A few months ago, I bumped into a former colleague and his partner, and I asked him that age-old question: “Which neighborhood do you live in again?” His response: “Well, we’re a mid-thirties long-term couple, so Park Slope.”
Park Slope’s reputation as one of Brooklyn’s premier social retirement communities endures for a reason: It’s tree-lined, stroller-rich, and almost suburban, and while the neighborhood has long been home to some fantastic restaurants – Al di la Trattoria, Haenyeo, Miriam, fonda – new eateries don’t open there as often as in say East Village or Crown Heights. But little by little that is changing.
Four courses for a bargain
I would say a transformation started with the cafe and bakery Winnerwhich opened in March 2020 and quickly became what Pete Wells called his “ideal pandemic restaurant” for serving an ideal pandemic meal: the rotisserie chicken “brushed with smoked honey and rounded out with a pound or so of roasted potatoes, some braised kale and a remarkably fresh sourdough baguette.”
Much has been said about that rotisserie chicken, but not so much about Winner’s sister restaurant Second place, where the menu, inspired by good food, changes from week to week. That means crudos, potato croquettes with trout roe and a strong wine list, but nothing special. A recent change: Through March, the 12-seat restaurant will be serving a $60, four-course, fixed-price dinner at the bar, which is quite affordable for set meals in this city. That’s perfect for a night when you have a babysitter – or just want a really nice meal.
An important restaurant group arrives
Another sure sign that your neighborhood’s dining reputation is changing: a large restaurant group setting up shop. Roni Mazumdar and Chintan Pandya’s Unapologetic Foods is best known for its popular Manhattan restaurants, including Semma and Dhamaka. Park Slope has the distinction of being the first Brooklyn neighborhood with a group restaurant. The focus on Masalawala & Sons is East Indian home cooking, particularly that of the coastal city of Kolkata. (Mr. Mazumdar’s father, Satyen, who grew up there, is the manager of the restaurant and the elderly gentleman on the menu.)
Like its predecessors, Masalawala & Sons is nearly impossible to get into (although the patio is reserved for walk-ins), but if you manage to snag a table inside, you can expect seafood such as tiger prawns served in a coconut, and biyebarir, fish fried in a rich, buttery batter and smothered in coriander and chilli. (You’ll also find lamb, chicken, and some vegan and vegetarian options.) There’s also a small Indian grocery store in the restaurant if you’re looking for some groceries.
When you can’t get to the hot new place
There are other notable new arrivals if you can’t get into Masalawala & Sons. Alma Negra, on Fourth Avenue, serves Mexican food in a style not dissimilar to those in the neighborhood Claro. Lorea fusion-focused restaurant on Seventh Avenue serving dishes such as lamb meatballs with aji amarillo and sea bream ssam also looks promising.
And then there is bangkok degreea spin-off of the beloved Thai restaurant Deck sen in Elmhurst, Queens (sadly now closed). Located down the street from the Park Slope Food Coop, Bangkok Degree has favorites like massaman curry (one version includes some very non-traditional prime rib), pad Thai, and drunken noodles available for lunch and dinner. But it’s the “traditional grandma dishes” section of the menu that shines. What do Thai grandmothers enjoy? Pork belly with ginger and peanuts, egg noodles in curry chicken broth and of course a classic tom yum soup. Not such a bad way to spend your social pension, right?
In other news…
Ignacio Mattos’ newest restaurant, Corner Bar, is not particularly original, writes Pete Wells. But the classics at the chef and restaurateur’s bistro at the Nine Orchard boutique hotel are “virtually flawless.”
Openings: Two Staten Island brothers bring Mediterranean flavors to Midtown Manhattan White Olive; gluten-free and vegan barbecue is coming to the Barclays Center via Pure Grit BBQ; and another eatery Essex pearlis available to visitors of Midnight Theater in the Manhattan West complex.
The Mexican restaurant El Choloa Los Angeles mainstay for celebrities and students, turns 100 this year. Its longevity is a testament to the loyal staff and family behind its traditions and flavors, writes Kevin McKenna.
Email us at wheretoeat.. Newsletters are archived here. To follow NYT Food on TikTok and NYT Cooking on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.