Resolutions are an easy way to absolve yourself of the sins of December. Too much eggnog? You’re going to find the diet that really works. Black out at the company Christmas party? No more than one drink a week for you from now on! Suck wind at that Turkey Trot your cousin bullied you into? This is the year you run the marathon, somehow. That’s about the level of thought that most people put into their resolutions, which translates almost directly to the ease with which those resolutions fall by the wayside. Easy come, easy go.
But we are fans of using the New Year as an opportunity for taking stock. This exercise should be about behaviors and habits, breaking bad ones and making new good ones. It’s not about punishment and low self-esteem; most importantly, it’s not quantitative—you don’t get a gold star and permission to quit once you’ve lost those 12 pounds; make a fundamental shift and stick with it.
So. Now that you’ve awakened early to go for a jog exactly twice, only to discover that it’s still dark out at 6 a.m. and your bed is somehow exponentially more comfortable after that first snooze button, you’re ready to try on a different kind of resolution. Here are the ones we’re committing to this year.
Leave the borough. The amount of time we spend seeking out new restaurants is enough to have learned a new language. But the minute we see the address on that interesting new place is in Williamsburg, our defenses clamp down. “It’s so far! It’s full of hipsters!” Well, yes. But so is the Lower East Side, and we were first in line at the Bowery Diner.
To start, get yourself to Gwynnett Street (312 Graham Ave., Williamsburg; gwynnettst.com ) ASAP; it’s been the talk of the town all year and turned up on all the “Best of 2012” lists that matter. Whiskey bread to start and a seasonally driven menu full of surprising, comfortable combinations, exquisitely presented without toppling over into the precious, will be more than enough to outweigh that moustache-packed L train ride in.
Just say no to bacon. Yes, we know, bacon is delicious. It is concentrated fat and salt, two of the things our brains are chemically wired to seek out at all costs, so saying you love bacon is as unnecessary as expounding your love of oxygen. Unfortunately, chefs have started relying heavily on this meaty crutch to prop up otherwise unlovable dishes. This year, vow to read the menu in full, and don’t fall for the shiny object dangling in front of you. At brunch at Print (653 11th Ave.; printrestaurant.com), resist the maple bacon sticky buns, an overload of sweet topped with an obscene shower of chopped bacon, and go for a properly flaky croissant or semolina raisin bread French toast, a hearty foil to as much maple syrup as you can pour on.
Try things you think you don’t like. Obviously this does not apply to serious allergies. But if you’ve always hated mushrooms because they’re too slimy or avoided cabbage because you had an over-boiled boiled dinner as a kid, now’s the time to banish that old sense memory. Ninety-five percent of the time, the fault is with the chef, not the ingredient, so find someone you trust and put yourself in their hands.
If vegetables are the enemy, go kamikaze at Dirt Candy (430 E. 9th St.; dirtcandynyc.com), whose menu is entirely vegetarian, much of it vegan, and the restaurant nonetheless remains one of the New York Times’ favorite spots. Mushrooms don’t stand a chance against a portobello mousse served with truffled toast—chances are whatever your aversion might be, it will meet its match here as well. Unless you’re one of those people genetically programmed to hate cilantro. If so, we’re sorry.
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