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But when you ask her to suggest a dish, she just punches "chef choice" into the computer. Your eyes follow the invisible data all the way to the open kitchen, where the cooks sweat it out behind a long line of tickets. You know that you'll be eating fish — since it's fastest to bang out on a busy night.

The sea bass arrives (told you so): very moist, on a bed of summer veggies tinged with Thai-level spice. It's good, but you keep wishing for a more mentally stimulating meal. You finish up, and settle the bill before hailing a cab.

Walking into PASTICHE, the place is packed with fanny-pack-wearing, camera-toting tourists. But the bright-eyed server is excited to choose your desserts, and returns proudly bearing two plates. One is piled high with a chocolate mud-pie type thing — three inches of chocolate, three inches of whipped cream — the other is a saucer of blueberry cobbler. Five minutes later, you can't eat another bite. Sugar high, then low, kicks in, and you stumble back toward the main drag though an empty, and surprisingly clean, freeway underpass.

main_Pastiche_480

The night comes to a screeching early halt at recommended dive bar THE RED FEZ. It's empty, but for a few grizzly regulars hunched over their beers. The tired-looking bartender ignores you, and you sit like a four-year old on timeout, hoping to catch her eye. Eventually she strolls over, tosses you a menu, and disappears again. You hold out for a while, your face in a pint of Lagunitas IPA, but decide to bounce once she puts on her personal iPod playlist, a mix of the worst the '80s had to offer. So long, Providence.

Brooklyn, NY

BUS: FOUR HOURS, $50/ROUND TRIP

LODGING: ALOFT BROOKLYN

Your digs, one of those new-agey "We're not a hotel, we're a club!" places, happen to be right across the street from the DEKALB MARKET. The elevator opens to a clump of twentysomethings with Solo cups, demanding to know where the roof is. You shake your head like you don't speak English and scuttle off to find lunch. 

You nose around the market's transformed shipping containers, and wind up at MAYHEM & STOUT for slow-braised sandwiches and watermelon lemonade. Temperatures are rising rapidly, so you suck down half of the lemonade before turning to your brisket sandwich — doused in "Golden" barbecue sauce and pickled onions — and surrendering to the inevitable mess. Soon, eating in the heat requires too much energy. You finish up and head out.

A half hour later, sweating your balls off, you duck into the PILLOW CAFÉ for some relief. A chai-banana smoothie — a lethally creamy concoction served in a Mason jar — seduces you, but the first few sips confirm that, in this heat, milk was a bad choice. Better head back to base.

main_egg_480
Corn cake at Flatbush Farm
 

When you next hit the street, freshly showered and nursing a few huge blisters, your destination isFLATBUSH FARM & BAR(N),which is exactly what you imagined: almanacs and vintage pickaxes on the walls, farmstand ingredients, and herby cocktails. Your barman Jason hooks you up with his choices: a corn cake first, topped with a pert poached egg and swimming in a thick splash of brothy mushrooms. The whole thing feels like joyously wading around in brown butter. "The Garden Snake," a blend of Farmer's Gin, cucumber, Thai basil, and lemon soda makes you feel less sticky and clammy.

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  Topics: Food Features , Portland, Brooklyn, Providence,  More more >
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