Rustically Optimistic

rusticWe love local food at home and in fine restaurants, but we’ve long been hungry for something in between, a Brooklyn answer to the Farmers’ Diner in Vermont. There the short-order fare is as simple as at any truck stop, but the eggs, bacon, potatoes, butter, cold cuts, ice cream, even the grains in the pancakes and pie crust—virtually everything save the coffee accompanying the local cream—are raised right, right outside town. Why can’t a Brooklyn eatery put such high-minded ingredients into lowbrow chow?

We’re hoping Urban Rustic will do just that. Aaron Woolf and Dan Cipriani (who own Lodge and its next-door, bite-size takeout shop) partnered with musician-caterer Luis Illades to open this “farm-to-market café and grocery” on McCarren Park, and the menu—mostly breakfast platters, smoothies and sandwiches—promises easy eating for unfancy farmophiles.

“Traceability is really one of our prime motivators,” says Woolf, explaining they’ll stick to sustainable foods from nearby family farms “whenever possible.” A documentary filmmaker whose recent King Corn exposes America’s commodity conundrum, Woolf knows all too well why the dark underbelly of industrial agriculture is worth avoiding.

The tri-fold menu bears a tractor image and exuberantly announces, “we know where our food comes from!” So, although at (sandwich) press time, the options (turkey-swiss-tomato, mozz-basil-tomato, et al) sound startlingly like the offerings at any deli, and the smoothies (strawberry, blueberry, pineapple and banana) aren’t holding too vigorously to the local-sourcing ideal either, we’re giving these guys the benefit of the doubt. Cipriani says they’re learning fast and shaving off food miles everywhere they can. Speaking of which, maybe I should give up driving to Vermont for breakfast.

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Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer, co-author of The Flexitarian Table and a blogger for fitpregnancy.com. She grew up in Park Slope, lives in Sunset Park and regularly eats her way down Fifth Avenue to Bay Ridge.