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Destination Williamsburg: New Fall Dining

la esquina.jpgIf you thought Williamsburg peaked a few years ago, think again.  An exciting new crop of gourmet shops and restaurants has just opened in this stylish Brooklyn neighborhood this fall.  Where to begin?   Well, there are a few Manhattan imports, including a newly minted Meatball Shop and even a café version of La Esquina for starters.  There’s lots of new spots as well, like Pillar and Plough with an open kitchen and a chef’s counter or Noorman’s Kil, a bar, with over 220 whiskies and menu devoted to grilled cheeses.  Just when we thought the cupcake trend was tapped out, Brooklyn Cupcake renewed our faith with deliciously unique creations, like a rainbow cookie or a tres leches cupcake.   There’s more where that came from this fall in Williamsburg…

Pillar and Plough
Address: 162 North 12th St. between Beford Ave. and Berry St.

We’re surprised this newly installed restaurant isn’t getting more attention. Afterall, the chef Andres Grundy, was the executive chef at L’Atelier de Robuchon before leaving for this open kitchen.  And the chefs deliver your dinner to the table themselves.  Tucked inside the Hotel Williamsburg, this 100-seat restaurant is outfitted with cedar panel walls, concrete floors and an open kitchen to watch the chefs in the act.  The menu features American small plates with a five to eight course tasting menu avaiable at the chef’s counter.   But the real draw might be the whole roasted suckling pig with smashed potatoes or the prime rib for sharing.

Address: 138 North 8th St. between Bedford and Berry Street
Phone: (718) 384-1904

Jason Denton’s been busy building a Manhattan restaurant empire, inoteca and Corsino included.  Finally, Williamsburg gets bragging rights to one of their own and this one’s enviable.     Enter Betto, a 60-seat Williamsburg spot with rustic Italian plates with a focus on whole fish and large cuts of meats, like smoked guinea fowl.  (Now we’re talking.)  And instead of panini or crostini, Jason Denton finds new inspiration from bruschette, creating a stellar roster all baked on housemade filone bread.  (Think pesto, zucchini and artichoke bruschette.)   There’s daily-changing pastas and small plates, like baked clams, rabbit rillettes or grilled plums and burrata. While there’s no shortage of good brunch places, Betto’s got a compelling menu featuring ricotta fritters and truffled egg toast that’s hard to resist.

Noorman’s Kil
Address: 609 Grand St. between Lorimer and Leonard Sts.
Phone: (347) 384-2526

Did you know that a creek used to flow through Brooklyn?  This new Williamsburg bar was named after it, but instead of running water, this bar’s overflowing with whiskies.   In fact, there are an impressing 225 to choose from, many hard-to-find bottles, as well as 12 craft beers, spirits and a rotating roster of wines by the glass.  If you don’t know much about whiskey and want a crash course, Noorman’s Kil holds weekly tastings in their 170-seat space.  The space itself looks like it’s been there forever with pine banquettes, wood floors, amber lights and an outdoor patio, faded yellow walls. The menu is exclusively devoted to gourmet grilled cheeses, all from Murray’s Cheese and the bread’s from Orwasher’s Bakery.  Our favorite is the “Salona” – a spicy tower of jalapeño jack, hot sauce, tomato, and sour cream nestled between two slices of sourdough. Perhaps the best part is that they’re open ’til 4 am every night of the week.

waffleandwolf-2.jpgWaffle and Wolf
Address: 413 Graham Avenue

Waffle and Wolf is baiting our appetites with a new and imaginative twist on waffles.  Welcome waffle sandwiches with a unique selection of sweet and savory offerings.  From the sweet side, there’s waffles folded around peanut butter, fruit, whipped cream and caramel or a yogurt, kiwi, cantaloupe variety.  It’s gets more creative: Some waffles have ingredients baked right into the waffle itself, like the currant-studded waffle filled with cinnamon ice cream and walnuts.  If you want something savory, try the bacon-laced waffle with cheddar, tomato, and avocado-yogurt.  Or you can build your own with over 35 fillings to choose from.

Café de La Esquina
Address: 225 Wythe Ave.
Phone: (718) 393-5500

If you can’t get a prime-time reservation at La Esquina in Kenmare, there’s new hope because they’ve expanded into Brooklyn. A surprising move, La Esquina is turning the former Wythe Diner into a Mexican café with old school diner stools and booths.  Of course, they’ve added their own spin with a take-away taqueria, back room, cafe and even an outdoor garden, each with their own menus.  That means you can grab La Esquina’s signature tacos to-go or make a festive Friday night of it in the garden with a blood orange margarita and mole enchiladas or carne asada.

Brooklyn Cupcake
Address: 355 Union Avenue
Phone: (347) 762-2253
Website: brooklyncupcake

After sampling a few whiskies at Noorman’s Kil, we recommend taking a stroll over to Brooklyn’s newest cupcake shop. While the cupcake market is saturated, we’ll happily make an exception for this shop. Brooklyn Cupcake promises a unique take with a flan cupcake, Puerto Rican-inspired guava con queso cupcake and even a sublime rainbow cookie cupcake.  There’s 17 varieties, including Tiramisu, Coquito, and Tres Leches.  Or you could [ay tribute to the neighborhood with the Brooklyn Red Velvet cupcake while sipping their hot chocolate.

The Meatball Shop
Address: 170 Bedford

Who needs spaghetti and meatballs when we can focus on the centerpiece of the dish.  The Meatball Shop made its Bedford Avenue debut this summer, giving Williamsburg a new option for late-night munchies. There’s everything from chicken to pastrami to vegetables meatballs on the menu with sauces to match, like parmesan cream, pesto, or mushroom gravy.   You can customize your order with your pick of naked balls, sliders, smashes, and heroes.   While the Manhattan location will always be the original, the Brooklyn outpost has the advantage of a much larger space with 68-seats, so you can linger awhile over daily offerings, like braised savoy cabbage or roasted farm potatoes.  Still hungry?  Finish with their homemade ice cream, or even better, an ice cream sandwich, the likes of ginger snap or peanut butter.

Fleisher’s Grass-Fed and Organic Meats
Address: 192 5th Avenue
Phone: (845) 388-6666

If you like to cook, Fleisher’s butcher shop is a required stop.   This purveyor made a name for itself by combining that old-fashioned butcher shop charm with sustainable practices.  What better place to set up its first, New York City storefront than in the heart of Brooklyn.  They have an impressive array of natural and organic meats from local farms.  Fleisher’s grinds six different meats daily and makes over fifteen kinds of sausage, including a Lebanese sausage with nutmeg, cumin and red wine, spicy Moroccan, Irish bangers, and sweet Italian. If that’s not enough, Fleisher’s offers store-to-door delivery service, so you don’t need to leave your own kitchen.

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