Walking to the Brooklyn Buschenshank, I found myself trying figure out what on earth Buschenschank means. Having lived in Germany for several years, I figured that at the very least, I should be able to take a stab at the meaning of the name of the place, but the meaning eluded me, and I started to get that annoyed feeling when you can’t remember a word, but it is dancing in back of your head, and will not let you think of anything else.
However, as soon as I sat down at the long wooden table at the side of the main room, I forgot I was ever annoyed, and decided this was just my kind of place, whatever it was called. Visually, the Buschenschank is quite beautiful: long communal tables fill the main room, and candles line the walls and tables, providing most of the the light in the restaurant. The space itself looks newly renovated, but the furniture and decor is more rustic giving the place a comfortable, cozy feel.
It may not have looked like it, but the minimalist black door set in a brick wall below a single red stripe on 61 Bergen Street was an immense threshold for me. 61 Local was the bar I turned 21 in.
On Saturday night, 61 Local hosted the one-year anniversary of a small brewery called Barrier Brewing Company.
This event was one of many the bar hosts every month in support of local businesses.
Inside, I found the bar to be strikingly spacious. The ceilings were so high that I almost felt like I was outside, a feeling emphasized by the exposed brick walls, wood paneling and picnic-table-like seating.
Glass jars filled with pink sugar cookies, sesame bagels stacked neatly in metallic crates, and cold cuts on display behind the glass of a typical, deli-styled counter are all visible from the door. With tight seating, customers are more likely to enjoy their cream-cheese-filled everything bagels and hot, green teas outside. The shop’s fast-paced environment has a quintessential New York feel to it; regulars mill in throughout the day, and on the weekends it isn’t unusual to see the line extend outside. Thick and creamy jelly and Boston Cream doughnuts are a favorite.
181 Court St (near Congress St) 718-624-3972. Mon-Fri 6am-10pm, Sat-Sun 6am-8pm. FG to Bergen St. Average meal $5. Cash only.
This bright shop specializes in all things baked, from quiche to cake. The glass case features classic American goodies: scones, cakes, cupcakes, tarts, pies, cookies, brownies, bars, and homemade marshmallows in three flavors. Chocolate chip and oatmeal-cranberry cookies are gorgeous and tawny brown, with great crisp-to-chewy ratio. Cupcakes far outshine those found in popular Manhattan bakeries; moist cakes topped with a dollop of feather-light buttercream come in a variety of flavors including Malted, Sweet and Salty, and Red Hook Red Hot. Consider outsourcing your next birthday cake to this lesser-known diamond in the rough.
359 Van Brunt St (at Dikeman St) 718-222-0345. Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat-Sun 9am-7pm. FG to Smith.
This Carroll Gardens standby has been around for over a century, and with good reason. The tavern portion serves hearty Italian pastas and pizzas, but the outdoor bar area is home to the better scene. Bounded by a picket fence, the wooden benches and umbrellas are familiar and the atmosphere is comparable to a neighbor’s backyard party. The menu is comprised of standard bar fare like calamari, burgers, and fish ‘n chips, but not worth making a meal out of. Eat elsewhere and end the night at PJ’s with a beer, chips, and salsa outside. It’s hard to go wrong on a Saturday evening with live music, cheese fries, and a draft Shock Top.
449 Court St (at 4th Pl). 718-834-8223. Daily 11am-4am. FG ro Carroll. Average entrée $14.
This modest neighborhood mainstay proves you don’t need the fuss and pretension of pretentious Manhattan bistros. Quercy turns out hearty and immensely satisfying dishes with laid back, easygoing charm and a welcoming, homey vibe. Skip the nothing-special soups and salads; go right for the robust meat options, prepared with fresh ingredients and juicy gusto—you won’t be disappointed. Venison medallions are perfectly textured, served with generous portions of roasted rosemary potatoes and a sublime quince sauce, which is as thick and boldly flavored as only the best French chefs can pull off. A small selection of reasonably priced French wines, candlelight, and a nicely assembled jazz playlist are all nice touches—proof that a place can have class without attitude.
242 Court St (at Baltic St) 718-243-2151. Mon-Thu 5pm-10 30pm, Fri-Sun 11am-10 30pm. FG to Bergen. Average entrée $18.
Raw vegan food can actually taste delicious, and Jill’s Cafe will prove it. With a helpful staff, local ingredients, and even a few cooked entrees on the menu, everyone can find something tasty. When it’s nice out, guests can sit at a private table in the shady garden in the back. Otherwise, you’ll be seated at a communal dining table, not a bad option if you enjoy the company of health food zealots. Raw pizza with sun-dried tomato-basil pesto and olives stands out as the most flavorful and inviting dish on the menu. It’s easily filling enough for an entrée, and also approved by many a carnivore. Try some fresh pear, lemon, or ginger juice to complement the strong flavors of the raw vegetables. The menu changes depending on what’s in season, but the commitment to healthy and satisfying dishes remains.
231 Court St (at Baltic St). 718-797-0330. Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-8pm. FG to Bergen. Average entrée $13.
Lush dogwood trees, bright yellow and cream-colored daffodils, and a wrought-iron fence provide an atmosphere of privacy and seclusion to the Brooklyn park-goer. All stony-cement paths lead to a clover-shaped monument in the middle of the park that doubles as a flowerbed with bright red tulips. Vacant grassy areas are hard to come by here, as Cobble Hill Park’s visitors will never pass up the opportunity to sprawl out on its emerald lawns.
Bergen St (at Clinton St). 212-639-9675. Closes at sunset. FG to Carroll.
Hidden on an elegant, leafy, brownstone-lined block in Carroll Gardens, this landmark is notable for its architecture, a hybrid of European cathedral styles conceived during the American Industrial Revolution. Though its locked wrought-iron doors keep curious passerbys away for most of the week, its interior is breathtaking. The altar is adorned with dark oak, marble, and gold, and pews are substituted with individual wooden chairs strictly aligned in perfect rows facing the front of the cathedral. The dim lighting – St. Paul’s few stained glass windows let little sun filter through – makes for an intimate setting.
199 Carroll St (at Clinton St). 718-625-4126. Prayer Sunday 10am, Tues-Thurs 7 30am, Friday 9am. FG to Carroll.
Red Hook’s residents fully appreciate this green space which is used as a recreational haven for youth. Basketball courts, a playground, sprinklers, and a swimming pool are usually crowded and noisy with the playful shouts of neighborhood children. Large oak trees and grassy meadows provide relief on scorching summer days.
155 Bay St (at Clinton St). 718-722-3211. FG to Smith-9th St.
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