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Blueprint Cocktail Bar Looking Good, Vintage

The facade has been installed and most of the fixtures are in place, and Rory Dwyer's newest venture, Blueprint, on Fifth between Union and Sackett, looks like it's almost ready to open. 

Dwyer, who also co-owns popular bars High Dive, Commonwealth, and Sharlene's (as well as the space's previous occupant, Long Tan), has created a simply appointed, no-nonsense cocktail and wine bar, with lots of wood, old-fashioned fixtures (including windows from The Stained Glass Store further down Fifth and tiles on the ground at the entryway with the street address), and a small back garden. 

Offerings will be heavy on craft cocktails, and there'll be a nice wine list along with a menu of elevated bar snacks like cheese and charcuterie. Dwyer told me last month that they were planning on opening May 20th, but judging by the interior it may be pushed back to June.


Open for Business: Dumplings and Things, 375 5th Avenue

Dumplings and Things, a Chinatown-style dumpling shop, opened for business yesterday in the former Bar Reis-owned space, on Fifth between Sixth and Seventh Streets. It's run by the brother and sister duo of Sam and Lorraine Li, and their menu is focused, inexpensive, and delicious.

The space is small, with one communal table and a small counter, so most likely most orders will be take-out (there's no delivery yet). 

The pork and chive dumplings (top, $2.50 for 5) were perfectly pan-seared and very flavorful, with a juicy filling and a wrapper that wasn't too thick.

Bao is a real highlight: pork belly (above) and sliced braised beef (below), wrapped in a soft steamed bun and topped with cucumber, cilantro, carrot, and peanuts. Both are "melt in your mouth," and seriously delicious. Best of all, an order of two is only two bucks. On the weekends Peking Duck bao will also be available.

Noodle dishes, soups, and spring rolls are also on the menu. Chalk this one up as another great addition to the neighborhood: It's easy, accessible, fresh, cheap, and best of all, tasty. It'll be open weeknights until 10 and weekends until 11.

Dumplings & Things, 375 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-768-2200.


20-Block Street Party Takes Over Fifth Avenue



The Fabulous Fifth Avenue Fair was held yesterday, and from Sterling Place all the way down to 12th Street folks came in droves to be a part of the party. Bands played, food and beer from restaurants along the avenue was enjoyed, kids played on rides, and it was overall a great success despite some wet weather early on. Here are photos of some highlights:


Live music from 200 Fifth
Campo de Fiori owner Andrea Dal Monte serves up some pizza
Vintage cars!
Lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound!
Duplex anyone?
M&S Prime Meats owner Mel Diaz dishes up some sausage and peppers
Live music courtesy of Southpaw

Oysters and beer from (where else?) Brooklyn Fish Camp



Business of the Week: Chair-Man, 176 Fifth Avenue


"I don't sell chairs any more," said Jack Russo, the friendly, softspoken proprietor of Chair Man, the gift store on Fifth Avenue between Lincoln and Degraw. "I used to, though."
Russo got his start working in a chair store on the Bowery, and in 1982 he opened up a store of his own, first above today's Connecticut Muffin on First and Seventh, and later on Seventh between First and Garfield, in a space that's remained vacant since he moved into the current location last March.
"Customers come in and tell me that they still have the rocking chair I sold them almost 30 years ago!" he said. "Over time, the neighborhood shifted, though. The guy who did our repair work passed away, and gas prices skyrocketed, which made shipping difficult."
As the neighborhood shifted, so did the Chair Man. Russo has created one of the most enjoyable places to shop in the neighborhood, and if there's a store that smells better in the entire city I have yet to find one. "I sell a lot of stuff that smells great," said Russo. The smell of incense, candles, and scented oils merge with relaxing instrumental music to immediately put the customer at ease.
There's a sign in the door that says "Browsers Welcome," and the variety of merchandise certainly makes for an entertaining browse.  Small gifts, Brooklyn-themed merchandise, and clothing join imported items like Japanese Kokeshi dolls in the store, and all the merchandise is curated by Russo himself. While it may be easy to write off the merchandise as trinkets and knick-knacks, they're anything but. "'Trinkets' make it sound like it's cheap and worthless," he said. "These aren't cheap or worthless."
While passers-by may bunch the store in with the vintage shops that dominate this stretch of northern Fifth Avenue, nothing in the store is vintage.  "My store sure smells a lot better than those used clothes stores!" he said. "The scents, the music, it's all part of the ambiance. This has always been a relaxing place for myself."
"About half of my customers are tourists from all over the world, and the other half are those who just stroll in," said Jack. "I have no clue how the tourists find me, but I'm happy that they do!"
Russo has made a small effort to re-name the store Gift Man, but he's perfectly content keeping the name he's always used. "It's like the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, I guess," he said. "Work Bench doesn't sell workbenches, Door Store doesn't sell doors, so what's in a name?"
Chair Man Gift Man, 176 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-499-0721.



The Park Slope Week in Review: 5/9/11 - 5/13/11

The soon-to-open Couleur Cafe
On Monday, word got out that Falafilo, the new Falafel/ Middle Eastern place on Union right near Fifth, will be moving into the old Mama Rosa Space, located right next door. It was also announced that the Great Food Truck Gathering of 2011 (not the actual name) will be taking place in Grand Army Plaza NEXT SUNDAY.

Tuesday brought another announcement, the Prospect Park Bandshell's 2011 lineup of summer shows. I also got a behind-the scenes preview of Bicycle Habitat, opening this weekend on Fifth between 10th and 11th.

Wednesday brought word that Clear, the odd little wifi store on Fifth between St. Marks and Warren, had shuttered. We also got a glimpse inside the new burger joint coming to Flatbush by Sixth. Not much progress there.

On Thursday all hell broke loose with Blogspot, so these links may still not work: One reported that Asha Veza, the Indian-inspired clothing store on Fifth between St. Marks and Prospect that donated all proceeds to helping disadvantaged Indian women, had closed. The next was a follow-up to that, explaining how while the store was closed, the show will be on the road for the summer and it'll move back into Brooklyn come fall.

Friday the 13th brought news that Couleur, a new French cafe, will be opening in the former Ajami Hookah Lounge space, on Seventh between 15th and 16th. Looks like it'll be a nice addition to the neighborhood. I was also curious about the odd "Pub" signage on a house on Prospect Avenue, but lo and behold, it was once a pub!