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Thursday
Jul212011

Van vs. FedEx Truck on Seventh Avenue

About half an hour ago a FedEx truck collided with a Brooklyn Express Tile Van on the corner of Seventh Avenue and First Street, and traffic is now snarled in both directions.

Judging by the scene, it appears as if the van was attempting to navigate around a vehicle that was making a right turn onto First Street and collided head-on with the FedEx truck as it entered the wrong lane. Ambulances and fire trucks are on the scene (and one ambulance was seen speeding away) so it appears as if at least one of the drivers was injured in the crash.

Thursday
Jul212011

Open for Business: Blueprint Brooklyn Cocktail Bar, 196 Fifth Avenue

Park Slope's first high-end cocktail bar, Blueprint, officially opened last night, and it's everything both we--and the owners--had hoped for.

"We put so much work into this. It took much longer than expected, but it turned out exactly as planned," said owner Rory Dwyer, who runs the bar with former Long Tan bartender Regina Christiansen, and also co-owns Sharlene's, High Dive, and Commonwealth. "It's a change of pace from my other bars, but there's really nothing else like this in the neighborhood."

A goal was to make the bar, in the space previously home to Long Tan, on Fifth between Union and Berkeley, look like it's been there for a while, and it certainly does. The dark painted wood entryway (with custom glass from The Stained Glass Store) opens into a dimly lit room with antique mirrors and lighting fixtures, cream colored walls, a 15-seat bar, and several small tables. Beyond that, a lush garden has seating for about 20. It has a relaxed, low-key vibe, helped along by a soundtrack from the '40s and '50s.

The cocktail list features nine specialty cocktails, painstakingly crafted by Christiansen and her team. Haymaker's Punch, made with apple brandy, ginger, honey, lemon, and cider vinegar, is a take on the traditional New England farmer's brew called switchel, and is sweet and refreshing. Same goes for the Swedish Monk, which combines gin with pear cider, Chartreuse, soda and lime. For those looking for something less sweet, there's the High and Dry, a smooth mix of rye, vermouth, Pernod Ricard, and homemade fennel bitters, with a twist of flamed orange. There's also The Kickstarter, a heady mix of freshly pulled Strongtree espresso, rum, and turbinado sugar, with a lemon twist. Supplementing the cocktail list are eleven wines by the glass (averaging $10), four draft beers (averaging $6), eight bottled beers, including two 750 ml bottles, and one 750 ml cider.

High and Dry, left, and the Swedish Monk

As much care has been taken in crafting the food menu as the cocktail list. Head chef Colin Wright, best known for helming Little Dishes Eatery (later Little D), has assembled a top-notch collection of cheese and chracuterie, as well as a menu of small plates that will grow over time, eventually to include brunch. Charcuterie includes Surryano ham, bresaola from Salumeria Biellese, and the increasingly popular yet still hard-to-find Mangalitsa ham. Snacks and small plates include spicy watermelon, boquerones, rabbit rillette, and a gigante bean salad.

The bar's offerings are on the pricey side (cocktails average $11, and the house plate of selected cheese, charcuterie, and olives is $24), but it's clear that no corners were cut here. There's been a decided lack of options in the neighborhood when it comes to romantic, high-end (yet still accessible) spots for an expertly crafted cocktail and top-notch charcuterie and small plates, and Blueprint fills that niche very nicely.

Blueprint, 196 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-622-6644.

Wednesday
Jul202011

Open for Business: Wolf and Deer, 74 Fifth Avenue

Wolf and Deer, the sleek new bar from Miriam owner Rafi Hasid and his friend, metalworker Daniel Bailey, opened on June 29th in the space last occupied by Total Wine Bar, on Fifth between St. Marks and Warren.

There are 20 seats at the inviting horseshoe-shaped bar (the only one in Park Slope), and 11 more up front. There's a selection of 80 wines (they'll open up any bottle for you as long as two glasses are poured), seasonal cocktails are made with syrups and juices prepared in-house, and the four custom-made taps currently dispense Left Hand Milk Stout, Sixpoint Sweet Action, Blue Point Toasted Lager, and Magic Hat Wacko.

The food menu is small, but appropriate for a wine bar setting. Twelve cheeses and seven charcuterie selections (think Prosciutto, Saucisson Sec Basque and smoked duck breast) are joined by two salads (shaved fennel with apples and walnuts, and edamame with avocado) and two sandwiches (smoked salmon with Camembert and dill, and three meats with pickles). There's also a nice selection of snacks like deviled eggs and mackerel pate, and a variety of housemade pickled vegetables.

There's a Happy Hour from 5 -7:30 as well: draft beer is $4, house wine and cocktails are $6, and a plate of three cheeses or meats is $10.

Although the space itself is dark, it gives off a warm and inviting vibe instead of a forbidding one, thanks to the exposed brick and funky lighting fixtures. It looks like it'll be a great place to duck into for a sampling of wines and cheese, and possibly to strike up a conversation with the couple sitting opposite you.

Wolf And Deer, 74 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-398-3181.

Wednesday
Jul202011

Checking in on the Flatbush Avenue Five Guys

Construction on the newest outpost of burger chain Five Guys is moving along swiftly, in the old Park Heights Stationers space on Park Place between Seventh and Flatbush. The exterior has been completely removed (so much so that the plywood shed doesn't even reach the top), some temporary signage has been installed, and on the inside, it looks like they've begun installing some heavy duty ductwork.

Wednesday
Jul202011

Who's Firefighter Keithroy Maynard?

Walking up Seventh Avenue past 11th Street, it's difficult not to notice that the block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues has been renamed in honor of Firefighter Keithroy Maynard. So who exactly is he, and why is the street renamed in his honor?

Keithroy Marcellus Maynard was born in the Carribean island of Montserrat in 1971, and moved to East Flatbush with his family at age 15. Following in the footsteps of his father, Reynold, who was a New York City firefighter for 36 years and Montserrat's fire chief for four, he joined the NYFD in 1999. He was first assigned to Engine 220 in Park Slope, and later Engine 33 in the East Village.

As one of the few African-American members of the NYFD, he joined the Vulcan Society, a group of firefighters who travel to predominantly black neighborhoods in an effort to recruit more African-American members. He became the youngest member of its executive board, helped hopefuls train for the written and physical exams, and inspired many to join the force.

On September 11, 2001, Maynard was killed while evacuating the north tower of the World Trade Center, along with six others from Engine 33.

Three years later, his identical twin brother switched careers and joined the Houston Fire Department in his memory, and Maynard's 16-year old son, Keithroy Jr., plans on following in his footsteps.

Today, the block that's home to Engine 220, 11th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, has been renamed in his honor.