Tasty restaurant gossip • Brooklyn Paper

Tasty restaurant gossip

Mark your calendars: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden will turn up the heat at its 16th annual Chile Pepper Fiesta on Saturday, Sept. 27 with a performance by Pete Seeger.
Barbara Alper

“Beer and barbecue, there’s nothing better,” said Chris McGee, the owner and chef of the BBQ truck that started pulling up in front of Coney Island’s Beer Island a few weeks back.

McGee, who formerly worked at Blue Smoke in Manhattan, is originally from Kansas and fired up his truck because he wanted to offer “genuine Kansas City-style barbecue” to East Coasters who think that barbecue is just another name for grilling.

“That’s just not the case. Barbecue is cooked slow and low, with lots of smoke,” he explained.

So far, some of his most popular, slow-cooked fare includes St. Louis-style spare-ribs, smoked brisket — which McGee said is so tender that it’s like “meat-butter” — and pulled pork sandwiches.

The Beer Island location is working so well for McGee, that he’s planning to keep the truck there until at least September.

“The vibe down here is all about having a party,” said McGee, “And that’s the kind of food I’m trying to make.”

The truck is open for lunch and dinner every day at Stillwell Avenue between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk, except Mondays.

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There’s a new “General” in the “Fort”!

Last week, General Greene, a new restaurant specializing in comfort food and cocktails, opened at 229 DeKalb Ave. in Fort Greene.

Owner Nicholas Morgenstern (Daniel, Gramercy Tavern) decided to open the eatery on the neighborhood’s already-crowded restaurant row because he felt his food would give the neighborhood something new to chew on.

“The plan is to eventually be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, and to be a full-service restaurant where you can come at all hours to find quality food and service and not pay a fortune for it,” Morgenstern told GO Brooklyn.

Indeed, normally pricey fare is done on the cheap: hanger steak with smoked garlic is $11, a ham and Gruyere bread pudding is $6, and the “General Greene Burger,” made from 100 percent Angus beef and served with cheddar cheese, a green salad and potato chips, is $11.

“To be able to bring these products to the table for that price is really fantastic,” said Morgenstern. “People can mix and match the dining experience. We want people to be able to share. I think it’s a really fun way to eat.”

For now, dinner is served six nights a week (the restaurant is closed Mondays), but Morgenstern plans to start serving brunch as early as Saturday, July 19, and a daily breakfast and lunch in August.

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For years, New Yorkers have been flocking to Zabar’s, the Upper West Side grocery store known for stocking some of the finest sundries in town. It’s no surprise then to learn that one of the store’s owners, Saul Zabar, comes to Brooklyn to purchase a number of the store’s best sellers.

“We deal with various smokehouses, like Acme, Service and Banner, all of which are located in Brooklyn,” said Zabar, a former Brighton Beach resident. “We get smoked salmon, sturgeon and sable. We’re getting most of our smoked fish products in Brooklyn — we also have a great producer of kosher meat products in Williamsburg.”

Zabar declined to name his kosher connection, maintaining that he didn’t want to give away all of his store’s secrets.

While the grocery giant, who recently turned 80 and received an official proclamation from Mayor Bloomberg, doesn’t regularly stray from his Upper West Side neighborhood — “I rarely go below 72nd Street,” he said — he knows exactly where to find the best food purveyors in town.

“Brooklyn is the place to find these people,” he said. “There’s a history there.”

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And if you’re in the neighborhood, but not looking for smoked fish, beloved Bushwick music venue Goodbye Blue Monday has started serving food, including sandwiches courtesy of Bay Ridge favorite Circles Cafe.

Club owner Steve Trimboli told GO Brooklyn he plans to serve “simple nosh,” like salads, wraps, quiche and finger food, and then move on to food that sticks to your ribs, including stews and mac ‘n’ cheese in the fall.

The menu will change frequently, but recent wraps included the “Mom’s Leftover Turkey,” with white meat turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, and “Goodbye Blue Monday,” with fried eggplant, mozzarella and roasted red peppers.

How is this going over with the coffee-or-cocktails club- goers ?

“Last night, we had a pretty crowded show, and I ran out of everything,” Trimboli said, which sounds like a good recommendation to us.

• • •

As summer cools down, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be heating up at its 16th annual Chile Pepper Fiesta on Saturday, Sept. 27, from noon to 6 pm.

This year, the fiesta will feature live music courtesy of Pete Seeger, as well as “Sauce Boss” Bill Wharton, who will be serving up blues and gumbo. There will be more music and dance performances, cooking workshops, fire eating, fire juggling and more, all set amid the autumn blaze of changing leaves at the garden.

The event is free with paid admission. For information, visit www.bbg.org.

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