When we were growing up in Park Slope (oh so long ago), Fifth Avenue was a somewhat frightening no-mans land — populated by a decrepit supermarket with rancid meat case odor on one end and a discount school supply store and rundown Mandee’s on the other. Seventh Avenue was where it was at when it came to fine dining — at
meaning Smilings Pizzeria, the Grand Canyon Diner, and chicken quesadillas from the Santa Fe Grill off of Lincoln Place.
Oh how times have changed. And while the stroller-derby Slope may never have the gritty cache of, say, Van Brunt Street in Red Hook or Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Fifth Avenue is nevertheless chock-a-block with destination dining options. That’s why it’s next on our list of drink-to-dessert neighborhood mini crawls, where we tackle one gastronomically blessed BK block at a time by spreading the love — and your dollars — among some of the tastiest restaurants within them.
Pre-Dinner Drinks and Bar Bites: Terroir
The new Park Slope branch of chef Marco Canora’s popular Manhattan wine bar boasts a slamming happy hour. From 5-7pm you can get a free glass of sherry (including the 15 year Oloroso), a $5 Narragansett lager, or a $6 glass of wine. And we’re not talking the cheap table stuff…try a Château Cantelaudette 2011 from Bordeaux or Domaine de Nizas, 2009, from Languedoc. Beyond-chicken wings bar nibbles are also very gently priced — a chef’s choice of bites (like white anchovies and pickled onions), fried stuff (red wine risotto balls), and bruschetta (bone marrow, whipped lardo, or pork ragu) are all $4 or less.
284 5th Ave, (718) 832-9463
Sure we could tell you to go grab dinner at al di la, but why spend hours in a holding pattern waiting for a table when you have the whole night ahead of you? Especially since Benchmark is just a couple of blocks away, serving delectable pasture-raised steaks and chops. Think 24 oz. bone-in ribeyes, 17 oz. NY strips, or 11 oz. filet mignon’s — accompanied by yummy sides like charred brussels sprouts with pancetta and hazelnuts, wild mushroom spaetzle with mustard and arugula, creamed spinach, smoked pork mac and cheese, and goat cheese/potato puree.
339-A 2nd St, (718) 965-7040
Dessert: SkyIce Sweet and Savory
Admittedly, this eclectic Thai spot on St. Marks is a bit of a trek from Benchmark just off of Second Street, but the treats on offer are a welcome departure from hum-drum molten chocolate cake and tired crème brulee. There’s banana coconut sticky rice and a Thai fondue of sorts — crispy taro, dried mango and guava, and candied ginger dipped in chocolate and caramel — but even in the dead of winter, the must-order is sorbet and ice cream. There are over 15 wonky (and surprisingly delicious) flavors to choose from, like black sesame/seaweed, cucumber/lime, raspberry/cilantro, and that notorious fruity funk-bomb, durian.
63 5th Ave, (718) 230-0910
Post-Dinner Drinks: Aperitivo
The name may be Aperitivo, but this is an equally excellent spot for digestivo (which you’ll need to settle your stomach after waddling all the way back from St. Marks). You’ll find plenty of ideal after-dinner drinks like Fernet Branca, Limoncello, Sambuca, Amaretto and Chartreuse, plus an extensive selection of brandies, cognacs, grappas, ports and sherries.
279 5th Ave, (718) 369-1123