It’s a tale as old as time: Valentine’s Day, and once again you’ve forgotten to make the requisite dinner reservation. Now you’re locked out of every eatery in town tonight, and it’s so bad the hostess answering the phone at the restaurant audibly snickers at your lack of planning. Bah! Stupid made-up holiday! But hold your surl – are you ready for the save? You’re cooking dinner, buddy, and The Meat Hook in Williamsburg is going to set you up for success. I know this because they sent me an email blast for Valentine’s Day with the header, “GET LAID.” That’s a call to action if ever there was one, and so it was with great haste that I went there, and you should, too.If you’re unfamiliar with the Meat Hook, just know that these are people who are very, very serious about meat. It is butcher-as-rock-star, and deservedly so because they have incredible knowledge and passion for the product. Total and unabashed meat geeks, they’ll do everything for you right then to order. And not only is there an astonishing selection of locally sourced and sustainable meats (from semi-boneless quail to a whole pig and everything in between) but they have a superbly curated shop filled with local groceries and delicious dry goods. In one fell swoop, you can pick up three dozen Matanuk Oysters from Gabe the Fish Babe, a couple of thick juicy “Te Quiero Steaks”(they’re cut in the shape of a heart, natch), and a 2lb. bar of Mast Brothers dark chocolate with Sea Salt for dessert. And while you’re there, how about some free-range eggs, a rasher of thick-cut lamb bacon and a fresh hunk of Roberta’s bread for tomorrow morning? She can’t accuse of you of not thinking ahead THIS year, Romeo. So go ahead and prepare a proper feast for your sweetheart tonight. In the world of On The Real, it’s hard to imagine a better way to say “I love you.”
#1. Four barrels of Breuckelen 77 Whiskey.
Item #2. Brief Jerky.
The folks at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg must have read somewhere that New York City was once the oyster capital of the world, because the second you step inside you’re teleported 150 years back in time when that was truly one of New York’s claims to fame.They’re actually paying a huge tribute to the oyster and absinthe houses of New York, New Orléans and Paris that were so prevalent during the latter half of the 19th century, and they’re doing a mighty fine job of it. We went for their oyster happy hour which runs from 4 to 7 Monday through Friday. The place was packed by 4:30. They have 17 or 18 varieties of incredibly fresh bivalves to choose from and each one, East Coast or West, is a buck. One dollar even. $1.00. That’s it.When you take a seat, the bartender hands you a slip of paper with their daily offerings and you write how many you want next to each and hand the paper back. These shuckers haul ass, because we had our first dozen and a half before the not-so-slow bartender was finished making our absinth-infused kook-inducing super-strong cocktails…which were amazing.The thing about dollar oysters is that you can actually afford to fill yourself up on them and that is one fantastic treat. If you’re not in to sitting at a bar for your meal, check out their super lush indoor garden in the back. It’s pretty cool.
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?