Until a few years ago, I didn’t understand the appeal of Brussels sprouts. At my house growing up, they were usually one of many side dishes at Thanksgiving or Christmas, steamed or boiled and redolent of unpleasant cabbage-ness. But on a crisp, fall day several years ago, I had my “Eureka!” moment of Brussels sprouts, the kind of personal discovery that everyone else knew all along, like “whole milk tastes better!” and “cherries the fruit taste nothing like cherry-flavored candy!” It is that Brussels sprouts, when properly caramelized, are insanely delicious. They’re the perfect chilly weather food. And there are several places in our fair borough that really do those suckers justice, culinarily speaking.
At this perpetually-packed, minimally-decorated ramen join on Vanderbilt Avenue, you might be tempted to skip the appetizers and plunge directly into a bowl of the salty-savory miso-scallion or pork bone broth. Check yourself: The Brussels sprouts here are some of the best I’ve ever had, so good that they got a shout-out from Wyatt Cenac in our last issue. They’re deep-fried to get that golden-brown crispness on the edges and then tossed with a soy and fish-sauce vinaigrette, topped with sliced hot peppers and crumbled honey peanuts. It’s salty and sweet and spicy, and, thanks to the sprouts, still sort of good for you. The whole thing is a masterpiece that you can eat with chopsticks.
2. Sunshine Co.
I first wandered into Sunshine Co because the sleek, cozy spot is catty corner from Tom’s Restaurant, a diner I frequent for breakfast on the weekends. On this day the line at Tom’s seemed to impossible to face, even with the prospect of free orange slices and coffee, so I moseyed into Sunshine & Co. The rewards were mighty. Not only does this place serve a killer Bloody Mary (made with Aquavit!) but it also has one of the best brunch applications of Brussels sprouts in the neighborhood at least. Their Brussels sprouts hash combines roasted sprouts with little chunks of potato, onion, bacon, and red pepper, and tops it all off with a poached egg and a piece of toast on the side. Yum.
3. No. 7
When the topic of brussels sprouts came up in our office, my colleague John Sherman pointed me directly to Fort Greene’s No. 7, which serves them up as a side dish. Reader, he was not wrong. The brussels sprouts at No. 7 are crisped up and served with a glaze of black balsamic vinegar and perilla, a combination that makes them taste like the salad you always wish you could make.
Both Brooklyn Magazine food editor Sarah Zorn and managing editor Kristin Iversen immediately offered the sprouts at Tanorren as the ones at the top of their list. The Bay Ridge Middle Eastern-Mediterranean spot serves their sprouts as follows: fried, covered with a “tangy tahini-yogurt-pomegranate sauce” pluce panko crumbs. So yeah, I’ll be making a trip to those.
Now, go forth and eat yer dang sprouts.