Cobble Hill restaurant Battersby has been a critical darling since it opened two years ago. The crowds—locals and interborough travelers alike—have followed, because yes, there are scores of kale salads and sweetbread dishes these days, but few as good as Battersby's.
Since the team opened up their larger restaurant Dover (also to critical acclaim), getting into Battersby is a little easier. But on peak nights you may still be looking at a multi-hour wait for a table. Looking for some alternatives in the neighborhood? Right this way.
The Closest Call
You want inventive and seasonal in a space that knows how to charm—Brucie does this well. Take slow-roasted Brussels sprouts with wood sorrel, or some of the beautiful pastas, or a chicken for two rubbed with clove and cinnamon and served over red rice. Like at Battersby, the kitchen does wonderful things with vegetables.
There's also Rucola, a nominally nothern Italian restaurant with some intriguing menu items like salt cod and potato soup with soft cooked egg and an affordable drink list, too. (Incidentally: good brunch as well.)
Both of these restaurants draw fans of their own (as does La Vara, though that's worth a seat at the bar if you can snag it), but their lower profile means a hassle-free table is a more likely bet.
Drinks and Snacks While You Wait
If you're waiting out a table, there are plenty of bars nearby. One block down you'll find Wing Bar and Zombie Hut, the former a solid place to get some wings and a pint, the latter a bar with the good sense to serve scorpion bowls and stock board games like Scrabble, Clue, Scattegories, and even Monopoly if you're feeling it.
More Good Eating Nearby
If you're spurned from a table at Battersby, you're not lacking for other good places to eat. More casual, but plenty of fun, especially come warm weather when you can eat outside, is Van Horn, where Southern sandwiches like fried catfish or chicken are worth a visit. Also on the Southern spectrum is Char No. 4, a great bar/restaurant devoted to bourbon, smoked meat, and plenty of pork.
There's also Gowanus newcomer Lavender Lake. Though it's primarily a cocktail bar, there's a full dinner menu, and beautiful outdoor seating when the weather's nice. The Grocery operates in this vein as well, with items like a Swiss chard pancake and crispy squid with kale and kohlrabi.
What are your favorite low key options in the neighborhood? Tell us in the comments.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.