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Cobble Hill, Brooklyn or Bust

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/11/2015 Wendy E. Simmons

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Cafe Tabac
I flew to Montevideo, Uruguay once for brunch.
The flight took approximately 12 hours each way, and I had to change planes in Miami since there were no direct flights to or from New York. With layovers, travel to and from the airport, check-in, and clearing security, customs and immigration, the five or so hours I spent on the ground in Montevideo required about 50 hours of travel time.
On the other hand, I won't go to the Upper West Side. It's an eight-mile, 30- to 45-minute taxi ride away from where I live in Brooklyn - but you won't find me there except in extraordinary situations because it's too far away and a pain to get to.
This is because I have what scientists do not refer to as Situational Space-Time Continuum Disorder (SSTCD). SSTCD means that even though space and time are joined in a single interwoven continuum...I don't care.
Or put another way, if it's not in my neighborhood of Cobble Hill, I'm not going. If it's not in my apartment, I barely want to go. But, if you need someone to fly halfway across the world for a birthday dinner on Saturday night, I'm your girl. As long as airplane travel is involved, I'll pretty much go anywhere, anytime, for any reason.
For example, rather than spending weekends at a summer share in Kismet on Fire Island - a mere two hours from my apartment - I chose to go to Ambergris Caye, Belize those weekends instead. That it took 12 to 15 hours each way, included all the usual hassles of air travel, and meant I had to find and rent a hotel room mattered not. It felt easier and faster to me than schlepping to Long Island.
It wouldn't make any sense if it didn't make all the sense in the world.
When I travel by plane, I see the world below as my playground. No distance is too far for me to go to do, see, or try something. Unless my hotel room is the destination, I waste little time there.
But when I'm home, I'm home. And I don't - or I won't - stray far from the approximately 20 blocks that comprise my tiny little neighborhood of Cobble Hill. Unless circumstances demand otherwise (like when I go to work, of course), I more or less, eat, shop, play, exercise, and socialize here.
Sure, I make allowances for riding my bike around Brooklyn, taking long walks, or running around Prospect Park. And every now and then I'll muster the mental strength for a field trip to a museum, or gallery, or shop outside the "zone." But make no mistake... it's a Herculean effort. This summer I managed to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue. I was so proud of myself I nearly cried.
Thankfully I work in Manhattan (or I'd never leave Brooklyn), so I do meet friends after work at places VERY CLOSE to my office, and I do frequent places in neighborhoods adjacent to mine. But neither is my first choice. Nor is meeting friends at restaurants or bars near where they live (unless of course, they live in another state or country), but fair's fair, so on occasion I'll do that too. But it's rare.
More likely, if I'm not in Timbuktu, I can be found within blocks of my apartment, usually at one of a handful of restaurants:
Bar Tabac- I've eaten here at least 150 times (NO exaggeration) and if you're friends with me, you've probably eaten here, too. What's not to love? Consistently delicious food, a great vibe, and awesome music draw a mostly local crowd of fun regulars. Truly "French," the establishment will never, ever rush you. My brunches routinely stretch to two, three, four, (five, even six... don't ask) hours, while I enjoy the company of friends, and rosé.
Chez Moi - Though I've never sat for a "proper" meal in the restaurant, I have sampled Chez Moi's excellent cocktails and appetizers many times at the bar which is laid back and intimate. And even though the giant front window looks out onto Atlantic Avenue not the ocean, the décor and candles make me feel like I'm tucked away on some small North Shore beach.
Awash - Ethiopian food is one of my very favorite cuisines. Growing up in Washington, D.C., we could choose from a plethora of Ethiopian restaurants, but in New York City, not so much. Remarkably, I live a block away from one and it's outstanding - with perfect food as good as any I've eaten in Addis Ababa. I dine in or get delivery from Awash two or three times a week. I love all its veggie dishes, especially Shiro, and it offers a large selection of Ethiopian beer. The owner recently renovated so the restaurant is lovely, but I wouldn't care if it were a shack.
La Vara - Tucked away on a quiet residential street, La Vara serves Spanish tapas with Moorish and Jewish influences. Each dish is inventive and odd and ridiculously good. And although the food is "fancy," the atmosphere remains super laid back. I love sitting out back in the summer.
Hibino - A standout among the many sushi restaurants in Cobble Hill, Hibino serves "daily changing" small plates (obanzai), which it posts on its website and on a chalkboard inside. The sushi is fresh and delicious, the space is simple and light filled, and the atmosphere is relaxing and calm.
Watty & Meg - Exceptional staff serve fresh, local, and seasonal food in a warm, inviting, and casual space with zero pretension. Watty & Meg is a great spot on Thursday nights when every other bar is crowded. And in my opinion, it offers the best veggie burger in town.
I suppose if there were flights from Cobble Hill to Manhattan I'd spend more time there on weekends. But since I can reach Manhattan by taxi or subway in about 10 minutes, or when really in a pinch, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge in about a half hour, I doubt any airline is likely to introduce that route anytime soon. So for now, I'll be seeing you at Tabac.
What is your favorite local place that keeps you in your neighborhood? Comment below and find/follow me on Facebook for more conversation.
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Having brunch in Montevideo (straight from an overnight flight...so forgive the hair).
For more information on me, please visit wendysimmons.com.

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