Tag Archives: Brooklyn

In Which I Allege Prime Meats Has No Clothes…Or is At Least Half-Naked…

I’ve been Yelping.

Mostly because I realized I have opinions about local restaurants and it’s silly not to share them…even though I remain terrified someone is going to call me out, a la the Lucky purse disaster on Consumerist. I guess this proves that despite all the book rejections that have come my way, I still haven’t developed very thick skin.

Nonetheless, I did a bold thing today: I posted a review of Prime Meats in which I alleged the restaurant is completely uninviting. Angry mobs may be assembling as we speak.

I’m not sure whether I’ll become a hard-core reviewer on Yelp — after all, there are so many places on the Internet where you can review things and provide your opinions…like, say, on Epicurious…and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to write it all.

But I also know a little cross-promotion can’t hurt…and am kind of proud of this review. There — I said it. (Which probably means it is terrible as that is usually the case whenever I like something I write.)

Nevertheless…for non-Yelpers, here’s my review:

I am going to make a bold statement. And I’m fairly certain it’s going to ruffle some feathers, but I’m going to say it anyway: I think, to a degree, Prime Meats — like the Emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale — has no clothes. Or it is at least half-naked.

The food is very good, to be sure. Prime Meats wouldn’t have garnered so much attention if that wasn’t the case.

I also think it was a bold move for the owners to focus on German cuisine – although perhaps therein lies their genius.

But somehow Prime Meats, despite its delicious food, doesn’t have the warm, inviting atmosphere of other restaurants of its caliber. That is not to say it is not aesthetically pleasing. But it is permeated by a sense of entitlement that belies the site’s humble history as a dry cleaning business.

On a recent weekday, one of the owners waltzed about with his French bulldog in hand with such an air of confidence, I wondered if he would actually get in trouble if a health inspector dropped by or if he could simply say, “Do you know who I am?” and get away with it.

I’ll repeat: The food is very, very good. You can get a fine steak here – and this is a neighborhood that cannot otherwise boast a good steakhouse.

But I think the fuss over this restaurant is partly psychological. In other words, I think part of the reason people rave about it is the same reason the head cheerleader and the quarterback of the football team are powerful in high school. It’s not necessarily because they’re good people…

Sam Sifton did an excellent job describing diners in his NYT review last May: “…brownstone bohemians, third novelists, people with Web sites, with good art at home.”

They are served by waiters in beards, skinny jeans and suspenders…or, as Sifton described them, “a crew of handsome men and women dressed as if ready to ride horses back home to Bushwick, where they trap beaver and make their own candles.”

I am admittedly a struggling writer with a degree that has so far not justified its pricetag…and perhaps if I had landed a job at the New York Times or Conde Nast, I would feel more welcome here. But I don’t. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of a restaurant where I’ve felt so unwelcome.

I could perhaps understand if I was dressed inappropriately or was spewing profanities. But I wasn’t. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And I live very close. I walk by virtually every day. And yet when I decided to drop by to take advantage of an oyster special and the restaurant was unoccupied with the exception of one other party, it took 15 minutes for our drinks to come and yet another 15 more for the oysters to appear.

“I’m sorry, but the oyster guy is backed up,” our waiter explained as the table next to us received their second platter of oysters and we checked our watches.

We were eventually served and, as noted, the food was good. But at no point did I feel my business was wanted or that I would ever be compelled to return…unless I was suffering from acute hubris and needed my ego cut down to size by a staff eager to imply that I wasn’t good enough to eat there.

It’s not just me. I’ve heard stories from neighbors who were deemed unfit to mingle with the clientele and who were encouraged to sit at the bar or move along.

Take Frank Bruni on Twitter, for example. On January 5, he wrote, “At Prime Meats last nite, didn’t think: I’m in BROOKLYN!”

In his defense, he went on to say, “Didn’t mull geography. Just ate well at super place. The borough has plenty.”

But, at the same time, a Brooklyn prejudice seems terribly outdated and pompous…and somehow completely fitting for this restaurant that calls the borough its home.

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Potential Rib Correction

T informs me that the ribs I had at Char No. 4 were short ribs, not spare ribs.

I still don’t quite understand the difference between short ribs and spare ribs — other than one is beef and one is pork — and most of the short rib recipes I’ve found have bones…so I don’t know how he’s so sure my deboned ribs were short ribs and not spare ribs. The online menu says spare ribs, but he insists that mine was different because it was a special. I think the actual menu at the restaurant was different than the one featured online and that it didn’t have the spare rib dish, but the joint added it anyway as a special. But I guess it’s sort of a potato/potatoh situation.

But, if it was in fact an error, I seriously regret it. (Seriously.)

(Thanks to Char No. 4 for the image.)

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In Which I Underestimated McRib’s Cultural Relevance…

I thought liking the McRib in 1994 was my embarrassing childhood secret, but everyone on earth seems to be on the McRib bandwagon now.

McDonald’s has a “Legends of McRib” ad campaign in which, if I understand correctly, you can make up a back story for the McRib and potentially win a trip to Germany. Which makes perfect sense! (And part of me is actually tempted to enter. What the heck? That’s what less-than-full-time-employment is for, right?)

Speaking of which: Gothamist mentioned it in an ad for a job I want so badly I might actually die. (ZOMG, Gothamist, if I have to break out into Abba’s Take a Chance on Me like they do at the end of Mamma Mia!, I will.)

Former New York Times reporter and forever-cooler-than-you-because-her-middle-name-is-a-number writer Jenny 8. Lee said it is one of her five favorite foods.

Even Stephen Colbert had a McRib monologue.

Re: Colbert’s point on bones, presumably (or quite obviously) a satiric jab at mass food production: Yes, as noted before, it’s a little weird if you think about why it doesn’t have bones. But, at the same time, even nice places have boneless ribs! Case in point: Brooklyn BBQ/whiskey joint Char No. 4 has spare ribs on its menu that, as T would say, are “banging.” (In other words, I liked them.) Although, then again, they were not actually on the menu when I dined there (the dish was a nightly special) and so, together, the McRib and Char No. 4’s spare ribs may prove that boneless ribs the world over are a fleeting phenomenon…

Although, sadly, I was not as nuts about Char No. 4’s bacon-jalapeno cornbread as I thought I would be. The flaw was perhaps with the cornbread itself: Too dry. Although more bacon and/or jalapenos would have helped. (It did, however, inspire me to add bacon and/or jalapenos to *my* cornbread next time…

Image via McDonald’s. (Thanks.)

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Cheerwine Inspires Savannah Road Trip Plot, Alternate Thanksgiving Plans

There is a new fancy-pants (not to be confused with Clancy Pants) grocery store opening up around the corner from my apartment. And I hadn’t thought much of it as it looks like the kind of place that sells $9 jars of mustard and, as I am a penniless writer, it didn’t seem like the kind of place where I’d be popping in for incidentals.

Last weekend, T went out for a newspaper and such…and returned, much later than anticipated, with said paper and a bottle of Cheerwine from the aforementioned fancy-pants grocery store.

I’ve *heard* of Cheerwine. (In fact, I think the sole male blogger at the super-effusive lady-blog [for which I no longer write because I am not cut from the same super-effusive cloth] mentioned Cheerwine in his bio. He is based in North Carolina.)

T’s family, incidentally, is also in North Carolina. So…he knows the stuff and was somewhat excited about finding it here. We split the bottle – that’s right: a glass bottle, just like Coke from Mexico, or wherever it is that produces it with real sugar. The verdict? It was alright. Certainly hit the spot. Maybe kind of like Dr. Pepper? But a little more cherry-y? Or less cola-y? I’d give it a 3 or a 3.5 out of 5 gold stars. (Come to think of it, this may possibly explain why my food-writing career has not quite taken off yet…)

And…because of a photo ID snafu, I’m not sure T and I will be able to hop on a plane in two weeks to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. Christmas, perhaps…but Thanksgiving seems increasingly unlikely.

So, naturally, thoughts turned to spending the upcoming holiday with *his* family. Not sure I am mentally prepared for this, but…no time like the present, I guess.

And…because I am my mother’s daughter, I have hatched a harebrained scheme to tie in a trip to Savannah if we drive south. Is that nuts?

My defense:

1. I’ve never been to Savannah and I’ve heard wonderful things about it.

PLUS 2. I graduated from high school in Georgia, so it seems kind of shameful not to have visited Savannah at least once. (Although, in my defense, I only spent three semesters at George Walton Comprehensive High School.)

PLUS 3. We could go to The Lady and Sons! T (and I) love her! And I would love to eat there! (Although I have to be wary of shellfish as he is allergic. But, still! So much good stuff on the menu to try!)

It might involve a bit of intense driving, but we could totally get down there in two days with a day to spend there before heading north again for Thanksgiving.

I think it could be super-fun and memorable and a nice escape from the city, which has not happened much this year. But…I still have to convince T this is a brilliant idea and that we only live once, etc. Which may or may not work.

(It’s not the first time I’ve pulled something like this. When I heard his roommate was driving to Indiana for a wedding over Labor Day weekend, I tried to convince him we needed to hitch a ride and spend the long weekend in Indianapolis. I failed because he had to work…but if he was planning to take time off that week for Thanksgiving anyway…Savannah just might be my $1,000,000 idea.)

Image via three6ohchris/Flickr

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Filed under Brooklyn, cherries, holidays

Sam Sifton Says…

There are SO many good lines in Sam Sifton’s review of Prime Meats…which, conveniently, is *extremely* close to where I live:

  • “You can see these people standing on Court Street nightly, staring through the plate-glass windows at a dining room packed with brownstone bohemians, third novelists, people with Web sites, with good art at home. They look slightly pained, these visitors from afar wondering about the life choices they made that put them in Chelsea or Park Slope or Montclair, and not down here in Carroll Gardens, this little Italian village off New York Harbor where life is obviously perfect.”
  • “But forget to line your pockets in the manner of a Biggie Smalls impersonator and you’re going to need to leave your guests before the end of it all, and walk to a bodega A.T.M. to rustle up enough cash to pay your bill.”
  • “The staff is exceptionally well trained and efficient, a crew of handsome men and women dressed as if ready to ride horses back home to Bushwick, where they trap beaver and make their own candles.”
  • “And a meal in the restaurant proceeds with all the jollity and good manners of something scripted by Laura Ingalls Wilder and scored by the Grateful Dead.”
  • “Also: soft weisswurst like a hot dog from a parallel and slightly more enjoyable universe.”

I still haven’t eaten there. I met a guy at a local watering hole who bartended there for the summer (waiting for the Gowanus Yacht Club to open…and who apparently lives around the corner from me and knows my next-door neighbor, Rocco, who he called the “mayor” of our neighborhood…which is really pretty accurate…and *he* said he couldn’t stand to work there much longer because it was “full of people with ironic mustaches”).

Now perhaps it’s too late to get *in* — isn’t there a line in a movie to the effect of, “Go there before the Times ruins it with a good review!”? I want to say When Harry Met Sally or something? Or am I totally nuts? — although I do, as noted, live close enough to wander in any ol’ time…

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Ode to Jonathan on His 30th Birthday

Oh, my beloved Jonathan, you’re one of my favorite people and when you turn 30 it’s a really big deal; but what can I do to honor you and accurately portray how I feel?

I wish I could have hopped on a plane to see you in Atlanta for the real celebration; but, sadly, I’m broke and we live in entirely different parts of this great nation.

So, stuck in Brooklyn, I pondered, “What’s a girl to do?”; and that’s when I realized my only choice was to compose an ode to you…:

We didn’t have much time together in high school before we graduated in 1998; but we kept in touch — even though we went to college far, far apart — which surely must have been FATE.

I have fond memories of the 69 Boyz blaring from Javy, which is what you named your car; and you said it hurt your heart when pictures of me surfaced at a Florida Gators bar.

(I swear I didn’t know they were playing UGA that day!; I had a homesick friend from Florida, but felt like a traitor and wouldn’t have otherwise been compelled to stay!)

You were mesmerized by the Wall of Lisa in Auntie Leslie’s hall; and a waiter called me “jailbait” when I was dining at Chevy’s with y’all. (…that’s you and Katie…)

You listened to me freak out in a parking lot when a teetotaler caught me with a bottle of wine; and you helped me unearth a pink bikini in Miami that — shockingly — looked fine.

You were my date to a wedding when there wasn’t a straight boy in sight; and then I bowled barefoot and passed out on you in the car home that night.

My own father joked (to you!) that I’d have to be tackled and sedated on *my* wedding day; and, if anybody understands what that truly means, it’s you, my friend who’s gay. (I’m sorry! Bad rhyme!)

Bring it On always makes me think of you; and one of my favorite text messages of all time was when you wrote, “Wisconsin smells like poo.”

You’ll always be my buddy Jenelope; even though (or directly because?) you’ve never big-worded me.

So here’s to another decade I know will see you in good stead; Love — one of your biggest fans! — LaFred.

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Goodbye, My Sweet Cardigan/Hat…

Spring is certainly here…(although, to be fair, I started this yesterday when it was more overtly here…). And while I am happy it has sprung, I’m a little sad to say goodbye to my winter clothes. Winter is a season far better-suited to hiding. I mean, if I wear a cardigan every day of my life in winter, no one asks questions. But that same cardigan in the spring/summer is not only mildly to intensely uncomfortable, but also turns me into Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give. (I remember she wrote a play about everything that happened with Jack in the end, but I don’t recall whether her clothes changed, too. But, if I was the gambling kind, I’d guess Nancy Meyers 86’ed the turtlenecks as some sort of homage to Diane’s transformation…)

And, I mean, I had this grand winter plan to reinvent myself and emerge in spring all svelte and wonderful. And yet I have this phobia of gyms (I don’t like people seeing me like that! Even though it’s supposed to be a good place to pick up, you know, babes, isn’t it?) and I am pretty sure I blogged about my epic failure in the Richard Simmons Experiment (although I did very much enjoy his introductory sequence at a Brooklyn nightclub…)…and so I thought I could compromise with this bike thing — which I could ride hidden away in my apartment and only my cat would be the wiser…but then my mother warned me not to buy anything until I had seen it in person, so I totally checked it out at Walmart in Tucson…but by the time I was ready to pull the proverbial trigger, it was sold out and I went back to square one. Plus, I am lazy and I like food. And now the year is practically halfway over and I haven’t done anything transformative at all (although, to be fair, I guess there’s no time like the present…)…but I still don’t think this will be the year I wear swimwear in public…unless it’s the old lady suit…and is that really progress? (Insert muumuu joke here.)

The other problem with it not being winter anymore (I say that instead of “spring,” because I don’t want to imply that I don’t like spring…I’m really happy to see the sun and everything! I will just miss the cardigan…) is that I’ve been all about hats this winter. (One of the fake gamblers said, “When does the hat come off?” The answer? “Spring.”) But…I don’t think I can get away with hat in spring/summer, can I? Which means I’m stuck with my stupid hair…and…the Cosmic Cosmetologist was totally right and I like it better longer…but…THERE’S SO MUCH OF IT…and it gets so bouffant…and I don’t know how to rein it in…which is why the hat was so great all winter. Otherwise, I just end up pulling it back…which sort of makes growing it out moot, doesn’t it? And it was completely wonderful after that Moroccan straightening treatment…but only for about two weeks. And it was WAY TOO EXPENSIVE for just two weeks of hair happiness.

I wish I could pull it back halfway with something like a Snooki poof — just not quite as tall. But my version was not even remotely attractive…and I actually just tried out this headband thing — that’s right, folks, I am reverting back to elementary school — but I’m not sure that’s really something appropriate for everyday use either. And so I am more or less stuck until next winter?

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