13 October 2005

The Grocery

I met my family out in Carroll Gardens last night for dinner at The Grocery (named last year by Zagat's readership as the best restaurant in NYC). The transformation of Smith Street in the last five or so years is amazing to me. When I first moved back to New York from London ten years ago (oh, tempis, he fugits), I lived in Carroll Gardens, on the second floor of a huge brownstone, between Smith and Hoyt. Smith Street was then a wasteland of abandoned storefronts, bodegas, and grungy laundromats. When I walked to Brooklyn Heights, it was always down Court Street.

Today, it is chockablock with trendy boutiques (I love the bags at Refinery), great restaurants, and beautiful young couples pushing their beautiful children in strollers.

My point is not to tell you how cool I am for having lived in this neighborhood before it was discovered by the masses (though clearly that's the subtext), it's this: why didn't I beg, borrow or steal the money it would have taken to buy property on Smith Street? The brownstones on President and Carroll, even the dilapidated ones, were probably well beyond reach ten years ago, but certainly a burnt out building on Smith Street would have been attainable.


Enough complaining. How was The Grocery, you ask? Just lovely. It's one small room -- some might say crowded, I prefer to call it cozy -- with pale green and exposed brick walls. Ten tables, tightly packed. Pewter sconces and ceiling fans. I felt a little bit as if I were in Litchfield, Connecticut. The abundant wait staff were all very friendly, and the two owner/chefs each came out between courses to offer us an amuse of soup; first was potato leek, next, squash and parsnip. Fall is truly here.

Among us we had roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, chanterelles and grilled salsify; grilled lamb with tomato risotto and eggplant; and, for my vegetarian sister in law, a plate of grains and vegetables, followed by a beet salad with goat cheese ravioli. All of it was quite good, though my mother was disappointed with her salad of "teenaged greens".

I was disappointed that they didn't have the warm peach cobbler advertised on the dessert menu -- now that it's Fall, they've changed it to apple, which is just not the same thing -- but consoled myself with three scoops of ice cream (chocolate, caramel cognac and mint chocolate chip), which was accompanied by a pitcher of hot chocolate sauce. Each of us who got ice cream got our own pitcher, in fact, because, as the distaff owner said, "no one should have to share chocolate sauce."


Driving down Clinton Street towards the Brooklyn Bridge, I was struck, as I always am, by the gracious beauty of the brownstones in this part of Brooklyn. I know that many of them have been chopped up into multiple apartments, but from the outside you can imagine them as single family homes; a bedroom for all the children, a study for Dad, a sewing room for Mom, a den, bats and balls littering the back lawn, (apparently, in my fantasy, we're back in the 50s).

Pedestrian Rage and I have a plan to win the lottery and have a baby. Maybe when we do, we can buy one of these homes. That sounds realistic, doesn't it?


Blogger Stuntmother said...

Oh please, can I come live with you when you do? I firmly believe that the only sensible way to parent in this crazy world is via a commune. I will help raise little Excellent Rage and Pedestrian Walker. Really.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Excellent Walker said...

You are absolutely welcome! Ideally, I'd have the first and second floors for me, the child, and the pets; the third and fourth for PR and his partner; with the ground floor for grandparents, friends, surrogate parents...

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grocery, while lovely, was voted 7th best restaurant in New York. Smith St. hasn't changed that much yet.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Pedestrian Rage said...

I'm all for the commune. The Boyfriend is not into having children, but I am, if I could ever afford it. Did anyone see the new Elle Decor? The featured apartment of a gay couple with a 2 year-old blond son almost made me weep, this kid is so cute, and they're so cute together....

9:07 AM  

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