unique and artufully created cocktail with friends.  In addition, the small plates are amazing, if you also want to enjoy their food.  Hands down the best bar bites in NYC, paired with some of the best cocktails.  This is a fairly new spot - opened in 2008.

7.  M&S Prime Meats (no website) is a wonderful Italian Market and butcher in Park Slope, right near my apartment.  They make their own motzzarella cheese and actually have classes where you and your friends can learn how to make it as well.  All of the meats are fresh, delicious and reasonably priced, just like all of the other goods they carry in the Italian market.  Plus, the staff couldn't be friendlier.

8.  Union Market - Great organic grocery store with very reasonable prices.  Go here for organic veggies in the Slope if you don't belong to the Food Coop (I don't belong because I don't have the time to do four hours a week of grocery store chores).  Eveyrone here is friendly, helpful and knows their food.

9.  Beer Table - Beer Table is Park Slope's best new restuarant/bar of 2009.  It's a tiny place that has a fantastic brunch and serves wonderful and unusual beers on tap (changing ever day).  Some are inexpensive, some are super-expensive, but everything is delicious.  When I went there for brunch, I had a reaosnably priced banana flavored beer with waffles topped with blackberries.  Delicious.  They have great small plates as well.  They have a lot of very high end beers for true beer connoisseurs.

10.  Applewood - Applewood is another great, upscale restaurant here in Park Slope that uses only the best, fresh organic ingrediants, true to the farm-to-table philosophy of cooking.  Brunch here is delicious, as is dinner.  Can we talk about their lobster appetizer, because it might just be the best lobster I've had outside of New England.  Once again, get there early if you are going for Sunday brunch because brunch in Park Slope is always crowded and no one takes reservations.

11.  Ocean Fish Market - Best fresh fish in NYC at affordable prices.  Click here for a full discussion by me in a prior post on the use of their fish in making sushi (and to find out how my husband proposed over homemeade sushi).

12.  Sheep Station - Howdy! In 2004, after I finished taking the New York Bar Exam, a spent four weeks travelling around Australia and New Zealand.  This was one of the best trips I have ever taken in my life.  Sheep Station may look and feel like a dive bar, but it gets Australia just right.  My favorite item on the menu is their lamb sanwich.  They also have delicious poutine (gravy frieds with melted cheese), which is a Quebec thing, to mix it up a little bit.  We went here with my cousin from Montreal once, who loved it as well, though inexplicably, she did not order the poutine.  Also, they carry some good Australian beers.

13.  Miriam - Miriam is an Israeli restaurant with a huge international wine list, including a wide variety of Israeli wines.  I have only been here for dinner, but am told they have a great brunch as well.  My husband and I enjoyed the lovely meal we ate here, form the tapas middle eastern / Israeli appetizers to the wonderful entrees.

Did I miss somewhere in the neighborhood that you absolutely love?  Let me (and other readers) know in the comments!!!



  1. For trustworthy Chinese, I'd recommend Hunan Delight on 6th Avenue and Union Street. No need to be wary of the meat here. And in the warmer months, it's a nice corner to eat and people watch.

  2. Fantastic to get such a broad insiders guide to Park Slope.
    I can't wait to try some of your hot spots.


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