The Local. Jimmy’s Diner.

They tout themselves as having the best friend chicken in Brooklyn and I’m inclined to agree, but goddamn if Jimmy’s Diner in Williamsburg doesn’t have some of the best comfort food anywhere.

The burger I ordered came out thick and juicy on a soft bun with good old American cheese.  Those are buttermilk onion rings in the background that are delivered with Jimmy’s delicious homemade ranch.  I love onion rings and eat a lot of them and these perfectly crispy monsters are absolutely NOT to be missed.  Also try their ridiculously sinful homemade tater tots, any one of their hang-over helping breakfast bowls or anything fried or pork.

And to wash it all down, they make nice tall cocktails properly poured. If you’re not in a drinking mood or you’re 10, try one of their milkshakes.  This one was the black and white and the whole family spent the better part of two and a half minutes devouring it.  Jimmy’s is open everyday from 9:30 in the morning until 10 a night and they only take cash.  Give it a shot.  Jimmy’s rocks!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. The Smile.

The new (and old) restaurants on Bond and Great Jones Streets have been sucking me in to sample their tasty offerings lately.  This morning, it was The Smile at 26 Bond Street.

Stepping down off the sidewalk into the basement of this old Noho loft building, you are taken by the herb-adorned entrance and old word charm of this rustic restaurant/coffee shop/general store. I grabbed one of the window seats in the front and decided to keep it simple…scrambled eggs with Gruyère, sourdough toast and a salad.  Great way to start the day.

For lunch, The Smile has a great choice of fantastically prepared salads and sandwiches and the dinner menu, while short, focuses on amazing fresh selections such as whole roasted brook trout and seared flank steak over sautéed sweet corn. The Smile perfect for a low-key lunch meeting or glass of wine and an appetizer after work. Cool place.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Roberta’s. Shrimp Roll.

Roberta’s is the coolest restaurant in New York City.  So cool, it needs it own ON THE REAL category to prove this bold, but accurate proclamation. On Moore Street just off the corner of Bogart in East Williamsburg sits her incredibly unassuming entrance to a former garage.  The interior is adorned with a mishmash of found wood panelling, benches, tables and wall hanging chattel rounded out with a healthy dose of non-pretentious tattooed personality. The pizza they create in that big old oven in the front kitchen and the plates they churn out of the back is simply perfect.

I had the shrimp roll on a recent visit. Simple is the word of the day here, but simple can be perfect and my meal was. The shrimp was exquisitely cooked and lightly tossed in mayo with a little bit of chopped tarragon. The bite coupled with the perfectly cooked-that-morning-out-back-in-a-wood-fired-oven and buttered roll kinda made me want to cry. The addition of the freshly picked, roasted and salted fingerling potatoes on the side make the meal flawless. I washed it all down with a Dean’s Dream which is an up concoction of blanca tequila, lime, mole bitters and cracked black pepper.  Amazing.

Lulu was desperately trying to get a peek at the Tiki Disco happening behind the plywood walls in Robert’s garden; a former junk yard. And that is part of what sets Roberta’s so far apart from the rest.  The owners have willingly jumped into so many fires over the last couple of years. They run the Heritage Radio Network. They grow as much of the food they serve on premises and get whatever else they can from Brooklyn Grange..the massive rooftop farm in Long Island City. They throw everything from raging feasts with bonfires, to a garden dinner series, to neighborhood block parties, to beach parties at their place Ripper’s at Rockaway Beach. And, if you want to go seriously upscale, they have the $180 a head tasting menu at Blanca right next door.  ON THE REAL is going to go in-depth on all things Robert’s over the coming months.  Hope the shrimp roll and a shot of a longing three-year-old is enough to start.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. Rocky Sullivan’s.

I really love my apartment, but unlike my pal Greg, I do not have any private outdoor space associated with it.  This isn’t a huge deal November through February, but during the other months it’s something that my wife and I find pretty lamentable. But lucky enough for the terrace-deprived, there are lots of options around town for outdoor fun.  There’s a little known bar on a deserted street in Red Hook named Rocky Sullivan’s that is one of our favorites.
Hidden away on the top of a very dark and cozy Irish pub is one of the best roof decks around!  You’re right near the riverfront so it has a very welcome breeze and if you go on the early side, you basically have the place to yourself.  Grab one of the long wooden tables and kick back with drinks and friends.  And here’s a tip: go on Friday at 6pm.  They have a partnership with Red Hook Lobster Pound and host an old fashioned Lobster Bake with steamed lobsters, fresh summer corn, coleslaw, potato salad, the works!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Date Night. Torrisi.

There are so many ways to experience a chef’s talents in this town of extreme culinary diversity. One of my favorites is to book a reservation, sit down, and let the chosen chef bombard your with their talents. Omakase in Japan. Prixe-fixe in France. ”Oh my God!” at Torrisi on Mulberry Street.

Lesa and I booked reservations for the Chef’s Tasting Menu a couple of weeks in advance and our mouths watered heavily as our date neared. I’m going to spare you the blow-by-blow for each course, because you can read about it from actual food writers here, here, and here, but I will tell you that the 22 course culinary journey through the history of New York that unfolded for about three hours after being seated was absolutely phenomenal and, dare I say, fun. Here is a list of each course as presented at the end of the meal.

Every course had a purpose beyond looking good and tasting pretty. The atmosphere is cozy, unpretentious and thoroughly un-modern with a healthy dose of old funk and hip-hop keeping the mood decidedly upbeat. And the service was perfect. Food and wine were never over-described, each course appeared at a perfect clip and everyone working to give each diner the best experience possible seemed to be actually enjoying themselves.  The feast felt real…nothing forced or over thought. It was an amazing experience that should be had by as many as possible. We’ll be headed back for round two as soon as the credit card recovers!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. Mile End Sandwich.

The folks at Mile End have been wowing taste buds in Boerum Hill since late 2009 with their incredible (and incredibly priced) Montreal-style smoked meat sandwiches. In May, they hopped over the river and opened a spinoffon Bond Street in Noho.

A serious danger to my health as it is on my route to the office every morning, Mile End Sandwichis open for breakfast. It has sucked me in twice in the last week with their preposterously good Breakfast Burger.

That’s a veal sausage patty with a sunny-side-up fried egg, cheddar cheese, apple butter and maple syrup on an English muffin…a wonderfully gooey and heart-stopping combination. In the interest of at least appearing that I try to stay healthy, I had their surprisingly crisp and tasty celery soda to wash it down. Madness for the mouth!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. Calliope.

Recently opened in the former Belcourt space at the corner of East 4th Street and Second Avenue, Calliope is a welcome addition to the neighborhood for dinner every evening and brunchon weekends.  For us, managing bunches of appointments during the day and wrangling rug-rats at night tends to put a damper on eating out most evenings, so we brought a 2.8 year old guinea pig with us on Saturday for brunch.

We started out with a glass of Rose and a dozen cold and briney oysters. Six East Coast. Six West. All delicious.  Lesa had some of the best looking Eggs Benedict I have ever seen and I had the Rabbit and Pork Terrine (above). Yum! Lu shared ours along with a plate of buttered toast and apricot jam that looked as if it jumped onto our table from the pages of a what-to-eat-while-in-France travel guide. The husband and wife team of Eric Korsh (formerly of Waverly Inn) and Ginevra Iverson (formerly of Prune) did a fantastic job of making our mouths water (even at the end of our meal) imagining our next date night there for dinner. They also made sure they put a super friendly staff in place for an overall winning experience. It’ll be a go-to neighborhood spot for us for sure.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Live Music. Fada.

French bistro Fada has been a mainstay in Willamsburg for over a decade. It is completely relaxed and charming. Oysters, moules frites, sizzling steak au poivre – it adheres to tried and true French faves, and it does them really, really well. Looking for a moodily lit place with a great wine list to take a date? Fada! Done. But this isn’t a Date Night post. As good as Fada is, the reason we go out of our way to dine there is the music.
Back story: in 2003, I went with my dad to see music legend Les Paul play at a small club called the Iridium. Les did a sort of country/jazz/rockabilly review, with lots of vintage stories told in between. Toward the end of the show, he announces they have a random musical guest that’s supposed to be really good, “but I haven’t heard him so he might be a real bust so don’t blame me. His name is Stephane Wrembel“. He brings this bearded ponytailed guy on the stage who plays an acoustic guitar. I have no expectations. The band plays… and Stephane Wrembel just absolutely takes off. Total virtuoso. I’d never seen anyone play so fast and with that kind of swing. The whole club, including Les, was blown away. Turns out the style he was playing was Gypsy jazz, which was new to me at the time. I wrote his name down on a cocktail napkin and I’ve been following him ever since. You might even have heard him already- that’s him playing some of the more memorable music in Woody Allen’s “Vicki Cristina Barcelona.”

Stephane has a standing gig at Fada on Saturday nights. You eat well, you drink well, and you hear amazing world-class live jazz two tables away from you… for no cover charge. How can you not love this town?

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. James.

It has been said that Brooklyn has the best food out there right now and Jamesin Prospect Heights resoundingly affirms that proclamation.

To celebrate the 4th of July, the kind folks at this homey joint at the corner of Carlton and St. Marks Avenues put together a exceptional menu of tasty treats. Among the notable were a Kobe beef chili dog with mixed bean salad, a delicious lobster roll with roasted corn salad and this my-jaw-hit-the-table-when-the-server-delivered-it ceviche with paprika dusted popcorn. Insanity.
Also, notable was something they have on their menu every Monday night (Burger Night)…The Lamb Burger. Cumin dusted lamb with warm goat cheese, melted Cippolini onions, sesame semolina and smoked paprika fries.

The way the melted and charred onions intermingled with the creamy goat cheese and perfectly cooked lamb was simply divine.  The cocktails at James were serious winners as well and unlike most places in the neighborhood, James is open for lunch every day except Monday and brunch on weekends.  This place just climbed to the top of our long list of favorite places for a meal.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.