In my Brooklyn neighborhood and those close by, great dining options are sprouting up like weeds. For the longest while it was mainly happening in Williamsburg, but innovative restaurants with sophisticated menus are now popping up throughout the borough. Always looking to eat locally, rather than drive across the bridge to the "city", I try new restaurants regularly and having visited several that have recently opened, I thought I'd share with you my top 5 Brooklyn restaurants!
Faun - In Prospect Heights we are the lucky recipients of two fabulous new restaurants. Faun opened this summer with an Italian-American menu based on local ingredients. Chef Brian Leth, formerly with Prune, Allen & Delancy and four years at Vinegar Hill House has introduced us to a thoughtful menu of well crafted dishes. I've been twice and love the low key vibe and somewhat austere interior design, which I like to call Brooklyn rustic, consisting of bare wooden tables, wrought iron light fixtures, exposed brick walls and simple but comfortable seating.
Freek's Mill - located in Gowanus and named for a local mill built in pre-industrial 18th century Brooklyn, this restaurant is a welcome addition to a neighborhood, best known for its namesake canal. Freek's Mill as noted by Pete Wells in his New York Times review, "...is already a swell place to spend the night in a post-industrial zone where gentrification has moved as slowly as the fluid in the canal." Fortunately, the restaurant is located a couple of blocks from the canal. Chef Chad Shaner brings his cooking expertise from Union Square Cafe and BLT Prime and his menu is built around small plates, emphasizing farm-to-table selections. We ate at the chef's counter, which the night we were there had a particularly convivial vibe, perhaps because we all sat quite close together and perfect strangers chatted amiably. I'm impressed it's doing so well so quickly as the neighborhood is still somewhat sketchy and becomes quite desolate after a certain hour.
Lilia - It was several months before we made it to Lilia, which opened to great acclaim and the New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells bestowed it with 3 stars. People from near and far clamored to get in - it finally calmed down enough for us a couple of months ago and we dined there at 9:30. The excitement's quite understandable as Missy Robbins, the chef and owner was previously at the two A Voce restaurants in Manhattan where she had built a devoted following. This is my one restaurant on the list that's actually located in Williamsburg, but I couldn't not include it. Housed in the shell of a former garage and Pete Wells aptly describes Lilia's food is "Italian, confident and coursing with energy." Menu highlights are Missy's sublime pasta dishes and we found that it was definitely worth the wait!
The Finch - Nestled unobtrusively amongst its brownstone neighbors in Clinton Hill, Chef Gabe McMackin opened The Finch in 2014 and received a well deserved Michelin Star 10 months later. With its seasonal farm-to-table-menu McMackin describes his restaurant as "a labor of love." Before opening his first restaurant in Brooklyn McMackin acquired his years of experience at Roberta's, Gramercy Tavern and Blue Hill. Although The Finch is now on the world stage since receiving a Michelin Star, he explained during a Grubstreet interview that, "the people who make this place special are the folks who come in on a Wednesday night and just want to do their thing." Philippe and I certainly appreciate the cozy, laid-back vibe, well executed dishes and friendly knowledgeable service.