As we close the chapter on my Park Slope existence, it’s time to reflect on all the food that I’d eat there, day in, day out. The food in Park Slope is very good, sometimes great, sometimes not-so-great, but almost always consistent. It’s best divided into two categories: the food you should eat if you live there and the food you should eat if you visit.
The big question, when we finally decided not to renew our lease here in Park Slope, was not: “How will we afford to move?” “How are we going to find an apartment as nice as this one in Manhattan?” “Will we get our security deposit back now that the apartment is caked in cat hair?”
No, those were certainly questions we asked, but the big question–the major hurdle to jump–was this: “How will we live without Gorilla Coffee?”
Big changes are afoot, loyal followers of my blog. For three years now I’ve lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn–steps away from Franny’s (one of my top three favorite restaurants in New York)–and pretty content with my BK lifestyle: brooding with the other writers at Gorilla Coffee, skirting over to Key Foods for catchy 60s ditties as I buy vegetables wrapped in plastic, and traipsing over to Grand Army Plaza on Saturdays for the weekly farmer’s market. Content, that is, except for one major factor: our heat. It went out repeatedly. Last year, it went out so many times our landlord bought us two space heaters–one of which almost set our couch on fire. So, suffice it to say, when our lease came up again I put my foot down and decided not to renew. This started an epic quest on Craigslist to find a new apartment, but little did we know that this bold decision–a decision that gave us only four weeks to find a new place to live–would lead us to the apartment of our dreams.
The Brooklyn question is a question that still permeates my life, even after living here for three years. Usually, it’s the worst in winter when our heat goes out and getting into the city is a nightmare; that’s when I begin my ritual rant about “looking on Craigslist for Manhattan apartments when our lease is up in the fall.”
But then Spring comes and I fall in love with Brooklyn all over again. Walking down Union Street, here in Park Slope, on a beautiful Spring day towards Prospect Park, I wonder why in the world I’d ever want to leave this. Here’s all the charm of a small neighborhood and it’s just one bridge away from the world’s greatest city. Who would ever want to leave?
Al Di La is one of my favorite restaurants: not just in Park Slope, but anywhere. As anyone who’s been there for dinner knows, they don’t take reservations and often the wait can be more than an hour long. So going to Al Di La is often a special occasion, a complicated affair that requires putting your name in, going somewhere else for a drink, waiting for your phone to ring (they call you) and journeying back. But now all that’s changed: Al Di La lovers can rejoice — one of New York’s best Italian restaurants is now open for lunch.
It’s not every day that you have your worst restaurant experience ever. Mine happened a few weeks ago, upon my return from Seattle and Cape Cod. Literally: it was my first meal back and the food gods rightly punished me for making a waste of it.
Park Slope has two sushi joints I frequent: one is Taro which, as I’ve said in the past, serves the best sushi in town. The other, ____, is far inferior; the salad a soupy mess, the sushi poorly executed and rarely ever fresh. Why, on my first day back, did I go to ____ over Taro for lunch? Because, I am embarrassed to admit, I was lazy. I was nearer to ____ at lunchtime than I was to Taro; so I went to _____. And, rightly, I was punished: but did the punishment fit the crime?
Anyone who grew up in the 80s watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” will recall a very specific phrase that kicks in whenever the characters decide to order a pizza. I feel like you hear this phrase in “E.T.” when Eliot’s brother has friends over for poker and maybe in an episode of “Facts of Life” where Blaire learns the perils of superficiality. Either way, the phrase is emblematic of its time, not something you often hear today. The phrase is: “Hold the anchovies.”
The title of this post is a strong statement, one that requires research. And so, after titling this post “The Best Sushi in Park Slope,” I decided to do the required research: I Googled “best sushi park slope” and guess what came up first? A post I wrote last January (click here) that basically said that the best sushi in Park Slope is at Taro Sushi. What does that mean? I’ve officially jumped the shark–I’m repeating myself. I’ve reached the end of food blogging, there’s nothing left to say.
Well, no, Adam, settle down. Your last post didn’t definitively declare Taro sushi to be the best sushi in Park Slope, you simply said that it was some of the best sushi you’d ever had. But what your readers don’t know is that you had a falling out with Taro. A few months later, I had lunch there and I had some bad sushi. There’s no other way to describe it: I know it sounds strange to say that the fish was too fishy, but that’s how it tasted. Too fishy. It left a bad taste in my mouth, one powerful enough to keep me away for a few months.
Where did I go during my exile from Taro? Why I went to Kiku, another Park Slope sushi joint, and a place that certainly does not have the best sushi in Park Slope. The place is wildly inconsistent: sometimes the sushi is cut so expertly you want to photograph it and hang it on your wall. Other times it’s such a mess that if you traced that sushi on a piece of paper and gave it to a geometry student as a final exam, he’d fail out of school. Yet, despite the inconsistency, Kiku is a very pleasant place to eat. There’s a little flat bowl on a glass table with fish in it; the place feels like a spa. And it was the soothing atmosphere that kept me coming back, not the sushi. In fact, I went to Kiku today for the soothing atmosphere. Not the sushi.
My sad story might end there, but last month I returned to Taro to give it another shot–Craig was with me–and we were blown away. It was lunchtime and the place was packed (always a good sign). We saw the men behind the counter filleting whole fish, also a good sign. And the sushi, like the sushi you see in the above photograph (taken last week), was gorgeous–fresh-tasting and prepared with love. We’ve gone back many times since then, and I’m happy to report that once again Taro sushi is the best sushi in Park Slope. In the category of best spa-like atmosphere to eat sushi, Kiku gets it.
And thus concludes my deeply researched post on the best sushi in Park Slope.