So in NYC, restaurants often spring up next to each other. A restaurant or bakery begats another one, and so it goes. With that in mind, I thought I would highlight various blocks around NYC that have great little restaurants and food spots that have made their own little restaurant row wherever they may be. Welcome to the “Adopt a Block” series!
This week’s block:
The corner of Van Brunt Street and Dikeman Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
I was lucky to get to visit Baked and Fort Defiance, which are right across the street from each other on Van Brunt Street. I don’t really ever get a chance to go to Red Hook, or should I say that I don’t really make the effort. It’s a neighborhood right on the water in Brooklyn, but it has no dedicated subway station nearby. My trip to these two outposts required a bus trip. I hate buses, but the B61 runs pretty frequently in case you’re wondering, Brooklynites and another NYers. Also back in the day, Red Hook didn’t have the greatest rep. If you heard that the party was in Red Hook, you declined. Know what I’m sayin’? However, like so much of Brooklyn (and NYC for that matter) the neighborhood has changed quite a bit.
Baked is not new to New York City’s baking scene as it’s been around for five years. I’ve been hearing about this place for quite awhile and couldn’t wait to try its sweets. Baked sells whoopie pies, brownies, cakes, cupcakes, various dessert bars, pies…you name it. Besides, Baked’s goods are on Oprah’s Favorite Things list, so it must be good right? Ha! What did I try?
The Sweet & Salty Cupcake
All I can say is PER-FEC-TION. This might be the perfect cupcake for me. First of all, the cake is completely and totally perfect. I would eat just the cake any day without any frosting. It was moist, full flavored REAL chocolate-tasting chocolate cake. This is what chocolate cake should be (Yup. I liked it THAT MUCH). What was most fascinating about it though was the frosting, which had a consistency more like a ganache than anything. It almost didn’t make it into my mouth on the first bite (Yes, I know. Lovely image). I couldn’t figure out what the flavor was until an AHA! moment: Toffee! At least I thought it was toffee. Ooohhh…Plus, I love salt. LOVE salt! There were some big crunchy salt crystals on the top. Awesome! This cupcake was the perfect blend of salty, sweet, creamy, and chocolate-y. These cupcakes also just got the Serious Eats NY distinction for Best Cupcake in New York City. Although I need to do some more research, I may have to second that. By the way, the grasshopper bar (creme de menthe filling sandwiched between chocolate mint cookies) was great too, and I’m not a huge fan of mint and chocolate.
Oh yeah, Baked was just on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown last night (actually as I am writing this). Apparently it’s Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie was up against Bobby’s version of Banana Cream Pie. I’m also excited to eat more of Baked’s goods at my BFF’s wedding later this year.
I moved across the street to get a drink at Fort Defiance, a bar named after a Revolutionary War fort that was built in the area for the Battle of Brooklyn (the US lost that one, but, thankfully, didn’t lose Brooklyn). Fort Defiance is a part of the sorta not as new movement of haute mixology. It’s all about getting back to the tradition of finding the finest spirits and mixers to produce quality cocktails.
It’s been blazing hot here in NYC, so I actually ended up getting something pretty refreshing:
The Barbados Buck
I was pretty shocked when I was served the drink. I’ve never seen a light-colored Dark and Stormy before. The recipe is apparenty a throwback to Bridgetown, Barbados’ British Club recipe from 1930. It was soo good. Perfectly mixed (Don’t you hate overpowering alcohol tastes?) and tasting as if there was actually fresh grated ginger in there except there was none in sight (I suspect they made their own fresh ginger beer). I wanted to try another drink, but I thought it would be too much. Although now that I think about it, I should have just gotten another drink. I enjoyed speaking to my extremely friendly and knowledgeable bartender about spirits from Antigua, especially since they had one that I had never heard of there, English Harbour rum!
Technically, this bar is also a cafe selling primarily small plates, so I figured I would try some of the bar food. If you’re thinking chicken fingers and mozzerella sticks, you’ve got the wrong place.
A whipped smooth egg mixture with a nice dash of black pepper to enhance the flavor. Yum! I couldn’t believe the size of the deviled eggs. They were hard to put in my mouth and not really the finger food that I thought they’re supposed to be, but I wasn’t going to complain.
I also tried the oysters. Fresh and tasty. I wished I’d had more.
Icky Blackberry shot…actually these are all pics from my Bberry
I’m glad I explored Red Hook especially since it’s so close to me, but can feel kinda far away at times. There are many restaurants out there that looked quite interesting, so I urge anyone to buck up and come out to try Red Hook’s offerings.
Have you explored any new neighborhoods or streets in your town lately just for the food?