Trivia Thursday: Fawkner

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What’s this font called?

  • Subway stop: Bergen St
  • Walk from subway: 30 seconds
  • Neighborhood: Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill (BoCoCa, maybe?)
  • Location: 191 Smith St, between Warren St and Baltic St
  • Trivia nights: Thursdays at 8:00pm

Welcome back to Off the G’s second installment of Trivia Thursday. I know what you all are thinking, “Welcome back?! That’s generous. This blog doesn’t retain any readership,” and to that I say, how do you know I’m not welcoming myself back to writing another Trivia Thursday post? And also, can’t a girl dream? Speaking of dreams and bad segues, today’s post is about a new bar with an even newer trivia night. Late last spring, Fawkner opened its doors on Smith St in BoCoCa. I read somewhere that it looks like it was decorated by Wes Anderson’s set designer, and that is completely accurate, complete with their logo looking strikingly similar to Mordecai the hawk from the Royal Tenenbaums.

 

A small taste of the decorations and various seating areas at Fawkner. Unlike Wes Anderson’s keen eye for cinematography, however, I can’t really frame a shot.


Fawkner is a huge space with a variety of seating options to chose from. You can sit at the bar or at a table in the bar area, you can opt for that “booth in a cave” feel by sitting in a booth on your way from the front room to the back room (booths are also obviously located under a stuffed ram), or you can go for the cozy, fireside den-type area in the backroom. 

 

RAM

 
 

A view of the cavernous booths from the other direction. Not pictured: RAM. Please refer to previous picture to see RAM.

 
With all of these different options being spread out, some of them completely out of eyesight of the bar, I thought it might pose a problem to sit fireside during trivia. In my experience, trivia is usually done at the bar, and to deter from cheating it’s encouraged that you sit where others can see you. But when I asked, they said to sit wherever I wanted. While this is nice, I take trivia VERY seriously and I didn’t want my team, “My body is a wonderland,” to be accused of cheating by a fellow team.  I choked down one of their delicious sandwiches (fried chicken with maple dipping sauce, aka my wet dream), and headed to the front area by the bar to play trivia.
 

Every Trivia Thursday post will undoubtedly have some version of this picture, with a beer and a trivia sheet. Maybe I’ll get ambitious and try to make the pictures more creative. Maybe I won’t. Guess you will just have to be a return reader to find out.

 

Trivia at Fawkner is still fairly new, and the Thursday I went (and it should be noted that their trivia nights are on Thursdays at 8pm, which I said above in my bullet points, but you might not like to pay attention to the most informative parts of my blog posts and scroll right by them. So then I have to repeat myself and I sound a bit like a broken record, but thankfully I love the sound of my own ramblings so everybody wins) was only the second Thursday they hosted trivia. Despite it being brand new, it was definitely one of the more enjoyable trivia experiences I’ve had.

I took this in the bathroom! Also, another friendly reminder that their trivia nights are on Thursdays at 8pm

There are 5 rounds of 10 questions each, which at most bar trivias can mean you’re in for a late night. And since trivia nights are always on weekdays, it can mean for a rough start the next day when you’re trying to get ready for work. But not here. It could be because it’s still so new that the word isn’t out yet about their trivia, thus there aren’t as many participants. It could also be that the MC is fire and says here’s your question, I’m giving you about 45 seconds to a minute for each one, then at the end of the round, you have about a minute or two to get your sheets in. I’m gonna get real, sometimes the MC’s at trivia are so inconsistent with their timing between questions and between rounds, it really chaps my hide. I don’t need 20 minutes between a round, 4 minutes between a question, and 30 seconds to hand in my sheet or else I’m disqualified. Pick a pace, and stick with it. And this MC did and I loved him for it. After 50 loosely Alan Rickman themed questions, trivia was over and a winner was crowned by 9pm. Like, seriously man, thank you. Now I can feel like I learned something (about Alan Rickman) AND eat another sandwich unburdened by the weight of not paying attention to the question too closely because I was chewing too loud and now I’ve let my whole team down.

Once trivia ends, you can stare at this deer painting over the bar for the rest of the night, a good way to avoid engaging with your friends.

In addition to a quick and painless trivia night, the prizes are not too shabby. Despite not coming in first, “My body is a wonderland” still came in second, meaning we won a $25 gift card to Fawkner which we used IMMEDIATELY, and two tickets to a magic show. I thought my trivia winnings peaked a couple years ago when I won a bucket and a pair of light up shoe laces, but I think a magic show MIGHT take the cake. The show hasn’t happened yet, though, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Hi, we’re ALMOST winners!

 In short, if you’re looking for a new trivia night to spice up your regular old trivia night routine, I would get to Fawkner, quickly. Once this place gets more of a regular trivia night following, you might not as easily win a magical night, and you might have to be there for longer than an hour. But never fret, because even if you are there for hours on end, not winning anything, you can always pretend you’re on a rooftop, calling out for Mordecai to return, or spending the night in the Grand Budapest Hotel. Those are Wes Anderson references, if that wasn’t clear. And if you don’t like trivia, why did you read this entire post? Maybe my words are just that engrossing? Whatever the case may be, remember to keep reading and-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G
 

 

   
 

Gutter Bar: like the Elks Lodge, but with bowling and people in their 20s and 30s

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A look down the bowling lanes. Most of my throws were gutter balls, which I did on purpose to honor their name.

  • Subway stop: Nassau Ave
  • Walk from subway: 6 minutes
  • Neighborhood: Williamsburg. Or maybe Greenpoint. Different strokes for different folks
  • Location: 200 N 14th St, between Berry St and Wythe Ave

Here at Off the G, we like to keep up with all the latest trends. I’m always like, “Hashtag, yolo, snapchat, buzzfeed, etc, miscellaneous.” So in keeping with what’s currently a semi-trend on the blog, I’m going to continue to bring you more alternatives to restaurants along the G line. It can be hard to find things along the G in the winter other than restaurants and bars, but I’m making it my mission, at least for the last few posts, to give you other options. If I’m being totally honest though, don’t be shocked if the next post is about food. Because this is New York City after all and there is no shortage of food and restaurant options. So with that rambling intro out of the way, today we’re talking all about bowling and Gutter Bar, near the Nassau Ave stop. It could be in Williamsburg, it could be in Greenpoint, I am not a cartographer so I don’t know.

Gutter is niche enough to appeal to serious bowlers who have actual talent, but also gimmicky enough (in a good way) to attract bachelor parties and casual to non-bowlers such as myself. You’d think all of these clashing personalities might make for a raucous bowling alley experience, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Everyone tends to stick to their areas with their pitchers of beer, respectfully interacting with their fellow bowlers when it’s appropriate. And because of my extreme awkwardness this is ideal for me. Take for example the last time I was there; there was a bachelor party complete with blow up doll, a woman with a real “professional flair” to her throw, and me, who is lucky if I bowl above a zero. And for those who don’t understand scoring in bowling, a perfect score is a 300. So, it’s safe to say I’m not very good.

Check out that form! She knows her way around a bowling ball, and also helped me find a ball that I could actually use because I’m weak

Let’s say that bowling isn’t really your bag, and the closest you’ve come to bowling yourself is watching “The Big Lebowski,” or ordering a White Russian from the Lebowski Bar in Reykjavík, which is an actual place. Anyway, back to The Gutter. There’s a whole bar attached to the bowling lanes, in fact that’s what you see when you step foot inside. If you have bad peripheral vision you might not even notice that there is a bowling alley attached to the bar if you’re just there getting drinks, and not fully understand the name of the place or why there are also bowling shoes directly to the right of where you order your drinks.

What one might see when first walking into The Gutter. Minus the people, because it seems unlikely that the same people stand in the exact same spot at all times

The bar has a certain vibe that feels akin to those old guy lounges in small towns, like an Elks Club. The difference here is that this place doesn’t make you feel like you’re a loser after high school prom getting a free breakfast from the Elks Club community, but instead you remember you’re an adult and can legally drink, and thus can drown those insecurities in booze! This watering hole’s decorations are well cultivated, complete with rotating bowling facts and your standard beer paraphernalia blanketing the walls. And the beer paraphernalia doesn’t stop at the walls, there’s also hanging ceiling lights adorned with beer logos you don’t typically see. No Bud Light here, they’re all about the Schlitz! Let’s say you still want to engage in some light competitive sport, but bowling is just not in the cards for you. Maybe you’ve stubbed your toe and it’s too swollen to fit into a bowling show. Or maybe you have absolute no muscle mass and can’t hold a bowling ball, something I’m dangerously close to myself. There’s a pool table in the bar area where you can challenge your friends, enemies, lovers, young uncles, old uncles, and sisters to a game, all while staring past the strangers sitting at the booths so you can look through the windows into the bowling alley to watch people attempting a more physically strenuous activity.

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Looking past the lazy bar patrons sitting in their booths at the people bowling.

If you’re looking for food, you might experience a classic case of s.o.l., however they do allow outside food, so you can use their binder full of women…oops, binder full of DELIVERY MENUS, and order food from a nearby food place. A restaurant, if you will. Not into supporting local businesses? Okay. That’s cool too, I guess. Just do you and not care about anyone else. You probably won’t be the only one ordering food from outside if you’re feeling self conscious. So don’t fret!

If all of this isn’t enticing enough for you, let’s say you really only like to leave the house for live music and shitting in public places, well, guess what?! They got you covered there, too! Just past the bathrooms where you can enjoy your public shit, there’s a small back room where they host concerts. While I’ve never been to a concert at Gutter myself, I have had the pleasure of listening in on the live music while trying to force a recent piercing back into my tragus (which is a part of the ear, ya perv), and while the process of trying to put fresh metal back into my bloody ear isn’t the most enjoyable experience, the background music provided a pleasant soundtrack to my pain.

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Just in case you’re wondering what The Gutter looks like from the outside, it’s pretty non-descript. Good views of the Empire State Building, though.

As some of you might remember from a few years ago, there was once a time when The Gutter was in the news for something some may have found a little scary. I’m talking of course of the time that someone in New York City was found out to have ebola during that big U.S. ebola scare, and they released where the person with said disease had been in New York City before it was discovered that he had ebola. On that list: The Gutter. I’m happy to report that I’ve been there on numerous occasions since and am ebola-free. Also, that was years ago. If you don’t understand how ebola spreads, I would suggest you google it. You’re fine. So switch up the old routine, play some bowling (is that how you talk about bowling? Bowl some bowling?), and remember to-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

Morbid Anatomy Museum: a coffee/gift shop of curiosities

Take this as your first, and possibly only warning: some of these pictures may be graphic. Oops.

  • Subway stop: 4th Ave. and 9th St.
  • Walk from subway: 3.5 minutes
  • Neighborhood: Gowanus
  • Location: 424-A 3rd Ave at 7th St

It’s a weekend in Brooklyn. You’ve done the whole brunch scene way too many times and you’re starting to feel anxious, like you’re crawling out of your skin with that almost claustrophobic feeling of doing the same thing, seeing the same people, staring at the same four walls, day in and day out. There is no better way to cure that skin crawling feeling then heading to Gowanus and stepping inside the Morbid Anatomy Museum. Nothing says, “I feel comfortable with my body and my womanhood!” like a turn-of-the-century wax replica of a baby being pulled out of a woman’s lower half during child birth! In all sincerity, nothing snaps you out of the winter duldrums like a visit to the Morbid Anatomy Museum where their current exhibit shows medical abnormalities from “simpler times” through the aid of lifelike wax busts and statues. Ever wonder what happens to a woman’s guttyworks post corset? Look no more! Just look below!

I honestly can’t tell you if this looks good or bad. I’m not a doctor!

From the outside, this could’ve been an unassuming former club, given it’s relatively box like architecture. But the owners want to let you know that this place means business, and that business is morbid anatomy. Therefore they’ve painted the name “Morbid Anatomy Museum” in bright white wrapping around the corner of the building so it sticks out against the black sides. In case you were still confused about what you were getting yourself into, there’s a giant set of bones in the window. Still not sure? Just walk inside. You’re greeted by a small shop with really happy images of unicorns covering the walls and babies laughter echoes through the room. Oh, whoops. I was having a momentary daymare. A small shop selling shirts, cards and other knick knacks emblazoned with images of the grotesque and, well, morbid awaits you.

 

If you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into by going here, then you probably can’t read


A cheap ticket price of $8 will allow you entry to their upstairs rotating exhibit. If you don’t want to shell out the dough, or are unable to take the stairs, there are plenty of things to look at in the coffee shop/souvenir shop area, including a Ferris wheel being ridden by taxidermy hamsters, a personal highlight for me. Immediately next to the Ferris wheel? A taxidermy rodent driving a miniature convertible. Don’t feel like you’re being shorted by missing the second floor, is what I’m saying. There’s a lot of discoveries to be made amidst the plethora of weird objects on the first floor.
 

A view of the downstairs area, which doubles as a work station the same way so many coffee shops in Brooklyn do these days


If you do make it upstairs prepare to be amazed, terrified, confused, and ultimately a little bit queasy, but in a good way. If you’re going to go here, this is all the things you want to feel. It’s hard to write about the second floor as the exhibit rotates, but after months of trying to go with my baby nephew I finally went last week and realized it was probably best he missed out on this excursion. Referring to the guide I was provided at the entrance to the exhibit, I was lucky enough to identify wax figures of syphilis, babies being circumcised, turn of the century diseases, and like I mentioned before, childbirth! Here’s your warning, if you don’t want to see the childbirth figure, don’t look, because it’s gonna be right below these words:
 

Ah, the miracle of life

 

Once you’ve finished taking in all the sights upstairs and the hair on the back of your neck is sufficiently standing on end, head back downstairs and grab a coffee and a peanut butter cookie to snap you back into the 21st century. The barista is friendly and will tell you what cars to rent on your next trip overseas, at least they will if you’re me. Nothing cures what might be ailing you, mentally and physically, like a coffee and a cookie. Maybe all those figures and wax busts on the second floor could’ve learned a thing a two from that life lesson I just dropped on you.

 

Hey! That’s not morbid!

 
I’m not an expert on the things that can be found at what some might call this modern day “cabinet of curiosities,” but they have plenty of staff and curators who can help you with any questions you may have. Such as: “Why do you have a full on life size statue of a serial killer near some taxidermy deer heads in the hallway leading to the bathroom?” But really, don’t question anything, just pull a Sheryl Sandberg and lean into it already! Embrace it, whole hog (I believe that’s a saying). You will not find another place like this in all of New York and that’s especially rare along the G line. So with that in mind-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

Off the Rails: Brooklyn Heights Promenade

A panorama taken from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade as close to dawn as I’m willing to wake up

  • Subway stop/transfer: High St on A or C; take G to Hoyt Schermerhorn, transfer to Manhattan bound A or C
  • Walk from subway: 6 minutes
  • Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
  • Location: Entrances along Columbia Heights, Pierrepont Place, and Montague Terrace

We’ve finally made it to the first ever “Off the Rails” post on Off the G. What is Off the Rails? Dedicated fans of the blog probably won’t know because I’ve never written one before. So, for all readers, this feature will show up approximately every four weeks and highlight a place, business, store, or something that is NOT along the G line. All of the places featured will only require one transfer or one long walk from the G. I decided to start off with the Brooklyn Heights Promenade because I’ve written a lot about food recently and it’s time to mix things up and throw those dedicated fans I mentioned earlier for a loop. Sorry, fans! Do I have fans? I’m not going to dwell on that too much.

The promenade is one of the best places to see a cross section of New York City human life. “Skip Humans of New York on your Instagram page and get the real deal on the promenade!” is what the parks department should consider making the motto for this particular location. On any given day (except for the latter part of last week when it was so freezing that when I went on the promenade at noon I was literally the only one in sight) you will see some tourists snapping photos as they pose in front of the majestic East River (and I guess the Manhattan skyline too, whatever), someone smoking weed, another person skateboarding while blasting music, a woman in yoga pants running the length of the promenade over and over as if they’re laps in a swimming pool, a million and one dog walkers, and an old Brooklyn couple loudly complaining about America’s youths. It’s perhaps my favorite place to go to check in on the pulse of the city: are we crotchety today or are we embracing the sun with a blunt?

Yo, you guys remember fall at all?

Even though this is an outdoor location and I’ve recently been focusing on indoor places because I’m freezing all the damn time, the promenade has something for every season. In the summer, it’s just beautiful because warm weather is beautiful and everyone is happy and being cold is awful. You can escape the smell of hot, melting garbage that permeates the city and hang out on a bench on the promenade, far removed from the clutter of the rest of the city. Go to Lassen and Hennnigs on Montague on your way to the promenade, pick up a sandwich, bring it to the promenade and find a bench and have one of the best meals with one of the best views in the city. Just watch out for dogs because it’s open season when you’re eating outside. In the fall, you can save yourself the money of going on a leaf viewing tour of New England and just look at some trees changing orange and red along the promenade. It’s almost as good as if you were to stay at a cozy bed and breakfast in New Hampshire so you can feel “quaint,” except that it’s really nothing like it because it’s just a pedestrian path above a highway. In the spring, you can reacquaint yourself with the outdoors after hibernating in your apartment for the winter and feel that fleeting sense of connection with the city and it’s people that only lasts for about 3 weeks before you remember that everyone is awful. And if you’re brave enough to weather the winter, you can witness the yellow snow, Christmas tree, and large menorah without the crowds at Rockefeller Center. Also, pretty sure they don’t have a menorah at Rockefeller Center. Maybe they do. Someone research that for me.

Sometimes the foggy days make for a more exciting skyline. Look at how the upper floors of One World Trade floats above the city! So futuristic!

While the promenade offers unparalleled views of lower Manhattan on a sunny day, probably my favorite days are the ones where the clouds are so low the skyline changes and transports you to an alternate universe. It’s like you’ve travelled to another city except you haven’t and you aren’t expanding your horizons! Speaking of traveling to other places, I’m currently writing this at 4am at an airport so major apologies for any resulting loopiness and I’m gonna end this right quick so I can focus on not dying of sleep deprivation. 

 

Sometimes the sky is on fire and sometimes you can see the Statue of Liberty, but only sometimes. Like when the sun is setting or when you look a little south of Manhattan

 
In short, while there’s plenty of things to see and do along the G, sometimes it’s nice to branch out and pretend you’re in another city altogether. Or be smacked in the face with all of the New York’s stereotypes on one pedestrian strip. You can really get it all on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. And if you’d prefer to just stick to the G line-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

Straphanger’s Delight #2: Ganso Ramen and Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy [Your Classic Ramen Battle]

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Some Ganso Kakuni Ramen at the aptly named Ganso Ramen. At least that’s what I think this is, I took this picture approximately eight months ago.

  • Subway stops: Ganso Ramen at Hoyt-Schermerhorn; Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy at Bedford-Nostrand
  • Walk from subway: 2 minutes from Hoyt-Schermerhorn to Ganso Ramen; 20 seconds from Bedford-Nostrand to Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy
  • Neighborhoods: Downtown Brooklyn and Bed-Stuy (duh), respectively
  • Locations: Ganso Ramen at 25 Bond St., between Fulton Mall and Livingston St.; Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy at 594 Lafayette Ave, at corner of Nostrand Ave

We’ve made it one month since the last Straphanger’s Delight which could only mean one thing: it’s time for another installment of my award winning feature Straphanger’s Delight! What award did it win? It won “good way to distract my owner with useless writing exercises,” as awarded by my cat! As a refresher, Straphanger’s Delight is a monthly feature on the 15th where I’ll talk about two businesses along the G line that have a similar mission or vibe or are actually the same business with two locations. You’ll see. It’ll make sense the more Straphanger’s Delights I write. Or maybe not. But I will never stop writing them, because I love the term “Straphanger’s Delight.” I need to trademark it.

February’s Straphanger’s Delight is all about ramen. I’ll be talking about two ramen joints that are basically right off of their respective stops on the G, making it perfect for this not so great weather. I hate the cold. I hate the rain. I hate the snow. So if I need something to eat, I need it to be RIGHT next to my mode of transportation. And it needs to serve hot food if I’m going anywhere in the winter. So Ganso Ramen and Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy fit the bill perfectly. Samurai Papa’s Bed-Stuy branch is the new kid on the block so we’ll start off with the old veteran. I was first introduced to Ganso Ramen a few summers ago. I had a list of things around New York City I wanted to do over the spring and summer months. You see, I was moving to a different continent because I’m just so adventurous, fun, free spirited, wild, kooky, quirky, and lovable. I am definitely all of those things and I’m not at all riddled with social anxiety and a sense of humor that many have called “alienating.” Back to my list, I wanted to knock off as many things on my list as I could before I moved out of the city (As you probably could’ve guessed because of the existence of this blog, the move didn’t stick). I had a ramen place I had read about in a popular circular, let’s call it New York Magazine, on my list and the list had become more popular than I ever have been, with friends and family constantly asking to see my list, recommend additions, ask me what I had crossed off, what have you. When showing the list to my sister in law, she saw the ramen place I was planning on going to and said, “You should go to Ganso, it’s right by the G.” At this point, this blog didn’t exist and I didn’t believe things existed along the G line other than sadness. “Well, first off, I don’t trust things along the G line. Secondly, I want to go to this ramen place from New York Magazine because they have okonomiyaki.” A quick yelp search showed that Ganso Ramen has okonomiyaki, too. And with the added bonus of it coming highly recommended from a person I actually know, as well as it being conveniently located, I relented and decided to go. My first visit was simply to cross it off my list and I was working in the area, with 40 minutes to spare. I ordered a ramen, a Coke, poured them into my face without actually trying to separate the flavors of savory ramen and sweet soda and ran out to work. A few hours later, I thought to myself, I might want to go back there with a little more time and actually, you know, attempt to taste what I’m forcing down my hole.

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This is Ganso’s version of okonomiyaki, by the way. And if you don’t know what that means, it’s VERY roughly translated to a pancake that’s grilled “as you like it,” with whatever you want in it. Google it yourself. I don’t have time to explain everything to you plebes.

I’ve now returned several times to Ganso. In addition to their prime location right near the subway, the fact that they have okonomiyaki, and their hot ramen which is key to staying alive in these cold winter months, they have one more thing on their menu that really seals the deal. Ramune. Much like okonomiyaki, you don’t know what ramune is? Educate yourselves on the not as well known parts of Japanese cuisine that you might find in western culture. You are missing out on the sweetest of sweet sodas and the closest thing to soul food you can get in Japanese noshing. Ramune is a soda that comes in a funky shaped bottle with a ball that you need to push down into the bottle before you can drink it. Apparently the regular flavor is supposed to taste like lemon-lime, but it’s so much better than that. You should just drink it. I can’t do it justice. Same with okonomiyaki.

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My traditional 3 or more beverages per meal. Ramune on the left and OYSTER FUCKING STOUT on the right. What? Japan!

There are several things that set Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy and Ganso Ramen. The one that is the most obvious as soon as you set foot into Samurai Papa is that there are no chairs and Ganso very much has seating. Yes, you can eat in as well as take out, but if you’re eating in at Samurai Papa, prepare to have good balance. In the numerous times that I’ve passed Samurai Papa, I’ve never really felt the need to go in, which speaks more to my own laziness than it does to their food or business. As I said before, I like where I eat to be as close to transportation as possible, or delivered directly into my mouth by a well-paid intern. I don’t have interns or money, so that last one can’t really happen for me (yet). So as close as Samurai Papa is to the subway, my dogs are pretty much constantly barking. Finally, after now being open for several months, I decided to sit on my couch for a long time to store up the energy to eat at Samurai Papa, as if I was a squirrel storing acorns in my fat pouches for the winter. Another major difference is that as of this writing, Samurai Papa does not serve alcohol, but a quick trip to the bathroom in the back will take you into an area that suggests that expansion is on the horizon, and a look at their business card that calls themselves a tavern also suggests that changes are in their future. A lack of alcohol is not a bad thing. In fact, the standing, counter-top set up and their dry shop makes it a much easier to make your meal a quick refueling before you get on with the rest of your day. Possibly, it would’ve been a better place to hit up when I only had 40 minutes for ramen that one time before work. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, maybe you should be reading more closely because I wrote about it above and it’s not like it was a hidden anecdote.

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A couple of patrons enjoying some non-ramen at Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy. While you may not be able to see from this picture, they are in fact standing.

Although Samurai Papa might be short on chairs and alcohol (for now), they do not skimp on their ramen. Their ramen comes served in your choice of broth, all highly concentrated. You’re given a side cup filled with dashi (either bonito or seaweed stock) that you can pour into your ramen to dilute the broth to your liking. Okay, I see you Samurai Papa. You’ve got my attention. I chose their Bukkake Tonbara Ramen (Cloudy) with a shio (salt) broth. Yeah, bukkake. Get your head out of the gutter, because apparently in this context it’s the name for the style of Japanese ramen I described above, where you choose a concentrated broth and dilute it with dashi. But still, it’s called bukkake. You have retained my attention, Samurai Papa. Ramen can usually be too much for me. A bowl of ramen is just a lot of food that leads to a lot of gas, and without fail, some of it will end up on my outfit and the greasy broth just does not come out. Their ramen at Samurai Papa, however, is surprisingly well portioned, and while I was full after finishing my bowl I wasn’t lying down clutching my sides due to gas pain all night.

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Bukkake Tonbara Ramen. It’s got pork belly in it, so might I suggest sticking to that in the name of your dish as opposed to bukkake. But still, it’s very good. Who knew I’d be into bukkake? Oh god.

Both Ganso Ramen and Samurai Papa Bed-Stuy come with their own style, flavors, ambiance, and seating arrangements. However they’re both successful at what they’re trying to do, which is serve delicious ramen in a traditional Japanese way. So if you’re looking for a low key, but quick meal in Bed-Stuy, or a sit down place in the highly trafficked area of Downtown Brooklyn, there’s two ramen places along the G line that can get you there. But if you’re looking to sit down in Bed-Stuy and stand up in Downtown Brooklyn, THINK AGAIN.

IMG_5105

Two different ramen places, only one with bukkake, one with seats. Read everything above to decide which one’s for you.

And if you can’t decide which one is better because they’re both so good, you can always just hop on the G and

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

Triva Thursday: Black Rabbit

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Beer AND brains?! Nope. Just beer on this team.

  • Subway stop: Greenpoint Ave
  • Walk from subway: 2 minutes
  • Neighborhood: Greenpoint
  • Location: 91 Greenpoint Ave, between Franklin St and Manhattan Ave
  • Trivia nights: Tuesdays at 8:00pm

Welcome to the inaugural Trivia Thursday post, where this week I am going to talk about a trivia that doesn’t occur on Thursdays, but instead occurs on Tuesdays, so don’t get confused. Trivia Thursday is just what I call my posts about trivia. Or what I will call them. As I said, this is the first one so I haven’t actually called them anything yet up to this point. I guess it’s not too late to go back and change it. But I won’t. I’ve already gotten this far, so in my lazy opinion it is too late. But I digress. Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in trivia at Black Rabbit, a bar in Greenpoint conveniently located on Greenpoint Ave off of the Greenpoint Ave stop, so you don’t have to think too hard about where you’re going. Just remember Greenpoint and you’ll end up there. It’s important to reserve your brain power for trivia, so Black Rabbit has that going for them. The one thing that could be changed is their name. Might I suggest “Greenpoint Bar with Trivia on Tuesdays.” Then you really wouldn’t have to remember anything in terms of directions, you could just wander around Greenpoint Ave until you saw the sign. They do however do the next best thing, the token “Trivia Night!” sandwich board you see in front of any bar in America that hosts trivia.

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Found it.

I’m a huge trivia fan and am also a big fan of creating team names. In the past I’d try to think of something clever and topical, but after years of trivia-ing, I’ve grown tired of the traditional trivia team name formula. Lately, I’ve been thinking of really obscure team names that only I will find funny. The silence that follows after the MC says my team name into the microphone for the whole bar to hear only makes me laugh harder. Black Rabbit provided me with the perfect inspiration for my team name, having an amateur painting of a German Shepherd over their bar. “Okay, our team name is ‘Dog Painting Over the Bar.’ That way when they read out the scores after every round, it sounds like the dog painting over the bar is playing trivia.” We went with it. We did horribly. No one laughed. But I laughed and I’m the only person I truly care about.

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Dog painting over the bar

There are five rounds of five, with a bonus for each round. If you get the bonus right, it doesn’t get you any points, but your team gets a free shot, dealers choice. Dealer being the bartender. Personally, I find that the more and more free shots you get from the bonuses, the more and more you feel like a real winner. I don’t even care about the real questions anymore. I’ll write “shit stain,” for every answer and then actually try on the bonuses, because that’s where the real glory is. If you are interested in playing trivia for real, it’s important to note that each round has a category, but the categories are relatively sweeping and vague and the questions are very specific and often difficult. Black Rabbit’s trivia really puts the “nerd” in nerd trivia. For example, the trivia I went to was on Groundhog’s Day, so they had a “Groundhog’s Day” movie category. Except that all of the questions were about movies that also have repeating timelines. I got Run Lola, Run. And then my brain died. I would’ve preferred a category about the names of the groundhogs in Punxsutawney. I know their names. They’re all Phil. I would’ve aced that round.

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They love their behind-the-bar paintings at Black Rabbit. Also, quick brain teaser: can you spot the black rabbit in this picture? I’ll give you a hint: it’s very easy.

With the incredibly specific questions it’s a good idea to come with a larger group, but keep in mind that they cap the limit for each group off at six people. But somewhere in that group of six people, you might have one person who knows what the street was in Desperate Housewives, one person who knows that the Apgar score tells you about a newborn baby’s physical condition, and one more who knows that the Green Arrow, Red Tornado and Blue Beetle were all lesser known members of the Justice League. Those were all trivia questions we encountered in a category about colors. We knew the Desperate Housewives question.

I’ll be real, I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with trivia at Black Rabbit in the past. There was the high of watching a friend buy a movie from a bootlegger who wandered in before the staff threw him out, and there was the low where I, among many other trivia participants, contested an answer about the Lost finale, and was met with the reply from the trivia master, “I never watched the finale.” It was mildly frustrating to say the least. But this is par for the course when engaging in trivia anywhere. You’re gonna get mad. You’re gonna yell at the MC. You’re going to start shit with the other bar patrons. That’s just the fun of trivia. So know that you will undoubtedly hear of me getting VERY competitive in the Trivia Thursday posts to come. So there’s that to look forward to! And while you’re waiting for the next Trivia Thursday-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

 

Brooklyn Kolache Company: A Texan/Czech treat grows in Brooklyn. Also Mardi Gras

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Your classic Czech kolache with sweet cheese and a side of caramel cider. Duh!

  • Subway stop: Bedford-Nostrand
  • Walk from subway: 1 minute
  • Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant
  • Location: 520 Dekalb Ave, between Bedford Ave and Skillman St

There have many mornings, afternoons and evenings that I’ve passed the Brooklyn Kolache Company in Bed Stuy. There have been many articles read and podcasts listened to about the Brooklyn Kolache Company. And there has been more than enough word of mouth to entice me to enter the Brooklyn Kolache Company. And yet, I had never set foot inside until last week. And I wasn’t even to go in last week because I wanted to spread out the locations of my posts. But then I dug a little deeper into the world of Brooklyn Kolache Company and realized that they sell King Cakes, which are a Mardi Gras tradition. And if you know how to read a calendar or use google, then you know that Mardi Gras is currently ongoing in New Orleans, with the big Fat Tuesday happening tomorrow. So I knew, I had to go to the Brooklyn Kolache Company and get me one of those yellow, green, and purple sparkly cakes and question all of my previous life choices. And that’s exactly what I did.

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The outside of the Brooklyn Kolache Company, complete with #dog

 

I don’t know how I could’ve been so foolish to have had every reason to step into the Brooklyn Kolache Company and never done it before. First off, the place itself is great. There’s the room where you order, where you can also sit and stare at all the kolaches. There’s also a room in the back where you can sit with larger parties, making the people sitting in the back room by themselves feel unpopular. AND there’s a backyard for warmer weather or for people who like being cold. So really, there’s a space here for every type of bakery goer. When I went, right around noon on a weekday, it was clearly Take Your Work to the Bakery Day because EVERYONE was on their laptop except for one lone wolf in the backyard. And that’s because he was on his laptop, his phone, and his iPad. You could I guess argue that I was doing work, too. The work of eating. Which, for a person who sweats pretty much every time they eat, actually does feel a lot like work.

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Caution: Men at work

For the sake of being able to write the best blog post I could write, I ordered a savory mushroom and goat cheese kolache, a sweet cheese kolache, a caramel hot cider, and the king cake, of course. In case you forgot about the king cake already, and how could you. I talked about it for, like, a full paragraph above. Get with it. Let’s say you don’t know what a kolache is. I know I had no fucking clue. And if I’m being totally real with you, the details surrounding it are still a little hazy for me. But through a quick google search of kolache, I’ve determined that it’s originally a Czech pastry, most commonly served with sweet cheese in the middle. It a very fluffy, yeasty (yum!) pastry, with a little divet in the middle for a filling. It became popular in Texas with Czech immigrants, and like most things, it’s become more “artisanal” and now can be found throughout the country with more unique fillings. Again, this was all found out through a very basic google search where I clicked on the first article that came up and just skimmed it. So all of these facts are likely wrong. I never pretended that I knew I was talking about.

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Some of the different kolaches you might find if you were to set foot into the Brooklyn Kolache Company. You will not find these if you walk by it. They are INSIDE the store.

Let’s get something str8. These kolaches are yummy. They go down real easy and real quick. And if you eat one, and you’ve got a few more in a to-go bag, you might think, “Fuck it, I’ll have one now.” And then you’ll eat it and you’ll get halfway through and be like, “Fuck, I’m so full and fat.” That could happen to you. I won’t tell you if it happened to me or not. But I will ask if someone could tell me what the plural of “kolache” is. I’ll wait.

Okay, I won’t wait. Having tried the traditional sweet cheese and the non-traditional savory mushroom and goat cheese in the span of 5 minutes, I will say that they know how to make a good kolache. I have no other kolaches to compare it to, this may be true, but stand alone, these are good fucking foods.

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The king cake herself, in all her sugary goodness

Now let’s get to the king cake. As I said, this is a Mardi Gras specialty, and seeing as how that ends TOMORROW, you might want to get your ass to the Brooklyn Kolache Company TODAY. You could probably tell from the above picture that’s a sugary mess. That would be correct. It’s messy. It makes your fingers, and consequently everything around you, sticky. It’s rich. But it’s worth it. How worth it? I bought this king cake, was too full to eat it after the kolaches, took it home, where I promptly turned around to go to London (no joke), almost left it outside of the plane, ran off the plane to go grab it where I left it on the floor of the terminal (still not joking), flew to London, got to where I was staying and ate it there, 14 hours later. And it was worth all the trouble. So if all you have to do is jump on the G to get your kolache and king cake, then what in god’s name are you waiting for?! Get on that G train and-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

DUB Pies: That New Zealand flavor without the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand

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A half eaten mince and cheese pie with a side of slop

  • Subway stop: Prospect Park-15th St
  • Walk from subway: 30 seconds
  • Neighborhood: Windsor Terrace
  • Location: 211 Prospect Park W, on the corner of 16th St

There was once a summer where I lived around the corner from the subject of today’s post, Dub Pies. I was housesitting and the person whose apartment I was staying in had given me a coffee punch card for the pie place. They told me to feel free to fill it up and make use of the free coffee I would get after 10 cups. I thought, “Hey, this seems like a fun, easy challenge,” pocketed the card and immediately forgot it existed and turned on the TV. A week before my tenure in Windsor Terrace was to end I remembered the card, ran to Dub Pies, drank all the coffees I could, signed up for their newsletter, and of course forgot to ever redeem the card for a free coffee. I say all this because for a long time, Dub Pies existed only the peripheries of my mind and that was a mistake I came to realize all too well this past year. For starters, for a long time I had assumed the “Dub” was short for “Dublin.” Because Dublin and pies are an obvious match made in food and city heaven. This is all false. It stands for Down Under Bakery. Maybe I should have DUB in all caps, I don’t know. That seems like a lot of work. Even after my marathon coffee session I hadn’t really returned, passing it on the street every so often when I was in the area, always thinking to myself, “Oh yeah. I wonder where my punch card went.” And although the place has pie in their name, Dub PIES, it didn’t really occur to me that they sold pies there. I was so fixated on thinking it was Dublin themed and that I needed to drink a lot of coffee there, that my brain completely skipped over the pie part which is by far the most important part.

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Wait, they have more than coffee here?

 

Then came the year 2015. It seemed like everyone I knew was for some reason into soccer. And when you’re into soccer, watching soccer commentary shows often comes with the territory. When watching soccer commentary shows, there’s really only one that matters, and that’s Men in Blazers. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about soccer, the show Men in Blazers, and as I’ve presented above, I don’t know much about anything really. I do know that Men in Blazers is on in the background in a lot of domiciles that belong to both myself and people I know and respect. And one thing they do on Men in Blazers is bring on a celebrity guest and eat a small pie with them. And where is that pie from? Dub Pies of course. So one day, while Men in Blazers was on in my apartment and I was undoubtedly googling “How many biscuits can you put on a sleeping dog before he wakes up?” I overheard them say “Dub Pies” on the TV and I perked up. I recognize that name and it’s coming out of the TV, my best and only friend! When I looked at the screen, I saw them eating personal sized, savory pies. Pies. From Dub Pies. Where they make pies. Something clicked inside me. A few weeks later I was at Dub Pies, enjoying my fill of New Zealand style savory pies. I ate an egg and cheese pie after purchasing about $60 worth of frozen pies. All very worth it.

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This is a very poorly cropped photo of their pie offerings, but I was trying to be discreet with all my picture taking so I didn’t have time to compose a nice shot. So sue me.

If you love savory pies, then you gotta go as often as you can to try all the pies. Don’t be discouraged by your lack of knowledge of New Zealand style baking. You don’t need to know a lot about the Kiwis to read the words “Steak and Cheese” and know it’s gonna be good. And steak and mushroom! Don’t even get me started. If you’re getting a pie to stay, be warned, they are very fucking hot and you will look like a slob trying to gracefully force it down your gullet while also doing those quick, short inhales people do when they accidentally put something too hot in their mouths and can’t swallow it yet because it will burn their insides. Just let it cool for a second. I know you’re excited about that mince, but it’ll still be there in one minute.

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Mince and cheese pie, pre-tearing it asunder

As you may have noticed from the pictures, these pies are relatively small. We’re not talking a pie your aunt makes for Thanksgiving that’s so big and packed with calories that you don’t fit into any of your clothes ever again for the rest of your life. These pies are usually one person per pie, unless you’re feeling especially not hungry or extremely hungry. You know, like how bodies work where sometimes they’re hungry and sometimes they’re not. Anyway, these small pies match perfectly with the small space. There’s only room for a few small tables, meaning get in and get out. Or, if you’re sticking around, this isn’t really a hotspot for doing your work. I’m looking at you, everyone with a laptop in a coffee shop. How can there be so many of you? Do any of you just like to do that shit at home? I why am I always looked at as the weird one when I just sit in a coffee shop by myself without a laptop. Stop staring at me, I just want to drink my coffee in peace! When did it become that you do your work at a coffee shop and you drink your coffee alone in the dark in your apartment? What is happening to our society?! Now that I’m done whining like Andy Rooney about how society is a constantly changing and evolving entity, let’s get back to Dub Pies. It’s a small place but that means it’s better for those of us who might want to just sit down for a few with our coffee and pie and enjoy it unjudged.

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Everything the gray touches is shop. Which is to say it’s small. Also, those strangers were REALLY not into me taking this picture. Many apologies.

I will leave you with these parting thoughts: Dub Pies is a pie shop. I’m sure most people put that together just by looking at the name. But we’re not all that quick so don’t judge.

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

Take Out Tuesday: Roberta’s Pizza

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A slice of the Speckenwolf and the Bee Sting from Roberta’s pairs nicely with a beer drunk out of “Hereos of the Torah” glass

  • Subway stops delivered to: Metropolitan, Broadway, Flushing, Myrtle-Willoughby, Bedford-Nostrand
  • Neighborhoods delivered to: Williamsburg, Bushwick, Bed-Stuy
  • Location: 261 Moore St., on the corner of Bogart St.

In my inaugural “Take Out Tuesday” feature, I thought I’d come out swinging with a popular heavy hitter in the Brooklyn hipster pizza scene: Roberta’s. Located in Bushwick, their delivery map thankfully extends into parts of Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy. So if you live, work, or find yourself loitering along the G-line between the Metropolitan and Bedford-Nostrand stops, you’re in luck. You don’t have to figure out what bus to take or transfer to the L to get that sweet Roberta’s slice, you just have to open Seamless or GrubHub and order Roberta’s to your hearts content. Or you can be a bizarre human and order over the phone. But if you’re reading this, that means you somehow have access to internet, or maybe cellular data. Let me let you in on this wonderful thing called “ordering delivery online.” Don’t like the pressure society puts on you to physically go to a restaurant, and feel moderately the same way about talking to someone over the phone and using the phrase “meat lovers?” Look into ordering food online.

Roberta’s is a wildly popular and well known pizza place and often you can find yourself waiting for longer than your stomach is willing to handle before you can be seated. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, usually when places are that popular there’s a reason for it. But I digest things like a small woodland creature, which is to say that I may not eat a lot in one sitting but it goes right through me and I need to eat often. Some call this snacking. I call it barely staying alive. Different strokes for different folks. For those who can’t stand to wait, or can only handle waiting if they’re sitting on their couch, shrouded in five blankets watching someone else play video games, Roberta’s delivery is here to save you.

Most recently, I ordered the Speckenwolf and Bee Sting pies with some Roberta’s Bread and Butter. It should be noted that I had thought I heard somewhere that Roberta’s is well known for their bread and butter. While their bread and butter were delicious, it was literally just a hunk of bread and a small plastic container of what may have been home churned butter. More likely it was just me trying to convince myself that, yes, this was special, I swear to god someone said it was special to me one time, this has to have been churned in a home!

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That’s one hunky piece of bread, right guys?! Ugh, sometimes I hate myself…

If you’re an all day snacker like myself, one pie can definitely hold you over, and probably provide you with at least one leftover slice to bring to whatever it is you do for money or time wasting. Or you can snack on it two hours later. Roberta’s likes to give all of their pies punny names, just to give their customers a little wink and smile and say, “Are you paying attention to us? Have we piqued your interest? Have you noticed how fun we are? One of our pizzas is a play on Jesus Christ. Cheesus Christ! Did you catch that?! Some consider Jesus our lord and savior, but we just make pizza.Try one! Did we mention we’re fun?” Knowing that, it’s a fun game to try and guess what’s on each pie based on it’s name. If you guessed that the Bee Sting is a regular style pizza with sopressata, chili and honey, then you hit the nail on the head! Speckenwolf? Mozzarella, speck, mushroom, onion, and oregano of course! How could you be such a fucking idiot to not get that?

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Looking at this picture of the Speckenwolf reminds me of how good it is and I’m so sad it’s gone that I’m going to immediately have to go to bed.

In short, Roberta’s delivers, and that’s a pun you can take to the bank. Seriously. Somebody pay me to do this blog please.

Thanks for reading this first installment of Take Out Tuesday, and while you may not need to do it for take out, always remember-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off The G