Mission Possible! A Date Night at The Castello Plan
By Serena Norr, AChildGrowsInBrooklyn.com
August 31, 2010
Experts say that continuing to date your spouse or partner is a great way to keep the romance alive. True enough, but when kids come into the equation, “dating” becomes almost impossible. There’s the sheer exhaustion, cost or maybe guilt about leaving- which I felt since my child screamed anytime I left the house. It’s certainly not easy and definitely requires effort and organization, along with a trusty sitter. But if you and your partner put in the work, the reward will be a glorious night out.
One spot that you should check out for your date night is the Castello Plan, a newish wine and tapas bar in the burgeoning Ditmas Park. Named after the first map of lower Manhattan by Jacques Cortelyou, The Castello Plan is owned by Avi Shuker of Mimi’s Hummus fame, and partner Benjamin Heemskerk whose bar has been receiving raves from the likes of Time Out New York, The New York Times and Serious Eats for its amazing wine selections (there are 110 selections by the bottle) and delicious tapas.
On my recent date night in question (a Monday night) we happened to stumble on an evening with live music [check out this link for Castello Plan’s live music schedule.] not to mention a fairly empty space (it was only 7:30). We had our choice of seating options and decided to sit at one of their tall wooden tables where several candles flickered, as white wax slowly dripped down. As we settled in, I took in some of the stunning décor: panels on the bar with a collection of various clocks, carefully dispersed nautical themed-items, flowers placed throughout the space and bare brick walls that added to its charm and cozy-like feel.
Pursing through the menu, I was overwhelmed by the massive list (a book really) that included red, sparking, white, rose, chilled red and sweet wines from over 14 countries with diverse offerings such as a Tannat from Uruguay and a Dornfelder from Rheinhessen, Germany – both of which I have never heard of. The beer selections, all of which are from Belgium, included a listing of its alcohol percentages and what it looks and tastes like. Looking around at the menu, it was clear that the wine and beer isn’t cheap (an average glass is around 8 bucks and the average beer is 7); however, you will find quality selections, and most likely, beverages you have never tried or heard of. This is itself is a part of the experience – and thankfully the very attentive staff is there to answer any of your questions and make recommendations. And when I say attentive, I mean it. Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted, my waiter recommended three different selections (I requested a blackberry-like wine, a wine aficionado I am not). Seconds later, she returned with three different glasses of wine for me to taste, even before I made my selection! After the mini wine 101-course/test taste, I decided on a Malbec from Argentina, while my husband ordered a pint of the Wittekerke.
As we sat with our drinks, listing to the guitarist it felt very special and simply relaxing. And, to think! No cleaning or dishes or any post-bedtime duties. Although the night did involve me texting with our sitter to make sure that our daughter went to sleep okay and talking about the funny/crazy/silly/amazing things that she did that day, that was just a brief interruption.
Although we would have loved to stay, it was time for us to go back ( it was 10:00!) and despite what a great time and place this was; sleep is much more important these days. Before we left, the owner told us that Castello serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday with an amazing bacon, egg and cheese sandwich as well as tomato and goat cheese omelets, a Nutella and banana crepe, and sides of house-curd bacon, fresh croissants! Now I have an other excuse to visit the Castello Plan; except next time it will be with my daughter for a family brunch.