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L'Antagoniste


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And don't let this exchange be lost to posterity:   MY DATE: What are these black things under the chicken's skin?   ME: Truffles.   MY DATE (moving pieces onto her plate): Oh.

In a long double review with Willow at the Pink Pig.

This is like a bad episode of Seinfeld.

Well my blog is read by the old, infirm, and easily scared, so I think I've trimmed enough at your behest. :closedeyes:

 

But it is true that a lot of people would find the walk intimidating (wrongly so), so I'm interested in whether a neighborhood crowd is enough.

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Since it was so nice out this evening and I had no plans beyond dinner at home, I figured I'd take a detour on the way and time a walk from the Utica Ave. A/C stop to L'Antagoniste. This was solely for purposes of this discussion -- I wasn't going to eat there or anything. (I was a bit tempted when I passed Willow on the way home -- but the pork chop waiting here was too lovely.)

 

9 minutes. Being generous. Assuming you're healthy and not dawdling, it couldn't possibly take significantly more.

 

Understand two things:

 

1. I'm not suggesting that anyone go there. It doesn't appear to be worth a 10 minute walk after a longish (though not too long) subway ride. And the walk isn't particularly interesting: it's an undistinguished commercial strip in a typical-looking brownstone neighborhood -- not even interesting the way, say, Bushwick is. I'm just saying that the walk itself is in no way prohibitive. It's about the same distance as the walk from the Empire State Building to Shake Shack.

 

2. I'm not really having a factual disagreement with Wilfrid. Wilfrid didn't take this subway route. My disagreement appears to be with Mapquest, which seems to me to consistently tell Wilfrid that places in Brooklyn are much much farther from the nearest subway stop than they actually are (remember Lulu & Po?).

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It seems clear to me that this place must be aiming at the neighborhood for patronage.

 

I can't believe it'll succeed.

 

Back when the Dodgers and other white people of that generation were still in Brooklyn, there was a famous catering hall on Flatbush Avenue right near Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope called Michel's. It went out of business in the '70s. Now, half of it is the new Franny's. Before that, it was a Blockbuster.

 

The first business to open up in the former Michel's space was a classic French bistro run by alumni of La Cote Basque. It was very good, as it happened (the Provencal fish soup was especially excellent). It opened in the mid-'80s, just after I moved into my neighborhood. This was when my neighborhood, Prospect Heights, was still the ghetto, and Park Slope was still striving.

 

The place died a death. French food -- even bistro French -- was too fancy for the then Slopers, and anything that cost more than a few dollars was too fancy for the people from my neighborhood. Eventually, the bistro split its operations in two (without walling off the spaces): fried whiting sandwiches on one side, in an attempt to draw in people from my neighborhood; the bistro stuff on the other, in the hope that the Slopers would eventually come for it. The place soon closed; we naively thought the Blockbuster that replaced it would be there forever, unable as we were to foresee future technological developments.

 

I can't help but think that Bed-Stuy today is closer to my neighborhood and Park Slope in the '80s than the proprietors of L'Antagoniste hope.

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One final way of putting this: when I was walking a date to Dear Bushwick from the Bushwick Starr a few weeks ago, she was visibly nervous, as though I were trekking her through the Hindu Kush. She kept asking me when we'd get there.

 

Of course, it's only a few blocks. But it was an unfamiliar area to her, so to her the walk seemed forever.

When's the next date?

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I was tempted to rewalk the route I took last night. :D

 

It was a really mixed group of people the one night I ate there. Younger neighborhood couple, for whom it's obviously a great date place. A family of all generations (white--from where?), two young French women speaking French who happened to end up living in the neighborhood. The bar is big enough to be a profit center, once it has some bottles behind it. I think the menu is pricey, just for where it is.

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