Gourmet grocers are hard to come by even in South Brooklyn--the overpriced fancy food minimarkets are orchestrating a takeover. (Hello Union Market?) So the opening of Court Street Grocers earlier this month was refreshing.
Owned by Matt Ross and Eric Finkelstein, two young Rhode Island School of Design graduates (artists cum foodies, if you will), Court Street Grocers is an intimate and slow-paced food shop. You will most likely find both owners either behind the pastry counter, or front and center slicing meats on the vintage meat slicer, or stocking shelves. You can also expect, to my delight when I first entered the shop, to hear The Velvet Underground or Roy Orbison crooning over the speakers.
Court Street Grocers is a quaint shop, and one without an obvious theme. There's an understated cheese and meat counter, fresh breads and pastries, various sandwiches made to order, Asian specialties as well as Latin and Jewish. It unavoidably feels at first a tad haphazard--you certainly can't stop in here for all of your cooking needs. There's a little of this and a little of that, and a lot of holes in between. But that is what is so brilliant about what Ross and Finkelstein have done. The distinguishing purpose of their grocery is to introduce you to some of the best, tastiest products out there, items that are outside the standard. It's not a one-stop market, it's a labor of love.
"It's all the things we like," said Ross.
Ross and Finkelstein have tasted every product in their store and they will not sell anything they don't believe is the best out there.
"We stand behind the flavor of everything on our shelves," said Finkelstein.
This means sometimes working with small distributors or even directly with the manufacturer, as they do when they travel all the way to North Carolina to pick up Cheer Wine to stock on their shelves.
A smattering of choice products:
*One of Ross's favorite puttanesca sauces produced by Micucci in Maine, where Ross once lived.
*California olive oils
*American made Worcestershire sauce
*Applesauce from Solebury Orchards in Pennsylvania
The shop's design and layout is so pleasing to the eye, I figured Ross and Finkelstein had planned the appearance to a T. The shelves are so delightfully organized--it's a joy just looking at them. The packaging on the products is so beautifully detailed, and the colors are arranged so pleasingly on the shelves. I asked Finkelstein about this, and I was surprised to find that what to me seemed so carefully designed was almost coincidental. But perhaps its to be expected that two artists would turn grocery store shelves into collages of prints and colors without even realizing it.
Court Street Grocers is a place to re-discover the joy in food and to take added pleasure in discovering new (and yet so simple!) culinary experiences. And if you haven't the time to really peruse the shelves, you can stop in for a cup of coffee and a sandwich like the "Catskill Roast Pork" served with duck sauce on garlic bread or the "Grilled Cheese" with apples, apple butter and bacon. Prepared foods are served from 11 am to 8 pm, and by Christmas Ross and Finkelstein hope to have opened the adjacent space for seating. The ultimate goal is to have a dinner menu and table service.
Open Daily 8am – 9pm, Closed Tuesday (for now)