Oh, Michelin. Most restaurants lust after their coveted stars, and yet, the guide persists in being relentlessly behind the times when it comes to acknowledging Brooklyn. In fact, they awarded a whopping two to the borough this year, including The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare (which has always aspired to be part of the Manhattan scene anyway), and that scrappy warhorse, Peter Luger (god love ‘em, but really?)
So, perhaps as some sort of consolation prize, Michelin lavished love on Brooklyn this year in the form of 33 Bib Gourmand mentions, meant to highlight excellence on a budget (defined as two courses and wine or dessert for $40 a head). Whatevs. Who wants to cough up $166 for three courses at Daniel anyway? (Note to husband: pay no attention if you’ve already scored reservations).
So, in this three-part series (because writing up 33 items at one time is exhausting), we’ll pay homage to each of our fantastic Bib Gourmand winners, by figuring out how best to spend our allotted 40 bucks.
Battersby: 255 Smith St., (718) 852-8321
Two Courses: It’s a bit of a challenge to squeeze in under the $40 mark here (especially if you’re expected to supplement with alcohol or sweets). But you can probably make a go of it by choosing a fall-friendly starter of Heirloom Carrots, Buttermilk, Dill and Quinoa ($12), followed by a half-order of the Caserecci Pasta, tossed with oyster mushrooms, smoked bacon and lemon.
Wine or Dessert: Wine. You don’t want to be that guy drinking tap water at a refined restaurant.
Buttermilk Channel: 524 Court St., (718) 852-8490
Two Courses: If you go on Mondays, you can actually have three courses for $28! Start with the seasonal salad (currently Apple, Escarole and Sunchoke), followed by BFC’s famous Fried Chicken and Waffles, and a mini version of Doug’s Pecan Pie Sundae, totally worth a visit in and of itself.
Wine or Dessert: Assuming you’ve taken our advice and gone on a Monday, you can absolutely afford wine here, like the $9 glass of Brooklyn Oenology’s Vidal Blanc from the Finger Lakes.
Char No. 4: 196 Smith St., (718) 643-2106
Two Courses: Is it cheating to order an item from the smoker, like the Pulled Pork Sandwich ($18) or Baby Back Ribs ($22)? They actually come with your choice of two sides, like Kale Slaw, Mac and Cheese or Bacon-Braised Collard Greens.
Wine or Dessert: Um, bourbon, hello! We figure you have at least $18 left to put towards two our three 10 oz. pours.
Chavela’s: 736 Franklin Ave., (718) 622-3100
Two Courses: Finally, a place where you can really go to town with 40 bucks! All of the Tacos, including fish, chicken mole and nopales are $3 each, which you can follow up with a heaping platter of Costillas en Salsa Verde (braised pork short ribs)
Wine or Dessert: Neither. If you visit during happy hour, you can go nuts on reduced-price beer, sangria’s, margaritas and micheladas.
Dear Bushwick: 41 Wilson Ave., (929) 234-2344
Two Courses: This new Bushwick gastropub was a surprise addition to Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list. But the unexpected mention is reason enough to try hearty bar snacks like Fried Potato Peels with sea salt and vinegar ($4), followed by a rustic Iron Skillet Pork Chop with charred peaches ($24).
Wine or Dessert: Again, we’d just as soon visit during happy hour and get a beer and a shot for $6, like Old Overholt Rye paired with a half pint of Old Golden Hen.
Diner: 85 Broadway., (718) 486-3077
Two Courses: Choose either Celery Root Soup ($9) and an interesting entrée, like Braised Rabbit Leg with olive oil crushed potatoes ($20), or an intriguing appetizer like Grilled Octopus and Fried Artichokes ($13), followed by a Grass-fed Burger ($14).
Wine or Dessert: Go for the sweets, like Tangerine Steamed pudding with vanilla whip ($9)
Do or Dine: 1108 Bedford Ave., (718) 684-2290
Two Courses: It’s practically an imperative to order the Nippon Nachos ($7) at Do or Dine, followed by a Fish and Some Chips ($25).
Wine or Dessert: While technically a “small plate,” you can satisfactorily fulfill this category with the infamous Foie Gras Donut ($11). Uh oh, we’re $3 over budget!
Egg: 135 N 5th St., (718) 302-5151
Two Courses: This place is a lock for the budget-conscious, because breakfast (generally the most gently-priced meal of the day), is Egg’s raison d’ etre. At $13.50, the Duck Hash is the most expensive item on the menu, which leaves you more than enough green to spend on Buttermilk Biscuits, Sautéed Kale, or really anything you please.
Wine or Dessert: Neither is really a thing here, although you can certainly get a Mimosa ($8), or a dish of Caramelized Grapefruit and Mint ($3.50)
Fatty ‘Cue: 91 S 6th St., (718) 599-3090
Two Courses: Especially at $5, how can you deny the plate of Dragon Toast with Master Fat, accompanied by a do-it-yourself sandwich plate of Beef Brisket with rhubarb kimchee and steamed bao ($24)?
Wine or Dessert: Both wine and dessert seem like uppity choices in the face of the Panchito Special — one shot of Tequila, one shot of Malay Sangrita, and one Tecate with yuzu and Thai chili salt for $7.
Frankies 457 Spuntino: 457 Court St., (718) 403-0033
Two Courses: There are lots of mix-and-max opportunities here, from vegetable antipasti, cheeses and charcuterie ($6.50-9 each), to salads and soups ($7-14), to hot pressed sandwiches and hand-cranked pastas ($10-19).
Wine or Dessert: The sweets here are a snooze (tiramisu), so go for the all-Italian wine list, with selected bottles available by the glass or .5L carafe.
Franny’s: 348 Flatbush Ave., (718) 230-0221
Two Courses: Franny’s 2.0 has upped its section of regional Italian appetizers, like Salt Cod Crostino ($10), and inventive Pies (dandelion greens, anchovies, capers, chilies and pecorino sardo, for $18).
Wine or Dessert: What would an Italian feast be without wine? Use that extra $12 on a glass of D’Angelo Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata.