I’ve been trying to think warm thoughts as we get closer to the winter season so this is a new post on an old summer experience from last year, but filled with so much fun from newbies and old favorites that I still felt it was worthy of sharing. It was in celebration of my mother’s birthday in June and was a day of family bonding, great food and perfectly strong drinks. 😀
Although my mother and her siblings all grew up in Brooklyn, NY, her youngest brother is the only one that still resides in the borough, albeit in a much more affluent neighborhood. As such, his knowledge of the area have made him my family’s personal concierge (a responsibility he’s not always grateful for because of our nagging him LOL). Following his lead, we began on Smith Street in Cobble Hill for the first two stops of our birthday adventure: Verde on Smith and Zombie Hut.
Verde on Smith is an Italian restaurant with a sophisticated menu and unique bottomless policy. During their weekend brunch hours, patrons can choose any of their brunch cocktails at any point during their visit for a set price. Started with mimosas but want to switch to a Bellini or Bloody Mary? Go right ahead. You’re not locked into a specific cocktail at all. Enjoy the freedom of any brunch classic during your meal. During our visit, I enjoyed their Bellinis which was the perfect blend of sweet and bubbly, unlike most places that usually have more juice than champagne and tend to be overly sweet. The Bloody Mary’s, per my mom’s review, were strong and not overwhelmingly spicy or tomato-y. The food were decently portioned but definitely delicious. I enjoyed the classic Eggs Benedict which was served with rosemary potato wedges and mixed greens. The hollandaise sauce was perfectly seasoned and the potato wedges were actually crispy. The rest of the table had the Smoked Mozzarella Panino, Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Panino and the Prosciutto Frittata. Unfortunately, I believe the latter is no longer on the menu. The Panini’s, however, still live and got great reviews, the Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Panino being the reigning favorite of my uncle.
Our next stop was down the block to Zombie Hut for some more drinks and aesthetically pleasing outdoor seating. Zombie Hut is a tiki-themed bar with fun decor, including a huge gong that the birthday girl had the pleasure of ringing, like the adorable geek that she is. The menu has a number of reasonably-priced cocktails, ranging from $7-$10. Their largest is their Scorpion Bowl, described as “The Kitchen Sink of Tiki Drinks” for $32. However, it is designed for 4 people so I wouldn’t recommend trying to finish this on your own! I had about 2 or 3 of their Mama’s Peach Tea, made of peach rum and sweet tea. It wasn’t crazy strong but it was refreshing and did the job *wink wink*. They don’t serve food so definitely don’t go on an empty stomach. The outdoor seating on the back has ample seating for groups and great natural lighting aka picture lighting. Apparently, there are also games available to play with your group, but my family didn’t partake.
Many laughs and Snapchat story additions later, we moved on to find some early evening finger food to snack on and found SSAM Korean Bistro. Sticking to their tapas, we shared the soy garlic wings, house dumplings, and bulgogi nachos. The nachos were my personal favorite, as my newest obsession at the time was bulgogi anything, which for anyone who doesn’t know is thinly-sliced, Korean-style marinated steak. It usually has a soy sauce base and can incorporate garlic, sesame and a touch of sweetness, like honey. The nachos were topped with kimchi (Korean spicy fermented cabbage) and were perfectly seasoned. The wings were a little salty but overall finger-licking good. Our group also enjoyed a complimentary vodka shot in honor of my mom’s birthday on behalf of our waitress!
We ended our day in my all-time favorite neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights. This area has a special place in my heart because my family spent a lot of time there growing up, going all the way back to when we still lived in Brooklyn. This is also where St. Francis College is, both my mother and uncle’s alma mater. One of our favorite routines was to have a family dinner at an Italian restaurant called La Traviata (which is sadly closed a few years ago) window shop down Montague Street, walk the Brooklyn Promenade and end by the water with a cone from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. To conclude my mom’s birthday, we revised this to get a pizza pie from the iconic Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and some ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Grimaldi’s is known for being a Brooklyn staple with fresh ingredients, classic New York-style brick-oven pizza, and never selling by the slice. If you’re ever in New York for the first time and want to see how real pizza is made, Grimaldi’s is definitely worth the trip. Just be prepared for a line out the door during the dinner rush. We sobered up with a medium pie with sausage and roasted peppers, and the fresh basil that all pies are topped with. Afterwards, we relaxed by the water with some ice cream, a scoop of vanilla chocolate chip on a sugar cone for myself.
This is definitely one of my more involved food adventures but my mom’s birthday last year was definitely an involved day. To say we were exhausted by the time we got home is definitely an understatement! It was definitely worth it and we did a part two this year, that I’ll probably share about soon. Even though it is getting colder and the promenade walk might not be as leisurely, the bars and restaurants are still awesome places to try year-round. I hope you all give these places a visit and share some of your favorite multi-stop adventures! Until next time…
- Verde on Smith
- Zombie Hut
- SSAM Korean Bistro
- Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
- Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory