The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Tale Of Two Restaurants

Hard to believe just two years ago you couldn't get a decent cup of coffee, glass of wine or bistro burger around here. Now, you can spend ALL of your discretionary bourgie dollars right here in Lefferts!

PLGourmand comes up with yet another upbeat review of the two newest entries in the entree department. I'm so glad it's you Debra Kirschner and not me doing these reviews. I'm way too sarcastic and snarky, even though both these jointz are A Okay in my book. And by the way, the Q's "book" is primarily written in pink scribble scrabble by my two little girls, so it's not like I get out a lot at night anyway. Take it away Debra!

Spotlight on Bluebird Food and Spirits

This terrific addition to the neighborhood, brought to you by the owners
of Lincoln Park Tavern, specializes in comfort food in a comfy atmosphere. In one fickle fall week, I experienced dinner on a cold rainy night by the fireplace and brunch on a warm, sunny day in the spacious backyard.
Too Pool for School

Bar, Bar, Baby

Backyard, Baby
Bluebird is way bigger than it looks. First, you walk into what feels like the most awesome rec room in somebody’s tricked out lakehouse – with a pool table and TV’s and benches and firewood stacked against the wall. Next, walk through this room to get to a cozy dining area with a warm fireplace and romantic lighting where you can sit on comfy banquets by candlelight. Alongside is a full bar that somehow feels vintage, clean and modern all at once. Through the dining room is a spacious backyard adjacent to the B/Q tracks, much prettier than that description makes it sound. And speaking of sound – the train noises are surprisingly not distracting. What little you do hear kind of adds to the cool.

Brisket, Baby
 The seasonal dinner menu includes Chicken Pot Pie, Brisket Sandwich with Cole Slaw, Pineapple Chicken Wings, Pork and Shrimp Dumplings, Picnic Burger and more. I enjoyed the Brisket Sandwich, which is topped with banana mustard and fresh pickles – on a delicious soft roll, which soaks in all of these wonderful flavors perfectly. I absolutely loved every bite and I’m mentally calculating my next free evening so I can go get it again! I also tried the chicken wings, which were juicy and fresh and easy to eat with a nice Asian flavor. Bluebird serves home made desserts that include a pie of the day. I am looking forward to this as a late night dessert venue – something this neighborhood has so far been lacking, as all the delicious bakery/cafes around here seem to be closed by 8pm or earlier. After rushing around in the rain, dinner here made us feel warm and welcome – almost too comfy like we never wanted to leave.

Brunch, Brunch, Baby
The following Saturday, brunch outside in the warm sun was energizing as we ran into smiling neighbors who all had the same idea. The brunch menu was fun to read… beginning with Brioche French Toast and including a Five Herb Omelet, Roasted Asparagus with Eggs and Truffle Oil and Fancy Grilled Cheese. I have to admit, I love the word fancy. Somehow it always seems ironic to me. I always want to say it in either a cockney accent or a Marisa-Tomei-in-My-Cousin-Vinny cadence… That said – the description did make it sound special – including apples and relish – and when I saw it delivered on the table next to us it looked stunning – with bread tilted sideways like a cheeky beret. I opted for the Brioche French Toast because no matter how wonderful the other offerings sounded I couldn’t get my mind off Brioche French Toast – which is how I knew it was The One. On the bottom of the brunch menu, it says, “No toast. Really, no toast.” I’m not sure what point that’s trying to make but for some reason it made me defensive. But I got over it when my Brioche French Toast arrived (a type of toast, no?) and was tender and sweet and flavorful and warm and perfect. Dreaming about getting back there to order that again too… plus try other things. There are fresh breakfast meats to order on the side – including a homemade sausage my husband loved.

So my two autumnal experiences were quite different but equally terrific and I cannot wait to keep coming back for more. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to try Bluebird when it first opened, but heard tell of summer style barbecue in the backyard. This will surely be a place to visit in all four seasons – day and night – with a full bar that includes a nice beer and wine selection.

Bluebird Wine and Spirits is located at 504 Flatbush Ave at Lefferts (between Lincoln and Ocean near the subway). They are open noon-11pm on weekends, 5pm-11pm on weekdays. I highly recommend checking this place out – rain or shine!

Spotlight on Midwood Flats

It’s here – our first official Gastropub!  This trend of casual bars that serve high-end imaginative cuisine alongside varieties of craft beers and select local whiskeys has hit PLG in the form of Midwood Flats.

It felt like the neighborhood buzzed about Midwood Flats for months before it opened. As we watched the gorgeous dark wood corner pub with old school signage (calling the neighborhood Flatbush, Brooklyn, USA) and large windows (which some of us repeatedly peeked into…) being built, all we knew was that it was being opened by restaurateur Kal Narvilas who had huge recent success with Cent’Anni in Crown Heights and that it was going to serve lobster rolls.

Open a little more than a month, the happily non-hipster vibe seems to draw in a diverse crowd and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. And, as promised, they serve two varieties of lobster rolls, a traditional New England style Lobster Roll, in their signature aioli on a potato roll, as well as their “Lobster Roll Nouveaux,” with avocado and Japanese togarashi pepper on a pretzel roll. I opted for the “Nouveaux” and it was delicious, light and flavorful with enough spice to keep it interesting. The waitress warned me that pepper was super hot – I found it tasty but not alarmingly hot at all – so I say don’t let them scare you! And the pretzel roll compliments these flavors perfectly.
Potato Skins served with a side of Plate Space (snark by Q)

The menu also includes Short Rib Sliders, Duck Torta, Pressed Chicken and a Seasonal Vegetable Sandwich with quinoa falafel – which shows that they are open to feedback because an early criticism of this joint was no vegetarian options… and now there are at least three (counting appetizers). While everything I tasted was delicious, for me the superstar was their incredibly delicious burger… so juicy the bun barely holds together, made from fresh angus beef with savory onion frites on top. While there are no traditional sides here – no French fries takes getting used to, at least for me – their “share” section includes fun appetizers like stuffed artichoke, loaded potato croquettes and a chip and dip plate – where the chips are actually baked slices of their yummy pretzel rolls and the dips include hummus and a balsamic tapenade… wonderfully crunchy and creamy mix of textures. If you prefer more of a restaurant atmosphere than a bar – come early. Around 7pm everyone in there is eating, even at the bar, with liquor on the side. Later in the evening, it is all about the drinking… and the delicious food is secondary for sure.

Bistro Burger, Baby
There’s a crowd every night. The bar boasts locally distilled scotches and whiskeys, a giant list of bourbons, an impressive craft beer list, and a non-traditional selection of delicious wines. They have a full bar and will make any cocktail you can think of – though there is no specialty cocktail menu yet. You can opt for their “Midwood Flight” deal and taste any three whiskeys for half price, 1 oz pours. And there are happy hour specials between 5pm and 7pm.

Despite the casual atmosphere, every dish tastes extravagant! Nothing is that expensive, but it is one of those places where you can easily keep ordering small plates and drinks without noticing your tab going up, up, up so be careful!
Lobster Roll, Baby

As to whether Midwood Flats represents the old Brooklyn of Flatbush, USA as is carved over the bar, or the new trendy so-called “Brownstone Brooklyn” as is reflected by all things artisanal and locally grown –I’d say its more of the latter… Even so, Midwood Flats is friendly and unpretentious and the food is delicious so I say give it a shot. Or order a shot…

Midwood Flats is located (appropriately) at the corner of Midwood and Flatbush, at 577 Flatbush Ave. They are open every day from 5pm until some wee hour of the evening, long after I’m asleep.

note: all the captions are the Q's not Debra's and while he laughed wildly too himself while writing them his wife has since told him that they aren't funny at all. The Q regrets the error, but for some reason is still laughing.


diak said...

Thanks so much Debra. Well done.

And I have a question for the neighborhood at large: does it bother anyone else that a place like Bluebird spends what looks like a lot of money to design and build a very attractive establishment inside but can't be bothered to clean off the ugly graffiti tags covering its roll-down gate. For a business that's closed all day it says to me, "we don't care" about this neighborhood.
Sadly this is the case with a lot of businesses in PLG. They seem more than happy to take our money but when it comes to graffiti vandalism, they take no pride in the appearance of their our establishments or our home. Cleanliness-wise, they seem willing only to do the bare minimum required to avoid a DoS ticket.
So Bluebird (and the beer store across the street and many others), if you want my business, get out some paint and show us you care.
Like Midwood Flats, for example!

WriterOnWinthrop said...

Tim/Diak - My pleasure! Any excuse to call dining out "research." Also - good point about the roll gates. Really!

Anonymous said...

ROTFL @diak really roll gates??? That's your main Is it clean inside? Check. Is it clean outside? Check. Is food good? Well I have yet to determine that maybe tonight...otherwise really roll gates? :-/