Believe it or not, people used to live in Williamsburg because it was cheaper than Manhattan, not because it was cool. Before the hipster invasion began in the late 90's, the South side belonged to the Hasidim and Peter Luger. Sure, there were always artists, musicians, and .com hopefuls living there, but it was nothing like it is today. Hipster idealism has spread through Brooklyn like wildfire since then, and the outbreak isn't contained within the borough. It's become a nation-wide epidemic. Rappers in tight pants and fedoras. PBR on tap in Oklahoma. Meatheads in Ray-Bans and artists like MGMT and Grizzly Bear blasting from frat house speakers around the country. This is getting ridiculous and The 'Burg is to blame. The initial source of the breakout? Diner. That's right, one little restaurant that opened back in 1998 started a domino effect felt around the USA. Didn't you read The Tipping Point?
Diner has been a Williamsburg institution for a decade now. Originally built out of necessity by two friends in need of a place to eat, drink and hang out - it soon became not only their home base, but every other recent settler's home as well. It's like the hipster Plymouth Rock. As expected, Diner takes the form of, well, a diner. It's basically a hole in the wall, and if it weren't for the constant crowds, you'd probably wonder how a place that looks like this stays in business. Everyone inside is most definitely cooler than you, but they don't think they're better than you. Both the clientele and staff are friendly, and generally seem to be enjoying themselves. There are no hard copies of the menu, your server personally writes the daily specials by hand on your table.
You can always count on Diner for an excellent pasta special, and this homemade fettuccini appetizer with sugar snap peas and broccoli that we had last week was spot on. A light summery pasta that went quite well with our patio seat in the sun.
Rabbit two ways - one, as a fried milanesa and the other as a shredded, braised meat over a salad of green and carrots and peas in a mustard dressing. Rabbit tastes like the dark meat of a chicken, with a little more BOOM if you will. Both styles tasted great, but it was the milanesa we're still thinking about. It tasted like dessert. A little on the pricey side for an appetizer ($18), but really freakin' awesome.
Sliced steak served with mustard greens - both of which come fresh from Marlow & Daughters butcher a half block away. The melt in your mouth factor of the marrow butter makes up for the fact that the actual meat is a little tough. That's all overshadowed by the fries though. Short, stocky potato chunks that are perfectly crispy, salty, and delicious.
The burger is the one thing that's always on the menu and for good reason. It's one of the best burgers you'll find in Brooklyn, and deserves consideration for anyone putting together a best of NYC list. It's just greasy enough to represent a real diner burger, but still made from grass-fed cows. This thing is legit.