I first tasted Brooklyn Commune’s food at a benefit event. Surrounded by elegant, over-thought dishes, Brooklyn Commune stood apart with shots of tomato soup accompanied by bites of bacon grilled cheese sandwiches. The soup was essential to cut the chill of the cold rainy day and the crisp, buttery sandwich bite melted in my mouth. How had I never heard of this place? Where was it located? Park Slope or Cobble Hill—it had to be one of those. But no, it was a neighborhood foreign to me, Windsor Terrace, down by the southern tip of Prospect Park. I was absolutely determined to find a reason to explore my newly discovered neighborhood, and more importantly, see what else Brooklyn Commune had in store for me. If a sip of soup and bite of sandwich could pack so much flavor, just imagine what was bursting from the walls of a whole restaurant.
My first trip to Rosewater was uneventful. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with it, there just wasn’t anything memorable about it. We did a chef’s tasting menu a few years back for my birthday. It was a great value—Five courses for $60 and add the (I think necessary) wine pairing for just $26 more. Five courses and wine for under $100 a person. You can’t get much better than that. At most restaurants, especially in Manhattan, I find you can barely clear 3 courses, paired with water, for that price. I remember enjoying the food but the next week, even the next day, I couldn’t recall any specifics.
I judge a meal based on experience and how it lingers over time. There are meals I’ll remember for a life time. My first dinner at Blue Hill where my husband told the waiter to “challenge us”. The rich, yet feather light gnocchi at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. The tiny bistro in Quimper, France where language was a barrier but the waiter’s oinks (yes, oinks, not a typo) communicated the pork loin was his favorite dish on the menu. But my dinner at Rosewater lacked staying power. After walking out of the restaurant, it seemed to evaporate from my memory. With so many other restaurants to try in Brooklyn alone, I wasn’t overly anxious to return. Though it happened we were in the area for brunch and figured, why not? I’ve never been so happy to give a restaurant a second chance.
My first visit to Brooklyn Farmacy was a bit stressful. Later, when I consulted with friends, colleagues, the random subway rider, they all already seemed to know what I didn’t. The story would start like this. “I finally went to Brooklyn Farmacy.” Good so far. Then the bomb, “…On a Sunday afternoon.” That’s when the looks would start. Shock, horror, disgust. Apparently I was the only one in Brooklyn, maybe the whole tri-state area, who didn’t know that Brooklyn Farmacy’s throw back soda shop/diner setting unofficially transformed into a playground on the weekend. Once you got past the kids running around, no parents in sight, the occasional crying because the wrong ice cream topping was selected and weeding through the endless sea of strollers, things were great. Just blocking out those experiences added a bit of stress.
A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a late night dinner with some out old college friends up for the weekend. The original plan was dinner at Buttermilk Channel, which I STILL embarrassingly enough have not been to. It was a group of 7, so a reservation a week in advance still left us with a 9:30pm seating. Sadly things changed. My friends who planned to stay in Brooklyn were bumped last-minute and moved to Manhattan, as if it was no big deal. Maybe I’m crazy but if you book a specific hotel in Brooklyn, you probably have a reason to do so. After work drinks moved to midtown, as did our dinner reservation. I had been to Craft and Colicchio & Sons before; both offered stunning meals. I had complete confidence in Tom Colicchio’s work so when I found a 10pm dinner reservation at Craftbar (thank you Open Table app!), I snagged it, knowing there would be something there for everyone.
I’ve made an executive decision here. And I can do that. Why? Well, because it’s my blog. I have decided to dub this seemingly ordinary week of May Brooklyn Locavore Restaurant Week. If you haven’t noticed, I write a fair bit of recipes here. I also love dining out. At restaurants that focus on farm to table and seasonal ingredients, of course. And I take a lot of pictures, like I do with most anything that involves food these days. What I’m not too good at is sharing. It’s not that I don’t want to rave about ever delicious morsel that enters my mouth, it’s more the fact that I don’t want to be like every other foodie that reviews restaurants. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people review restaurants and everything is the best. Best bloody mary I’ve ever had. Best pasta dish. Best, best, best. Well, what is it? Is this the best meal you ever had or is it one of those dozen other meals you claimed to be the best?