GQ has discovered Greenpoint and sent food writer Alan Richman to sample some of its newer restaurants. According to Richman, the neighborhood “looks remarkably like Portland” (um, no) and notes that the “next wave of gentrification is going to hit like a crane falling out of the sky” (sadly true).
Luksus is actually the world’s tiniest beer hall, seating twenty-six customers, almost all of them men who think they’re at an NFL tailgate party. At least it was that way the night I stopped in. The climactic moment in male verbal madness came courtesy of a guy at the far end of the room who shrieked to his pals, “Who doesn’t like fried chicken?” A hapless woman at the adjoining table had her arm pressed against her ear, futilely trying to create a barrier between herself and the thunderous foursome. By the way, no fried chicken was served at this meal.
The food was from time to time very good. Mostly, it was uneven. The black bread and the main course were mesmerizingly wonderful. The pace of the meal was excruciatingly slow. You’ve heard of the Chinese water torture. This was the Danish beer torture. The chef and his two assistants worked briskly in a brightly lit open kitchen, but they simply couldn’t get the food out fast enough. Allow me to summarize the situation: I was engulfed in man-yells, unable to converse, waiting eternally for food, trying to find meaning in a variety of beers. The best part of the experience was the service, or maybe I was just unduly relieved to see someone appear with a dish or a bottle….
Just as I was starting to relax, we again heard the howl of Fried Chicken Man. This time he cried out, “We’re on a beer road trip!” He didn’t deserve all the blame. Virtually every male among us was at maximum volume. He just happened to be the loudest. We were trapped for nearly three hours in an endless loop of men drinking beer, quite unlike any other social experience a human being might have to endure.
On Glasserie, which is the true culinary gem in Greenpoint:
The restaurant is lovely. If you can imagine a place that’s both raw and polished, this is it. There’s old wood, unfinished wood, weird wood. It’s uncluttered, with high ceilings. The staff could not be kinder. The menu requires attention. We ordered six savory dishes and half of them included yogurt. My fault. I didn’t pay attention. Every dish that includes yogurt is listed as having yogurt, which is sufficient warning.
We had yogurt pleasantly paired with grilled tomatoes, peaches, and corn; a peculiar yogurt-and-rice mixture with wild mushrooms in need of a little butter; yogurt with a whole grilled sea bream that included so much else—grilled watermelon under it, a complex okra salad atop it, corn beside it—I barely remember the yogurt being there. But it was, alongside the corn. We also had lovely ground-lamb-and-bulgur-wheat croquettes. They came with tahini, which reminds me of yogurt.
The cuisine here is comfort food from a place you’ve probably never been. It’s a little Middle Eastern, maybe a lot, but not the everyday Middle Eastern we know.
He seems a bit underwhelmed, which is odd, since its our favorite newcomer in Greenpoint by a long shot.
Finally, he went to Alameda and had this odd encounter:
We took an outdoor table on a warm evening, settling into a small, railed-off area outside the front door of Alameda. Kids came by, some on skateboards, some dribbling basketballs. Low in the sky were pink clouds, the kind you don’t see in Manhattan, not with skyscrapers blocking your view. The building across from us was only two stories high and stretched for almost an entire block. I asked the waitress for the trout special, written in white on a restaurant window. She sweetly said to me, “It comes with bagel chips. Do you know what a bagel chip is?”
I’d been thinking that Greenpoint wasn’t very much like New York City. This was proof.
I replied, “How can you ask a customer in this city if they know what a bagel chip is?”
She waved her arm around, encompassing everyone living in the vicinity of Franklin and Green Streets.
“Nobody around here is from New York. They’re all from Wisconsin and stuff. The only people from New York are working in the kitchen.”
Alameda is a sweetheart of an undersized bar and restaurant. It feels small town, although the specials I tried were confident and sophisticated.
Alameda is lovely, if a bit overrated, but we do love their burger. But what do we know? None of us are from New York.