Author Archives: Michelle

About Michelle

A born and bred Brooklynite that loves to fatten up my loved ones more than eating. My main passions are writing, spoiling my son and doing fun things while procrastinating. You'd be surprised how creative you can get when your back's against the deadline.

Escargot-ing the LIC Way

It’s a fact that most people who don’t think they like French food, don’t think they like it—or want to be anywhere near it—mainly because of one word: escargot.

My beloved sister, the overridden vote for Greek instead of French when we met our friend for dinner the other night, is one of them. Had she tried the escargot appetizer at Tournesol, a Long Island City bistro which specializes in authentic French cuisine, as our friend and I had, then perhaps she would’ve changed her entire opinion on snail-eating. But at the mere mention of escargot, her face squished up in disgust, and I knew what she was thinking.

She envisioned herself competing to win a “Fear Factor”-like challenge—eating backyard snails that slithered around in dirt and all sorts of bacteria, just before being roasted alive in garlic butter and served on a pretty plate. But according to Wiki, “the snails are purged, killed, removed from their shells and cooked,” before being placed back in their shells with sauce and finally served. Also, the snails that we eat as escargot are often imported from France, since we have very few snail farmers in the U.S. like this one.

I prefer my new friend Tournesol’s presentation (pictured above), over the classical shell-on or the little pocketed porcelain dish presentations. Tournesol serves its sautéed snails, completely out of their shells, in an unforgettable tarragon sauce—I tasted wine (possibly Sauternes), butter and a hint of earthy sweetness—and tops the dish with fresh croutons, that soak up all that flavor nicely.

This dish is tangy sweet, laced with lots of fresh herbs and perfect to share as an appetizer. It’s also rich enough to order as an incredible entree for one. You won’t want to share it anyway after your first bite. Could Tournesol’s version of escargot convert non-escargot eaters?

Tournesol
5012 Vernon Blvd
Long Island City, NY 11101
http://www.tournesolnyc.com

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Five Minutes with a Carrot Crêpe

Certain moments are better experienced as a party of one: like buying your first pair of $300 vintage-style shoes—you should probably avoid sharing the deets of where you bought them or the price you paid for them—or like savoring Olmsted’s phenomenal carrot crêpe. Trust me, you don’t want to share it, period.

Thinly shredded carrots, radicchio, micro greens, and sunflower seeds crown this veggie and clam-filled crêpe, with a vivid freshness that spells out farm to table—in case you didn’t know what Olmsted is all about.

Even before Olmsted came up in my search results for BK restaurants that serve Chawanmushi, I’d bookmarked it, but I had no idea of what this Michelin-starred resto was capable of producing.

Now, though I have a short list:
  1. A carrot crêpe that tastes so much better than I expected, probably the best new thing I’ve tried this year;
  2. High-quality veggies, meat and fish served in a very green, minimalist space with upscale touches. I sat at the white marble bar;
  3. A very good reason why my six-year-old’s philosophy of “Sharing is not caring” applies sometimes;
  4. Big smiles for dishes laced with greens, greens and more greens, from its “green wall.”
Olmsted’s interior “green wall” of plants serves two great functions: easy access to organically grown greens for select dishes on Olmsted’s menu, and providing a Prospect Park-like ambience perfect for eating carrot crêpes.

I witnessed a married couple sitting next to me at Olmsted’s bar, share the carrot crêpe and maybe it was just my imagination, but half of the time they smiled and the other half, they frowned. The wife, sitting closest to me, whispered rave reviews for it in my ear, while mine was on its way and I could tell she was a bit jealous that I’d be having mine all to myself.

Good food usually brings people together but this carrot crêpe is not a typical savory crêpe, just as Olmsted is not your typical restaurant. It’s a future-forward, vegetarian-friendly dreams do come true restaurant with old school ideals—the type of restaurant that yields relishable, good-for-you cuisine for every category of eaters.

The crêpe’s underscore is an orange-carrot “jus” that adds a delightful citrus sweetness to every bite. I made sure to sop up as much of it as possible, as I finished my crêpe in five minutes (or less).

Olmsted
659 Vanderbilt Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 552-2610
http://www.olmstednyc.com

Cool On! A Francophile’s Guide to Summer in the City, Pt I 

The best summer days are defined by each Brooklynite’s attitude. If you’re positive, light on your feet, addicted to yoga and meditation and don’t mind sticky and sweaty humidity in the subway, then please create a blog so that I can easily follow you, and learn from the best at appreciating life and all that it has to offer.

But if you’re in my category of need to lose ten or more pounds when you’re a foodie, addicted to Époisses, creamy mushroom sauces, binging Netflix while eating, and southern California-dreaming, then have no fear fellow frenchie. Here is one surefire way to combat your negatives.

Finding chill things to do during the summer months, when Brooklyn and Manhattan are bursting at the seams with fantastic and often free, or cheap, events to attend is easy enough, but now made even easier by the following list of francophile-approved activities.

Of the list, I am mostly looking forward to the huge Smith Street Bastille Festival hosted by Bar Tabac among other French-American sponsors, the Banana Farm for free French cookies, and two French films at Transmitter Park, presented by the Films on the Green festival.

June 1-7
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t
BAM
30 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn NY 11217
718-636-4100 ext 1
Tickets: https://www.bam.org/film/2018/one-sings-the-other-doesnt
A 1977 film that follows two women who, in the midst of life’s wins and losses, become great friends and create a bond stronger than space. Even after their lives go in different directions, their experiences continue to motivate each other to live inspiring lives in action. Sounds like the French appreciate and understand the beauty and power of genuine sisterhood.

June 3 and July 7
Fey Nan Bwa: A Haitian Herb and Song Workshop with Sirene
The Wyckoff House Museum
5816 Clarendon Road
Brooklyn, NY 11203

Having Christian parents from the South, I’ve always been one to avoid Vodou like it’s the plague, but this workshop might shine a light on the truth about Vodou’s connection to nature and its challenge to conventional medicine. Look for an upcoming guide to Haitian culture and restaurants in Brooklyn, “Flatbush Vodou: Brooklyn’s Little Haiti,” on BKfrench.com

June 7 and every 1st Thursday
Open House at the Banana Farm-French Cookies A Go-Go
The Banana Farm – Michel et Augustin
98 4th Street, #106
Brooklyn, NY 11231, FREE
646-820-0935
7pm to 8pm

A name like Banana Farm is all I need to excite my palette for sweets. I’m not particularly fond of bananas unless they’re in a cream pie but something about “bananas” just stirs my sweet tooth up. If you need more of an incentive, the Banana Farm’s Open House includes a “supersonic cookie tasting,” and a baking lesson among other sweet reasons to attend.

June 8
Paulin Soumanou Vieyra Shorts
Maysles Cinema
343 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10027
212-537-6843
6:30pm–9:30pm

A showing of three controversial Senegalese short films by Vieyra—one of which was censored by the Senghor government, another selected by the Cannes Film Festival 50 years ago, and another instrumental and groundbreaking for Senegalese film—is sure to be uniquely informative, sometimes depressing and sometimes entertaining.

June 9
Creole Food Festival
DL Rooftop Lounge
95 Delancey Street
New York, NY 10002
3pm-8pm
212-228-0909

Look at this beautiful melting pot called Creole. A delicious cultural gumbo of about 30 different countries that will come together in celebration of the cuisine that unites and defines them. If I hadn’t already purchased my ticket for Saint Joan on Broadway, I’d be yummin’ up some Creole food from five different global regions.

June 13
Je Suis: A Theatrical Dining Experience 
Bisou Bisou
264 Carlton Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
7:30pm-10pm
718-624-4075

Yet another reason to admire the very quaint Bisou Bisou, besides its name, its cute and warm-in-the-winter space, and its speakeasy vibe that’s perfect for date night cocktails is a cabaret dinner dedicated to 1920s Paris. I AM, a female group of three performers, will make its exciting debut NYC appearance, which will honor the artistry of cabaret icon Edith Piaf.

June 1-Sept 6
Films on the Green
I’m hoping to see La Bûche and Garçon, the only two films presented in Greenpoint’s beautiful Transmitter Park by the “Films on the Green” festival. Showing in various NYC parks, this free festival offers up 12 French films about the dynamics between the art of French cooking and culture. Some of the other films are a tempting reason to take a subway ride into the City.

More Info: http://frenchculture.org/events/8052-films-green-2018

“La Bûche”
Transmitter Park
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY, FREE
June 22, 8:30pm
http://frenchculture.org/events/8042-la-buche

“Garçon”
Transmitter Park
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY, FREE
June 29, 8:30pm
http://frenchculture.org/events/8043-garcon

June 26
Dahlia Dumont
Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza
Part of the Arts Walk Bk, FREE
718-230-2100

Being a clear reflection of its influences, The Blue Dahlia’s music is a beautiful blend of its group’s backgrounds—American, French, Senegalese, Japanese, Argentinian, and Mexican—and then some. Imagine French chanson and reggae living side by side, in the same song. Now have a listen and confirm the only label it needs is happy music. Check out France Rocks for more contemporary, French-inspired music.

July 2-15
French Restaurant Week
Multiple locations

Of the 20 NYC bistros and brasseries featured in “French Restaurant Week,” none are located in Brooklyn. Such a shame because Brooklyn is home to quite a few great classic French and French-fusion restos that deserve a lot of attention.

That being said, I’m looking forward to Jubilee’s tasting of mussels (prepared three ways), the whimsical puff pastry of chicken and shrimp in a cream sauce at Deux Amis, and Boucherie’s Pistachio Bombe Glacee. Nothing looks more insanely decadent than the pouring of rich, silky-smooth, warm dark chocolate over a dome of ice cream. I can’t wait!

July 14
Downtown Brooklyn’s Bastille Day Celebration 
MetroTech Commons
Brooklyn, NY 11201, FREE
10:30am – 4:00pm

My love/dislike relationship with sometimes snooty Downtown Bk won’t stop me from attending (at least a small part of) this celebration, which includes a Petanque Tournament, live music and food. The celebration is hosted by La Defense, a notable French-American restaurant that serves traditional bistro fare in an American diner’s space.

July 15
Bar Tabac’s Bastille Day Celebration
Smith Street Festival and Pétanque Tournament
128 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
718-923-0918
12:00pm-10pm

For some reason, probably the lengthy amount of really great bars and restos, the snootiness of Smith Street has never affected me. Bar Tabac hosts this chill neighborhood’s Bastille Day Celebration which brings thousands of people from all over the world. Smith Street’s Festival is also a Petanque tournament with live music and food. Its only difference from Downtown BK’s Bastille Day Celebration is the down-to-earth charm of Smith Street and the people that love it.

July 24
Saint-Saëns’ Samson Et Dalila Ballet
(Opera HD screening)
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
800-745-3000
1pm (on July 24th premiere)

It isn’t very moi to purchase tickets to a French Opera Ballet. 1) It’s far away in Midtown East. 2) It’s an Opera Ballet. And 3) the subject matter is a biblical tale with complex characters at its center. But the above three reasons that make it “not for me” are also the reasons I should probably attend. I might just learn something.

Photo by Eddi Aguirre on Unsplash

French Plus One: 6 of Brooklyn’s Best French-Fusion Restos

My favorite thing about French cuisine is its ability to pair with any other cuisine, to become an important part of it and, in turn, to make the other cuisine an important part of French cuisine, too. Why can’t relationships between people be that easy?

Or, maybe people fusion is that simple? If French cuisine were a person, I suppose it would have acquired many lovers that it never could say goodbye to, almost like a person that would prefer a relationship with two or more people at the same time, than one or none.

The following list spotlights Cajun, Mexican-French, and Senegalese eateries that produce beautiful, delicious and, in some cases, downright genius results of culinary multi-cultural relationships. Tchoup Shop’s shrimp and grits, Jolie Cantina’s duck confit quesadilla, and Cafe Rue Dix’s Yassa Guinar are tasty proof that polyamorous cooking is all love.

Darling NOLA Feasts: Cajun and Creole Cuisine

The Big Easy is a top-five spot on my travel bucket list. Its native cooking styles are two good reasons. Cajun and Creole are, in my opinion, vintage varieties of French-fusion cuisine due to their mixed cultural origins, heavy French influences and unique inclusions of the French palette.

Until I win my beads on Bourbon Street, or taste the original French-fusion cooking in the French Quarter, I’ll make do with exciting eats at Tchoup Shop (Tchoup is pronounced chop) and Lowerline while I dream of hurricanes, beignets and meeting the cast of “Southern Charm: New Orleans.”

Tchoup Shop
My mouth is watering, as I create a healthy list of Tchoup Shop must-tries: the crispy chicken biscuit sandwich, shrimp and grits, veggie hoppin’ john, cheesy crawfish bread, and famous duck and okra gumbo. I know that’s several mouthfuls to order, but I’m sure I’ll go back again and again to this popular Bushwick bar with Cajun aka Louisiana “country” cuisine to find favorites while checking off my must-try list.
Tchoup Shop, 50 Wycoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237, (929) 234-3500
 
Lowerline
Lowerline receives high praise for bringing casual Creole soul to Prospect Heights. Specializing in fresh oysters, this quaint and casual Louisiana-street namesake delivers a short but sweet menu for seafood-ies like moi. The oyster po-boy, fresh oysters and the crawfish étouffée all tempt my low-country roots. Can’t wait to try ‘em!
Lowerline, 794 Washington Ave, Brooklyn NY 11238, (347) 533-7110, https://www.lowerlinebk.com

Fiesta y Fête: Mexican-French Cuisine

When the Millionaire Margarita recipe—tequila, lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup and Cointreau—was revealed to me, I should’ve realized then that the Mexican-French combo was undeniably great. But I recently had a lightbulb moment when I googled French fusion in NY and found that Mexican-French cuisine was and still is a hit. After finding quite a few spots that serve Mexican croques, I’m a staunch believer in the perfect Latino/Catalan bite.
 
Jolie Cantina
It’s French! It’s Mexican! It’s more than just a “pretty bar” on Smith Street. In fact, pretty isn’t the word I’d call Jolie Cantina’s bar area, which is also home to a bicycle that delightfully hangs from the ceiling. How Avant-Garde! But the lobster chilaquiles, duck enchiladas and croque señorita—substitutes ham in the croque madam with chorizo—are all pretty creative dishes. Jolie Cantina’s shrimp fajitas are tasty but not a sizzling hot example of Mexican-French fusion, rather a more traditional version of the dish.
Jolie Cantina, 241 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, (718) 488-0777, https://www.joliecantina.com

Santos Anne

If the Santos Anne’s dinner menu doesn’t sufficiently rep its fusion theme, check out its cocktail list. Smokey, refreshing, floral and spicy, the drinks at Santos Anne are unapologetically multiculti, if not crave-worthy. I’d start with a Fleur Spritz, a floral accompaniment perfect for a light appetizer. A Gentleman’s Sidekick, a strong and sweet drink similar to a boulevardier, would be a delightful end of the night treat.
Santos Anne, 366 Union Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211, (718) 486-6979, http://www.santosannebk.com

Of Our Canoe: Senegalese Cuisine 

I’m a little jealous that Brooklyn has a much smaller Senegalese population than Harlem. It’s evident in the scarce number of West African restaurants that are thriving in Brooklyn, compared to that, which is at least twice as much, that are thriving Uptown. Nonetheless I’m happy that we do have a bit of Senegalese culture in the warm and sensual Cafe Rue Dix and colorful Bed-Stuy favorite Joloff, among other smaller spots.

Cafe Rue Dix
When I brought my son to Crown Heights Cafe Rue Dix for an impromptu date night, he of course did all the things a five-year-old boy would do in his unique position of power: woofed down his grilled salmon entree, served with unbelievable black olive mashed potatoes and Shirley Temple with extra cherries; danced to the very energizing Electronica drum music; successfully pulled me away from my Yassa Guinar—lemony chicken and onion confit over couscous or rice—to dance with him; and wooed the beautiful 20-somethings who were dining at a nearby table. When I return to the lovely Cafe Rue Dix, I want to sample the duck confit and the grilled lamb chops (and a side of the phenomenal black olive mashed potatoes!), sans my little Romeo. I’ll miss him but I can drink as many El diablos as I want—probably not more than two because thankfully, they’re strong.
Cafe Rue Dix, 1451 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11216, https://www.caferuedix.com

Joloff
Shame on me for not eating at this long-standing, family-friendly establishment, but my sister swears by Joloff’s fare, especially Senegal’s national dish Thiebou Djeun—a fish dish served with vegetables and Jollof rice. The food looks so comforting, just like homemade. Popular fusion options abound: Yassa Yapp, grilled lemony lamb chops, Yassa Sipaakh, grilled shrimp in lemon and onion sauce, and Curry Tofu.
Joloff Restaurant, 1168 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11216, Joloff’s Yelp page

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash

Crazy for Crêpes: Part Deux

Whether savory or sweet, crêpes are whimsical, delightful and limitless because of the opportunity to be adventurous when choosing a crêpe’s filling. The crispy, fluffy and/or puffy envelope—that would never be left unopened if it were mail—is usually made to provide the most amazing, French vehicle for cheese, meat, or my favorite crêpe filling, Nutella. Last Saturday morning , I took my son on a short crêpe tour in the often overrun with stroller traffic Park Slope and we had good experiences at all three crêpe stops on the following list. Good luck crêpe-ing (not to be confused with creeping)!

The Pleasant Pheasant 

Le French Tart should be renamed Le French Tasty Tart! In this bright, spacious and light-filled environment meant for families, the authentic Parisian cuisine that you’ll devour outshines the decor. You’ll like the Eiffel Tower candle holders and hound dog bottle openers that are for sale, but you’ll adore la poulet, the mouthwatering chicken crêpe.

The crêpe itself is a very thin, buckwheat, authentic Parisian crêpe. I didn’t mind the dark (almost burnt) areas, because the burnt taste added to the overall flavor of the crêpe. Something about a little bit of burntness says homemade—like your working mother ran home to make it for you in a rush homemade.

The filling of the crêpe—slightly overcooked grilled chicken breast, béchamel and swiss cheese—was ooey, gooey delightful to see and taste. Perfect for a rainy and unseasonably cold Saturday morning in May. It was served with a mixed salad with forgettable dressing, but I appreciated the gesture of serving a decadent crêpe with fresh veggies. How French!

Was it the French way to serve my chicken crêpe on a paper plate? I have mixed feelings: it took away from the experience of imagining that we’d traveled back to Paris to admire the beauty and taste of a great crêpe; but it also was a cleaner option than a plate they’d wash and reuse.

Either way, the decor and overall setup of Le French Tart could be greatly improved by focusing on the creation of a central space that is easily reachable from all four corners of this family-style cafe.

Le French Tart, 579 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

https://www.yelp.com/biz/le-french-tart-brooklyn?osq=le+French+tart

The Not-So Gratifying Goat Cheese and Spinach

After the rather subdued, as subdued as a bunch of toddlers and their families can be, experience at Le French Tart, walking in or rather dancing in to Couleur Café was quite energizing, to say the least. Current R&B and pop music played at just the right volume: loud enough to hear the wonderful bass beats, but still quiet enough to be remain a special part of the background. Also, enjoyable enough to chair dance to while you eat.

While the music was enjoyable, so was Couleur Café’s mix of retro and vintage-modern aesthetics, evident in turn of the century-styled moldings on the walls, floral print cushioned chairs, and the reclaimed banisters that punctuate the turquoise counter/bar.

The crêpe was not my favorite but only due to the spinach filling. I tend to avoid cooked spinach, unless it’s cooked in cream and butter with cheese and made into a dip. The crêpe was like a biscuit or the crust of a potpie: tasty and hearty enough to hold up to a wet filling. Even with the spinach, it didn’t turn soggy on me. A smoked salmon option was available but I wasn’t in the mood for it. But next time and yes, there will be a next time for us at this unique cafe, I’ll be ordering the smoked salmon crêpe.

Couleur Café servers are friendly, if not on point. Our drinks—a well deserved mimosa and a well-done (according to my son) Shirley Temple—came to our table after our grilled cheese and crêpe orders.

With all of its misses, I’d still say Couleur Café is cooler than most cafés.

Couleur Café, 435 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

https://www.yelp.com/biz/couleur-café-brooklyn-2?osq=cafe+couleur

Petite Sweet

Very kid-friendly. Very petite. And very appetizing Nutella crêpe. I love Nutella so I’m biased towards the entire taste of the crêpe as Nutella’s dominance of deliciousness over everything it’s paired with seduces me.

But my son noticed that the crêpe was not light, thin, or fluffy but rather densely packed down in layers, which made it difficult for him to eat. I noticed that I was chewing it for a while, but I didn’t care.

My Nutella crêpe was fancily drizzled with Nutella and powdered sugar after being folded into the classic triangular crêpe shape. Perhaps if we ate it when it was warm, it’d be easier to eat and enjoy.

Cusp Crêpe and Espresso Bar, 321 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
https://www.yelp.com/biz/cusp-crepe-and-espresso-bar-brooklyn

Other Taste-ables (Crêpe places I’ll try, but haven’t yet.)
Eight turn Crêpe
http://www.eightturncrepe.com
A popular spot in Dekalb Market Hall, with the prettiest crêpe flower presentations—some with ice cream—you’ve ever seen.
Little Choc Apothecary

Cute, colorful and French-dressed—freedom of effortlessly combining old school elegance with youthful, cheeky charm—indoor garden seeks flavor-bound vegans that live to eat. Lots of tea, lots of smoothies and lots of green greatness await.

Chawanmushi: The Japanese Custard that French Chefs Love

I’ve got a plan. My plan is to find the best Chawanmushi in Brooklyn. Hopefully, it will be as good as or maybe even better than my memory of the egg custard with mushrooms, aka Porcini Flan, that I devoured at Bouley years ago.

It was decadent, silky and almost too easy to inhale in one truffle-loving moment. I adored it so much that most of my lengthy Yelp review of Bouley was about the magic that I tasted in the French chef’s nod to the ever-incredible Japanese Chawanmushi.

In order to fully appreciate the flan, the amazing French waiter instructed me to uncover the ramekin and lightly wave the lid back and forth to completely enjoy the aromas of the dish. Truffles never smelled so phenomenal.

Chawanmushi is traditionally prepared with soy sauce, dashi, mirin, ginkgo, shiitake mushrooms, other widely-used Asian veggies, and occasionally, boiled shrimp.

No wonder the French seem to love it. To me, it tasted mild but rich, complex and earthy, and had the rare ability to appeal to most of tastebuds. There’s just something about that cream, egg and mushroom combo that never fails to amaze and satisfy me—I love mushroom and runny egg on pizza too.

Surprise, Surprise. I can’t seem to find any Brooklyn French bistros that serve Chawanmushi. But I will visit the few Brooklyn Japanese restos on the following list, that serve traditional Chawanmushi—some with seafood, yum!

Sushi Lin
335 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11217

https://www.sushilinny.com

Shalom Japan
310 S 4th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

http://shalomjapannyc.com

Geido
331 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

https://www.yelp.com/biz/geido-brooklyn?osq=chawanmushi

Wassan Brooklyn
440 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

http://wasan-ny.com

Okonomi
150 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

 

The Better Brunch

Many years ago, I had my penultimate Manhattan brunch. (The very last one that I remember was at Cookshop, a great Chelsea restaurant, right below The High Line.) For some crazy reason, my sister and I chose to brave the crowded Theater District and agreed on a bustling “French” bistro for our Sunday brunch. It was overhyped, touristy and not even good for a hot chocolate. Not authentically French at all! From that moment on, we both swore off Manhattan brunches and promised to remember that brunch in Brooklyn, overall, is by far the better place for the meal that can make or break a girl’s weekend. But why is brunch specifically just plain better in Brooklyn?

The short answer is Brooklyn brunches are more French—due to a higher level of food quality, more personable service and often a unique, art-loving environment. The long answer is present in my top three discoveries about Brooklyn brunching, complete with brunch restaurant suggestions.

The Greener Good

Most Brooklyn restaurateurs are focused on using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients with vegetarian options, which has one main benefit: quality, unequivocally fresh fare. And nothing tastes better when it’s organic, freshly plucked from a nearby farm, or grown and/or hand-processed on the restaurant’s premises than eggs, milk, cheese, fruit, bacon, etc.—basically all the components you need to make a fabulous breakfast or brunch.

For a sometimes intoxicating with sweets, sometimes fresh with veggies brunch make ressies for the famous Olmsted in Prospect Heights. Classified as a “vegetable-heavy” restaurant by its chef/owner, Olmsted has a lush green wall in its garden that isn’t just for show but its greens are actually used in dishes and listed on the menu. When I finally am able to go to this restaurant of veggie dreams, my first Olmsted brunch pick will be the very French-sounding Duck Duo. But if I were in the mood for a savory, laced with greens brunch, I would order the Spanakopita Shaksouka.
Olmsted, 718-552-2610, http://www.olmstednyc.com

Sans Tourist-Traps

Although I’m convinced that Brooklyn has the best NYC sights—French restaurants, Botanic Gardens and pizza (except for a couple of tourist-trap pizza spots in Dumbo)—there are so few longstanding gimmicky restaurants that seek to drain your pockets, while giving you little or nothing and getting away with it only because they’re close to a popular site for tourists.

Brooklyn’s lack of overhyped eateries has two prime perks: stability for family-run, neighborhood staples and a good amount of space for the younger generation of spots that serve everything from classic Eggs Benedict to Asian-fusion dishes for brunch.

Popular Crown Heights diner Tom’s, for example, has been serving the same fare since 1936, according to its website, and is still receiving the praise, that some say it deserves. Try the lemon ricotta pancakes and you probably won’t be disappointed. I couldn’t wait to try mine. The line to get in was long but went by in a decent amount of time.

Tom’s, 718-636-9738, https://tomsbrooklyn.com

Party of Four or More
Even with the hefty amount of unique nightlife experiences, most of Brooklyn is really for families. And where it’s meant for revelry till 4 a.m., cool “kids” create their own extended families. (An earlier BkFrench.com post, “Family-Friendly French” lists several eateries that cater to larger groups with children.) Carroll Gardens’ own Buttermilk Channel, one of the most famous of family-friendly Brooklyn restaurants, is crowded with a serpentine line for brunch. Most say though that its kid-friendly offerings, like the walnut sticky bun and the pecan pie french toast are well worth the wait. The kids menu itself is also intriguing. This restaurant’s name says it all, “Get the pancakes.” But rave reviews for Buttermilk’s chicken and waffles abound.

Buttermilk Channel, 718-852-8490, http://www.buttermilkchannelnyc.com

A walk down Smith Street in the Gowanus area, also known for family-friendly French cuisine, will bring you to the freshly opened, hubby-and-wife run French restaurant, Dumonet. Surrounded by the rustic charm of brick walls, mocha banquettes and tin ceilings, you’ll enjoy classic brunch items—Croques, brioche french toast, and poached eggs—as well as the stuff you’d only get at a French resto—cheese soufflé, tart flambée, and a very mouth-watering version French onion soup.
Dumonet, 718-625-0963, https://www.dumonetbrooklyn.com

Pint-Sized Picks 

An exploration of Brooklyn brunches often leads to an exciting encounter with a hipster-loved storefront window eatery or rather with the five-star worthy egg sandwich that it serves and proudly touts as its paramount creation.

Don’t overlook the small cafes or even the storefront window restos that remain in high demand with thick lines down the block, regardless of their short menu of only a few or sometimes two, well-executed items. They disregard the unwritten rule of creating an extensive menu that attempts to please the masses, choose to go with what they know, and are often successful because of it.

For brunch on a quaint scale, indulge yourself in The Little Sweet Cafe in Boerum Hill. With fluffy crepes, a popular dirty chai and an indecisive half Anthropologie and half Paris vibe, I wanted to stay here all afternoon, despite it being a wifi/computer free zone. Definitely meant for francophiles that savor a quiet, minimalist ambience with touches of rich, artsy culture everywhere.

The Little Sweet Cafe, 718-858-8998, https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-little-sweet-cafe

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash