celebrating the glories of eating in brooklyn. from the gut.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

History Preserved in Bedford Stuyvesant

Bedford Stuyvesant is an historical neighborhood, with block after block of late 19th century brownstones, but what of its eateries? This past weekend I ate at two establishments that seem stuck in time, places that are a world away from present day Brooklyn. Sometimes that feeling of being someplace else without ever leaving your town can be the most pleasurable experience and a direct link to the past.

David's Brisket House is a relic from another era. Looking past the remnants of ill-advised renovation over the decades, like 1970s wood paneling and 1980s light fixtures, I felt like I was sitting at a soda fountain from the 1950s. The pumping music of the vibrant Caribbean and African-American community outside was a world away.

David's Brisket House is essentially a deli. For about $7.50 moist, roasted beef brisket and excellent pastrami (warning: both are very fatty) come piled high on your choice of bread (I opted for standard rye with mustard) with pickles on the side. The sandwiches easily compete with the Katz's and 2nd Avenue Delis of the world, especially when taking into account the price-- about half the cost. Such good pastrami in Bed Stuy -- who knew?

With year-round Christmas decorations in the windows my friend said he felt like he was at the Whistle Stop Cafe in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" when we ate at the Down South Cafe. This is a real greasy spoon with efficient and friendly service. Regulars flank each side of the entrance and gospel music is piped through the place Sunday mornings, as church goers come and go.

The breakfast special can't be beat. Where else in New York can you get three eggs, 4 slices of thick-cut bacon and a creamy, heaping, helping of grits along with toast and coffee for $2.99? Also on offer are blueberry or apple pancakes for as little as $2.50.

As the neighborhood continues to change let's hope these places don't.

David's Brisket House is located at 533 Nostrand Avenue 718-783-6109 and the Down South Cafe is located on Lewis Avenue between Hancock and Halsey.

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