Thanks to all you Outer Boroughs Chowhounds for helping me and my husband have a wonderful day in Brooklyn. We had tickets for a Saturday matinee of Macbeth at BAM, and with a two and a half hour drive each way, we wanted to have a plan of action.
We chose iCi for brunch, and it was a lovely start to the day. It was one of the first "spring" days, and because of the glass doors which open onto their back patio, the light just streamed throughout the room. It is a small room, but it felt comfortable and alive. I enjoyed a pear champagne cocktail, freshly squeezed orange juice, an herb omelette with a side of potatoes, and thickly sliced bacon. My husband had a bloody mary, the soup of the day (cream of garlic - not his fav, but he tried it) and a BLT which was presented with a small side of tossed greens. Along with some strong coffee, it was just what we needed after our long drive. We ended with a passionfruit tart and a pot de creme. Both were just enough of a sweet to satisfy. The waitstaff were friendly, although our server was a bit forgetful. But nothing to get all bunched up over. I'd also note that street parking was plentiful nearby, and we were just a matter of 10 or so blocks from BAM.
Feeling refreshed, we were off to the show. And what a show it was! The Harvey Theater is a small theater, a bit run down, but very charming. The show was inventive and mesmerizing. I was very glad I had taken the time to re-read the play the week before. Again, parking was quite easy, with a lot directly across from the theater.
After the show we returned to our car, unsure whether we wanted to stay for dinner. I took out my list which I had made from all of your kind recommendations, and I realized that Stonehome Wine Bar was a mere three blocks away. It was an absolutely beautiful evening, so we decided to leave the car where it was and walk there for dinner. We were able to secure a table because it was still early (about 5:15), but the room was quite filled, and several groups were turned away after we were seated.
The decor was subtle yet sophisticated. The menu was VERY small - it is a wine bar first, restaurant second - but we both found dinners to our liking. We each started with a simple green salad, which had a nice mix of crispy greens and was lightly dressed with a tasty, tangy dressing. I had braised beef with spaetzle and pearl onions in a red wine sauce. The beef was from the shoulder, and it must have been braised for hours and hours. The meat was perfectly tender and was surrounded by just enough sauce to flavor but not overwhelm. The spaetzle were lightly sauteed, so they had a slight crispiness on the outside while still being wonderfully tender inside. I could have eaten a whole bowl of those spaetzle. My husband had striped bass over risotto with escarole. I wish I could describe it more fully, but I was so enjoying my own meal that I declined to taste his. All I can say is that he cleaned his plate and I heard no complaints! We had a nice bottle of Conti Costanti 2000 Brunello di Montalcino, which was actually much lighter than we expected, so it went quite well with both meals. For dessert, it was French-pressed coffee for two, and a warm bittersweet chocolate cake to share (I can't resist chocolate). Our server, Alex, couldn't have been more wonderful. She was attentive, welcoming, charming. Great food, great service, a stylish setting - everything was spot-on.
To anyone considering venturing to this neighborhood, I would emphatically say GO. I saw many restaurants in the few blocks we explored, all of which showed great potential. We felt very safe walking around the neighborhood, although of course we took the usual precautions one would take. We were dressed somewhat casually and we fit right in. I can say with all sincerity that I will be looking for more opportunities to go to Brooklyn in the future.
Thanks one and all for your recommendations. Having some ideas of where to go and where to avoid made for a stress-free, wonderful day!