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The Gate Makes a Cameo on The Food Network

The competitors (r to l): Fette Sau's Matt Lang, Famous Dave Anderson, Chris Lilly
On last night's finale of The Food Network's BBQ reality competition show Best in Smoke, the competitors were challenged to serve up some barbecue to "a hungry late-night crowd at a bar in Brooklyn." That bar turned out to be The Gate (on Fifth Avenue and Third Street), and it got some pretty good screentime (the exterior, at least).

The judges
The winner [SPOILER ALERT!] turned out to be Brooklyn's very own Matt Lang, from Williamsburg barbecue utopia Fette Sau. Way to go, Brooklyn!

Winner Matt Lang


Business of the Week: The End is Near

This article originally appeared on Patch. 

When you think of the phrase "tattoo parlor," what comes to mind?

Maybe it's a grungy dive in the East Village, with equally grungy tattoo artists inking designs chosen from massive books onto burly dudes and squirmish college kids. If you're looking to get that mental image out of your head, drop into The End of Near, a tattoo and piercing parlor on a quiet block on the South Slope/Windsor Terrace border, Seventh between 16th and Windsor Place.

"People have a view of what a tattoo shop is, and we're trying to redefine that," said owner Craig Rodriguez, who moved into the neighborhood from a tiny town in his native New Jersey in 1990. Ten years ago he opened Hand of Glory Tattoo a couple blocks away, in a smaller space that serves as a more traditional walk-in tattoo parlor (his staff of about eight artists works in both spaces).

Walking through the door of The End is Near, which he opened a year and a half ago with help from manager Trischa Evangelista, who can usually be found at the front desk, you could be forgiven for mistaking the storefront for an art gallery. A rotating selection of museum-quality works by local artists decorates the space, and small cases display handmade jewelry.

"I found that the kind of art we display wasn't represented," Rodriguez said. "I'm hesitant to label it, because it's so hard to classify."

Whereas some tattoo parlors' employees are content to just stencil on a pre-designed tattoo, Rodriguez makes sure to hire artists who aren't afraid to express their creativity through tattoos. "We don't have too many books, because we prefer to have our artists show off their abilities," he said. "If you tell us what you want, we can design it for you. We can make any design, and we also have guest artists who come in from all over the world."

No other tattoo studio in Brooklyn offers such a wide variety of jewelry options, either. High-end, unique jewelry is custom-designed by friends of Rodriguez, and Evangelista, who's also the piercer, is an expert in the field. "There was a need for exotic jewelry, and we've got some of the best around," she said. "These are made with real precious metals and stones, and the jeweler even made a custom wedding ring for a client."

It's clear that Rodriguez and his highly-trained staff consider what they do to be a true art form, as opposed to just a day job. "Everything here is high-quality," he said. "We have a high standard of customer service. Treat people right, and give them what they want."

"Raise the bar," added Evangelista.

Manager Trischa Evangelista with owner Craig Rodriguez
 The End is Near, 465 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-832-5020.


Open for Business: Couleur Cafe, 435 Seventh Avenue

Photo from last week
Couleur Cafe, the French cafe on Seventh between 14th and 15th Streets, has officially opened for business, in the space previously occupied by Ajami Hookah Lounge. 

Owners Murat Ozcan and Francois Ronget, both French natives, hope that the cafe will become a community gathering place, and they offer coffee from Brooklyn Roasting, croissants, pastries, salads, sandwiches, and daily specials like Beef Bourguignon. More details to come.

Couleur Cafe, 435 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-788-6600.


The Park Slope Week in Review: 5/23/11 - 5/27/11

On Monday I noticed that Butter Lane, the cupcake shop that's replacing the ill-fated King of Cupcakes, got some signage.

Tuesday brought word that they had been closed for the past month not due to redecorating, as I had been told, but because they had been shut down by the DOB due to some illegal plumbing work. Shoe Mine, on Seventh by Sixteenth, shut down (although they open back up on occasion) in advance of moving to Trinidad. Calexico, the Mexican restaurant on the other end of the neighborhood that's not related to the famous cart, was seized by the taxman for nonpayment of taxes, and won't be re-opening. The biggest news of the day, though, was that Fleisher's Meats, the upstate landmark where superstar butchers (?!) like Tom Mylan honed their skills, would be moving into the neighborhood, on Fifth near Union Street. It's freakin' awesome news, people are already saying it's going to be the best butcher shop in the city.

Wednesday was a lot quieter, with news breaking that a "gourmet" falafel restaurant called Kulushkat will be opening on Dean Street near Fifth Avenue. Also, the underwhelming Kohzee Cafe, on Sixth, was shut down by the DOH but they kept scraping the sign off and opening up, because they just love paying fines, apparently. It was also my birthday.

On Thursday 79-81 Seventh Avenue, soon to be home to a Petco, got the big reveal, and it's a rather pleasant building, thankfully (as opposed to this). Also, a bridal shop called Sposabella will be moving into the space vacated by Dolly Lyla last week, on Seventh Avenue in the North Slope.

Friday brought some wild culinary news: Mark Simmons, the curly-haired Kiwi of Top Chef fame, will be opening up his first restaurant on Union Street, to be called Kiwiana, in the space last occupied by the ill-fated Lucas Fine Foods space. To the best of my knowledge it will be the only New Zealand-themed restaurant in the city. Also, I got a tour of the soon to open Greek restaurant with the great two-story wood facade, Pharos, on Seventh by Union.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend my friends and neighbors!


Friday Foodporn: Naidre's

Naidre's Cafe, Bakery, and Espresso Bar, at 384 Seventh Avenue (between 11th and 12th), is a cute little cafe that serves up some of the tastiest, healthiest food in the neighborhood. Breakfast, soups, salads, and sandwiches dominate the menu, but it's the baked goods that really stand out (literally; they're hard to miss in the display case). 

Everything is baked on-premises except for the hard-to-master baked goods like croissants (which are provided by Ceci Cela) and bagels (which come from La Bagel Delight). Coffee is provided by Counter Culture, which has developed quite a following.

There's a large variety of traditional baked goods like cakes, cookies, and muffins, but the selection of vegan items really sets it apart from the pack. Vegan carrot cake, energy bars, and cookies are specialties, and are so good that if nobody told you were vegan you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. 

Naidre's, 384 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-965-7585