07/16/15 11:35am
07/16/2015 11:35 AM |
Photos by Shay Harrington

348 Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope

Even the most hyped Brooklyn restaurants tend to lose their buzz after not too much time has passed; gone, suddenly, are the crowds of people who once waited for hours to get a table, empty are the tables and booths where it was once impossible to get a seat. And when places do manage to stay open for years on end, they usually do so in a quiet way, reliant mostly on neighborhood patronage, rather than the clamoring hordes. Which is lovely, in its way, to see a favorite spot settle into its maturity, to be happy that it’s maintained relevance, if not trendiness—lovely, but not particularly exciting, you know? And certainly not really newsworthy.


But that’s where Franny’s is different. Now open for almost a dozen years, and even after having moved up the street to a space twice the size of its original Flatbush Avenue location, Franny’s is still consistently crowded, full of neighborhood regulars, yes, but also bringing in people from all over the borough, and beyond. There’s no doubt that part of the reason for this is that the food trends of which Franny’s was a front-runner back in 2004—things like locally sourced ingredients, listing the provenance of produce and meat on the back of the menu, offering season-specific dishes—are all things which are still a huge part of the culinary scene today. And yet, while there are lots of restaurants that cook local, seasonal fare, there’s only one Franny’s.
When I stopped by for dinner on a recent Wednesday night, the restaurant was close to packed—it filled completely during the time I was there. The large space could feel cavernous if it weren’t so reliably full of happily chattering diners, both at tables and sidled up to the generously proportioned bar, where a short cocktail list competes with an extensive, well-curated wine menu. Don’t be tempted with the cocktails; stick with the wine, and ask for advice if you need it—you’ll be sure to get expert help.


The real reason the crowds still come to Franny’s is simple though: the food. Some of the menu has stayed remarkably similar to what it was in the restaurant’s earliest days. The famously delicious clam pizza is a stalwart, and is a must-order for all first-timers. All the pizzas are excellent, though; it’s impossible to go wrong. The short list of pastas is ever-changing based on seasonally available ingredients, and, on a recent night, short tubes of rigatoni (actually mezze mastiche, but, you know, basically rigatoni) were dressed with melt-in-your-mouth braised veal shank and fresh spring peas to great effect.

My favorite part of Franny’s menu, though, and where chef John Adler really shines, is the appetizers, a few of which can make a meal. There’s always a couple different selections of crostini—right now one features a garlicky ramp butter, and decadent roasted prosciutto—as well as several beautifully composed salads—try the burrata with peas in a grassy, addictive pool of olive oil—and a house-made sausage—the night I tried it, it was pork, on a bed of buttery, perfectly cooked kale.
In short, even after all these years, Franny’s is still serving up some of the best food in the borough, sans fanfare or fuss. Just don’t forget to save room for dessert; the house-made doughnuts—bomboloni—are a sweet ending to a meal at what is easily Brooklyn dining at its finest—and has been for well over a decade now.


07/01/15 8:36am
07/01/2015 8:36 AM |
photo by Jane Bruce

Rose’s Bar & Grill
295 Flatbush Ave, Park Slope


It’s odd to think that the now-shuttered Marco’s was too upscale for Park Slope. It’s Park Slope! Home to the very same potential patrons, who’ve never thought twice about spending 20 bucks on pizzas at Franny’s (most of the entrées at Marco’s were mere dollars more; the pastas, dollars less), or stocking their pantries with $30-pound wheels of cheese, $15 logs of salami, and $8 packets of crackers at Bklyn Larder, all owned by the same couple, Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg. So perhaps, the real problem was that the year-old, rustic trattoria simply didn’t stand out enough from its siblings (although, in many aspects, it was our favorite of the three) leading to its lack of profitability, which was the ultimate reason given for recently transforming it into Rose’s Bar and Grill. (more…)

06/15/15 1:23pm
06/15/2015 1:23 PM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

MP Taverna Brooklyn
470 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg



Michael Psilakis is an unusual sort of food celebrity. If you’ve seen him on TV, he was probably tracking wild, Polynesian boar or hunting iguanas with slingshots on the BBC’s No Kitchen Required, rather than as some preternaturally perky judge on Guy’s Grocery Games. And while he owns a couple of Upper West Side restaurants, it’s not as though he only serves the elite parts of this city; his low-key MP Taverna franchise also includes outposts in Astoria, as well as in Roslyn and Irvington on Long Island, where he lives—and since he spends a day each week working the line at each of his restaurants, he’d like to be able to get home to his wife and kids sometimes. (more…)

06/02/15 2:25pm
06/02/2015 2:25 PM |


Eugene and Co.
397 Tompkins Avenue, Bed-Stuy


It’s an unfortunate but enduring fact: There are considerably fewer females than males at the executive chef level in the restaurant industry. And even fewer are regularly talked about, making spotlighting a new (or under the radar) talent an occasionally awkward proposition, as if you’re pointing out some form of rare, exotic bird. And yet, Savannah Jordan is a name worth knowing and thus, worth pointing out, as her food is well worth trying, at Bed-Stuy’s delightful 40-seat eatery Eugene and Co.

With a resume that includes a year at Le Bernardin and four more at Mary’s Fish Camp, it would be easy to assume Jordan’s menu would be heavily skewed towards seafood, and yet, she’s gone for an appealing brand of refined global soul. It’s proved a winning concept for the neighborhood, with an inclusive crew of locals frequently lining up for tables—a rarity at even the most successful local establishments. (more…)

05/19/15 10:37am
05/19/2015 10:37 AM |


Grand Army
336 State St, Boerum Hill



No matter that it’s barely been open a week: Grand Army is officially Brooklyn’s hottest new bar. It was a given from the get-go, considering the cocktails are devised by co-owner and star mixologist Damon Boelte, who also designed the well-regarded bar program at Prime Meats; the antique-y interiors come courtesy of American Construction League’s Matthew Maddy, who was recently nominated for a James Beard award; and photographer Daniel Krieger is a partner as well, all but assuring the Boerum Hill watering hole thousands of followers on its Instagram account, and regular mentions on Eater.

But when you consider how many Brooklyn restaurant bigwigs also have skin in the game, including Mile End’s Noah Bernamoff and Rucola’s Julian Brizzi, you’ll also know that there’s more to the food program than pub burgers and oysters—and we’re not talking the $1 Blue Points during happy hour kind. The second an establishment starts fleshing out its menu with uni, boquerones, and other fiddly, preciously priced plates of seafood, it becomes abundantly clear that it has much loftier aspirations than merely wooing the after-work beer crowd (although, it should be noted, there’s quite an interesting, sizeable selection of saisons and sours). Consider too that the executive chef is Jon Bignelli, who was last seen shaving pastrami onto mustard-sauced strands of rye pasta, and crafting oyster crackers from real oysters at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder. Which, actually, makes a post at Grand Army a bit of an odd choice for the master culinary manipulator—now primarily tasked with sourcing perfect shellfish. (more…)

05/05/15 1:04pm
05/05/2015 1:04 PM |


Bar Bolinas
455 Myrtle Avenue, Clinton Hill


In my house, our painstakingly balanced marriage threatens to topple over the most inane, frequently food-associated things; divorce is threatened over someone letting the brown sugar go hard, or who was the last to wash dishes. (Though, let’s not fool ourselves, I’m always the last to wash dishes.) But no matter how many similarly silly little battles have been presumably fought and won in the Nate Smith-Sophie Kamin household, the fact is that their partnership—forged in both life and work—spans over 14 years, spawning not just two children, but two impressive restaurants besides.


04/21/15 11:48am
04/21/2015 11:48 AM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

Ganso Yaki
515 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill


Three-year-old Ganso has always been just a couple of steps behind four-year-old Chuko, which opened its first tiny slurp shop in Prospect Heights with the mission of raising Brooklyn’s ramen game. And the duo continues to maintain similar, staggered trajectories, with Bar Chuko jump-starting the borough’s Japanese small plates craze last summer, and Ganso Yaki debuting its own drinking snacks spot just last month. (more…)

04/07/15 9:30am
04/07/2015 9:30 AM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

238 Malcolm X Boulevard., Bedford-Stuyvesant


The techniques and traditions that inform French gastronomy are so equally entrenched in American food culture that we barely even register their presence anymore, whether we’re digging into a bowl of macaroni and cheese doused with béchamel or spearing bites of carrot cut into meticulous brunoise.

But as globalization goes both ways, there are also very few restaurants left in the city serving entirely unfettered French fare. You can currently find Spanish mackerel rubbed with charmoula on the menu at Café Boulud, and lobster and tarragon ravioli (a spin on classic thermidor) at La Grenouille. This makes Bed-Stuy newcomer L’Antagoniste—and its utterly faithful renditions of out-of-favor warhorses such as Blanquette de Veau, Tournedos Rossini and Duck á l’Orange—seem positively audacious. (Even more so because of its bathroom wallpaper, patterned with frolicking threesomes captured in various states of congrès sexuelle.) (more…)

03/24/15 9:51am
03/24/2015 9:51 AM |
Photo by Jane Bruce

Streets BK
53 Broadway, Williamsburg


We’ve always been wary of restaurants purporting to be all things to all people, and thus, have long avoided Chinese eateries selling french fries and Greek spots serving spaghetti. But in more recent years, the steady blurring of culinary borders and ensuing decriminalization of the term “fusion” has caused us to drop our guard just a tad, so that we no longer recoil at the thought of matzoh ball ramen, or tacos stuffed with Korean bulgogi. (more…)

03/11/15 6:46am
03/11/2015 6:46 AM |

East Wind Snack Shop
471 16th Street, Windsor Terrace

4 Ls

Chris Cheung has been a fixture in New York’s restaurant scene for many years now, serving on the opening staff of both Nobu and Jean-Georges, heading up the kitchens at Ruby Foo’s and the Monkey Bar, and racking up a number of stars and glowing accolades along the way. So it’s easy enough to forgive a more recent string of misfires, including stints at the Brooklyn and Staten Island branches of Fushimi, and the launches of the short-lived Walle, a “Chinoiserie chic” lounge in Midtown, as well as Cherrywood Kitchen in sparsely trafficked Hudson Square, which ended up closing after only six months. (more…)