Eating Our Way Through Brooklyn

23 Feb

The Red Hook waterfront

Mother Spice is off gallivanting in India (supposedly for work, although when we talked to her she seemed to be at a spa on the beach), so Gina and I came to New York for the weekend to keep our long-suffering father company.  The three of us decided to go on an adventure to Brooklyn, spurred by a trip to Brooklyn Gina and Father Spice took over the summer, which led to Father Spice discovering Brooklyn at about the same time The New York Times did (see: this).  Our trip to Brooklyn turned into us eating at no fewer than three places in one afternoon, visiting Williamsburg, Red Hook, Cobble Hill, and driving through multiple other places while Father Spice both a) gave us history lessons (always fun!), and b) went into a 30 minute discussion with himself about why it was a mistake that we didn’t think more seriously about moving there when we first came to NY.

Oops, we ate half of this before remembering the picture

We ended up grabbing lunch at a decent-but-nothing-exciting Thai place in Williamsburg, and then went on to Red Hook, original home of Red Hook Lobster Pound, a spattering of little boutiques among the old industrial buildings, and our destination: Baked.  Baked has been featured both on Serious Eats, for being the Best Cupcake in New York, and on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, for their salted chocolate brownie.  So it was pretty inevitable that we would be going there to sample some butter-laden goodies.  We tried the red velvet cupcake with cinnamon frosting, the salted brownie, and a pumpkin chocolate chip pound cake.  All three were delicious, and I can absolutely see why one would go to Brooklyn just to stock up on brownies.  The cupcake was somehow both much moister and much lighter than any other I have tried (and trust me, living in a combination of DC and NY means I eat a lot of cupcakes), and the frosting was amazing and airy without being at all too sweet or cloying.  The salty-sweet combination of the brownie was also sublime, and it had a very rich, gooey, chocolate texture.  The pound cake was ordered as an afterthought by Father Spice, but was (surprise, surprise), also awesome, very moist and cakey with a great flavor combination of the pumpkin and chocolate.

Prime Meats steak frites

After some more history lessons while looking out over the docks in Red Hook and driving around Prospect Park (did you know it was designed by the same person who created Central Park, which was inspired by a park in Liverpool, aka Father Spice’s hometown?), we headed over to the Carrol Gardens area for an early dinner at Prime Meats.  Prime Meats is well known in Brooklyn and was recommended to us by a family friend who seems to have eaten at every “best restaurant” in the city.  They take no reservations, but we got there at about 5:45 and only had to wait 10 minutes before being seated.  The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed, and there were lots of families there while we were eating.  It was noisy without being overwhelming or annoying, and the brick walls and wood finishing with tealights around the window contributed to the casual feeling.  It was also quite reasonably priced for such a lauded place in New York City- it wasn’t cheap, but was less expensive than we thought it might be.

Brisket with cabbage and juniper berries (whatever they are)

The menu is very simple and only has a few main items on it, including a roast chicken, burger, steak, and brisket.  Gina and I split the duck salad to start, which had pieces of shredded duck as well as some slices of duck breast, with apple and toasted pumpkin seeds.  It was very good, as was Father Spice’s celery salad with a simple but delicious vinaigrette dressing.  For the main courses, I had steak frites, which was a very generous and well cooked steak with great fries, Father had the braised brisket with cabbage and juniper berries, which had come recommended to us and was also delicious, and Gina had the burger, which looked great and was finished by her in approximately two bites.  Seriously, I looked over about a minute after getting our food and it was gone already, so I’m gonna guess it was good.  I would definitely go back here under many circumstances- it would be a fun place to go with family, or with a group of friends for a casual but very tasty dinner.  And it’s within walking distance of the Carrol Gardens subway stop, so if you’re in NY consider taking a trip across the bridge for this, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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