It seems like about half of REC — our Vox lingo for the Curbed, Eater, and Racked teams — lives in Crown Heights. “Crown Heights is amazing!” they say. “Crown Heights is the best!” they say. “Everyone should come visit Crown Heights!” they say. So finally we did, embarking on a Vox crawl of Crown Heights on Wednesday night, led by Jackie Goldstein, who can be seen flashing some kind of gang sign in the above photo.
My previous Crown Heights experience involved several trips to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden — Barclays Center doesn’t count, right? — but I’d never explored the neighborhood or its up-and-coming main drag, Franklin Avenue. That strip would be the focus of our crawl, which started with a stroll up Franklin Avenue after disembarking at the Franklin Ave. stop on the 2. Turning left on Bergen, we started the night, appropriately, at Berg’n.
Berg’n, of course, is the new beer-hall-cum-food-court from Jonathan Butler, aka Mr. Brownstoner. I’ve known Jon since he launched Brownstoner way back in 2004 and we met to trade Secrets of Real Estate Blogging, long before he co-created the Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg, and myriad other ways to procure beer and fine eats while outdoors in NYC. Jon was in the house this night, hanging with his family and having kindly set aside a few long tables in the middle of the room for our 20-strong crew. While our team got settled in — that’s us in the middle of the above photo — Jon gave me the tour.
The place is indeed ginormous. There’s food from usual suspects Mighty Quinn’s, Asia Dog, Pizza Moto, and Ramen Burger; a coffee stand appropriately hipster’d up; and a pleasant outdoor space, above. There’s also a private room that Jon says they open up on crowded nights (it’s also got one of the joint’s two drop-down projectors for US Open viewing and the like).
At least I finally got the name. And I got to try my first Ramen Burger, putting me only about three years behind the trend. The night’s biggest surprise? I really liked it. Expect the unexpected in Crown Heights.
Leaving Berg’n, our crawl headed back down Franklin Ave. to The Crown Inn, a dark-wooded bar that opened four or five years back, apparently, and where we skipped the generic outdoor space and opted for the back inner recess. My only existing photograph from this establishment is above, and captures the magic that had overtaken Team Crawl by this point in the evening.
Our final stop on this admittedly kind of wimpy, three-stops-only crawl was at Franklin Park, apparently THE Crown Heights go-to. Spread out in the spacious beer garden, with the right amount of people to make the place feel alive but not too many to overwhelm, I got it. We got it. Sort of?
Or at least a tiny corner thereof, even that which we didn’t get to fully explore. Newcomer Pacifico’s Fine Foods, helmed by former Back Forty shef Shanna Pacifico and current member of Eater’s Brooklyn Heatmap, looked gorgeous when we strolled by. I’ll stop in, just as soon as I check out this Bay Ridge neighborhood all the kids are talking about.