Another three-pointer: Times's "Hungry City" critic salutes food at Barclays Center; article published online five days early
|The article in print|
Set aside, for now, the controversies that surrounded the building of the arena. Barclays Center is trying to do right by its hometown, at least in terms of food. Its spaceship-shiny silver lobby is lined with 12 permanent concessions — generic, hyper-lighted spaces of subway tile and Coca-Cola signage — that all make some claim to a Brooklyn bond.Of course set aside the controversies. There's no p.r. person servicing that beat.. But there's are reporters assigned to food and hoops.
So here is Paisanos Butcher Shop, an offshoot of the longtime family-run Paisanos Meat Market on Smith Street, offering sandwiches on dense ciabatta, packed with Angus tri-tip, chewy and respectable ($14), and a spiral of Italian sausage, pugnaciously salted, from the fourth-generation New York Sausage Company in Sunset Park ($11.75). L&B Spumoni Gardens, the venerable Bensonhurst pizzeria, is sadly represented by a Sicilian square slice ($6) that is spongy-bottomed and leaking sauce, a shameful lampoon of its better and cheaper forebear ($2.25, if you make the trek to 86th Street).
And then there is the new Brooklyn, bearded and ironic, dedicated to the handmade and the small batch, which is to say antithetical to the very idea of a sports arena. It is an uneasy juxtaposition. Note that the Brooklyn Bangers concession — stocked with artisanal sausages from the chef Saul Bolton, whose Smith Street restaurant, Saul, holds one of the borough’s few Michelin stars — sells a Nathan’s hot dog alongside its own snappy rust-red brisket dog ($9.75) and a pallid but more belligerently spiced smoked white Cheddar bratwurst ($9.75). Bets are being hedged.
But let there be no whining about how cooking for 18,000 people is hard. Perfection is attainable.
Witness the Cuban sandwich ($12.50) from Habana Outpost, the Fort Greene branch of Café Habana in NoLIta, a miraculous smashup of slow-roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. Somehow the bread has retained body and crispness, the pork its juices.
Mishan loves Calexico's nachos but gives lowered marks go to Buffalo Boss’s boneless chicken wings and chicken meatballs "from the Midtown Manhattan power-lunch spot Fresco by Scotto — a seeming interloper, until you learn that the owner’s grandmother ran a poultry market in Brooklyn a century ago," as well as "the achingly sweet brisket at Fatty ’Cue."
Still, the “Made in Brooklyn” snack menu gets cheers, and huzzahs go to a "concrete" of "Blue Marble soft-serve swirled with broken pieces of Junior’s cakes and cookies."
There is mention of the "generally amiable if not particularly efficient" staff--perhaps why there's new hiring?--but no mention of the prominence of Budweiser over Brooklyn beers.