In the heart of Williamsburg last week, on the same stretch of Havemeyer between South 1st and South 2nd Streets, on practically the same day, two new counter-service joints opened up not fours doors away from each other, each run by a veteran Williamsburg crew, each slinging made-with-love versions of classic American fast food.
To the north, from the pair behind Williamsburg heavyweights Fette Sau and St. Anslem, Matt Lang and Joe Carroll, you’ve got Lake Trout, a self-described “crappy” fried-fish-and-everything-else spot that is, in fact, anything but.
To the very-near south, from Gavin Compton and Jeff Slagg of Miller’s Tavern, there’s Blue Collar, a burger/fries/shakes place that will remind you more than a little of West Coast cult favorite In-N-Out. So which restaurant should residents of Williamsburg rental apartments go to, Lake Trout or Blue Collar? Well, obviously: both.
I hit up both Lake Trout and Blue Collar for dinner last night, and if either one of these places were within walking distance of my home, I’d eat there at least once a week. This is thoughtfully-conceived, skillfully-cooked, inexpensive food that goes down well at all hours of the day and, of course, late into the night.
Of the two, I’d probably give the nod to Lake Trout, mostly because there’s lots of things on the Baltimore-ian menu which aren’t everywhere (anywhere?) else, but also just because it’s really good.
Take the Cheese Fish Sangwich, for instance, which looks like your traditional fish filet from some depressing drive-thru but is in fact a freshly-fried delight, a well balanced sandwich (sorry, sanGwich) filled with fresh ingredients.
No it doesn’t look as pretty as some of the pictures we’ve seen, but who cares! You’re in a place that has “Shi**er” written on the bathroom door! Also tasty were Chicken Wings, served with soft sweet-ish white bread, and highly recommended with either the (vinegar-based) Hot Sauce or the (duck-sauce-ish) Mumbo.
Next time we’re getting the Lake Trout at Lake Trout, which is really whiting, as well as Western Fries (thick and double dredged), and an order of the O’Malley Salad, featuring fried corn.
Sliding a few doors down for dinner number two, my companion and I made quick work of about half the menu at Blue Collar. The Double Cheeseburger, like the Sangwich almost- next door, looked like a disaster, but tasted better–meaty and tender–than the disappointment-on-a-plate In-N-Out served me last summer in San Francisco.
The Hot Dog at Blue Collar was snappy and juicy, and the Fries, once salted and peppered, were more than passable accompaniments. At most other tables people were wolfing their spuds smothered with chili and cheese. Next time. Also next time: that chocolate peanut butter milkshake.
Lake Trout and Blue Collar are located on Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, between South 1st and South 2nd Streets.
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