What it is: Sycamore has been called the “coziest bar in Brooklyn,” and while we aren’t ready to throw Brokelyn’s editorial might behind that assertion, we’ll put it squarely in the running, with its bricky, whiskeyed, wool-sweatery feel, friendly bartenders and one’s tendency to get sucked in and never leave.
Why we love it: Sycamore is like a Catskills bar because it’s mostly locals during the week but Saturday nights it gets packed—and we mean that—with weekenders from parts unknown, ie, not Ditmas Park. In warm weather, the backyard is made for letting lost afternoons spill over into the wee hours. Plus, there’s a sweet flower shop named Stems in the front of the house—what other bar has that? Bring whiskey and craft beer lovers and everyone else. Hard to find anyone who doesn’t like this place. Lately, the bar has been beefing up the events: a monthly Star Sign Party on the ides of every month features tarot reading, drink specials and flower crowns from Stems. Sycamore also hosts a monthly Beer Club that spotlights a different brewery every month. A monthly Queer Party (Ditmas Park’s only!) called Q-Train features live performances on the lit-up bar (!)
What to order: Ask the bartender to choose a whiskey chaser for your beer. You won’t be disappointed.
Regular tip: Ditmas Parkers still talk about that time The National popped by and played an unannounced set because they live in the neighborhood and what else does The National do on Tuesday afternoons?
I had a dream last night that I was interviewing John Loscalzo for his obit and I had to tell him that he died. I couldn’t get the words out then and I still can’t.
John, AKA Homer Fink, the much-loved founder of the Brooklyn Heights Blog, the Brooklyn Bugle and Cobble Hill Blog died Wednesday at 52, leaving behind his wife Tracy, his daughter Gracie and a grieving neighborhood.
I’m not going to succumb to the folly of memorializers and overstate our friendship — our encounters consisted of occasional emails and warm greetings at some event or another. But you didn’t need to be close friends to get a charge from his goofy, impish vibe and his disarming lack of self-seriousness, even though he was a big deal in the music business. He was the director of music for CBS Local when he died, after tours at Billboard, MTV, Sony and as an on-air host at numerous radio stations including K-Rock and WNYU. (more…)
What it is: This vegetable-focused bistro and beer bar is a bright spot amid the blight, an oasis in the Fourth Avenue desert or any other cliché you can think of that translates to “really surprising and special food and beer in an unexpected location.”
Why we love it: We love burgers as much as the next guy but just because we’re drankin’ doesn’t mean the food needs to be a meat-and-grease feast. Pickle Shack keeps it classy and light with smoked tofu, kale salad, artichoke dips and other stuff that feels like an indulgence but not an arterial train wreck. There are dozens of beers to choose from and the taps run heavy on the Dogfish.
What to order: Try the transformative fried hop pickles ($6), smoked tofu bahn mi ($12, topped with ahouse-fermented kimchee of local greens, avocado, aioli, quick pickled carrots), the veggie burger ($14) and the hot smoked Carolina BBQ pulled oyster mushrooms ($14), as deliciously whack as they sound.
Regular tip: If you like the pickles, get ‘em to go at the Brooklyn Brine store, around the corner at 574 President (between 3rd and 4th aves).
Nothing makes the olds around here happier than seeing members of the Brokelyn Alumni Club go on to bigger and other things. Longtime readers may remember Alison Pels’ seminal work on freeloading at museums and her bravery and fortitude in hydrant-testing drugstore makeup with the other Broketown Ladies. She is also the journalistic powerhouse behind the definitive investigation into whether Dr. Bronner’s really has 18 uses. (Spoiler alert: maybe.) Now she’s plying her smarts on pastry dough with Pels Pie Co. (446 Rogers Avenue), her pie shop, bar and coffee house opening today in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens with all kinds of merriment, then open daily from 7 to 10. Stop by, but don’t do any of these things! Mean time, here’s more on how Alison rose from the ranks of the doughless and achieved what 1 in 3 Brooklynites only say they’re going to do: (more…)
Ever have a real good time at a cool show at Brooklyn Bowl, and wanted to thank the person who made it all happen? If it’s been in the last few years, you can probably thank Lucas Sacks, who’s been part of the talent booking team at the venue for the last three years and has been the main booker the past six months. Beyond thanking him, you might also want to ask Lucas how it is he managed to make a career out of booking acts like Robert Plant, Lauryn Hill, Deer Tick and The Roots. We wanted to know too, and Lucas was happy to clue us in. (more…)
What it is: A new brewery, bar and event space with an eclectic entertainment lineup of music, poetry, food and beer talks and a Grateful Dead DJ night.
Why we love it: This joint is a looker — it has all of the good parts of what passes for Brooklyn design these days without succumbing to the clichés. If there’s an industrial vibe about the place, it’s because there’s an actual functioning brewery behind the scenes. Threes Brewing serves 10 house-made beers on tap, along with a bunch of favorites from “friends and heroes.” Four wine taps feature hard-to-find varietals.
What to order: You can’t go wrong with any of the house beers, but their newest Imperial Pale Ale, called Superf*ckingyawn, is probably the most fun to order. Threes features a rotating crew of food partners including Rucola, the Meat Hook and Dover / Battersby.
Regular tip: Ninth Street Espresso’s first Brooklyn location at Threes Brewing serves craft coffee every morning.
What it is: The wood, iron and Edison-bulb craft bar and gastropub that the neighborhood wanted. With its extensive beer and spirit lists paired with unabashedly hearty app-and-burger menu, Midwood Flats draws nightly crowds.
Why we love it:While there are a handful of great new bars in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, the neighborly but just-upscale-enough vibe here will draw you back again and again. Open less than a year, Midwood Flats feels like it’s been here forever.
What to order: Artichoke hearts,the catfish BLT or a lobster roll (in two versions: classic and nouveau) that recalls the best New England shacks. Did we mention the burgers?
Pro tip: It’s not actually in Midwood, or anywhere near it. Take the Q to Parkside.
What it is: A small but stylish pizza, beer and cocktail place on booming Church Avenue. There’s a lively bar scene up front and tables in the back for more committed diners.
Why we love it: Because nobody here is gluten-free.
What to order: Salads are so big you’ll need a scythe to get through them. Inventive sourdough pizzas named (somewhat randomly) after Brooklyn neighborhoods dare you to try them all. With toppings that range from pecorino-romano to fennel sausage and figs, you can’t go wrong with any of the pies, but the Windsor Terrace (plum tomatoes, garlic, red onions, basil, fresh & aged mozzarella, Pecorino-Romano, hot sopressata and red bell pepper) is a standout.
Berg’n, 899 Bergen St. (btw. Classon and Franklin), Crown Heights
What it is: A Brooklyn beer hall from the founders of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, with food from Asia Dog, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, Pizza Moto and Ramen Burger. Featuring draft beers from Other Half, Barrier, Peekskill, along with cool bottles and cans from all over the world; Parlor Coffee, Dough donuts and a springy outdoor courtyard.
Why we love it: Sometimes you want to eat popcorn at your cozy little bar on the corner and sometimes you want to inhale the collective energy of a Brooklyn moment. At Berg’n, the borough’s real estate and industrial ambitions collide with its ramenburger culture to produce a post-modern food-and-drink court where you can hatch your own get-rich conquests. Or just drink beer and play Metallica pinball.
What to order: You can’t really go wrong with all the chow here, but Asia Dogs ($4.50 to $5.50) are a personal favorite. The Luke overfloweth with beef chili topped by Thai basil and pickled onions, and the Vinh is a mashup between a hotdog and a Banh Mi.
Regular tip: In a Village Voice interview last year with the founders, Eric Demby says that Smorgasburg vendors are subject to his partner Jonathan Butler’s curious food whims: “Jonathan’s a picky eater — he doesn’t like pickles, tomatoes, mushrooms — so those people never get in,” Demby says.