Yep, it’s still winter in New York. And, look, here’s the thing: I am not one of those anti-winter in New York people. I actually quite like it here when it’s cold and the air is bracing and it’s practically a requirement to bundle up in lovely layers of clothes, and hunker down in warm rooms, preferably in front of a roaring fire, ideally with someone you love. I like to hunker! Winter is great because even if you don’t like the cold, there’s plenty of opportunity to get warm and cozy. And one way to do that is by indulging in all the food that most immediately springs to mind when you think “comfort.” From decadent mac and cheese studded with bacon, to a towering stack of fluffy red velvet pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with a dollop of whipped cream, here are 8 of the best comfort foods in Brooklyn, all guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out.
Chicken Biscuit from Pies ‘n’ Thighs: What could be more comforting than sinking your teeth past layers of soft, flaky biscuit, shatteringly crisp fried chicken skin, and into juicy, perfectly cooked meat? Nothing. Especially not when the whole thing is smothered in hot sauce-spiked honey butter, that runs down your fingers and onto the plate, where it just dares to be licked up. Do it. Lick it up. Just the memory of its taste’ll keep you warm for a long time.
166 S. 4th Street, Williamsburg
Kedgeree from Tørst: Sure, maybe most people go to this Greenpoint beer mecca to find comfort in a glass of dark winter brew, and that’s fine. Feel free to do that! But if you want to get some additional comfort that doesn’t come in liquid form, try the kedgeree. An Anglo-Indian creation (it’s a riff off an Indian curry-rice-and-mung-bean dish), Tørst’s kedgeree is a bowl of curried rice, chock full of unctuous smoked whitefish, featuring a split, perfectly soft-boiled egg on top. It’s comfort food at its hybridized best, and, yeah, it goes really well with beer.
615 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint
Ricotta Dumplings from Fritzl’s Lunch Box: So one of the things that makes comfort food so, well, comforting is its simplicity. You don’t really want challenging ingredients; you just want something that will stick to your ribs, you know? So maybe, at first glance, the ricotta dumplings with peekytoe crab, trout roe, and rajas en crema seems a bit much. Like, maybe you should just get Fritzl’s acclaimed burger if you want to feel comforted? Well, sure! That burger is always a great choice. But if you skip the dumplings, you’ll be missing out on meltingly tender, ricotta-cheese bombs, that get a hit of extra warmth from poblano peppers, a nice toothsomeness from the crab, and a vibrant burst of salinity from the trout roe. All of which combines for a creamy, salty, spicy, chewy dish that will satisfy whatever it is that ails you. And once you finish it? Well, then you can get the burger.
173 Irving Avenue, Bushwick
Shakshuka from Iris Cafe: This ultimate comfort food consists of a long-simmered roasted tomato stew into which an egg gets plopped so that it can cook just to the point in which it maintains its shape, yet still has a yolk that will run freely the moment it’s pierced with a fork. Iris serves its beautifully seasoned version with a couple of dollops of tahini sauce and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds for a bit of nutty crunch. Plus, there’s bread to swirl around and sop up all the soupy, yolky goodness. Delicious.
20 Columbia Place, Brooklyn Heights
Chicken Pot Pie from Pie Corps: Ok, is there anything more classically comforting than chicken pot pie? It’s probably got all the medicinal properties of chicken soup, but it’s creamier and has a flaky pie crust. Win-win-win. This particular version is ultra-tasty thanks to the brilliant addition of buttermilk gravy, making it not just creamy but also tangy. This is a good thing. A very good thing. Plus, there’s loads of tender, dark meat chicken, as well as sautéed onions, peas, carrots, and hits of sweetness from fennel seeds and spice from crushed red pepper. Yum.
77 Driggs Avenue, Greenpoint
Red Velvet Pancakes from Champs Diner: If you’re looking to eat something that will stick with you all day, pancakes are definitely the way to go. And as long as you’re getting pancakes, you might as well go all the way. Get ’em red velvet, with chocolate chips and powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Get ’em with a swirl of whipped cream on top. And just when you’re feeling like maybe you went overboard with comfort food decadence, remind yourself that Champs is a vegan restaurant, so these pancakes are probably the healthiest thing you’ll eat all winter.
197 Meserole Street, Williamsburg
Surkrut Garnie from Prime Meats: This particular comfort food is strictly for meat lovers. And lovers of fermented food. So, all of us? Most of us? I don’t know! What I do know is that Prime Meats does all things sausage very, very well, and the surkrut garnie is no exception. On a bed of roasted sauerkraut (which, yummm, so good… the tanginess cuts right through the heaviness of the meat), comes two types of sausages and a slab of pork belly. All the meat is supremely flavorful, the sausages are snappy, and the pork belly is fork-tender. This is the kind of food that reminds you why you don’t make friends with salad. (Spoiler: It’s because meat is so damned good.)
465 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
Macaroni and Cheese from Black Swan: And so we’ll end with this, the ideal comfort food: Macaroni and cheese. There are many places that do exemplary versions in the borough (Brooklyn Star, you’re in the mac and cheese Hall of Fame), but lately, I’ve been partial to Black Swan’s version, which comes in a little cast iron dish, and features pasta that was just made for retaining tons of cheesy, creamy goodness in each bite. Get this with the bacon and jalapeños added in, and you’ll love it even more, I think.
1048 Bedford Avenue, Bed-Stuy
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