A: Close. But with that extra whisper of an i. Not hipster, not hipper, sadly, just hippier. But, at least briefly, also happier!
We always enter Brooklyn with breath held, suspecting we may be turned back at the border for grossly exceeding the age limit. And yet, they keep letting us in! We go over the river and through the ‘hoods and find ourselves in what is, for us, mostly uncharted territory, uptowners that we are.
Last trip it was fine breakfast dining at Diner and dinner at Peter Luger, both in Williamsburg. A few visits before that was an outstanding dinner at Noodle Pudding in Brooklyn Heights. Luger’s won’t take plastic, but they’ll write your reservation down in a book that looks like it dates from the ’40’s. Possibly the 1840’s. Noodle Pudding does everything they can to keep you away, starting with a name that belies their authentic Italian cuisine and moving right along to refusing credit cards OR reservations. And if I recall, there isn’t really even a decent sign out in front, so its easy to miss the place entirely. But if you can find it, bring cash, and are willing to wait for a table and are good-humored about the withering up-and-down you will receive from the locals for clearly being from across the river, you will be richly rewarded with an amazing meal at a very fair price. Homemade pasta, fresh basil, a little bit of Brooklyn heaven:
This trip we ventured anew to Brooklyn, cabbing it over on a Saturday night because the weekend subway service is just that bad. Capricious. Flyers appended to walls, fluttering in the subway breeze, impromptu notices that the M train is taking the weekend off. The suggested alternate routes add up to a misbegotten geo-caching adventure. Not sure how that contributes to justify Brooklyn’s title as the most unaffordable place to live in the country. “Can’t get from here to there or there to here. Let’s raise the rent.”
But I digress. We alighted on Old Fulton Street sweaty and jangled and smelling of ancient, ripped Yellow Cab seats after our 45-minute ride but otherwise no worse for the wear. The river view improves every attitude, even those of unnamed persons who made the mistake of insisting the cabbie should take the West Side Highway which turned out to be a parking lot that particular evening.
Our destination was The River Café, a sweet little jewel box literally bobbing in the Hudson just beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. We were here to celebrate son Daniel’s birthday and it was our first visit since the restaurant was completely re-done after suffering the ravages of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Bless that hurricane is all I can say. The restaurant, which was looking a bit tired before Sandy rinsed it with Hudson river water, now sparkles as brightly as the lights on the bridge above. The views have always been breathtaking, but now they are properly framed. Even if you don’t want to cough up the cash for the $125 prix fixe, you can sit a bit in the verdant entry garden or step inside (jackets required for men, please) for a drink at the bar and gawk at the view. Absolutely stunning. Kind and attentive service. We had a magical evening and so will you.
We ventured back to Brooklyn a week later on a sleepy Sunday morning. This time no traffic. We Uber’ed door to door from Columbus Circle to Williamsburg in an impressive seventeen minutes. Which was good, because everyone was starving! The occasion this time was brunch for Daniel – still milking that birthday – and the friends who had flown across the country to fête him.
The CE and I stepped into Reynard at the Wythe Hotel to claim our table, our confidence bolstered by the fact that we saw someone even older than us in the lobby. Young friends Teri and Billy had introduced us to Reynard a few years back and, if anything, the place has just gotten better. The service at this now gratuity-free restaurant was warm and welcoming; the menu fun and eclectic. Our group sat happily around the farm-style table and devoured the signature Dutch Pancake, various takes on eggs and a snappy chili-ed up version of Fried Chicken.
Peter and Victoria made weekend guest appearances:
All good meals must come to an end, although the wonderful memories linger. So, apparently, does the fried chicken and the Dutch Pancake, if the scale doesn’t lie. But those are all calories under the Williamsburg Bridge. I’ve embarked on a new plan. I call it the Brooklyn Diet, and it’s very simple: no bread, no dessert, and just stay the heck on the other side of the Hudson.