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Peaceful, Contaminated

Gantry Plaza State Park
Space. We all want more of it. Our apartments are too small; the subway is too damn crowded; the office is a coffin. Even parks don’t really solve the problem: the last time I tried to read a book in Central Park, a man sat next to me with a boombox. Gramercy Park is nice, if you’re one of the few people who has the key to get in. Madison Square Park and Bryant Park have their perks–but much of their spaces, for one reason or another, are often fenced off. On the other hand, Gantry Plaza State Park is the only park that actually feels like a park. Never heard of it? Most people haven’t, which is why it’s one of the last, quiet, anxiety-reducing spaces in the city. A set of four docks reach into the East River, drawing people (and their dogs) toward the skyline of Manhattan. Out here, it’s quiet. The water may be contaminated, but it looks nice in the setting sun. There’s flocks of birds–not pigeons, but birds! Real birds! The air is cleaner, almost breathable. You may be reminded that, from a distance, New York City doesn’t seem so bad. Also, the last scene of “Munich” was filmed here. It’s true.

Landmarks • Long Island City  •  Link It  •  Print It  •  Email It  •  Post a comment on this Radar

Infernally Southern (Don’t Stereotype!)

I’d heard that Dante’s did a big delivery service, and I think I understand why. Important thing first: the food is good. A native Northeasterner, I have only a vague arugula-eater’s notion of what ‘Southern Comfort Food’ should be. By strict definition, I felt both southern and comfy when the waitress started us off with warm cornbread and butter. Catfish fritters were crispy, tender, vaguely spicy, and whisker-free; ‘slooooow-cooked’ pulled pork was sweet and juicy; and for the oxymoronic-Southern-vegetarians, I cannot recommend the avocado ruben highly enough: avocado, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing… Dang! Prolly a far sight from Auntie Marm’s lard-fried grits, but a gal could reckon to pull up roots and move on down to the bayou. The only strange part about Dante’s is the restaurant itself: WWF on one screen, Sabrina (original Bogey version) on the other, neon-murals, antique tiling, seating areas of various formalness, odd ambiance generally. But hey, I hear that you shouldn’t generalize the South, so maybe the hint of hodgepodge can be taken as homage to Southern diversity. And I ‘spose I could git it delivered, and brang a little Southern twang on home for some goood eatin’.

Restaurants • Williamsburg

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Blue Ribbon Sushi Brooklyn
Sushi restaurants, oftentimes, can be so stuffily mannered in the structured, fishy, Zen sense that it makes my perpetually agitated self want to scream, shout, consume my fish and toss about. Blue Ribbon Sushi, the best sushi this side of my wildest fantasies, is no exception. In fact, it is calm enough to give rise to insanity. Unscientifically (since I only ate there once) I can categorically declaim that few patrons at Blue Ribbon Sushi actually partake of the foodstuff, instead preferring to ostentatiously relax, read newspapers and chatter. Sake for one was $20. The miso soup arrived in parts. But don’t get the wrong idea: I liked this place! I won’t go again ’cause I like cheap fish, saving my money and causing a ruckus and not feeling bad about it, but I’ll still check out the bakery variant on Sullivan, of course.

Restaurants • Park Slope / Prospect Heights / Windsor Terrace

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Once in a Blue Moon

The Farm on Adderley
I wouldn’t be so silly as to rue the purported undoing of the rickety Dodgers lotus land Pete Hamill says looked like an Edward Hopper painting, smelled of peanuts and bestowed upon its inhabitants eternal life. And I’ve never been the kind of man to turn down a lady’s offer (be that lady a waitress) of diver scallops, sweet corn soup and airy, citified elegance amongst my 99 cent stores. But something does unnerve me about sleek restaurants with “agrarian appellations” popping up in residential neighborhoods. But, really, who am I kidding? My desire to eat tasty food will always triumph over undue, half-baked nostalgia. The clientele–families with young children, young people with themselves, graceful ancients–is relaxed and expected, considering the demographics of the neighborhood. I particularly enjoyed the free plastic animals. I don’t remember in what capacity I was given one, but I was thankful.

Restaurants • Kensington / Ditmas Park / Windsor Terrace

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