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?
I loved to cook before Top Chef came around. I was never a fan of cooking shows. The food network annoys me. Sure they’re some good recipes out there, but how can you really learn to make a 4 hour braise (with sides!) in a 27 minute episode. The shows would just frustrate me. But when Top Chef came along, I was immediately hooked. Top Chef doesn’t teach you how to make a recipe, it inspires you to think out of the box, to consider what you would make if faced with some saltine crackers and a piece of fish. Or what dishes would best describe you? Watching the show definitely encouraged me to play with flavors and invent new dishes.
The thing I love best about Park Slope is the fact that you can pretty much walk into any restaurant and it will be fantastic. You can eat out every night for weeks and find a new place and try new cuisines. If you live in Brooklyn, you know 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue are the main commercial stretches littered with grocers, boutiques, banks and of course restaurants. What people don’t often know about is what lays between and beyond those main stretches. Benchmark Restaurant is just around the corner from 5th Avenue on 2nd Street. If you walked up to the intersection you’d first notice Loki, a comfortable trendy neighborhood bar. Now look down, down to the floor, and you might see a tiny chalkboard directing you to Benchmark around the corner. And that’s where your food journey begins.