So What Exactly Makes It New Brooklyn Cuisine?

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In reviewing the General Greene, the Underground Gourmet laid down the tenets of a term they’ve used before, "New Brooklyn Cuisine," or NBC:

[NBC] has as its common denominator a very New York culinary sophistication melded with a wistfully agrarian passion for the artisanal, the sustainably grown, and the homespun… Practitioners tend to be mom-and-pop shops, in fact or feeling, and they cater to a clientele of idealistic gastronomes who quote Michael Pollan and split shares in the local CSA. There is often a whiff of the barnyard about these places.



Today, in the audio slideshow that accompanies his review of James, Frank Bruni attempts a definition of his own.

They tend to be modest in scale. They tend to have very succinct menus. Very seasonal. And very straightforward food, but cooked to the caliber that lifts them above your typical neighborhood place. The first and foremost difference is the price... You end up with entrees that are $3 or $4 less than they’d be at a comparable Manhattan restaurant (appetizers are less) and I think you have a more relaxed personal vibe, with a crowd that seems to come, for the most part, from the neighborhood, and has that sort of warmth.

So the critics definitely agree on these characteristics:

• “A very New York culinary sophistication” (UG) / “cooked the caliber that lifts them above your typical neighborhood place” (Bruni)
• “A wistfully agrarian passion for the artisanal, the sustainably grown, and the homespun” (UG) / “Very seasonal” (Bruni)
• “Practitioners tend to be mom-and-pop shops” (UG) / “They tend to be modest in scale” (Bruni)
• “a clientele of idealistic gastronomes” (UG) / “a more relaxed personal vibe” (Bruni)

And what the heck, we’ll open this up wiki-style. Any other defining traits you can think of? Manhattan loyalists, feel free to chime in!

Best of Breed
Frank Bruni on James [NYT]