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Open for Business: Buttermilk Bakeshop, 339 7th Avenue

Park Slope's newest bakery, Buttermilk Bakeshop, opened up at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, and on both Saturday and Sunday they were entirely sold out by 4 p.m.

The owner, pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse, is a French Culinary Institute grad who was previously head pastry chef for the David Burke Restaurant Group, and there's clearly some real skill on display here. Everything from the baguettes to the croissants to the macarons, cookies, cupcakes, whoopie pies, linzer tortes, tarts, and cakes are baked on-premises throughout the day, many based on old family recipes, and they're all on display as well as several varieties of gelato (here's the menu).

Rosenhouse (above) can be spotted at all times at the workspace behind the counter, frosting cupcakes and replenishing the stock, which includes more than 30 individual items available at any time. Because it's such a small smace, the oven, workbench, mixer, and other equipment are at the center of the action and visible from the front window, giving it all a very transparent, hands-on vibe. The front counter area is also quite small, so don't be surprised if you see lines out the door. Everything I've tried from there has also been pretty damn tasty, another reason why there might be lines out the door.

The bakery is open Tuesday - Friday from 7:30-7:30, Saturday from 10-8, and Sunday from 10-6.

Buttermilk Bakeshop, 339 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 347-689-4376.


A Sneak Peek at Taco Santo, Opening Saturday

The neighborhood's newest taqueria will be opening on February 1, and I had the opportunity to drop by and see what they have in store.

The menu is pretty simple and straightforward (click on it for a larger image), with a handful of tacos topping out at $5, and a few additional items like quesadillas, huaraches, flan, and rice and beans. I tried the braised rabbit taco (below), a lobster taco, and mushroom, and can say that this is seriously gourmet. You'll most likely need a few of these to fill up (they're relatively small, averaging about 3 bites), but are worth the price: tortillas are made to order and only super-high quality ingredients are used. The $5 for a dozen tortillas also are a pretty good deal.

Front-of-house and bar manager Corey Lange has put together a pretty solid bar program, as well: There's a handful of beers on draft, including the Mexican Victoria, and there's a small but focused selection of mezcals and cocktails based on them.

The restaurant looks pretty much the same as it did when it was Fort Reno, but the counter, which used to be where you'd place your order and pick up your food, will now be additional seating as they've switched to table service. When they open the hours will be fairly standard, but as the goal is to be a place where you either begin or end your evening, they're planning on eventually staying open until 2 a.m.


Details Emerge About New 5th Avenue Wine & Spirits Shop, Amaro

Last week, I first reported that a new wine and liquor store would be opening on 5th Avenue between 1st and Garfield, in the space last occupied by boutique Lucia. It will be called Amaro, and owner (and 10-year park Slope resident) Steve Fromhart talked to Park Slope Stoop about what we can expect.

It's a fairly lengthy interview, but here's a distillation (no pun intended): He'll be selling mostly wine, digestifs, and aperitifs. The wine will be predominantly from small producers, and will average $9 to $25 per bottle. The real point of differentiation will be the spirits component, though: he's focucing on herb-based digestivi and aperitivi like Aperol, Averna, Ramazzoti, Cynar, Campari, Fernet-Branca, and the like.

In Italy and other parts of Europe there's certainly a culture of drinking herb-based, bitter aperitivi (like Negronis) to stimulate the appetite before a meal, and medicinal-tasting digestivi (like Averna or Underberg) after a meal to help digest. Apparently he's planning on stocking about 75 of these spirits from 20 different countries, with more in the works.

I happen to be a big fan of Negronis, and even of Underberg in its tiny little bottles, but this is certainly a niche category. As previously established, though, wine and liquor stores tend to do quite well, and this could stand apart from the pack if it's one of only a few shops in the city selling some harder-to-find spirits. No word on whether he's planning on stocking staple liqours like vodka and rum, but if he doesn't he'll most likely end up confusing a lot of potential customers.


Calexico Finally Revealed on Fifth Avenue

It's the day we never thought would arive: the construction shed has come down from the newest outpost of Calexico on Fifth Avenue near First Street, and we finally have an idea as to what it's going to look like.

The bare brick white storefront is quite a change from the wood paneling and slats that came before it, and it's different from the look of their other two brick and mortar outposts, in Greenpoint and Red Hook.

It was nearly two years ago when the Cal-Mex chain announced that they'd be moving into the space, which was last occupied by Blue Ribbon Sushi, and construction has progressed in fits and starts since then. But you can't deny that this shows some major progress!

Many thanks to reader Andrew for sending in the photos.


Signage Up at 'Taco Santo,' Opening Feb. 1

A couple weeks ago, I first reported that Fort Reno BBQ, on Union Street near 4th Avenue, had closed for business, and was being replaced by a taqueria from the same owner, Jacques Gautier, who also runs Palo Santo across the street. He'd been on the hunt for a name, and it was revealed last weekend: Taco Santo.The Dia De Los Muertos-inspired sign has gone up, and they've announced via Facebook that the opening date has been set for February 1.

The made-to-order tortillas, which will be measure about 4 1/2 inches across, will be the star of the show here, filled with pork (from whole pigs), chorizo, chicken, duck mole, mushroom, cactus, Baja-style fried or grilled fish, fried avocado, and lobster (pictured). Tacos will average $3. Gautier will be executive chef, Puebla native Alejandro Bonilla will be chef de cuisine, and mixologist Corey Lange has been brought in to head up the mezcal-centric cocktail program. 


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