I often feel conflicted about sharing my favorite sleeper places because I want them to be successful and popular but also always want to be able to go without having to wait until midnight 30 days in advance and hitting refresh a million times in a hopeful attempt at getting a table. That said, I have two spots that deserve some real props, both in.... Brooklyn.
So why Brooklyn, there are literally thousands of restaurants in Manhattan. The answer is a few fold. First, value. With dining costs continuing to increase driven by all sorts of external forces, there is still good value to be found in Brooklyn. Also, as a Manhattan dweller, there is something about going to Brooklyn that feels a little bit like a field trip which adds a touch of excitement and if I want to exaggerate a tad, it is like taking a 4-hour vacation. Despite actually being from Brooklyn myself, it is rare I go there these days without consulting a map and if I am consulting a map I am by definition going somewhere unfamiliar. A lot of this has to do with gentrification and great spots being located places that I associate as body-dumping sites from my short-pants days. And lastly, there are some really good places there and the Brooklynites are selfishly keeping them under wraps like a younger sibling who has a really cool toy they are worried their older sibling will steal if he knows about it... not that I ever had that feeling or anything.
Spot number two, Bistro Petit in Williamsburg. If you look down to the map on your phone to see if you're close you may miss it. This place literally has 12 seats and those are packed in pretty close together. That is to leave room for the open kitchen where Chef Sung Park cooks every single dish himself with the help of only one cook. I should mention also, they do a healthy delivery business on top of their dining room and these guys don't miss a beat. The food is French with a distinct Korean influence. Scratch your head if you want but it totally works. When you're starting to feel like a lead weight from eating rich cassoulet imagine cutting that with a little bit of kimchi. Portions are generous and somehow no dish even hits the $30 mark. Some don't miss items: Anchovy Frites, (pan-seared) Foie Gras, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Cassoulet, Kimchi Bouillabaisse. Oh, and in all my excitement I almost forgot a great feature, this joint is BYOB playas so to add value on top of value you don't have to pay a huge restaurant mark up on your wine, just a modest $10 corkage fee. And if you forget to BYO two nearby wine shops will deliver to the restaurant in minutes with a courtesy 10% discount for Bistro Petit guests.
I should also mention the service at both these places is solid. Warm and casual but exact. So load up your metro card and go explore. No mustache or ironic T-shirts required.