Culinary Scrapbook

On a recent sunny but breezy Sunday, my friends and I foundourselves at one of our favorite dining spots. At half past twelve,we gathered around a table in the Greenhouse Café on Third Avenue.The afternoon was filled with the kind of plate passing andtabletop storytelling that only happens at this particular breed ofBrooklyn restaurant. After that meal, I got to thinking about theunwritten history of my favorite Bay Ridge eateries and how theyhave come to represent a lifetime of memories for me and the restof Bay Ridge.

For as long as I can remember, the Greenhouse Café and theCappuccino Café have been the spots where I have gathered for manyan afternoon or evening snack with my dearest girlfriends. The menuis chock full of comforting and delicious options. The ambience isas familiar as our own backyard. Over the restaurant’s amazinglyrich penne vodka, cappuccino and to-die-for chocolate mousse, wequite literally dished about our lives.

As I gazed around, I observed that we were among masses of otherladies who lunch. Over the years, we have grown to value the spotas a part of our personal history, celebrating birthdays or holdingemergency venting sessions when times got tough. It has become, forus, a touchstone, a place to return to remember how far we havecome.

A few blocks down, lies another favorite hangout, Kettle Black.There, neighborhood friends who might otherwise find it hard tostay relevant to one another’s hectic adult lives can always counton wing night to bring them back together. Kettle plays host to thepalates of multiple generations of sports fans. Every Sunday theycheer on their various home teams, making this eatery more thanjust a bar to have a brew and a bite.

These longstanding Bay Ridge establishments have never reallybeen only about the food but rather who the food brought together.Still another restaurant brings fond memories that will stay withme forever. At the Bally Bunion, I sat across from my lategrandmother as she told me tales of her childhood over shepherd’spie. At Gino’s, on Fifth Avenue, I can bring back family dinnerspast, anytime I take a whiff of their amazingly delectable sauces,though some of the players have left me over the years.

In Bay Ridge’s own little restaurant row, I know I will neverfail to find not only countless dining spots and places to savordelicious meals, but also places that carry a host of memories thatI will never lose.

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