It’s been a tumultous week in BoCoCa, the realtors’ handle for the slice of Brooklyn stretching across Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens. The arrival of spring has seen three notable new eateries fling open their doors, and two old favorites lock ‘em down for good.
Chef Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar opened their fifth location over the weekend at 350 Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, so don’t be alarmed if you see a sudden increase in the number of bleary eyed cereal milk and crack pie junkies clogging the sidewalks outside the F/G train entrance at Smith Street and 2nd Place. If you haven’t yet indulged in the guilty pleasures of Milk Bar, don’t underestimate the unassuming-looking menu: The deep salty, sweet goodness you will find here is addictive in the worst/best possible way.
La Vara, the first Brooklyn restaurant from Alex Raij and Eder Montero, the husband and wife chefs behind high-flying Chelsea tapas spots Txikito and El Quinto, opened at 268 Clinton Street, next to neighborhood café fave Ted & Honey, in the space formerly occupied by Breuckelen. The menu at La Vara puts the spotlight on the Moorish and Jewish-influenced food of southern Spain. Grubstreet ran a slideshow featuring some of their dishes, like Mallorcan flat bread with sweet onion and blue goat cheese; stuffed rabbit loin poached in saffron vinaigrette with paprika, prunes and green olive; and ‘Gurullos’ – Murcian pasta with goat butter.
Gran Electrica, a new Mexican café from the crew behind Brooklyn Heights’ Colonie, is not technically in BoCoCa, but perched on the border of Dumbo and the Heights, next to the new Grimaldis location at 5 Front Street, it’s close enough. Gran Electrica features a collaborative menu by Colonie executive chef Brad McDonald, a vet of Noma and Essex House, and Sam Richman, formerly of Jean Georges. Everything they serve is made in-house, from scratch, with the kind of meticulously-sourced ingredients you’d expect from chefs of their pedigree. The menu includes tacos of the tongue, poblano chile, tilefish, pork shoulder, brisket and sweetbread varieties; a selection of seafood small plates like oysters with charred Anaheim chile and pickled carrot, clams with avocado and Mexican cocktail sauce, and a mackerel ceviche with lime, avocado, carrot and jalapeno; and larger plates like pork ribs with ancho and morita chiles and a chicken mole verde.
On the bummer side of things, Chestnut, one of the pioneers of farm-to-table dining on Smith Street, has closed after nine years. Few can match the street cred that chef Daniel Eardley developed for his unwavering commitment to seasonal cooking using only the best local, and often foraged ingredients. Here’s their farewell, as posted on their website:
The owners and employees of Chestnut would like to express its gratitude to all of the wonderful patrons of the last nine years. This has been a great community to be a part of. As we move towards brighter futures we’ll always be reminded that what we built was a true mom and pop and not a theme or franchise. It took an army of hungry food loving people to raise this house and an economic disaster to bring it down. We survived three hurricanes and one tornado. Six couples married here, we hosted countless baby showers, wedding receptions, birthday parties, engagements all of which brought so much joy to the job. We’ll miss this neighborhood that has been so good to us and for that would like to simply say…
And rounding out the farewells, the Franks have closed the Prime Meats Delikat-essen & Provisions Store, the hole-in-the-wall provisions shop around the corner from Prime Meats that featured meats, pretzels, sauces and more from the Prime Meats and Frankies kitchens, along with ready-to-roll growlers of Sixpoint beers. But all is not lost – Eater reports that the Franks may be converting the space into an oyster bar.