You Dig? An apple tree (and so much more) grows in Brooklyn on the city's hippest farm

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When we when reached farmer Ryan Watson on the phone, he was in the middle of planting a grove of crabapple, pin oak and chokecherry trees…in the shade of the Williamsburg Bridge.

That’s because Watson has the pleasure of working the land at the new North Brooklyn Farms. This 35,000 square feet strip of highly coveted and highly unlikely urban farmland has to be seen to be believed, with its views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

The all-organic North Brooklyn Farms is a place to walk your dog, stop by the farm stand (check the Facebook page for rotating hours) for kale, volunteer or sit down for a three-course Sunday Supper where the distance between farm-to-table is less than 20 feet. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming tickets to a cider dinner with Aaron Burr Cidery, or rent the space for a bash of your own.

The CSA “magic box” promises local, tasty goodies.

Or sign up for The Magic Box ($45 a week), a CSA that includes what’s fresh from the farm (last week included a bouquet of flowers, cucumbers, purslane and okra) along with curated picks from local producers like Northern Farmhouse Pasta.

Watson was as unlikely to become a farmer as it would be likely to find a mini orchard of 15-foot-tall apple trees in Brooklyn. He came to New York intending on studying law, but found himself entranced by the idea of creating a public farm that could also function as a community space.

The farm sits on the old blueprint of the Domino Sugar Factory. “Maybe we will grow stevia leaf next year in homage,” Watson says.

North Brooklyn Farms
320 Kent Ave.
Brooklyn
northbrooklynfarms.co

Get me to the Greek EONS has you covered for healthy-fast-casual lunch

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For all the focus on the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, it’s a wonder the streets of New York aren’t running with extra-virgin olive oil.

But when it comes to fast-casual and healthy options to get your intake of whole grains, olive oil and smart protein shot through with the flavors of herbs and lemon, the choices are scant.

Chef George Georgiades noticed this dearth and has opened EONS Greek Food for Life in Kips Bay, where he serves the delicious Greek flavors that he was raised on.

The food here is fresh, organic and reasonably priced, the flavors are authentically Greek and the fast-casual service is quick and comes with a smile.

Healthy-fast-casual dining just got interesting.

Eating at EONS will be familiar to Choose-Your-Own-Adventure diners. Pick your base (pita, rice or organic salad greens), choose your protein (options include hormone- and antibiotic free chicken, grass-fed lamb, sushi-grade wild octopus or wild shrimp), select your sides and go wild with toppings, if the spirit so moves you. A full meal will run you $9 to $15.

It’s like Chipotle went on a dreamy Mediterranean vacation.

It’s hard to pick just two of the vegetable-driven sides. There’s a beet salad with a citrusy dressing, dill-flecked Gigante beans, plump lentils with sundried tomatoes and the requisite Greek salad loaded with tomatoes, cucumber and peppers. EONS sets itself apart from the fast-casual crowd with its attention to detail, like compostable dishware and just the right amount of tang in the tzadziki. For a place that gets you food so speedily, EONS does an impressive job.

 

EONS Greek Food for Life
633 Second Ave
212-696-1234
eonsgreek.com

Off Island Italian lesson 101: Faro translates to  "Lighthouse".Photo credit: Michael Tulipan

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To get to Faro, you’ll need to take the L train past those initial Brooklyn stops where it seems the entire car empties out, then navigate a short walk to a gritty-looking block where building numbers are few and far between.

But the trip will be worth it, we promise, when you arrive and get swallowed up by this restaurant (whose name means “lighthouse” in Italian) because nobody is making food quite like this back in Manhattan.

Faro is a passion project for husband-and-wife team chef Kevin Adey and Debbie Adey. Together, they’ve created a beacon for clean eating, a place where ingredient sourcing is just as important as the food, drinks and service.

Photo credit: Michael Tulipan

 

The restaurant manages to be ambitious in its cooking, yet comfortable (there’s actually space between the tables!) and shockingly affordable considering what’s on the plate.

It’s hard to pass up bread ($5) when the wheat is milled in house and it comes with cultured butter that is some kind of magical. Start with a rooftop greens salad ($11) and a wood-oven roasted beet with pistachio pesto ($13). The center of the menu is dominated by pasta (ditto on fresh flour for the pastas too), like an incredible cavatelli with pork ragout, ricotta and parsley ($20) and bucatini with pastured chicken confit ($18). Housemade gluten-free pasta is also available.

Adey sees the farmers he works with, like Tim Haw of Autumn’s Harvest, as allies in his quest to serve the best food possible. That means exclusively serving grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat, vegetables from the Brooklyn Grange, fish that is only local, sustainable, abundant and often considered “trash fish” such as porgy.

The L train awaits.

Faro
436 Jefferson St.
Bushwick, Brooklyn
718-381-8201
farobk.com

Edible Art Untitled's chic space and vegetable focused menu anchor the new Whitney

Untitled

There’s a new installation at The Whitney Museum of American Art. And it’s a permanent one: At the museum’s restaurant, Untitled, you can eat everything in sight.

Just like the Whitney, the move downtown gave the restaurant an opportunity for a chic makeover. Where in its previous location Untitled took inspiration from the city’s classic diners, the new downtown incarnation goes gangbusters on vegetables. The Renzo Piano-designed restaurant, punctuated with poppy red chairs, got the same careful consideration that the galleries did.

While we don’t pretend to understand all of the art upstairs, we do know that chef Michael Anthony is clearly a master artist when it comes to creating dishes like pole beans with calamari and hazelnuts ($14) and turnips with string beans, guanciale and pecorino ($14).

another restaurant Danny Meyer can add to his exceptional service portfolio. Photo credit: Alice Gao


 

The menu has a fun mix-and-match feel that is free of defined categories. While the larger main courses (featuring Dock to Dish fish and antibiotic- and hormone-free meats) sounded lovely, we found ourselves ordering mostly from the small plates, which are based around vegetables and make up the “meat” of the menu, like beets with yogurt and summery lemon verbena ($12).

Even for a restaurant that’s part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (Gramercy Tavern, Maialino and others), the service goes above-and-beyond. Questions are answered happily, special requests are honored and a welcoming, familial spirit is ever present.

Untitled even has a full time staffer—purchasing manager Jenny Jones—who works as a bridge between farmers and the restaurant. She sums up Untitled best when she says, “We source from people who we know, who we trust, and who produce delicious food.”

Untitled
99 Gansevoort Street
212-570-3670
untitledatthewhitney.com

New Mexico Rosie’s give Mexican cuisine the locavore touch

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It seems like all that Marc Meyer touches turns delicious.

That’s why we’re especially psyched that he’s introduced a Mexican spot, Rosie’s, into his fold, which includes Cookshop, Hundred Acres and Vic’s—all Clean Plates-approved dining destinations.

Located on a lively East Village corner, Rosie’s serves up Meyer’s thoughtful approach to the bold, complex flavors of a country he’s extensively explored and admired. It’s like he aimed to impress his longtime crush, and he’s done her right.

In the kitchen, chefs Angel Andrade and Chester Gerl Meyer prepare bright, straightforward dishes made using traditional techniques. This means they take the time to grind fresh masa for tortillas and cook on a traditional comal (a flat griddle) located in the middle of the 90-seat dining room, which was designed to resemble an open-air market.

Rosie’s prepares bright, straightforward dishes made using traditional techniques.

We fell hard for the tlayuda oaxaquena ($6), a griddled tortilla piled high with avocado leaf greens, chorizo and charred tomatillo salsa—it manages to be crunchy, smoky and fun to eat all at once.

The approach here is focused on the many varied regional cuisines of Mexico, prepared with market-bright ingredients. An orange- and chile-rubbed whole local porgy comes with chipotle-lime mayo, charred spring onions and a bundle of tortillas on the side ($22). Add an order of quelites, sautéed Mexican wild greens ($6) for an extra vegetable punch.

The restaurant is tuned into special diets, without kowtowing to them. Many options are vegetarian, only three entrees have gluten and everything is flavorful without smothering everything in sight with cheese.

If you’ve grown tired of roast chicken and kale salads but can’t stand to give up high-quality meats, locally sourced ingredients and thoughtful preparations (and why would you ever want to?), Rosie’s is the place for you.

Pro tip: Before you waltz out the door, pick up a temporary Rosie’s tattoo from the hostess stand to wear your love for the place, literally, on your sleeve.

Rosie’s
29 E. Second St.
212-335-0114
rosiesnyc.com

Secret Garden Dig in at The New York Botanical Garden's new restaurant

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Lunch at Hudson Garden Grill comes with an extra-large side of greens.

That’s because the restaurant is nestled within the leafy 40-acre Ross Conifer Arboretum at the New York Botanical Garden.

Fittingly, chef Julian Alonzo is inspired by all that surrounds him and sources many of his ingredients from Hudson Valley farms and other regional producers including his pal, the lamb farmer Keith Martin of Elysian Fields.

If you’ve never paid a visit, the restaurant (open for breakfast, lunch and drinks until 6 p.m.) is the first full-service dining destination to open at NYBG and is all the excuse you need for a day trip.

Hudson Garden Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and drinks until 6 p.m.

Hop on the Metro-North Harlem local line to the Botanical Garden Station in the Bronx from Grand Central Terminal and you’ll be deposited across the street from the entrance 20 minutes later. There, an elegant country farmhouse with crisp checkered tablecloths, massive Palladian windows and rough-sawn red oak paneling (reclaimed from trees felled by Hurricane Sandy) awaits. If the weather is good, you can sit outside on the terrace.

On a recent visit, we loved the refreshing English pea soup with wild spring onion and pea shoots ($9) and the Satur Farms  baby beet salad with candied pecans, house-made yogurt and blue cheese croutons ($12). A deliciously tender skirt steak gets a shot of creativity from a nettle chimichurri ($24).

Even if the native plant garden, orchid collection or azaleas don’t do it for you, go for the grass-fed burger ($16) with bacon and aged cheddar on a potato roll. It tastes like a Big Mac’s wildest dreams.

No backyard at home? No problem. We’re thinking of Hudson Garden Grill as our own personal backyard garden (with cocktails!) all summer long.

 

Twin Peaks Mountain is a hybrid space for healing

Great tasting, wholesome food and drink at NYC's new wellness utopia, Mountain.

If Mountain were a beauty product, it would be a 10-in-1.

This Brooklyn spot has all of your wildest wellness dreams: A clinic featuring acupuncture, massage therapy and naturopathic treatments; a classroom that instructs on everything from Capoeira to mindful eating; $11 yoga classes (are we still in NYC?) and a café that bursts with seasonal and local foods.

This utopian spot is the brainchild of Justine Lynch and Tom McCauley. For the two, Mountain was a lifetime in the making. Tom spent 25 years as a chef, while Justine worked on the service side of things. More recently, they both became acupuncturists. Justine says, “Tom and I conceived of a space that could cross pollinate via different windows of ecology, creativity and health—a place where healing and food meet.”

Grab a seat at Mountain’s Cafe

 

The food at Mountain is nourishing and revitalizing, as only a chef-turned-acupuncturist could dream up.

You can go for brunch, which includes an entrée (such as local eggs with kale, polenta and za’atar or pancakes with pomegranate syrup), tea or coffee, cold-pressed juice and a baked good ($17), then stay for community acupuncture on a sliding scale fee.

The food here is served sans dogma. There are cold-pressed juices and tonics, vegan and gluten-free options, as well as meatier options like a chicken salad with Ithaca Milk yogurt, celery and local greens ($9). There are even plans in place to keep bees and chickens on the roof.

If Crown Heights isn’t your usual stomping grounds, consider a rejuvenating day trip to Mountain, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—all just a few short blocks from each other. And if you live nearby, your delivery options just got a major upgrade, as Grub Hub, Seamless and Caviar now all deliver Mountain’s food.

Mountain
903 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn
718-771-2476

ilovemountain.net

Uh-oh, fro-yo Chloe's makes our breakfast dreams come true

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This summer, we’re endorsing soft serve for breakfast. Oh, and it’s mom-approved, too.

That mom is Chloe Epstein of Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co., who just rolled out a brand new breakfast menu at her Union Square shop. Formerly a Manhattan assistant district attorney and now a mother of three, it’s easy to see why Chloe’s motto is “Treats over briefs!”

Chloe’s confection is made from just fruit (pick from banana, mango or strawberry), water and the slightest touch of organic cane sugar. This soft serve has no relation to the laundry list of ingredients like preservatives, additives, high-fructose corn syrup and stabilizers found at the usual fro-yo shop.

SMOOTHIE-HOLIC? TRY THE GREEN MONSTER.

We blissed out on an acai bowl with banana soft serve, berries, granola and shredded coconut ($7). Other bowls come pumped up with cacao nibs, chia seeds and sliced almonds, while the signature parfait comes layered with addictive vegan waffle bites ($5).

Who needs a caffeine crutch when you’ve got a morning pick-me-up that is dairy-, fat- and gluten-free, and that can also cool you down? The green bliss bowls with kale, spinach and almond milk ($7) even have us shelving our jazzed-up oatmeal until cooler climes return.

Technically it’s a “breakfast” menu, but Chloe’s will let you order from it all day long.

Looks like you found your new summer morning routine.

Chloe‘s Soft Serve Fruit Co.
25 E. 17th St. (Broadway)
212-675-0550
chloesfruit.com

The friendly butcher El Colmado Butchery brings good meat back to the Meatpacking District

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For chef Seamus Mullen of El Colmado Butchery, food isn’t just his vocation. As a former sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis, it’s also his medicine.

There’s a whole lot of good stuff going on at Mullen’s new Meatpacking District spot: El Colmado Butchery is an upbeat Spanish tapas and wine bar-meets-classic butcher shop. It’s also an all-day neighborhood joint where you can wander in for a plate of Serrano ham ($13) during the afternoon, pick up pre-High Line picnic provisions, grab an incredible pasture-raised rotisserie chicken ($16) for dinner or consult with the butcher about what cut of antibiotic, hormone-free, and responsibly raised meat you should cook at home.

Chef Seamus Mullen at work.

But it’s not all meat on the menu here. The night we stopped by we delighted in a bright orange gazpacho ($4) made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and chunks of avocado. In addition, Mullen is an avid green-juice drinker and he offers three fresh-pressed juice blends including the Oro/Gold ($6), which combines pineapple, yellow beet, papaya, lemon and honey.

Mullen credits food as part of his journey to overcome arthritis. He told us, “It wasn’t until I learned and understood more about the relationship between my health and the food I was eating, did I come to appreciate just how important cooking with and eating real, whole foods was.”

Never thought you’d be stopping by the neighborhood butcher for a juice infusion, did you?

El Colmado Butchery
53 Little W. 12th St.
212-488-0000
elcolmadonyc.com

 

(Photo credit: Christine Han Photography)

Juiced up Supercharged cocktails at a Union Square newcomer

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Move over Bloody Mary, you’ve been dethroned as the healthiest brunch drink in town.

After you pile up your bags at the Saturday morning Union Square Greenmarket, head over to Irvington and grab a seat at the bar for an amped-up cocktail.

At Irvington, chef David Nichols is in the open kitchen cooking smart new-American food with zippy Mediterranean influences. When it comes to sourcing locally, the restaurant has exactly zero excuses: It’s located catty-corner from Union Square.

The healthful touches don’t stop at the food: bartender Nico Szymanski is behind the list of super-juice cocktails boosted with Liquiteria’s cold-pressed blends.

Settle in for a Green Dream ($15) made with Crop organic cucumber vodka and Liquiteria’s All Greens blend of kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery and cucumber.

Grab a seat and enjoy the good food and better-for-you cocktails at Irvington.

When we pressed Nico about calling a cocktail “healthy,” he gave it to us straight up. “I’ll put it this way: They’re as healthy as you’re going to get with something that’s also loaded with alcohol,” he says. “The vast majority of calories in a cocktail come from the alcohol itself (1 ounce of an 80 proof spirit contains about 65 calories). So beyond that, the only things that you can tweak to make a drink more or less healthy are the mixers. And in this case the mixers are fresh, whole ingredients loaded with nutrients, instead of sugar. So yes, they are as healthy as possible with anything that still gives you a buzz.”

Nico’s favorite is “The Seeing Red” ($15). In it, he pairs the sharp bite of rye whiskey with the earthiness of Liquiteria’s Beets Me blend of carrots, beets, ginger, orange and pineapple—garnished with candied ginger.

Add an order of avocado and spring pea toast with pickled cage-free eggs and shaved cucumber ($15), and we’d call that a brunch of champions.

Irvington
201 Park Ave. S. (inside W. Union Square)
212-677-0425
irvingtonnyc.com