This summer, arbiter of cool Forbes Magazine named Houston the coolest city in America. We did a healthy amount of scoffing and then went back to the things that were important to us: dive bars and encouraging the unemployed to write about their sex lives. Houston, undeterred by our mockery, continued to exist as a city, and has managed to get back on our radar with a tribute to our fair borough: they’ve named a restaurant after us.
The Brooklyn Athletic Club is in Montrose, Houston’s most Brooklyn-like neighborhood, in that it is filled with young people, bars and thrift stores as opposed to sprawl, endless, endless sprawl. The food is your standard comfort food like mac and cheese, mixed with New York faves like the good ol’ Reuben sandwich and pasta bolognese. Which, look, a Reuben, OK we’ll give you that maybe you can do it. But we refuse to believe that great Italian food can be served west of Staten Island. BAC has bocce too, like any good Brooklyn bar, but they can put their court outside because the sun is always shining in Houston (way too much, I might add).
There’s also a food truck in the restaurant, but we’re going to cut them some slack and not point and laugh about that one. My trip to Houston this summer involved the discovery of a food truck on damn near every corner, and one of the food truck proprietors earnestly asked “Do you guys have food trucks in Brooklyn?” So at the very least we know Houston can keep up with us in terms of self-regard and attempting to own food trends.
But come on guys, do you, not us! Be comfortable with your enormous, inhuman portions and ice houses (these are wonderful, magical outdoor bars). When I was down there, I thought I was going to explode after every meal, because the food was so good and there was so much of it. Open more restaurants like those and focus on getting people to rip off your style, that’s how you know you’re a major league city. Brooklyn is a place you can’t turn into a theme restaurant because wherever you choose to get your theme from, you’ll be wrong. You’ll either get angry letters from dudes from Bensonhurst or eye rolls from girls in tights in Greenpoint, right before those two tribes go back to having contempt for each other.