SJ here. My heart has been echoing with that bubbling, pitter-pat effervescence of joy that makes me want to run to the hilltops and shout out: I AM IN LOVE!!! Well, I am. Completely and totally smitten with the absolutely wonderful Court Street Grocers which opened in late 2010 and which I am just now discovering right here in my backyard of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (perhaps the best neighborhood in the entire universe).
Court Street Grocers is half a specialty grocer and half an über casual breakfast / sandwich spot (that also serves dinner once a week). Where much of Brooklyn’s new food culture prides itself, in both positive and negative ways, on a seriousness of intent — chefs in Abraham Lincoln beards and suspenders hand churning artisanal butter and restaurants so painstakingly dedicated to the locavore movement that they will only serve lettuce grown on the roof of their own spot — Court Street Grocers just seems to love food and have a profound joy in sharing it. Witness the grocery section: neat shelves lined with stuff that I, or my family or any of my friends would have chosen: weird mustards from West Virginia, regional hot sauces, Goldenberg’s peanut chews, jars of Brooklyn made Kim Chee, New Orleans Ice Coffee concentrates, Japanese Kewpie brand mayonnaise, Hatch Green Chili Sauce, top shelf Canned Tomatoes, great milk, NY state apples and seasonal veggies, and much much more; a high – low approach that completely won me over and had me going condiment mad like a porn maven in video shop going-out-of-business sale.
And then there are the sandwiches….It is as if the mad scientists of Court Street Grocers pinpointed the fertile imagination of the returning-home-late-at-night, semi drunken, famished chef who is only out to please his own belly. MAN!!! Let’s review the numbers I have tried: The “Little Shonda” — Dark, toasted pumpernickel bread, slathered with Durkee Famous Sandwich Sauce, softly scrambled eggs, top quality pastrami, melted swiss and pickled green tomatoes. The “Mother-in-Law” — A cibatta loaf stuffed with braised heritage beef short ribs, kim chee, roasted broccoli and lots of mayo. The “Media Noche” – Roasted Pork Shoulder, Heritage Foods Ham, Swiss Cheese, Mayo, Mustard, Gus’ Full Sour Pickles, on Brioche, which is. more or less, the greatest Cubano Sandwich I have ever tasted. And finally, a toasted cheese sandwich of Cabot Cheddar, Apple Butter on a superb 10 grain Pullman Loaf. Everything just wonderful and they have loads more sandwiches that I have not gotten around to tasting yet. And, just to rule a bit more, they also have great coffee. These sandwiches can be eaten in a plain, but perfectly comfortable, dining room or taken out. There is also a $35 prix fixe dinner that is served every Friday with 2 seatings that you have to reserve on-line. I have looked at the offerings and they seem to be as wonderful as the lunch and breakfast menus — simply put, food that you want to eat.
The owners (there are 3 of them, maybe 4?) of this wonderful establishment hang out by the cash register, seemingly the happiest group of people you can imagine. I saw one of them walking down Court Street once, simply floating with joy as every other person that walked by greeted him with words and smiles. These are people that are having fun at their jobs — they are thrilled to be part of their community, they are having a great time and they know everything about what they are selling and have definitely enjoyed it all. I am so happy that I am lucky enough to be within the sphere of Court Street Grocers and will continue to explore (and report!) on their food.