Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Edouard Bourgeois's Downtown Brooklyn (and Surrounding Area)
The nights Edouard Bourgeois works the floor at Café Boulud as head sommelier can seem far removed from his Brooklyn apartment. But this French native (he was born and raised in Champagne) wouldn't have it any other way. Bourgeois not only enjoys his small backyard but also the more relaxed vibe of restaurants and bars around his downtown Brooklyn neighborhood. You might even spot him on his wooden, surfboard-like skateboard with a pizza in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. Here are his favorites below.
Pizza: I'll call ahead and order a pizza from Franny's. I usually take my skateboard to the restaurant and it only takes about 10 minutes to get there. I get a ricotta pizza with spinach. It's really simple, and all the ingredients are super fresh. I usually stop at Wright & Goebel for wine on the way home.
Burger: There's a place called Branded Saloon on Vanderbilt Avenue. I like bacon and blue cheese and I get it cooked medium rare. It's actually a sports bar, but they have a very nice room in the back with a big screen. My girlfriend is a big Giants fan, so we will watch games there sometimes. They also have a piano. I've played it myself before.
Coffee: There's good coffee at Palmer's on Flatbush and Myrtle. It looks like an old-school movie theater on the outside. It's pretty close to where I live, and when I go jogging in Fort Greene, it's super convenient. I like black coffee. I go for cappuccino once in a while.
Brunch: Palmer's has really good grits. It has a texture and flavor that I really like. The menu keeps changing, so I don't know if they still serve it or not.
Southern food: Char No. 4. It's a whiskey restaurant. It's really incredible how many whiskey brands they have. They have a very good wine list and good prices, too. The menu is really Southern-influenced. I like the hanger steak and I had a very good lamb shank one time. They do a good boar sausage, too. The dishes are all pretty hearty. I usually get green tea there to cut the richness. It's a good hangover place after a long night.
Shopping: I like to pick up food at the outdoor market by the Borough Hall station. All of it is seasonal. Honey, cheese, apple juice.
Cheese: Brooklyn Larder. Everyone knows about it. It's really good. The people know a lot about the product and there's a lot to taste. It makes up for the bakery choices.
Wine: I love Wright & Goebel. They don't have fancy wines but really cool wines. I'm really focused on natural wines right now. For the summertime, it's just perfect. I keep changing what I drink, but I often like the wines from the south of France or a simple, fresh, silky Beaujolais.
Date spot: Weather Up is a great cocktail bar along Fifth Avenue. I'm more a wine drinker, but you should drink cocktail in a cocktail bar and wine in a wine bar. They work with seasonal products, which I like. They pay attention to what's available in the market. I usually prefer a gin-based cocktail.
Asian: There's a Japanese ramen restaurant Ganso. It's a small place on Bond Street. It's really, really good and cheap. They serve ramen in a big bowl with a spicy broth. I usually get the Ganso with pork, egg and scallion. It's really traditional in many ways. I usually get green tea there. It's a good hangover place after a long night.
Favorite spot: I just love the location of Vinegar Hill House. It's on a very small street. It kind of reminds me of the little streets in France where I'm from. Very charming and very nice with great, great food. I had wild boar shank. They don't have it on the menu often, but it's a must try if they have it. The wine list is fun and really decent.