Category Archives: opinion

Cabbie Shot

Most of you have probably already seen this, but a cab driver was shot in the face early yesterday morning at Lafayette and Franklin.

Some disturbing information has been updated, including that the suspects are three young women who hopped in the taxi on Flatbush Ave in Fort Greene, and the driver may lose both of his eyes.

Robbing someone is one thing, and it’s wrong.  But imagining a group of young women acting so violently, in a way that prevents the driver from returning to his livelihood, really disgusts me.  What the fuck goes through people’s heads?  It is worth a few bucks to ruin someone’s life?

I try to stay neutral here in this space, but I just feel so bad that someone in our community did something like this to an innocent person.

(Also, can’t find a single piece of info in the news about the shooting on Myrtle and Washington Pk!)

Links:

ABC News

Gothamist

Wegmans Clarifications

Just a few bullet points on my earlier post about Wegmans to clarify my opinions:

  • I SUPPORT the preservation of Admiral’s Row
  • The new locally-owned stores opening look amazing, and many of us will shop there (OMGfishandbreadatProvisions!)
  • These same stores are not nearby the public housing residents and many of them are selling specialty, more expensive items (instead of things like paper towels and basic cereal)
  • The point of the supermarket in the Navy Yard is to serve these populations, as they do not have a store nearby for basic necessities
  • The politicos are pretty much set on providing a comprehensive supermarket in the Navy Yard for these populations
  • If our neighborhood will HAVE to be home to a new supermarket, why not work with local officials to bring a GOOD store in, that serves ALL populations of the neighborhood, offers reasonable prices, is a company dedicated to the neighborhoods they operate out of and that provides quality job opps for locals?
  • High-end grocers are not serving the public housing populations (which is fine, but point being those residents have needs that need to be met)

To all those who emailed me about Wegmans, I will send out an email this weekend!

What About Wegmans?

I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! What if we figured out how to bring Wegmans to the Navy Yard?

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to spend any time in Buffalo or Rochester (“upstate” to NYers, but “Western New York” to natives), Wegmans is an amazing supermarket that offers all kinds of stuff — think a slightly more reasonably priced Fairway, plus stuff like lawn chairs, books and magazines, a pharmacy , bulk candy and granola, etc. (They also have stores in PA, NJ, VA and MD)

The best part, though, about attaining a Wegmans would be the employment benefits for the community. Sure, any large store that opens in our area will offer job opportunities for the locals. Wegmans, however, has been on Fortune’s “Top 100 Businesses to Work For” for the last ten years:

“The 100 Best Companies to Work For” list is compiled for FORTUNE by Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco, based on two criteria: an evaluation of the policies and culture of each company, and the opinions of the company’s employees. The latter is given more weight; two-thirds of the total score comes from employee responses to a 57-question survey which goes to a minimum of 400 randomly selected employees from each company. More than 100,000 employees from 446 companies participated in the survey this year, making this by far the largest simultaneous employee survey in corporate America. The survey asks about things such as attitudes towards management, job satisfaction, and camaraderie within the organization. The remaining one-third of the score is based on an evaluation of each company’s demographic makeup, pay and benefits programs, and culture. Companies are scored in four areas: credibility (communication to employees), respect (opportunities and benefits), fairness (compensation, diversity), and pride/camaraderie (philanthropy, celebrations).

Wegmans offers great benefits for its employees, including generous scholarship awards for high school students on the college track. Well-treated employees = happy employees = high standards of service = a pleasant shopping experience = happy customers. In addition to offering reasonably priced healthy groceries nearby, why not also offer stellar job and training opportunities to the community as well?

They were also named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.

If we’re going to bring a giant supermarket to our neighborhood, why not recruit one that offers real benefits for everyone – shoppers and employees alike! I mean, isn’t that why service at Duane Reade is so shitty? Because they offer crap benefits to their employees? This could be a golden opportunity to work with Wegmans and do something amazing for our community.

Who’s with me? BRING WEGMANS TO BROOKLYN!!!

If you are seriously interested in helping with this, email me at clintonhillblog-at-gmail-dot-com.
beans n stuff

SCH Meeting Recap

I’m sad to say that I arrived at the meeting late and missed the presentation on the potential food co-op (more info on this on the official site, and on Brownstoner [check out the entertaining comment thread]).  Personally, I’ve never been to the Park Slope Food Co-op.  To me, it has always sounded a little too cultish and crunchy for my taste.  Then again, I hear there are amazing deals to be had. I think if we did this up FG/CH style, it could be awesome.  Now, will someone with a membership please bring me into the PS co-op so I can see for myself what it’s really like?  Thanks.

Speaking of groceries, next on the agenda was Admiral’s Row in the Navy Yard.  I’m no expert on this, but what I gleaned is that the crumbling Admiral’s Row houses are slated to be demolished and replaced by a giant grocery store, with a parking lot for 300 cars (!!!!!).  Various presenters suggested that the parking lot be reduced to accommodate approximately 80 cars (akin to the Key Foods lot in Park Slope), and retain the old homes at the same time.  Since the supermarket is being touted as being for the benefit of public housing residents (who would WALK there), why are so many parking spaces needed?  The renovated structures could be used for anything ranging from a bakery and fish market, specialty food stores (all of which could employ local teenagers), to condos or for use as the Navy Yard museum (which is being planned currently as a new building).

Someone at the meeting suggested the city (or whoever is ultimately in charge) consider bringing a Trader Joe’s to the Navy Yard space, pointing out that it offers reasonable, high-quality food, produce and meat that the entire neighborhood desires.  I am ALL FOR THIS plan.  The city is home to far too many shitty Pathmark stores that smell like the 1970s.  Of cours, Trader Joe’s means LOTS of shoppers.  Perhaps extra bus service could be extended to the area?

Another general suggestion regarding the Navy Yard was guided tours, or ferry tours from Manhattan.  This is an interesting idea.  The Navy Yard is vast, fascinating, mysterious and full of history.  It annoys me that no one can get in just to look around.  I think, ideally, the yard should be open to the public, contain public space and offer interesting retail.  Creative reuse, people!

Moving on…

Atlantic Yards was mentioned briefly.  The bridge on Carlton Ave is slated to be closed soon for construction of the Ratner Nightmare.  This means that firetrucks will be rerouted to drive AGAINST TRAFFIC ON TWO STREETS SOUTH OF ATLANTIC.  Giant trucks hurdling the wrong way down one-way streets?!  This is a solution?!  Maybe in the ‘burbs, but jeez!  No one even pulls over for siren vehicles here!

Finally, there was talk of forming various committees to interface with local police about neighborhood issues, including crime and trucks illegally driving on several streets (Washing Ave. specifically).  The idea is that if we can present evidence that police action needs to be taken (for example, photographing and counting illegal trucks), the precinct will not be able to claim there isn’t a problem.  Also, residents were reminded to REPORT any and all crime.  I know the cops sometimes make this difficult.  One of the SCH board members explained that his car was recently broken into, and the cops wouldn’t come out until the next day to look at it.  By the time they arrived, he had moved the car due to street cleaning.  They told him that once he moved it, they couldn’t do anything about it.  Classic.

(And speaking of cops, I’ve noticed several cop cars casually breaking traffic laws — running red lights and driving the wrong way on one-way streets.  There were no sirens or high-speed chases.  They were doing it because they couldn’t be bothered to abide by regular citizens’ rules.  I’m sure this is not unique to our neighborhood, but it really pisses me off.)

The meeting moved along more smoothly than usual, although a few speakers were kind of rude when prompted that they had gone over their time.  One man actually mouthed off to the SCH officer who told him they were out of time.  I find this extremely disrespectful.  I know everyone has a lot to say, but the meetings are meant to be an overview of what’s going on in the area.  I think each issue presented should offer an email signup list, and those who are interested in discussing said issue in depth should sign up and attend a separate meeting or participate on a message board.  My advice?  Please tell us about your news, but don’t be a dick about it.  Be courteous of other speakers’ and attendees’ time!!!! Thanks!

(Special thanks to Thirst and Tamboril for the wine and appetizers!)

Reader Questions: Dogwalker Wanted

Received this note from a reader:
I’m writing because I really need your help. I adopted a dog two weeks ago. For the past week, a friend of mine has been walking him during the day, but I need to find a permanent, reliable dog walker in the Clinton hill/Fort Greene area. Is there anyway we could get a discussion about this going on your Clinton Hill blog? I’ve asked around at the park, but am coming up short. I would also be interested in knowing what people think of Kiki’s doggie daycare.

People, weigh in! Personally, I use dogego.

Il Torchio

Il Torchio

458 Myrtle Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11205

(718) 422-1122

www.iltorchionyc.com

—-

“Hey.”

“Hey.” I said back to the strange man with the baseball cap on, a t-shirt and a beer in hand. I’ve seen him sitting at the bar all evening. Why is he talking to me?

Long awkward pause. No one in my party of four knows what to do now.

“You don’t speak English?” said the strange man.

“Huh? Oh I speak English.” i replied now with a bewildered look. Is he drunk?

Another long awkward pause before the stranger walks away.

“Oh, don’t mind him. He’s one of the owners. I have to tell him to stop bothering the customers like that.” said the waitress.

“That was one of the owners?” We all looked at each other in amusement and laughed.

And that’s pretty much the only bump in an otherwise really nice dining experience at Il Torchio, a new Italian place on Myrtle. As a new place they are still experiencing “growing pains” – running out of items, timing, etc. – but nothing that couldn’t be corrected in the next few weeks.

The owners, as I understand it, are in the construction business and did a wonderful job of restoring the space. The bar area/dining room is very rustic looking yet airy.

It was a little dark for my taste but does create the mood of an “intimate dining experience” if that’s what you’re looking for. I was looking for a little more light so I could read the menu.

There’s also a garden but I didn’t go out back to check it out.

They offered a reasonably priced dinner menu with several salad, panini and pasta choices along with a couple of specials. They also have a huge tapas menu which I thought was a bit expensive at $8-$15 per plate. I always thought the idea of tapas were small, affordable dishes which you can make a meal of by ordering several plates. It’ll be expensive to do it here at these prices but it didn’t stop us from ordering a few as pseudo appetizers.

From top to bottom: The Tapas Special, the Dried Figs and the Artichoke & Parmigiano Dip.

The Special was nice – very garlicky.

The Dried Figs was interesting in terms of Sweet, Salty and Savory and might not be for everyone. Personally, I thought they were good but I’m gonna try something else on the tapas menu before ordering it again.

The Artichoke & Parmigiano Dip was very good, highly recommended, but you get this huge amount of dip and so little toast on the side! You’ll need, no you’ll WANT, a giant basket of toasts to scoop up all that yummy goodness! Now it could have been a bit thicker in consistency but in terms of taste…very good.

We then had the Insalata di Cesare to cleanse the palate.

Eh. I didn’t like it. I like my salads to come dressed unless I ask for dressing on the side. The dressing was also very strong on the anchovies too giving it a fishy taste.The croutons were also a bit bland – need to be more garlicky. Unless changes are made – pass on it.

For entrees we got Penne ala Vodka, Rigatoni Bologneses and the Saffron Linguine with Clams and Calamari.

The pictures may not show it but these are fairly large bowls of pasta. (Or maybe I ate too much toast and dip.)

The Penne ala Vodka was very good. It wasn’t too heavy on the cream sauce and had a very nice flavor to it. Very well done.

The Rigatoni Bolognese was good as well. It’s a mixture of meats making up the Bolognese sauce which made the dish slightly different than the ordinary. Again, very flavorful and well done.

The Saffron Linguine had a lot of flavor but finished with a bit of saltiness. I’m thinking it’s from the clams but I could be mistaken. It was still a very good dish that could’ve been better if it was slightly less salty.

We finished dinner with the Tiramisu which is not pictured because it didn’t last long enough to get photographed! Decent slice of Tiramisu covered in a chocolate sauce. Yummy.

Overall, I enjoyed my dinner at Il Torchio. It’s nice to have a reasonable priced (if you stay away from the tapas menu) Italian restaurant on Myrtle. The dishes are nice, familiar fare with a slight twist. The large selection of tapas gives it the ability to be a different dining experience every time you go – I’ll definitely be back.

Note: They do not currently have a liquor license but are in the process of getting one. There is a liquor store on the corner with a nice selection of wines. Il Torchio charges a $10 corking fee.

More on Little Piggy (Market)

BrooklynJay, who is just about moved back INTO the nabe, spent some time at Little Piggy (Market) this past weekend to chat up the owners and try some new food. Here’s what he said about it:

so we grabbed lunch at smoke joint yesterday and ben was nice enough to give us a little food preview of the little piggy market, i think that’s what it’s gonna be called – gotta check my timeout to verify, which is slated to open next door sometime next week.

ben made a black eye peas salad which had black eye peas obviously, corn and heirloom tomatoes. he also gave us a little taste of a macaroni salad too. both were outstanding. as one of my friends said “this tastes like summer. this is the stuff you’d love to bring with you on a picnic.” it was so fresh – those heirloom tomatoes…wow.

he also gave a little walk thru of the new space and it’s really cool. it’s going to sell items by weight, like the two salads above, so you can bring it home to accompany your own cooking. (They are some awesome sides that would go with just about anything.) It’s also gonna accommodate seating for 12 people (for now) and offer, along with food by weight, a blue plate special type deal – a protein or two, a couple of sides, etc. for one set price.

the cool thing is they’re gonna have good COFFEE and DESSERTS. Pastries! Pies! Oh My! Fresh baked in the morning! and the coffee’s gonna be the same as the coffee served at some of the finer gourmet restaurants in the city.

the menu’s gonna change according to what’s fresh. If, for instances, they can get nice peaches then they’ll not only have fresh peaches for sales – they’ll also possibly have peach cobbler available too.

I think it’s gonna be amazing. since the menus gonna change it’ll allow ben and craig to both experiment and be creative and offer some dishes that wouldn’t have fit at the smoke joint. (mention of fried chicken and meat loaf had my mouth watering.) i personally can’t wait for it to open.

oh and the smoked joint was awesome as always! lunch definitely is the way to go – nothing is sold out yet and plenty of seats available. (the food coma afterwards and napping in the early evening were the only side effects.)

Another friend who lives nearby and was kind enough to give me her own witty spin on the place:

I was headed to Smoke Joint for a bag of Brooklyn wings to celebrate my roommate having moved out when I noticed that Little Piggy Market was finally open. After several weeks shrouded in secrecy the owners of Smoke Joint had finally opened what they billed as a little sister to their successful BBQ joint.

More different siblings could not be. You will not find a drop of barbeque sauce at Little Piggy, instead what you will find is a changing roster of salads, sandwiches, entrees and sides that are determined by what’s in season at the moment. On my first visit they were out of the meatloaf sandwich but I was encouraged to sample the chicken salad sandwich which was billed as “awesome” by the cute cook. Although I hate chicken salad I like cute cooks so I obliged. The sandwich was in fact quite good and huge and the heirloom tomato salad I got as a side was quite tasty as well. In order to round out my meal I decided to get a cupcake, which kudos to Little Piggy was frosted with cream cheese icing instead of the typical butter cream that seems to be plaguing other cupcakes around this city. The cupcake was tasty and baked in a stiff foil cup which necessitated the use of a fork to eat it and made my cupcake into more of a cake in a cup.

On a return visit I finally got to try the meatloaf sandwich that had eluded me on my prior visit. One bite and I knew exactly why it had sold out the day before. It consisted of crusty bread surrounding a warm slice of meatloaf, heirloom tomatoes and caramelized onions. To round out my meal I decided to forgo any vegetables and got a s’mores cookie that was crispy on the outside and nice and chewy in the center. Everything was tasty and despite its large size and slight messy factor and I finished every bite with the reckless abandon that can only come with dining in the privacy of my newly empty apartment.

Much like The Smoke Joint next door Little Piggy and its sociable staff are a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Plus, here’s some info from Brooklyn Based. Man, I need to get over there now.

(Lafayette at S. Elliott)

Java Dave's

Java Dave’s on Lafayette in Fort Greene never gets much buzz, and I’m curious as to why. Their signage isn’t great (is it a franchise?), but every time I’ve been in the staff has been superfriendly. They also have GREAT loose tea. I highly recommend the cherry-vanilla.

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Hallelujah

The boarded-up Cathedral of Deliverance near the worst post office ever is going condo!
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The building will be called Fulton on Clinton, which I think it a bit deceiving. Makes it sound like it’s on the corner of Clinton and Fulton, when it just refers to the building being IN Clinton Hill.

The exterior rendering looks really nice, and prices don’t seem too outrageous. Though the listing does say Fort Greene. I’d think by this point, listing “Clinton Hill” would be a selling point.
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Inside? These computer-based images are hard to really judge, but it looks like something I would live in. Though I’d pick a different paint color for the kitchen, and it doesn’t look like it has much counter space. But it does have a washer-dryer (swoon).
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Two units go on the market Sunday. Just a warning- if you buy here, you have to pick up packages at Adelphi Station!
What do you think should move into the retail space? Hopefully this storefront will help fill in the gaps on Fulton and further tie it together as a decent destination (Olivino, Kush, Outpost and Brown Betty are all favorites of mine on/near Fulton).
Brownstoner coverage here.

House Tour Recap

It was a lovely day for a house tour yesterday, despite being windy. It was so cool to see all the people walking around with their programs. I wondered who had come from other neighborhoods.

315 washington
Personally, I much prefer the private homes to the institutional buildings. Don’t get me wrong- it’s amazing to have the opportunity to get inside the Pratt mansions, and the woodwind performance at St. Joseph’s was really lovely. I’m just much more interested in seeing how people choose to renovate and decorate their homes.

I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I’d have liked, since a lot of the homes were not allowing photography inside. Personal favorites were:

315 Washington Ave. – the program said to “note the lovely built-in china cabinet.” I snickered at that line, but boy were they right. The dining room china cabinet was gorgeous and filled with amazing things. This place also had GORGEOUS flower arrangements and a stunning coffee table.

315 washington ave
302 Clinton Ave. – the friends I was with thought perhaps the renovation was too modern. I absolutely loved it! Gorgeous dark-wood floors, funky bedroom rug, amazing furniture, modern kitchen and a large koi pond out back.

Speaking of which, what do people do with the koi in the winter?

koi pond, 302 clinton ave

258 Hall St. – omg, omg, omg. A loft-like reno of a carriage house! I wasn’t 100% sold on the layout of the living room, but the furniture throughout was amazing.

outside 258 hall

kitchen at 258 hall street

281 Greene Ave. – I’ve been in this place before, on the SONYA Stroll. Props for the neat foliage, cool office and the swing hanging smack dab in the center of the apartment! Nice roof deck, too.

inside 281 grand

The rest of my photos are here. Again, apologies that there aren’t that many!

What were your favorites?