Monthly Archives: August 2006

Music/Vespa-Fest

OK, so this upcoming party lies more in Gowanas than Clinton Hill, but is being thrown by BrooklynBretta, a supercool scooter shop. AND, the shop owner, Nicholas Mendizabal, lives right here in Clinton Hill!
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Recently, I asked him a few questions about being a small business owner, and living in the Hill:

How long have you lived in Clinton Hill, and what brought you here? I’ve lived in Clinton Hill for 2 years, and before that Greenpoint for previous 6. I moved to Clinton Hill to be closer to the shop. Working late is typical, even the 2 mile commute to Greenpoint proved to be too far!

What do you do for a living? I own and operate NYC’s best scooter shop 🙂

How did you come up with the idea for Brooklynbretta? I knew there was a need for a scooter shop here.

How did you pick the shop’s location? Sackett Street between 3rd and 4th is ideal because it’s on a commercial block where we are able to do our own thing. Being part of a string of retail shops presents its own issues – so I avoided it.

Any tips for small business owners? Doing the math helps a great deal. Having a worst case, best case, and a most likely case really helped keep fiscal expectations in line. Starting a small business is relatively easy, keeping it going is another challenge . . . I would also recommend businesses with ‘seasonality’ be avoided. Maintaining the proper staffing can be difficult.

Craziest story resulting from owning a business: It has to do with someone asking to use the rest room ‘for just one moment’. I can’t possibly sanitize this story for you, so going any further is a little difficult.

Favorite Clinton Hill Hangout: My favorite restaurant is Zaytoons, those guys make some good schwarma!

What do you hope opens in the neighborhood? A Belgian mussel joint. They always have the best beers . . . and with a pot of moules – they’re perfect.

Brown Betty Cafe's Prix Fixe

So Lesterhead and I made it back to Brown Betty’s Cafe for the Prix Fixe 3-course dinner for $18 offered on Friday and Saturday nights.

Okay, let me cut to the chase: It’s AWESOME.

You get a choice of a soup or a salad to start, whatever, and then an entree…

I got the Jerk Chicken breast.


You gotta get the Jerk Chicken breast.

(Well, if you can stand a little bit of heat that is.)

It’s AWESOME.

Just the right amount of spice and sitting on top of a mound of perfectly cooked sweet potatoes in a maple syrup glaze.

The sweetness of the sweet potatoes takes the edge right off the heat of the spices.

And on the side of that some rice and beans…

Boy, was I full.

And then he brings me this blondie bar…

Oh boy.

Anyway, go.

Get the Jerk Chicken.

(It’s so good it’s always on the menu.)

You won’t be dissapointed.

[Lesterhead’s take:

Since the jerk spices are too much for me, I opted for the grilled shrimp.


They were generous with the shrimp, which came atop a cold salad of beans, corn and tomatoes seasoned with parsley. The avocado on the side was a nice touch to the already tasty medly of flavors. Portions were perfect, service was great and the place is just so damn chill. Plus, you can’t beat the value!]

Pookiellama Report: Local Sauce

Perhaps you’ve noticed the bearded man sitting at the northern end of
the Fort Greene Farmer’s Market, a respectful distance from the “legal”
merchants, these past two Saturdays. Perhaps, like me, you at first
didn’t wander over to see what he was hawking in case it was, say, a
self-published novel or something equally scary. But hopefully
curiosity (or, in my case, a curious husband) won out, and you walked
over. Cause if you didn’t, you missed out on this:

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Homemade, limited-edition, organic hot sauce, brewed right under our
noses on Hall Street by local artist Matt Miller.

Matt moved to Clinton Hill in August 2000, to attend grad school at
Pratt, and has been making hot sauce for the past three summers from
peppers that he grows himself. He began with a small batch of only 94
bottles – made with peppers grown from seeds from “crappy Associated
scotch bonnet peppers” – which he gave to family and friends and sold at
work. He now makes two or three different small batches a year.
Starting with a “general idea of the basics of how a hot sauce is
made”, he trawled web sites to see what other hot sauce brewers were up
to, and eventually settled on his own formula. He wanted his sauce to
be “natural, and made with high-quality ingredients”. Matt, who names
El Yucateo and Cholula as among his favorite commercial hot sauces,
works mainly on his own, aided and supported by his girlfriend, family,
friends, and “a team of Oompa Loompas (for Packaging and Quality
Control).”

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To come up with a name and logo for his creation, Matt explains, “First
I thought of the hottest object in the universe, and then translated it
into Flanders-speak. Next I photographed a sculpture I made from some
peppers I grew, to get the logo. I guess I wanted people to get a
chuckle out of the packaging too.”

Matt had two varieties of hot sauce for sale the weekend that I ran
into him at the Market. One was lighter, with a citrus flavor, and one
was smokier and a bit spicier. Both are excellent – they have tons of
flavor, not just heat. Devil’s Doodad will keep for up to a year in the
fridge.

Will the Devil’s Doodad empire expand? Matt says it mainly depends on
how his pepper crop does each year. At this point he only sells his
sauce at the Fort Greene Farmer’s Market and at his job, and doesn’t
turn a profit, though he breaks even.

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Matt will likely be at the Farmer’s Market again this Saturday, though
he says his supplies are running low…. So get there early if you want
the Doodad! You can also send him an email, with “hot sauce” in
the subject line if you would like to reserve a bottle or get on the
hot sauce mailing list that he is setting up.

This post contributed by hey mama.

Mmmm…Toasty

There is this beautiful storefront on the corner of Grand and Myrtle. I was speculating on what it could become and had my very own wishlist going, hoping for something cool.

Instead we got this:

Now I have nothing against Quiznos (except that I never thought the subs were that good, the whole “toasty” thing is way overrated and it’s kind of pricey) but what a waste of a perfectly good location.

Ugh.

On the bright side, I walked past this store which is slated to open on September 4th.

“Who’s Your Doggy”, Premium Pet Food and Supplies, on the corner of Aldelphi and Willoughby Avenue.

Pet owners rejoice!

Fort Greene Stuff

Damn, there’s a lot going on in this vicinity!!

Over in the western corner of Fort Greene, SetSpeed reports on the turtle-esque progress of a new BBQ joint (opening where the Cambodian place used to be), as well as the irish pub slated to open next to Le Bagel Delight. This place was advertising broadcasting World Cup games, and it’s STILL not open. Maybe they meant the 2008 World Cup? He ponders whether the pub points to the Murray Hill-ification of the ‘hood. God, I hope not. I wonder how this’ll fit in with the neighbors, and Moe’s. The BBQ place definitely seems like a good choice for the area.

Both Clintoncentric and Brooklyn Record have clued us in on the former Italian restaurant on DeKalb that’s been undergoing renovations. It’s slated to be… Bonita! YESSSSSS. I do admit to the area already having some stellar Mexican (Pequena, Los Pollitos), but Bonita will be significantly closer to me than the other two. Depending on the quality of the guac, it might be tacked on to my list of regular dining options. (FYI, the original is in Williamsburg.)

My bad — the pub and BBQ are both on South Elliott near Lafayette. Bonita is on DeKalb across from iCi.

Bistro Lafayette

Bistro Lafayette is the meeting place for the Bed-Stuy North Improvement Association. I figured that if people are planning on attending the meetings, Monday nights at 7:30pm, someone should review the food there. And since I like food…

So, Bistro Lafayette.

My little ride parked outside as Marise opens up.
The inside of Bistro Lafayette.

It’s located on 338 Franklin Avenue, not Lafayette Avenue as previously posted, between Greene and Lexington Avenues.

(Why is it called Bistro Lafayette? Wouldn’t Bistro Franklin, Bistro Greene or Bistro Lexington be more appropriate? I guess Bistro is a French word and Lafayette is that famous French dude so maybe it does make sense. Anyway, I digress…)

On my first visit (more on this in a second) I took the recommendation of Marise, the very pleasant hostess, and ordered the Lafayette Burger, a burger with goat cheese and carmelized onions, for $8.

I was too excited that I got my food and took a bite before I remembered to take a picture. (Again.)

While the idea of goat cheese and carmelized onions sounds great on a burger there was something still…missing. Good idea, good ingredients but something keeped it from being “great”. I couldn’t really put my finger on it…and I probably could have figured it out but I got caught up in a really funny conversation with another patron and Marise that I totally forgot to take notes on the food.

An incomplete food review by me just wasn’t going to cut it.

(Lesterhead’s a real pain in the butt sometimes…)

So I went back the next day for breakfast.

Bistro eggs with a side of Turkey bacon.

This time I ordered the Bistro eggs for $5. (Eggs any style, toast, grits, fries or home fries.) I got my eggs over medium, passed on the grits (they get all over everything) and got some Turkey bacon on the side.

Turkey bacon was excellent, home fries were good but my eggs were a little overcooked. Eh. I’ll live.

Now while I do have to say the food is just passable I would go back again because I had such a great time eating there. It’s usually tough to eat alone in restaurants but I never felt like I was eating alone as the patrons and staff were all really nice and willing to engage in silly conversations.

It’s really one of those nice neighborhood type of places that you can see yourself going back to again and again just because it’s so friendly and comforting.

I just wish it was closer to me.

Bistro Lafayette
338 Franklin Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 230-4728

'Nabe Gossip: Cafe on St. James?

A neighbor of mine told me that he heard this renovation on St. James and Gates was slated to be a cafe on the ground floor! Apparently a friend of his climbed over the barricade to see what was up.

Renovation permits simply say “residence,” and it just looks kind of unlikely to me. Sure would be nice to have a cafe over there, though.

***

Then I received another similar tip, and a plea to find out what’s going on there.

So, Jay and I walked by again. This time, I climbed onto his shoulders and took a few pics over the wall. (See how I risk my safety for you all?)




The entire ground floor of the house is wide open. I’d say it’s definitely NOT a “normal” home renovation — almost certainly going to be some sort of retail space.

I have to make mention of the supercool zebra-masking tape grafitti:


I swear, I will get to the bottom of this. Stay tuned.

Shooting on Myrtle

As Our Lady Mess pointed out there was indeed a shooting on Myrtle Avenue on Friday, August 25th, around 11pm.

According to a source on the Willoughby Walk Co-Op’s building security, which patrols the buildings across from Los Pollitos III where the incident occurred, the shooting happened when a Garbage truck driver asked a car to move. The driver of the car refused so the Garbage truck driver pulled out a gun and shot him.

That’s the story as it was told to me. I’m still trying to get more information on this incident but it didn’t seem to make the papers.

Anyone have any additional information on this?

[Lesterhead’s comment: Why was the garbage man carrying a gun on the job??]

Crime Alert

Seems like there was a robbery at the corner of Washington and DeKalb Avenue tonight. The scary parts of this incident was that:

It was an armed robbery.

It was only 9:30pm.

The assailants were extremely young.

Now, please note that I did not witness the actual events. I was walking home when I noticed a Police car parked the other way and various personal contents on the ground.

From what I could gather briefly from the victim and some people who were in the area when it happened it sounded like the victim, a teenage Puerto Rican male around High School age, was approached by 3 even younger Black teens with one of the attackers pulling a small handgun out and shoving it into his stomach.

I guess some screaming/shouting occurred and someone on the street quickly called the Police.

Luckily no one was seriously hurt.

One of the witnesses indicated another recent incident where a young Pratt student was recently robbed in the same manner in the same vicinity.

A quick look at the 88th Precinct Crime statistic indicates crime being down but with the students at Pratt returning, Freshmen orientation seemed to have occurred this week, I’m expecting a slight increase.

(Some of those Freshman just don’t have a clue about living in a big city.)

With all the development going on this could be a backlash effect as a lot of people who have lived in this area for a long time are suddenly being priced out of their own neighborhood.

(As the nice Mexican restaurant opens up the McDonald’s closes across the street…)

Just a little head’s up for everyone as I got a feeling it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.