Prospect Heights Hoopla

I apologize for the lack of photographs, but my sojourn into Prospect Heights this weekend falls into that ethereal category of New York events, somewhere between awesome geek fun and not really something to brag about at the bar.

Which is ironic, really, because the whole thing started at a bar- Way Station, to be precise. We arrived for the weekend Back to the Future marathon, made the rounds between the awesome Tardis bathroom and the really quite excellent steampunky bar. Their summer cocktails are excellent- I had the Flux Capacitor special, a neat fruity little number that reminded me of those mad scientist toys that made candy, back when I was a wee lad, and my favorite, their take on rum+coke, the Captain Jack. No, I am not bisexual, though I see the appeal.

My nerd posse and I come to the Way Station often for their niche movie get-togethers, local bands and occasional burlesque show, but I like to think the crowd that showed up for the BTTF marathon was something special. You know there’s love in the room when there’s unanimous applause for George McFly’s left cross into Bif’s jaw, or when the entire room drinks to a resounding “ONE POINT TWENTY-ONE JIGGAWATTS.” That about sums up the experience really- even though you could come suited up in your geekiest t-shirt for the nostalgia appeal hit-on, or catch the fan painter with his Dr. Who canvasses, Way Station has always represented exactly what it advertises: a place where you can stop, take off that mask of normal and be a geek between the social stops of life.

We stepped outside between 1 and 2, maybe because I couldn’t stand the re-shot of Doc Brown talking about Marty’s kids. Maybe it was the trivia game in between, with porno and booze as prizes. Amidst the indie artist and Carribbean deli background (the shop next door smokes jerk chicken right in front of the bar, eye-watering good) Prospect Heights has become really very respectable. Gentrification creeps about in the form of five-story condos, but most of them look empty and sad, while the townhouses and second-story apartments still retain their quintessential New York flavor.

Between the classic hair salons and start-up bars are the occasional empty storefronts, no longer testaments to the recession’s impact but great opportunities, like doors waiting to be opened. Amongst them was a surprise treat, the Kimchi Grill, cousin to the more recognizable Kimchi Taco truck. I first discovered the truck during the Prospect Park Food Truck Festival, but finding the shop was like finding Narnia. Their food is still good- fresh, diverse, store-marinated kimchi atop beauteous seasoned pork and braised short rib. Chicken’s a bit dry, but just get the 50 cent guacamole option and the taco sings like a mockingbird. I especially like the (seemingly!) blood-drenched rice cakes with their incinerating spice and tempting sweetness, a nice throwback to the Korean roots. The service is neighborhood-friendly, perhaps owing to the great mix of local families roaming Washington Ave.

Back at the bar, the second BTTF is being drowned out by the incessant murmur of cultured singles who have cat-walked out of the woodwork. It was never as good as the other two, in my opinion. There are some catches in the mix, and there’s a persistent comfort in the atmosphere- if they decided to drink at Way Station, they’re not afraid to discuss the finer points of Dalek idealism with you. Not too shabby for a Sunday night.

Like I said, Prospect Heights is not a hip neighborhood, but that’s what makes it work. The racists and yuppies are afraid of the obvious ethnic vibe, and the foodies and geeks aren’t daunted by the lack of subway accessibility. For the right crowd, it’s just the place to come to for peace and quiet, and maybe for hunting that illusive unicorn of the dating world- the hot geek chick.

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