Good-bye, Park Slope. Hello, Fort Greene. It’s been about 2 weeks after moving into my new apartment, two days since I got the gas stove working, and before the cooking begins, a good assessment on my former and current surroundings.
After some thought, I present the culinary pros and cons of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, and Park Slope. Two neighborhoods that vaguely border one another in Brooklyn, one definitely larger and more developed, the other up-and-coming and containing a block that Time Out New York recently called the “Best Block” in all of NYC to live on, very well may have much to share in the way of culinary tastes. But you won’t be hearing any of that from my highly unscientific, first-hand account of their respective pros and cons to the busy not eating out foodophile. I feel confident that my expertise on the Park Slope area is quite fair, having lived in north Park Slope for two years. But if I am leaving anything out about the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill area, which I have lived in for two weeks, I would very much welcome any corrections and suggestions from discerning experts or enthusiasts of said neighborhood.
-Though greatly improved in recent years, the Associated Market on Myrtle Ave. and Hall St. still makes me feel as if I’m pushing and shoving through a busy weekend bazaar of the developing world. The selection is okay, but display and overall organization/cleanliness of the facility is far below Park Slope par.
-The Fairway Market in Red Hook is further away and now has a major busy intersection on the way. In Park Slope, I enjoyed biking to the waterfront and then south to the end of Van Brunt St. to get to the grocery experience “like no other,” but I can’t exactly see myself zigzagging through Atlantic/Pacific Avenues with a huge load of groceries on my back as much. Utter, absolute bummer.
-I probably won’t have the opportunity of running into other food bloggers as much as I did in Park Slope.
-I never did join the Park Slope Food Co-op. Now I guess I will continue to miss out on buying healthy, environmentally-friendly groceries at a low cost through community service. (Although I did once manage to walk in there two years ago unwittingly, buy a few things, and walk out without anyone ever questioning my membership.)
-I’m many more blocks away from Gorilla Coffee now. (Pro: chance for lost exercise?)
-I’ve read on a Chowhound blog and somewhere else complaints that there’s no bakery in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill. Even though many stores make baked goods, like Tillie’s Coffee Shop for example. But I find this information a little fishy and plan to seek out a few good bakeries (when I’m not making my own bread in a dutch oven).
-It’s . . . quieter. More tranquil, residential, small-townish. With mini mansions and stone wall park fences that hearken a long-lost era of status and beauty and make me feel like playing a grand piano and writing sonnets in the afternoon. Park Slope has its share of majesty, too, but try going to brunch anywhere (or any store on a weekend) without hearing a kid whining at his smartly-dressed Dad for more organic chocolate milk sippy boxes, and I guarantee you will fail. This goes the same for dinner at about 6 out of 10 restaurants, if memory serves me correct.
-The Farmer’s Market on the north east corner of Fort Greene Park has all the best quality produce, bread and meat that you can expect from the big huge Farmer’s Markets, but in a daintier number. The park-lined path of 8-10 vendors like the baked prepared foods, seafood, kimchi and tofu stand, fancy-pants cheese stand, and plentiful seasonal fruits and vegetables is going to be my new backyard on weekends. Much superior to Grand Army Plaza’s Farmer’s Market, and it has a more community-sized feel to it. Live acoustic music groups play at the market each weekend during the summer, too.
-The nice places that Abby recommends I check out, such as L’epicerie for fine gourmet food and baked goods, and Greene Grape for wine. And the great fresh produce store across the street from the Associated on Myrtle and Hall which I’ve discovered, an excellent refuge from the supermarket for a veggie-only night.
-Less can be more when it comes to restaurants. In my eating-out days, I had tried a small handful of really wonderful restaurants in Fort Greene like Chez Oskar. Instead of having a restaurant row to pick from, you can be sure of a few good, solid choices; in Fort Greene there’s the recently opened Bonita (sister of the Williamsburg Mexican restaurant of the same name), which is hands-down the best Mexican in the neighborhood, but in Park Slope, you’ve got Mezcal, Los Pollitos II and Lobo all within a 5-block stretch of 5th Avenue and none of which I thought were good.
-Fort Greene Park is just the right size for strolling, sitting, and picnicing against the old, gray sycamores and rolling hilltop encased by its stone wall, only without all the joggers and bikers and picnicers of the small city we call Prospect Park. (Okay, Prospect Park isn’t really that bad.)
And with these few initial observations, the test has really only begun. Already I see a pattern of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill navigating toward the less crowded as better end of the spectrum for many of the questions, but I’ll be keeping the calculations going for as long as I live here, probably, and who knows, with the way things are developing in this part of Brooklyn, this could only be a matter of time.