Welcome to the 2015 Winter Edition of Brooklyn Restaurant Power Rankings. Over the past eight months, so much has changed. Critics of the last list will be glad to see Kimchi Grill has taken a massive slide on the rankings. Who’s taken it’s place? Read on to find out who made the completely arbitrary cut.
RIP (recently closed):
Marco’s – this was maybe the best Italian restaurant in all of Brooklyn and the owner’s (same folks who own Franny’s pizza) deemed it to be ‘not quite profitable enough’. Makes sense considering the expensive ingredients they’d use like truffles and bone marrow, but it’s a sad moment for long-time fans of this Prospect Heights staple.
Kaz An Nou – a personal favorite of mine, if not for the French/French-Caribbean inspired jerk chicken dish, then for the BYO and ambiance (dimly lit, record player spinning soft island tunes). Their closing, ironically, seems to be a product of gentrification – unable to renew their lease under the shadow of the Barclay’s center, Kaz An Nou will be sorely missed.
Crooklyn – new restaurant down on Vanderbilt Ave. They’re trying very hard to fit in with the elites, and I can’t blame them for aiming to please with a free cheese plate upon my first visit there, but the value and quality doesn’t match the price. Maybe given more time they’ll get to the next level.
22. La Vara
Michelin rated tapas in Cobble Hill. They’re a bit overly-aware that they’re a lauded restaurant, and it’s pricey, but the dishes were unique and tasty.
21. Kimchi Grill
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Coming in at #3 on my list last May, I caught a lot of flack for my ranking of this Korean BBQ/fast-food spot, which has been a personal fave of mine for over three years. I still love their consistency – that they deliver delicious short rib burritos and fish tacos with a wide array of fun appetizers. But the pedigree just isn’t there to be ranked in the top 10 anymore, and the food smells like garbage.
20. Dokebi – More Korean BBQ! This one in Williamsburg is another personal fave that you won’t find on many critic’s lists, but still is a fun spot for a group (you can cook your own bulgogi steak) and is still really tasty.
The best pancakes in Brooklyn have to be worth something. Throw in the coffee+bloody brunch pre-fixe for under $20 and you’ll always have my heart, Cheryl.
19. Speedy Romeo’s
Very nice pizza joint in Bedstuy.
17. Do or Dine
I appreciated the chef’s willingness to play with unconventional flavor pairings. Ordering duck for brunch is a bold move but despite a small portion size it definitely paid off.
16. Peaches Hot House
That fried chicken, though.
15. Buttermilk Channel
That fried pork chop, though.
Getting bonus points here for value (lunch combo features a large, customizable burger + draft beer for $13) and location (short walk down Franklin Ave from the 2/3/4/5 stop). Try the poached eggs for brunch.
Now delivering on Caviar! Farm to table deliciousness.
12. Frankie’s 457
This Italian fare is just…right. It’s perfectly balanced, rich but gentle on the palate. The ambiance helps make for a relaxed but elegant dinner environment.
Chef Dale Talde of “Top Chef” fame has perfected the Asian-infusion dishes at this Park Slope spot. Great for special occasions and sharing plates with a date.
10. Silver Rice
This is my personal favorite on the list. Recently opened boutique sushi shop that serves extremely fresh fish in a variety of styles. The ‘cups’ are perhaps the most popular option – they are served in exactly that – coffee cups with plastic tops. You can choose from white or flax-seed rice and they’re only about $6 each. You can’t beat the quality or price. Considering how fresh and delicious their fish is, this is a neighborhood gem.
Now that sister-restaurant Marco’s (RIP) has closed, Franny’s gets a bump in the rankings.
8. Pok Pok
Michelin-rated Asian cuisine. One dish was so spicy I nearly threw up. Somehow this is a good thing.
7. Bar Corvo
With Corvo being perhaps the closest restaurant to my apartment, proximity here is working against it. I think I’ve simply Corvo-ed myself out but I still appreciate everything about the staples they serve which I’ve come to love. Half off bottles of wine on Wednesdays is a nice look.
6. Bar Chuko
From the folks who brought us – you guessed it – Chuko, comes a izakaya (Japanese tapas) joint that opened earlier this year with high expectations. While not as purely consistent as its ramen sister shop up the block, the adventurousness and unpredictability of each small dish plus a wide variety of unique cocktails make this a date destination worthy of its namesake.
5. Al Di La
The patron saint of the Brooklyn restaurant renaissance – one of the first to really up the game. It’s an amazing Italian spot and a pre-requisite for those wishing to ensconce themselves in Brooklyn’s restaurant scene.
4. Hometown BBQ
Still the best barbecue in NYC as far as I’ve seen. Despite its remote location in Red Hook you can’t get a better meat sweat going on anywhere else in the city.
3. Walter’s (Fort Greene)
A new addition to the elite tier and I admit I may be bullishly naive, but I was really impressed with the one dinner I had there a few months ago in a way that leaves you dying to come back. That’s about the best thing you can say for a first experience these days.
Perhaps losing its top spot on my rankings only because of what I’ll call ‘broth fatigue’. It’s affordability and accessibility have led me to over indulge in what I frequently refer to as my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn. The menu remains mostly the same, but now more than ever – with temperatures outside circulating in the upper teens – does it seem appropriate to grab yourself a bowl of Brooklyn’s best ramen.
1. Vinegar Hill House
It’s just the complete package. Every visit to Vinegar Hill House is a memorable and exquisitely delicious experience. They do an amazing brunch with a thick and satisfying Bloody Mary. They do bone marrow infused pasta. They do the best pan roasted chicken entree you can find. They do it all. It’s expensive and it’s a little difficult to get to but that’s all part of the charm.