Four Years of Clinton Hill Blog

I consider this date, July 19, to be the official anniversary of Clinton Hill Blog.  Four years ago today, I started this site thinking I'd do a few posts and then run out of things to write about.  What I didn't know was that I was about to embark on an extraordinary journey that would teach me more than I ever thought I'd know about Clinton Hill, would introduce me to countless new friends and neighbors, many wonderful local business owners, and a fascinating community of bloggers throughout New York City. One of my favorite early memories of writing this site was my first post about the Adelphi Station post office (apologies that the photos no longer work- lost in translation over platform changes and such). The response was an indicator that I wasn't alone in my observations and that there was a real need for a local blog - a place for people to talk about the things they loved and the things they wanted to improve, a curiosity about local history and businesses both old and new, and a desire to connect to their community in a variety of ways.

Other favorite CHB memories include the tour of Kelso brewery, our tour of the set of Hammered, Tillie's Community Mural "You Are Here," our 2008 Buying Local Gift Guide for the holidays, CHB Interviews (the first was Kath Hansen, PUPS founder!), and this haunted house.

In the years since starting the site, I've taken on more challenging professional jobs that require much more of my time and energy, I've gotten married and earned a graduate degree. Over the last year especially, it's been much more challenging to get a post up almost every single weekday, but I've been driven by my love for the neighborhood and the support of readers. Keeping CHB up has been even more difficult this last month, as Mr. Lesterhead and I have just moved to a bigger place, outside of Clinton Hill.

I feel strongly that local blogs be written by people living in the communities they write about.  Given our recent move and CHB's fourth anniversary, today feels like a natural stopping point for the site, at least in its current incarnation.

Maintaining this site hasn't always been easy.  Over the years the blogosphere has become more cut-throat and less of a collective support system, and occasionally a free-for-all for anonymous nasties (which has made it difficult some days to remember why I stated the site in the first place).  My goal for the site has always been sharing local stories and focusing on residents and businesses who have made a positive contribution to the neighborhood, and I think I've been mostly successful in maintaining that vision.  Despite many assuming that my vision has been journalistic, I've always thought of myself more as a non-fiction writer.

I find it hard to imagine that I would never post here again, so this is not necessarily goodbye forever or completely.  I don't think I'd be able to stay away completely if I tried!  However, today will mark an end to regular daily posting.

For all of my loyal readers over the last four years, thank you so much for your support, tips and comments.

CHB Reviews: Dino

The new restaurant that's taken the place of LouLou - Dino - is now open, and last night I checked it out with Kath Hansen of PUPS. I had only been to LouLou a few times, but Kath remarked on the "great reno job" on the inside.


The back yard was small and cute, clean and simple.


The bread had one of the most delicious dipping bowls I have ever encountered. The olive oil was enhanced with mashed olives, along with tiny pieces of orange rind for extra flavor.


Kath had the chicken, as she says "you can judge a restaurant by its chicken."  She gave it two thumbs up, for both quality and portion size (she took half of it home with her).


I had the rigatoni, also delicious and a generous portion.


And the icing on the cake: the staff overheard Kath mention that she was taking me out for my birthday and they brought me a gigantic piece of tiramisu on the house.


Service was wonderful- friendly and helpful staff, a great sounding selection of seasonal cocktails (we opted for the rose, which was crisp and great for summer -- but we think this place would be worth stopping in to for a fancy drink!), they already have liquor license and take credit cards (which is not so common for new restaurants in this neck of the woods).  Pricing was "around the same as LouLou," per Kath, but "better than LouLou."  Simply put from me: delicious food, great staff, and they have their sh*t together.

(Sorry, I didn't have my nice camera with me!)

Dino 222 DeKalb Ave


I am woefully behind on links to other good stories published locally.  Here's a selection:

  • New gallery for Wallabout [Brownstoner]
  • There's a loft space in Clinton Hill (12-turn-13) that throws cool parties for people younger and hipper than me [The Local]
  • Waverly Haunted House sells [Brownstoner]
  • Navy Yard Photo Tour [The Local]
  • Clinton Hill Foodie is not as enthused by Black Swan as I am [CH Foodie]
  • Buyer for Navy Yard Lounge building [Brownstoner]

Beny's Delice Opens on Fulton nr Clinton

Welcome to another new business on Fulton!  A new bakery's opened on Fulton between Vanderbilt and Clinton, on the same strip with Chance, Olivino, Bar livino, Just Taste It, etc.  I think this might fill a big void for folks on the way to the C train at Clinton-Washington.  Have you been in early yet? I stopped in quickly after work for a chocolate croissant ($2.25, smaller and non-greasy, bready), but I'm due for a longer visit in the morning when the selection's fresh and full.




The hours are (I think) 7am-10pm.  Props for the open early - open late.

Area Antiques: Mercantile Gallery

Received this email from a reader awhile back and realized  I never posted it: I did a little walking around in the rain today and came across an amazing store of antiques - full of quality RESTORED antiques. I spent some time talking to the owner, a very nice man, Ken. He's been in Clinton Hill/Bed Stuy for a long time but doesn't advertise. He certainly had some beautiful pieces and very fairly priced (a tall 5 drawer, curved front, oak dresser - $300!).

Just wanted to point out another resource! -g

Mercantile Gallery 1055 Fulton Street (Near Bedford)

Google street view shows them closed, but it's not clear if they were just closed at that time.

Have you been?  How's the selection?


Wasabi: OPEN

IMG_1225-150x150 Wasabi, the new Japanese place on Fulton at Waverly, is open for business!  For now, they're offering 10% off of a meal to celebrate grand opening.

Sorry I didn't get better shots, but it was a snap decision to dine when I saw the flags heralding the open doors.

Mr. Lesterhead and I enjoyed sushi there last night.  First impressions: very friendly service, good prices, some tasty special rolls.  We split the spicy roll combo and two special rolls (Birthday roll and Christmas roll). Wasabi offers several roll combos- 3 rolls with soup AND salad for around ten bucks (this is a lot of food for $10!  Who else gives both soup AND salad?).  The combo rolls were on the small side, but tasty nonetheless.  The Christmas roll was fine, but the Birthday roll was excellent (shrimp tempura with some other delicious ingredients).

The space is small but nice- maybe 3-4 booths and a few small tables.  For both of us who left stuffed - sushi and green tea - the bill was under $30.

I was surprised more people weren't there, but I wonder if being in between the two C train exits means not as many people walk past?  Maybe it just opened last night?

If you happen to live down this way, definitely check it out.

(I did not look closely at the check to see if they had taken 10% off.)

Chocolate Croissants: Choice Market

Choice Market, at Lafayette and Fulton, was a beacon of gentrification when it opened a few years ago.  Their food is amazing, but the lines and the store setup are not. Croissant: chocolate croissant from choice market

Price: $2.25

Chocolate Distribution: One row of chocolate

Outside Appearance: Shiny

Description: While this croissant was a touch on the greasy side, the taste was just about perfect - buttery and light, with just a little bit of crisp in the outer bread.  This pastry offers layers of airy bread that just about melts in your mouth. One of a kind, at least in my hunt, and the price is even on the lower end comparatively.

Score: 9 (WINNER)

Lost Hedgehog

I get a lot of emails about lost items, animals, and the like, but for some reason this one was really touching.  And I think hedgehogs are cute.  If you see this toy hedgehog, please help return it to its owner:

My son just got back from an outing to Target where he lost/had taken a stuffed animal that was attached to the front of his scooter.  This wasn't any normal stuffed animal - this was Magical Mystery Hedgy - his stuffed hedgehog his aunt made him for his birth.  I don't know how it left the house but it did.  It was attached with a ribbon to his scooter which my mom and he left on accident at the base of the elevator bank to Target - the one that just goes to target.  When they realized that they left the scooter - five to ten mins later, they came back down and the scooter was there but the hedgehog was gone with the ribbon pooled at the base.  So, there is a possibility it fell off in that last block, but unlikely...  If anyone happened to see our little Hedgehog or accidently borrowed it, we would be very grateful for it back - no questions asked!  $50 reward!
See link for pic of Hedgy (2nd one down looks like him except our Hedgy was rainbow colored where this one is gray.)
Thank you!!
(CALL 503-490-5511)

Chocolate Croissants: Desserts by Michael Allen

I stand firmly by Michael Allen, (Fulton nr Grand) who made my wedding cake.  This guy's a pro and his pastries and sweets are amazing. Chocolate Croissant:


Price: $2.17

Chocolate Distribution: The entire croissant was filled with soft chocolate!

Outside Appearance: The largest of the bunch; smooth

Description: The best part about this croissant was the chocolate, which filled the entire pastry.  The chocolate also tastes a bit like Nutella.  It wasn't greasy at all, but it tasted heavy and wasn't very fluffy.  It earns points for it unique flavor, but loses a bit since I was looking for a "traditional" croissant experience.

Score: 7

Chocolate Croissants: Urban Vintage

This absolutely lovely restaurant / home decor shop, located on Grand Ave, offers food and goods at affordable prices.  I love the look and feel. Chocolate Croissant:

chocolate croissant from urban vintage

Price: $3.21

Chocolate Distribution: Two rows of firm chocolate

Outside Appearance: Textured and matte

Description: Two generous rows of chocolate, but the most heavy/bready of the bunch.  Their pastries come from Balthazar (Bittersweet on DeKalb also gets pastries from Balthazar). UV lost .5 for having the highest price of the bunch, but gained it back for having the friendliest service by far during the croissant testing period.

Score: 7

Chocolate Croissants: Outpost

Outpost Lounge on Fulton near Grand has been a favorite of mine for years now.  Great decor and a nice outdoor space make it a great coffee homebase for people in eastern Clinton Hill.  They also offer cute coffee drinks named after streets in the 'hood. Croissant:


Price: $2.72

Chocolate Distribution: One row of chocolate, but the chocolate was soft and blended nicely with the bread.

Outside Appearance: Smaller than the others and on the greasy side.

Description: This croissant was a little greasy, but the croissant itself was flaky and light.  Despite being the smallest of the bunch, the flavor was great. Service took longer than expected.

Score: 8

Chocolate Croissants: Provisions

Provisions offers a lovely variety of goods on Fulton at S. Portland in Fort Greene.  I love them for party meats and cheeses (delicious selection and great, helpful staff), but full on grocery shopping will break the bank.  In the front at the register, they also sell pastries and coffee. Chocolate Croissant:

chocolate croissant from provisions

Price: $2.50

Chocolate Distribution: Two rows of firm chocolate

Outside Appearance: Textured and matte

Description: I enjoy the double rows of chocolate, but the croissant is a little bit heavy.  Consistency is "bready." This is well-suited for someone who is looking for a heartier taste.

Score: 7.5

The Quest for the Best Chocolate Croissants

The chocolate croissant: my most favorite breakfast pastry!  And these days, readily available in the neighborhood and nearby Fort Greene. Lately I've been on a bit of a choc croissant bender, and so I decided to compare the local offerings to see which establishment offers the best one.  Under consideration: price, fluffiness, appearance, the grease factor, quantity of chocolate.  Over the next few days, I'll share my findings.

I'll be highlighting five offerings.  I probably won't be able to try them all, but feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Friday Photo, Fort Greene History Edition

AMST_BreukelenScenes31 More than 350 years ago Brooklyn took its original name from that of Breukelen in the Dutch province of Utrecht on the Vecht River.  Here we see the earlier town's square.  Whereas our borough is now home to 2.6 million, Breuckelen still thrives at 15,000.  And, like Brooklyn being spooned into New York City in 1898, our Dutch namesake is going to be folded in to a nearby larger city.  (Courtesy Brooklyn Paper.  From "Fort Greene" by Howard Pitsch, Foreword by Paul Palazzo, Arcadia Publishing, 2010, $22.  Available online:

Those Huge Bikes

Have you ever seen one of those oddly tall bicycles? 450px-Tallbike-150x150

I've always wondered how someone mounts and dismounts.

Awhile back, someone told me that these bikes were made in western Bed-Stuy, just over the Clinton Hill border.  The organization of people who make or ride these bikes (or both), Black Label NYC, were at least once located at Willoughby and Sanford.

Are they still there?

CHB Visits Black Swan

(I'm not going to label this a "review," since I went to dinner to catch up with friends and wasn't there in the mindset to be thinking critically about it.  But it was tasty so I thought it deserved a post!) A few weeks ago, Mr. Lesterhead and I met up with friends who live just across the CH / BS border.  They had been raving about Black Swan on Bedford Ave, saying they'd been there "almost every night" since it opened.  It's just over the neighborhood border and the photos we've seen have look great, so we decided we'd check it out.

The place is gorgeous!  Great inside decor, a nice outdoor seating area, a great selection of beers on tap (milk stout, which someone recommended in an earlier post, is indeed delicious).  On the night we dined I tried the evening's special, which was fish and chips. I love the standard F+C fare, but this was a special interpretation.  The fish was fried in what almost seemed like a light tempura and was wonderfully seasoned.


We split the coconut flan and the apple tart for dessert.  This is the latter - delicious.


Mr. L's only critique was the booth's wood benches, which were just a little too shallow to sit totally comfortably (and I wouldn't have noticed on my own).

Overall, a great new addition to the neighborhood!

Black Swan 1048 Bedford Ave @ Lafayette