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This week on Ask the Critic: "The ideal place for a bunch of middle-aged guys who want to spend an evening catching up with each other and ignoring the wider world."
Guy's Night Out
I get together with a group of friend with whom I went to high school (over 30 years ago now!) every few months for what we call "Boys Night Out." It's an opportunity for us to get together without families and relive our glory days, at least a tiny bit. We take turns rotating who gets to choose where we eat. Restaurants have included Il Buco Alimentari, Café Katja, the Cannibal, Quality Meats, Empellon, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Char No. 4, etc. What I am looking for is a relatively affordable place that has great food to share along with an interesting beer list (wine is good too) and drinks. Any thoughts to help us find that ideal place for a bunch of middle-aged guys who want to spend an evening catching up with each other and ignoring the wider world?
For a classy guys' night out, I'd nominate Maysville—the less rustic, more Manhattan sibling restaurant to Char No. 4. A 10-page whiskey list, 20+ beers, plenty of cocktail options, and a menu of upscale Southern food whose best dishes are sharable: you may want to order more than one plate of crispy grit cubes with country ham and bourbon aioli. (I did, and last time I went, there were only two of us at the table.)
Or if you don't mind a few stops past Carroll Gardens on the F train, Talde in Park Slope is just about my favorite restaurant for a medium-sized group—you can order just about everything on the menu, and everything's built to share, even the soups. (When there's a smaller group of you, you might have to choose between pretzel pork & chive dumplings, Kung Pao chicken wings, and yuzu guacamole; what fun would what be?) There's a Brooklyn-friendly draft list of Sixpoint and Kelso and Bklyn Brewery, easy-drinking cocktails and a short but smart wine list with real values on it. No booking ahead for small parties, but for 6-8 people, they'll let you reserve.
I'd forgotten just how fun the beer list at DBGB was until I visited a few weeks ago; the wine list has some familiar choices, some more esoteric, and a menu with plenty of sharable sausages, as well as impressive seafood options—and an eminently reasonable $40 3-course prix fixe, should you want to go in that direction. Like Talde, it's a casual-feeling restaurant with fabulous food and lively energy, like a number of spots on your list. Or if you fancy Italian? Hearth is as strong a restaurant as ever, and while their wine bars (Terroir) get plenty of credit, the drinks menu at Hearth is just as strong—some fun, some obscure, $2.50 sherry at happy hour, and a beer list that'll delight even the geekiest.
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