After a long ass day of rain yesterday, we’re getting a wee bit of much-needed sunshine today. I’ll take it! And it’s going to get up into the 50’s as well. Good stuff. Unfortunately, weather.com has us in the 30’s and 40’s for at least the next ten days. Ick! Shitty weather calls for fantastic food and there is almost nothing better right now than the Patty Melt at Parish Hall in Williamsburg. Everything at Parish Hall is really good to excellent, but the Patty Melt is positively transporting. For starters, the meat in this gooey slab of hell yes! is a combination of grass-fed beef and lamb bacon, oh, glorious lamb bacon.To go with this duo of ground carne are perfectly caramelized onions and delicious melted Landaff cheese which is produced in the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. All of this gets hugged and skillet-grilled between two traditional slices of Rye bread. On the side is Parish Hall’s version of Thousand Island dressing for dipping and your choice salad or fries. I’ve had many a patty melt in my day, but this one kicks the living crap out of all of them. The addition of the lamb bacon to the ground beef gives this incarnation of the classic an amazingly tender and satisfying bite while the silky and mild Landaff cheese allows its smoky hue to come perfectly through on the finish. It’s just so damn mouth-wateringly A++, especially if enjoyed with a glass of Pinot Noir. The best part is that you don’t have to wait for weekend brunch to devour one of these delectable delights. Parish Hall is open at 11am weekdays, 10am on weekends and, and, annnnnnd…they take reservations. The Patty Melt is on Parish Hall’s lunch, brunch and dinner menus. It’s just that good. Go get one. Now, please.
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.”
Not too many pumpkin patches left in Manhattan these days, but for one afternoon recently McCarren Park in Williamsburg was transformed into a veritable Sleepy Hollow for all the kids. Eve had a wonderful time wandering through, seeking out that one perfect pumpkin.It was a nice event, and proceeds benefitted a local Boy Scouts chapter. I would never have known about it, but Courtney got the heads-up while reading another local blog called Mommy Poppins, where they curate all kinds of fantastic events that are going on for kids every single day (they also have calendars for LA, NJ, LI, CT & Boston.) Check it out.
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.
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!
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.
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?