October 04, 2009

A Private Feast, in Pictures

I lived in Brooklyn for seven years, and while I was there, I tried to make the most of it. Instead of going "into the city," I hung out in my neighborhood, Greenpoint, quite a bit, even though there wasn't much happening there yet, and ventured into Williamsburg whenever possible to experience what the locals had to offer.

That was before the affluent hipsters living off their parents' wealth moved in. And the celebrities.

I often hung out on the south side of Williamsburg, by the bridge, when local artists like Vic Thrill were singing about the "Williamsburg Stranger" and lived a block away from the Chickenbone Cafe, where an up-and-coming chef named Zak Pelaccio made amazing pressed sandwiches out of an open kitchen with only a sandwich press and a hot plate.

Vic Thrill was forced out of his studio and Zak out of his kitchen, and I moved to Manhattan. The Brooklyn zeitgeist was over.

Since then, I've followed Zak to 5 Ninth, Fatty Crab, and Borough Food & Drink, never quite recapturing the homegrown quality of his original restaurant endeavor but gathering new fans along the way.

Today, Epicurious gave me the opportunity to sample a preview of Zak's return to Brooklyn, the soon-to-be-opened, BBQ-themed Fatty Cue, as part of their Epicurious Entertains New York festival.

It was hot, meaty, and juicy.

Zak Pelaccio Zak


cucumber salad cucumber salad

clams bacon & clams, charred turnips

Banh Mi Banh Mi

Tecate Tecate w/Thai chili pepper and yuzu

Supposedly, today's menu was to be more adventurous than the restaurant's menu will actually be once it opens. Knowing we were experiencing something special, we were happy, satisfied, and burning and yearning for more.

New York allows you to have a favorite chef, who doesn't have a TV show and who isn't endorsed by a celebrity. You can follow them around to their various restaurants and champion them amongst your friends. And when they succeed, you feel like you've helped them a little bit, by eating their food and saying hello to them when you can. Sure, they're not celebrities like Mario Batali or Bobby Flay (who I also love), but they make damn good food and are actually in the kitchens of the restaurants they operate, charring turnips and winking at you when you greet them.

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