Sweet Chick I would not say that Williamsburg, or NYC in general, needs another southern joint. How much fried chicken can a city stand (and I love fried chicken)? Battered, craggy and sticky with sweetened soy like the finest Chinese takeout, General Tso fried chicken, is a different story. Add a light rice waffle with what appeared by be chopped Chinese broccoli baked in and you have a fun blackboard special. Lest you think all this retooled Americana is a young person’s game (jerky fries? purple drank?) it was good enough for Canadian Pat Kiernan and family, who'd apparently made the block-and-a-half trek on a Sunday night.
Laut And then I (or rather my table-mate) spotted Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova the following night strolling past our window. I only saw the backs of two tall, skinny people all in black. If an ‘80s celebrity marriage can last this long, it gives hope for the rest of us. Laut does the dreaded pan-Asian thing, mostly focusing on Thailand and Malaysia. Stick with the latter. The laksa and curry mee wouldn’t compete with anything you’d find in Queens or Chinatown, but where else are you going to get these spicy soups anywhere above 14th Street? Ok, I take that back—according to Menupages 12 other restaurants that fit that criteria.
Pok Pok And sometimes Brooklyn Thai needs to be experienced in person. Reports of smaller post-hype crowds may be true, but there is still likely to be a wait. In my case 45 minutes at 9:30pm on a Wednesday. Kaeng kradang, a chalkboard special described a cold weather curry, turned out to be a highly jellied pork terrine, feeling a little more French-Vietnamese than Thai (though I know it's not). I would eat this on a baguette rather than with finger-fulls of sticky rice. A duck salad and ribs with a pair of dipping sauces rounded out the meal, just right for two, despite the server’s warning that we had under-ordered. Keep your eye out for Columbia Street on a future episode of The Americans (you’re watching it, right?). Film crews had taken over a number of blocks near the waterfront. I did not see Keri Russell (who apparently owns a Brooklyn brownstone, as all celebrities big and small, minus Pat Kiernan, seem to).
Diner and Dumont While distinct restaurants, obviously, these two that I hadn't patronized since the early '00s may end up being Williamsburg old-timers as places like La Villita Bakery and La Borinquena get pushed out. In the days before 20-somethings regularly dined on entrees costing roughly their ages, $12 mussels and fries felt fancy (it was the mayonnaise in lieu of ketchup that clinched it). That was the only thing I ever ordered at Diner. Dumont still makes a nice burger. Supposedly, so does Diner but I’ve never tried it (nor the steaks). Because I may be a decade older but still not free-spending, I didn’t bother ordering any of the specials with no prices mentioned. I will admit that a squid salad with lentils and fennel and duck breast with farro and kumquats were definitely a step up from the bowl of bivalves.
Walter Foods Pretty much the newer but not that new version of the mid-20s people and prices place. Chicken, steak, pork chops--the standards--are all ok, but nothing that would explain why the restaurant is always so packed. While eating steak frites and deviled eggs, I realized that a Shazam for faces would be a valuable invention. Right before closing, a dude being filmed showed up and everyone seemed to know who he was. Then again, the room also appeared to be morphing into a private after-hours space, so perhaps the room was just filled with his friends celebrating his Kickstarter campaign.
Lodge I would lump Lodge right in with the above or not even mention it at all. It's always been a non-entity to me, a place with no appeal. But it was open relatively late on St. Patrick's Day (a blessedly low-key, non barfy holiday in these parts) and so I stopped in and had my frequent semi-boring office lunch, steak salad, but jazzed up with pears, walnuts and goat cheese for dinner. It was certainly better than Flavors and I give Lodge a leg up for playing My Bloody Valentine’s Ecstasy and Wine and Up For a Bit With the Pastels (neither on Spotify, annoyingly) both my driving to school in the morning music, taped from record to cassette, of course.