The Strong Buzz
When Emily was born almost 15 months ago now, it was a very difficult adjustment. As I have written about in a few posts here on The Strong Buzz, I really was not prepared for a number of the changes that motherhood required of me. In addition to mastering the art of lactation, a skill that turned out to be quite a bit more painful and difficult than I had ever imagined, there were a number of other life changes. Sure, there was a shocking abundance of heart-stopping love (which to this day is one of my life’s greatest blessings), but there was also the mind numbing lack of sleep, the frayed nerves, the horrid uncertainty and rampant insecurity, and the lack of friendship and social interaction that I had been used to.
That last bit was the one I was able to remedy a few weeks into my life as a new mom. I was feeling quite alone, lost in a new world where I seemed untethered to my former self and unable to function in any way. And so I reached out to a few of the women I had taken a Real Birth class with to see if they might want to hang out together while our babies cried, sucked, spit up, and pooped in a never-ending 24-hour cycle. Turns out, they were game. And so my new moms group was formed. There are four of us at its core, and over the past year together we have weathered many mommy peaks and valleys: sleep training, nap training, viral illnesses with ancient hair-raising names like coxsackie and roseola, constipation, diarrhea, teething, work-life balance, how to stay up past 9:30, and the specific art of incorporating puffs, mum mums, wine, and cheese into play dates.
Most of our weekly play dates have taken place either at playgrounds, on the floors of our living rooms, at Book Court, or in some bar or another in Cobble Hill (usually Bocca Lupo) that lovingly tolerates moms and babies (and their strollers and tantrums). But a few months ago we decided we needed a mommy play date of our own, one that did not incorporate our little ones.
And so a couple of Fridays ago we left our babies with their daddies (who congregate monthly for something they call Bourbon and Books which often means just bourbon) and headed off for a night out at Thistle Hill Tavern, a newish spot in the South Slope that is owned by David Massoni (of ‘inotecca, Otto, Esca, Babbo), John Bush (a longtime East Village Bartender) and Mike Burkett (better known as Fat Mike of the seminal punk rock band NOFX).
While our usual get togethers find us in frizzy ponytails, with makeup-free faces, often sweating and resembling a band of weary warriors, here we were in our adult play clothes: dresses, shoes with heels, mascara! We looked great. I’d say my friends were definitely in MILF territory.
The restaurant, which is decorated in dark woods with old photographs on display to resemble a turn-of-the-last-century Brooklyn tavern, was named after Thistle Hill farm in Virginia, a place Massoni’s parents owned when he was a kid, which in his words, “had a huge impact on my childhood.” The partners liked the name, but wanted it to have historical significance to the neighborhood. After some research, it turned out the name did. They found an old Farmer’s Almanac from the early 1800s that had farmers in Brooklyn complaining that the “thistle” had followed them from the old country and proved to be a nuisance in their fields. They also found several references in the 1920s to the Brooklyn Thistle Benevolence Society, a Catholic organization that raised money for the poor in Brooklyn. Finally, they found references to a semi-pro soccer team called the Brooklyn Thistles around 1918. Between the history and the personal connection, Thistle Hill Tavern was born.
The place is already popular with the neighborhood and has a nice crowd gathered at the bar and around the slew of heavy dark wood tables (plenty of Brooklyn families in attendance alongside pretty women and bearded men drinking a Friday night away). While the space is quite inviting with its old world accents and young friendly waitstaff; our waitress was adorable in her braids with a yellow flower barrette in her hair. When we commented on how cute the yellow barrette looked in her hair she thanked us and informed us that she was forced to remove it from her hair at the place she had just worked brunch at. Not at Thistle Hill. Here, they want people (waitstaff, too) to have fun.
But the most wonderful part of the concept is not the liberal barrette policy, but the food, which is exceptional thanks to chef and partner Rebecca Weitzman who has spent the last two and a half years as Chef de Cuisine at ‘inoteca LES and prior to that held several positions in Bobby Flay’s organization at Bar Americain, Bolo and Mesa Grill, and also …
written by: andrea strong