Ditmas test

for The Brooklyn Paper
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More and more, young artists and musicians are fleeing their overpriced, underserved neighborhoods for the land of big houses, front yards and clean, peaceful streets. No, they’re not moving to the suburbs — they’re taking over Ditmas Park.

Laid out more than 100 years ago to be a refuge from urban living, the area has recently grown in leaps and bounds — they’ve got a Connecticut Muffin there, people — becoming more of a destination than an escape.

“It’s surprised us we’ve sold more co-op apartments to musicians than to any other specific occupational group,” remarked Jan Rosenberg, a local real-estate broker and professor of Urban Sociology.

And as the musicians — as well as artists and freelancers — arrived, so did bars, shops and restaurants. But it isn’t all fancy new pastry shops and nightclubs; the influx has brought booming business to local institutions as well.

“I think this avenue is one of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets,” said John Ficarra, who has run John’s Bakery on Cortelyou and Rugby roads for the past 23 years. “Not too many people know Cortelyou.”

So, if you’re taking the Q train to Cortelyou Road, where exactly should you go? GO Brooklyn took a crawl down the street to find out.

1. 773 Lounge

There’s no such thing as a neighborhood without a neighborhood watering hole, and 773 is just that. Open since 1976, the charming, gritty spot is decorated with photos of Elvis, John Wayne and the dearly departed Dodgers, and the clientele remembers all of them quite well.

“It’s the only place I go where I feel like I’m the youngest person,” regular John Morgan told GO Brooklyn.

People of all ages are welcome, though, and as long as you know what you want to drink — there is no rail booze and bartenders are quick to move on if you’re indecisive — you’ll have a great time. Stop by anytime to play video bowling, but if you’re into the professional darts scene, make it Tuesday night at 9 pm when the Gotham Dart League plays here.

2. The Farm on Adderley

The arugula salad with butternut squash and figs might look like a farmer’s yard, but rest assured that the Farm on Adderley is decidedly urban. “We found ourselves always going to Park Slope for dinner and were frustrated by the lack of choices in our neighborhood,” said owner Allison McDowell, who opened the restaurant in 2006.

Park Slope does have its own standout spots, but McDowell has outdone herself with this one. Known for its specialty cocktails and impressive selection of suds — they had us at “Chimay on tap!” — the Farm serves as a headquarters for the Ditmas foodie set as well as thirsty twentysomethings looking to have some fun in the neighborhood.

One of the first restaurants on the now-hot farm bandwagon — or hay wagon as the case may be — the Farm was called, “a dream come true” by our own Tina Barry, and has been known to attract diners who didn’t previously realize that the Q train went above ground.

3. Picket Fence

With couches substituting for chairs, stained glass windows and, of course, white picket fences built into the walls, this restaurant looks like a country house dropped right into the middle of Brooklyn. Haute American cuisine goes along well with the decor, grilled salmon with risotto and parsnips and a hearty mango-strawberry cobbler are hearty and high end, but don’t go over the top. Before you think that this might be a suit-and-tie sort of place, remember where you are; the back patio is covered with kids and toys (which the eatery supplies), while bleary-eyed local computer types drop in to grab takeout (ordered online, of course).

4. Visions Lounge

Lest you think that Ditmas Park is all precious boites and cozy coffee shops, there’s always Visions. Smack on the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Cortelyou Road, the bar wouldn’t be out of place on Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue or Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, with flat screen TVs, a pool table and weekend DJ nights. Calypso and reggae nights attract a large Latin and African-American crowd, paying homage to the neighborhood’s diversity, and in true nightclub fashion, ladies get in free before 1 am, but guys have to cough up $10 for the pleasure.

5. Vox Pop

Brooklynites cannot live on food alone, and Sander Hicks knew this when he opened Vox Pop in 2004. Combining a bookstore with a coffee shop and performance space, Hicks’s Vox Pop serves as headquarters for the local laptop set, providing both fair trade coffee and reasonably priced pitchers of beer.

“Our concept coming in was to be an anchor for the community,” said barista Michael Cramer (he’s union, too!). “[We’re] a place for people to eat, chat and relax…and also for community involvement and grass roots activism.”

In addition to serving neighborhood newcomers, Vox Pop is a popular spot with local kids, who congregate after school and for the rock bands and open mic nights that make the space a draw for folks borough-wide. “I know first hand from living for10 years on the Lower East Side that gentrification hurts,” said Hicks. “What we’re trying to do is help advance a new form of community development that helps everyone raise consciousness not just property values.”

773 Lounge (773 Coney Island Ave., at Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park) is open Monday through Saturday from 11 am-1 am, and Sunday from noon-1 am. For information, call (718) 462-9746.

The Farm on Adderley (1108 Cortelyou Rd., at Stratford Road in Ditmas Park) is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5:30 pm-10:30 pm; Saturday from 11: 30 am-10:30 pm; Sunday from 11:30 am-3:30 pm and 5:30 pm-10:30 pm. For information, call (718) 287-3101.

Picket Fence (1310 Cortelyou Rd., at Argyle Road in Ditmas Park) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am-3 pm and 5 pm-10 pm. For information, call (718) 282-6661.

Visions Lounge (752 Coney Island Ave., at Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park) is open daily from 4 pm-4 am. For information, call (718) 282-3388.

Vox Pop (1022 Cortelyou Rd., at Stratford Road in Ditmas Park) is open Monday and Tuesday from 7 am-9 pm, Wednesday and Thursday from 7am-10 pm, Friday from 7 am–midnight, Saturday from 8 am–midnight, and Sunday from 8 am-11 pm. For information, call (718)-940-2084.

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Reader Feedback

Yoga says:
wow, I didn't realize there were such interesting places less than 20 minutes walk from my home.I've checked them out- They were just as described. Very inviting atmosphere. I've started exploring BK now.
Oct. 26, 2007, 1:02 pm

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