4 & 20 Blackbirds
439 Third Avenue, Gowanus
If you're in need of a dessert that's dainty enough to set before the king—as the nursery rhyme that inspired this pie shop's name goes—look no further than the white-washed building on the corner of Third Avenue and 8th Street in Gowanus. Distressed tin lines the walls, Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" plays on the stereo, and laughter rings from the open kitchen in the back. White curtains are knotted like a prairie girl's ponytail, an antique high chair presides in the corner, and a basket full of lit mag Tin House sits on the windowsill. Pussy willows fill a tall vase beside bowls of sugar packets, and blackbirds work their way into the decor (in a framed piece of art, as statues on the counter). Locals settle into six oversized two-tops. Beneath a communal table big enough for ten, a brick-colored oriental rug is painted on the worn wooden floor.
Opened this spring by a pair of South Dakotan sisters, this breakfast and lunch spot closes at 7pm nightly. But you'll have to get there before noon if you want to sample their Eggs in a Nest, a neighborhood favorite consisting of egg, cheese and fresh herbs baked into biscuits ($4.50) that sells out early each day. If you miss breakfast, opt for the deeply savory vegetable galette ($6.75), a melange of tomatoes, eggplant, and onions roasted to caramelized sweetness in a perfectly crisp and flaky crust. Sip a cup of Irving Farm coffee or your choice of espresso drinks. They've also got a house soda (sparkling water with lemon syrup, $2), a cider spritzer ($2), and infinitely refreshing iced mint tea ($2.50). Minted water, set in a large glass jug with a spigot, is free for the taking.
Just be sure to save room for pie. The five or so daily offerings may include seasonal selections like Nectarine Crumble and year-rounders such as Lemon Chess. In the Salted Caramel Apple pie, thinly sliced fruit maintains its freshness and bite through its light, sweet glaze. In the Blueberry Rhubarb, sweetness and tartness are perfectly balanced. The buttery, sugar-topped, latticed crusts are equal parts lovely and scrumptious. At $4.50 a slice, this pie ain't cheap, but you're paying for high-quality local and organic ingredients. Eight-slice whole pies, which must be ordered two days in advance, are priced from $30 to $35. As long as the weather stays steamy, takeout is a good idea—ceiling fans and a solitary air-conditioner don't offer much respite from the heat—but the seasons are changing and this warm spot was made for chillier months.
4 & 20 Blackbirds
Who needs dinner when you have so much pie, all day?