Quaint, quiet Applewood is a beacon of civility among Southern Park Slope’s still-in-flux restaurant scene. The farmhouse décor (white wainscoted walls, potted herbs on each table, a working fireplace that roars on chilly nights) helps foster the agrarian theme. Ditto the menu, which gives the provenance of most ingredients (New York duck, Vermont pork, Atlantic striped bass, etc). As is standard for market-driven eateries, the menu changes often: You might encounter pillowy gnudi sharing the plate with morels and horseradish, or a neat square of braised pork belly given a sharp, acidic note via leaves of sorrel. Less virtuous: a healthy selection of local beers and thoughtful cocktails like the refreshing tarragon Tom Collins.
This spin-off of the homespun original, a Park Slope standby since 1998, offers the same American comfort-food menu of mac and cheese, biscuits with gravy and corned beef hash. Retro furnishings—red diner chairs, pendant lamps, a black-and-white-tiled floor—outfit the 50-seat space.
Heavy wooden chairs and tables inlaid with wood and glass baubles lend a fairytale feeling to this romantic nook. Though the menu changes often, the focus is always on organic, fair-trade ingredients—and flavor, of course. In addition to light fare such as sandwiches and empanads, a full dinner menu includes paella Valencia, guava-glazed roasted free-range chicken. The waitstaff is smart and can recommend a silken coffee crème brûlée and a peppy Gewürztraminer-like white wine. You’ll leave feeling like a pampered princess.
The neighborhood restaurant is a genre beloved by Brooklynites, whose Kings County pride is fueled by casual eateries---places where thoughtful food can coexist with reasonable prices and friendly service. There's obvious comfort to be found in the bond between regulars and their go-to filling station, but it can be a curse to the ambitions of a hungry chef. After all, how good can a neighborhood joint be if only the locals take to it? At first glance, Thistle Hill Tavern---the most recent addition to South Slope's growing culinary cosmos---appears to be another example of the borough's navel-gazing nostalgia. The cozy interior feels like a temple to turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn (dark wood, antique maps, black-and-white photos), and the seasonal New American angle---with its earnest balance of meat, fish and vegetarian-friendly offerings---is a predictable match. What's not predictable, however, is the accomplished food---at her best, chef Rebecca Weitzman, an 'inoteca alum and winner of Food Network's Chopped, produces dishes that are too good to be bound by a single zip code. Though the menu doesn't list any appetizers, tapas-like "snacks & sides" provide a good starting point. A fig-and-mascarpone crostini was delicately executed, balancing the sweetness of the thinly sliced fruit with rich, buttery cheese. Pair it with a selection from a wine list that highlights small producers, or mull your options over a local beer (Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso and Sixpoint all get nod