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Tuesday
Jan112011

What to Expect: PS bklyn, 833 Union Street


Tom Graziano and Steve Sohmer, the friendly co-owners of the soon-to open gastropub PS bklyn, are convinced that you'll find something to love about their restaurant.

They met at Tom's previous restaurant, a high-end Italian spot called Palio in Jericho, Long Island. Steve, who lived nearby, had just finished a stint as GM at Aquavit after graduating from the French Culinary Institute with a degree in restaurant management. They discovered that they both had backgrounds in Wall Street (both traded at the NYSE; Steve ran his own firm until he decided to get out of the game after 9/11), and even though there's 30 years' difference in age between them, they hit it off. Tom, who lives in Bay Ridge, was more than happy to run a restaurant closer to home, and they soon settled on Park Slope, setting up shop in the former Bussacco space on Union between Sixth and Seventh. 

The first thing they agreed upon was that the restaurant would be family-friendly. Eclectic comfort food will be served in a fun and casual environment, with plenty of things to entertain (and distract) the kiddies. Two of the booths will be equipped with DVD players, and a supervised game room in the basement, which will be stocked with skeeball, pinball machines, and arcade games, will also host birthday parties. There'll be an extensive kids' menu, as well as a brunch that I'm sure will be popular (Chocolate chip pancakes shaped like Yoda, anyone?). Magicians might also be spotted going from table to table on occasion, and something called a Monkey Sundae sounds intriguing.

For the adults, a mixologist will serve quality cocktails as well as five tap beers and an extensive wine list at the long bar up front. Executive Chef Adam Goldgell (formerly of Sugo Cafe in Long Beach and a runner-up on Food Network's Chopped), has crafted a menu of sophisticated pub items with a spin, like pizza from an 800-year old goats' milk dough recipe, killer chicken pot pie, and a 150 year old pierogi recipe from his great grandmother with ham hock sauerkraut. Goldgell and his highly skilled staff will be making all the menu items from scratch in the huge downstairs kitchen. The team is particularly excited about their burger, which, although they couldn't divulge any secrets, they confidently tell me will be "the best in Brooklyn." 

Now, it's hard to overlook a familiar dichotomy here. If you spent any time at Mack's 140, the short-lived restaurant on Seventh, you'd have noticed that it's very difficult to run a restaurant with a bar that also happens to be family-friendly. I asked Tom and Steve about this, and they assured me that the large space's careful layout should satisfy everyone's needs. "It won't be an issue from either a physical or a moral standpoint," Graziano reassured me. "This is a restaurant with added entertainment, not a pub or a bar. The crowd at 6 PM will also be very different from the crowd at 10."

"Nobody will ever walk out of here unhappy," added Sohmer. "And that's a guarantee."

The 86-seat restaurant (76 on the floor, ten at the bar), will be mostly booths, and the average bill will come to $25-30/ head. They're still waiting on the liquor license, but are hoping to open on February 4th.

Monday
Jan102011

Closed for Business: Extraordinary


One more independent Fifth Avenue business bites the dust. Extraordinary, the home decor store at 195 Fifth, between Berkeley and Union, quietly shuttered just after Christmas.

The merchandise sold at Extraordinary, largely made exclusively for the shop, mostly consisted of items like hand-carved wooden vases and bowls, picture frames, lamps, candle holders, etc. Owner J.R. Sanders, a former museum curator, kept the inventory constantly changing and made sure that the craftsmanship was always up to par.

It still looks like the business is still in operation online, thankfully.

Photo via Google Maps. 

Monday
Jan102011

Under the Pig Collectibles to Shutter


Another unique, long-running Fifth Avenue business is about to close up shop for good. Under the Pig Collectibles, the kitchy vintage knick-knack shop in operation since 1998 on Fifth between Fourth and Fifth Streets, will soon be closing its doors for the last time. 

The quirky store is one of the few antique shops left in the neighborhood. It was always affordable and its display of interesting retro wares on the sidewalk always made me stop in my tracks. It'll be missed.

Friday
Jan072011

Friday Foodporn: Sweet Melissa Patisserie


Chef Melissa Murphy had been running one of Cobble Hill's most successful bakeries for close to eight years before she decided it was time to open up a second branch. Thankfully the location she chose was right in our backyard, and Sweet Melissa Park Slope opened its doors on Seventh Avenue between First and Second in August of 2006.

The small baked goods counter is consistently filled with top notch cakes, pies, and pastries, and the cozy bi-level seating area is a great place to take a date for dessert or a small bite to eat (savories include soups, salads, and sandwiches, and breakfast items like granola, oatmeal, and savory muffins are always a knockout). The homemade ice cream is also a huge draw come summertime. 

The dainty Queen's Cake petits fours, above, have a layer of raspberry preserves in between two layers of hazelnut almond cake, covered with a fondant icing.

Sweet Melissa Patisserie, 175 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-788-2700.

Friday
Jan072011

F/G Suspension Delayed Until Next Weekend

Because of the snow currently falling, MTA officials have decided to mercifully postpone shutting down Manhattan-bound 15th St/ Prospect Park F/G service to start their rehab of the Culver Viaduct. We'll get one more week of access before the months-long shutdown goes into effect on January 15th. 

I guess they figure that snow-delayed service is better than no service at all. Or possibly they just don't want to start a huge project under snowy conditions. 

Pray for more snow next weekend!