Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: The Gorbals

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: The Gorbals

Article excerpt



Open daily for dinner. Dishes $6-$41.

98 N. 6th St., Brooklyn (718-387-0195)

"I REMEMBER WHEN there were hookers on this street!" a longtime Williamsburg resident exclaimed as he sat down at the Gorbals on a recent evening. These days, there's a small-batch coffee roaster, an exercise studio specializing in the Lagree Fitness Method, and a "unique retail concept" called Space Ninety 8. The latter, brought to you by Urban Outfitters, that bastion of commodified early-aughts hipsterdom, features the company's "reworked vintage" line, plus a rotating array of pop-up shops (Forage Haberdashery, Stolen Girlfriends Club) and the Gorbals, an East Coast outpost of the Los Angeles restaurant that Ilan Hall, of "Top Chef" fame, opened in 2009.

In a cagelike mezzanine overlooking displays of distressed denim and handcrafted deerskin medicine bags, the Gorbals gives off the vibe of a converted Bushwick warehouse, circa 2005; the flimsy floorboards trembled in time with the bass thumping from an event below. As diners studied the menu, divided into "Portlandia"-esque categories--Field, Barn, Stream, Coop--an endearingly earnest server, hands clasped, offered tips: "Talk amongst yourselves"; "I don't like to usurp anyone's natural interests"; "Both the chef and myself like to promote sharing."

When it comes to the whole roasted pig's head, sharing becomes more of a mandate--although the server allowed, "I watched a man eat the whole thing himself the other night. He was hammered. He was kind of bridge-and-tunnel. …

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