Chris Bradley, the executive chef of Danny Meyer's latest restaurant inside the Whitney Museum of Art, Untitled, is something of a pioneer: he's lived in Gowanus, the neighborhood bordering Park Slope and Caroll Gardens, for the past four years. His commute to work isn't speedy, but it's worth it to live in a place that he thinks is going to make it big in the next year. "It's one of those frontier lands where rent is still cheap," he says. "The young and the hungry will come."
Until then, Chris is happy to visit them as much as he can. He procures many of his restaurant's pastries and desserts from neighboring food artisans, and often makes fresh pickups in the morning, bringing desserts with him on the subway to the Upper East Side. Chris, who was previously the executive sous chef at Gramercy Tavern, has his hands full finishing plans for the downtown Whitney restaurant, which is slated to open in late 2015. In his downtime, he enjoys his own personal weekend schedule by eating his way around the neighborhood.
Note: Except where noted, all restaurants have been confirmed open and are ready for business!
Bagel: It's right on the Gowanus-Park Slope border, but Brownstone Bagels is great. I usually get a whole grain bagel with butter and honey. My weekend is from Monday to Tuesday, so it's my weekend food.
Breakfast: When I'm craving corned beef hash and eggs over easy, or an omelette, Station Diner is my go-to, classic dinner.
Delivery food: There's an Italian shop called Zito's that just opened on 5th (the original is on 7th). I like the meatball sub and the bracciole, and they do a Sixpoint beer-braised beef sandwich that's great. Or if I'm feeling like banh mi, I order from Hanco's. I usually go with the pork, and get it spicy, with jalapenos and extra cilantro. I get a passion fruit bubble tea too, so I have a little sweet to cut through the heat.
Sandwich: There's a place called Root Hill Café that hits my coffee and sandwich requirement. They have a BLT that's really nice, served on whole grain bread with roasted tomatoes. I get it with spicy mayo that has a little sriracha in it.
Pie: Four & Twenty Blackbirds is really my anchor for this neighborhood; they were some of the first people to get out there. I stop in and get a slice frequently. The black-bottom oatmeal is my decadent breakfast. It's a rich, salty, and sweet combination of oatmeal, dark caramel, and chocolate on the bottom layer of the pie. I buy one or two pies a day for the restaurant there.
Thai takeout: Hop Hap is my go-to takeout spot. I order the drunken noodles with either pork or chicken, very spicy, all the time.
Tacos: There's a place called Oaxaca where I go to get the special of three tacos with beans and rice. There's a braised beef cheek special that's great. I get that, plus a pork and a beef taco.
Late-night eats: Littleneck is open late on the weekends, and I like to pop in after work for a lobster roll or an Ipswitch clam roll.
Dive bar: Canal Bar is where I go to watch the game, get a bucket of beers, and sit in the backyard. They always do happy hour specials. It's great on a weekend—the real weekend.
Nicer wine, beer, or cocktail bar: Lavender Lake just opened up this summer, pretty much across the street from my house. They have good beers, nice wine and cocktails, and a nice outside area. Anything with gin in the summer and bourbon in the winter is a go-to for me. They have great brussels sprouts, and in the summer they were doing great crostini with boquerones and avocado that was my summertime snack. There's a cool look to the place; it attracts the freelancers and independent guys who work in shops around the neighborhood. [Ed. note: Lavender Lake suffered damage from the hurricane, and has not yet re-opened to the public. Support them when they come back.]
Can't-miss neighborhood spot: The guys from Brooklyn Brine now have a storefront shop where you can do tastings, and it makes for a cool little afternoon. Their whole processing facility, from making the pickles to canning, is there, right in the neighborhood. They do these great Moroccan green beans and fennel-cured beets. I sometimes come home with a five-gallon bucket of pickles. I use them in the restaurant, too.