Diner: Much more than a greasy spoon

Screen shot 2011-01-17 at 3.18.35 PMConfession: I’ve lived in New York for quite a while now, and for a good bit of that time the East River stood to me as foreboding as a re-erected Berlin wall. It was another world from which I actively shunned myself, saying “there’s nothing going on over there; everything’s in Manhattan.”

I’ll chock that one up to naïveté. Actually, everything’s happening in Brooklyn and very little in Manhattan. A prime example: Diner. The South Williamsburg restaurant sports a cult following of flannel wearing, empire wasted hipsters and Manhattan émigrés alike who pack along the bar or in a “garden” area outside the resurrected diner car to wait for tables. There are no reservations.

The food lives up to the hype, though. Each evening, Chef Rembold prepares an entirely unique menu featuring seasonal delicacies all sourced from a handful of local producers from the Hudson Valley with meat, game and poultry dressed in their proprietary butcher shop next door—probably as close to farm-to-table as you can get in the five boroughs. Expect dishes like braised rabbit over house made pasta, grass fed steak with puréed sweet potatoes and braised red cabbage, and roast chicken that tastes like it’s straight from mom’s kitchen—maybe better. It’s not about panache, just really good, local food that matches the unassuming atmosphere.

Diner is open daily for lunch and dinner as well as Saturday and Sunday brunch. Say goodbye to the blue-plate special.

~Alexander Forbes