When temperatures drop, so does my level of motivation, but I was determined to have a fun-filled New York weekend for the first one back in the new year. So my boyfriend and I decided on one of Brooklyn’s best free events: live music on Fridays and Saturdays at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
We first ventured here when a friend recommended a free jazz concert one Saturday night, and we went for a second go when my friend’s band played. Both were such fun, but I didn’t love the idea of coming only in time for the music and having to stand for hours. I wanted the full experience of dinner and music, all from the comfort of a table and chair.
I wasn’t expecting much from the food, and it met my mediocre expectations, though the Angus burger did stand out as the best. The online menu for the bar food (which is what you order from at these free music events on Saturdays and Sundays) has more options than we actually were offered, so going off what our menu said that night:
What’s in it for you: artisanal cheese plate, caesar salad, mushroom and roasted tomato pizza
What’s in it for them: Jerk chicken skewers, Angus burger with cheddar, bleu or gruyere cheese [my memory is failing me on the rest, but according to their online menu, you may also be able to get a buttermilk battered frito misto plate]
I had been really craving a burger, so we split the Angus burger and mushroom pizza but of course had to top it off with dessert, so we chose the apple tartin with caramel sauce. I was pretty done-zo after all that, but my boyfriend ordered an appetizer—the Jerk chicken skewers with cucumber-yogurt dip (below, clockwise from top left). I don’t blame him considering how small the portions were.
Like I said, the burger was delicious. Juicy with a light, fluffy grilled white bun, it was the perfect antidote to my burger craving. It came with a side of rosemary fries, which could’ve used another heavy hand of the herb for sure. As for the pizza, OK at best. It looked like a frozen lean cuisine—including size-wise—but I didn’t really mind because I happen to have a thing for frozen pizzas. You might not feel the same way.
I didn’t have the chicken, but my boyfriend really liked its pairing with the dip. I did, however, try the grilled pineapple that accompanied it; it had the most interesting and intense spicy kick at the end. It was a nice change of flavor from the sweet apple tartin, which, if I’m not mistaken, totally tasted like it had alcohol in it. Or maybe the sugar was just that sweet. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, because I can handle sugar more than most people, but something about it was off, and I’m not just talking about the temperature.
And on that note, we come to my biggest gripe with the food: its temperature. The fries weren’t warm, the tartin, which was advertised as “warm” wasn’t warm and the rest of the food was similarly mild. It’s better than cold of course, but I do like to think my food hasn’t sat around for too long before it’s served to me.
So as you can see, the food doesn’t get a glowing review but the whole package—dinner and free music—gets an A+++ in my books. Just know that you should be coming for the music, and the food is secondary.
The space of BAM itself is incredible. It’s a veritable castle compared to Manhattan digs and is lit up like a wonderland at night. We were lucky enough to pick a night with amazing music. Saturday night’s band was Fishtank Ensemble, an L.A.-based band that plays gypsy music with Spanish, Eastern European and Middle Eastern influences. They even threw in some ragtime-esque tunes. I’m totally obsessed with them now! Not quite sure what gypsy music is? Take a listen to this short clip of them playing at an L.A. nightclub:
And at the Sacramento World Music Festival:
30 Lafayette Ave
2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q to Atlantic Ave.
N, R, D, M to Pacific St.
G to Fulton St.
C to Lafayette Ave.