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The Park Slope Week in Review: 5/16/11 - 5/20/11

On Monday it was reported that the much-anticipated Dumplings and Things on Fifth between Fifth and Sixth had opened, and it certainly lives up to expectations (seriously, try the pork belly bao). I also shared a bunch of photos from the killer Fifth Avenue street fair from the day before.

On Tuesday I was able to sneak a peek inside the new Blueprint Cocktail Bar coming to the old Long Tan space, and it's looking quite classy. And in your "saw that coming" news of the week, a hair salon will be moving into the space last occupied by Sea World Fish Market, next to Timboo's on Fifth.

Wednesday brought the official release of the Here's Park Slope app for Android and iPhone. Check it out and let me know what you think, it's got all my blog posts as well as a comprehensive listing of just about every business in the neighborhood. I also had a chat with Murat Ozcan, the owner of Couleur Cafe, the French cafe moving into a spot on Seventh by Sixteenth, and he tells me that it should be opening on Tuesday.

On Thursday, a look behind the scaffolding of 79-81 Seventh Avenue, soon to be home to a Petco, revealed that construction is almost complete. Also, remember that odd little Clear Wifi store on Fifth near St. Marks that closed last week? It's going to be replaced by a Boost Mobile store. Yawn.

In other lamentable "coming soon" news, on Friday I spoke to Mark Ravitz, the guy responsible for the crazy "drips" on the front of his building at 200 Seventh Avenue and the wild little gallery in the ground floor space (he also did set design for Bowie's tours in the 70s- seriously an awesome dude), and he told me why the gallery has been cleared out: the space has been leased by MetLife, for mortgage company offices. Boo. Also, Dolly Lyla, the funky little vintagey shop on the far north end of Seventh Avenue, has closed up and will be re-opening in a few months on Degraw Street.


Friday Foodporn: Der Kommissar

When a restaurant that features only one type of food opens, it's always a risky endeavor. If not done properly, such a narrow focus could easily backfire. Thankfully, Der Kommissar, the Austrian-style sausage joint on Fifth between Fifteenth and Sixteenth that opened last month, succeeds with flying colors. 

The tiny space has no kitchen, just a flat top used to brown up the sausages, which come in varieties like bratwurst (above), käsekrainer (stuffed with cheese), andouille, and weisswurst. On the supply side, owners Gary Baldwin and his wife Monica Wuhrer (who also run the fire-damaged Open Source Gallery) along with partner Alex Darsey have decided to go with two of the best around, Queens-based Karl Ehmer and Hartmann's upstate. All sausages come on a perfectly toasted roll, along with a side of carraway-flecked sauerkraut and dill pickles. Sides (naschen) include a couple cheese spreads, pretzels, and potato salad. 

There's also a lengthy selection of beers, wine, and schnapps. The focus stays European, with offerings like Gösser and Reissdorf Kölsch, although with some local beers like Lagunitas Little Sumpin and Sixpoint Harbinger sneak in. 

Der Kommissar is open every day from noon until "late," and is a great place to drop into when you're in the mood for some expertly prepared sausage and quality beer in a chill setting. There's also a take-out window up front for sausages on the go. There's only a handful of seating, so if you plan on dropping by on a weekend, get there early!

Der Kommissar, 559 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215. 718-788-0789.


Met Life Mortgage Offices to Take Over Mark Ravitz's Seventh Avenue Gallery

For the past year, artist Mark Ravitz, who owns 200 Seventh Avenue and has used its facade to display his unique "drips" since the early 1980s, has been using the ground floor of his building as a gallery for his art. His intricate window displays, which changed frequently, were a wild diversion while walking down the avenue (especially last October, when his ghoulish designs for a Studio 54 Halloween party were on display). 

Ravitz's display windows, last year
While walking past the building (between Second and Third Streets) yesterday, though, I noticed that the gallery had been cleared out, and his art had been removed from the windows. 

I gave Ravitz (who is also a world renowned set designer) a call this morning, and he informed me that the storefront had indeed been rented. "It's a long time coming, because I didn't want a nail salon or food in the ground floor," he said. So who's the lucky buyer? It'll be a branch of MetLife's mortgage company, he told me. 

Sad that with such a creative building owner, a more creative ground floor tenant couldn't be found.


Closed for Business: Dolly Lyla, 69 Seventh Avenue

Dolly Lyla, the quirky boutique on Seventh between Berkeley and Lincoln that specialized in vintage dresses and accessories, has closed and is moving to a new home on Degraw Street.

When reached for comment owner Dolly Williams told me that it's a "long and beautiful story," and confirmed that they'll be moving into their new home a few blocks away in several months. In the meantime, all merchandise will still be available on the online shop.


Then and Now Thursday: Memorial Presbyterian, 1907

When memorial Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Seventh Avenue and St. John's Place, was dedicated on February 18th, 1883, Park Slope was beginning to come into its own as one of Brooklyn's premier enclaves for the wealthy. By the time the above photo was taken, in 1907, most of the brownstones and other structures in the neighborhood had already been built, and many of those remain to this day. 

The 117-foot steeple of the church still looms over the avenue today, although it's obscured by trees. Constructed of Belleville brownstone with a roof of blue slate, the church, with its circular pews and seating for about 800 people, hasn't changed at all since its construction. The same can't be said for the townhouses to its south. While Seventh between Flatbush and St. Johns is almost entirely residential, it becomes a primarily commercial thoroughfare from here on down, starting with Mango Remixed Thai and Chiles & Chocolate next door. These buildings, like many others on Seventh, were renovated for commercial use by the 1920s.

Top photo: NYPL