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Brooklyn Athletic Club turns out to be a good neighbor: New hip restaurant/playground pitches in

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Brooklyn Athletic Club, Houston Chapter, sign
Brooklyn Athletic Club. Yes, the cool, hip new place the regulars call BAC with a mini croquet court, tables and fire pits out front and horseshoe, badminton, bocce courts, picnic tables and a new food truck out back. Brooklyn Athletic Club/Facebook
Brooklyn Athletic Club, Houston Chapter, back yard, bean bag, bocce ball
We enjoyed lunch while watching children play in the back yard. Brooklyn Athletic Club/Facebook
Brooklyn Athletic Club, Houston Chapter, Chef Jeff Axline
“We love our neighbors,” says chef Jeff Axline. “We have regulars who just walk over here all the time." Brooklyn Athletic Club/Facebook
Brooklyn Athletic Club, Houston Chapter, sign
Brooklyn Athletic Club, Houston Chapter, back yard, bean bag, bocce ball
Brooklyn Athletic Club, Houston Chapter, Chef Jeff Axline
News_Marene Gustin_columnist_mug_head shot

I hate my best friends.

OK, that’s a little strong but I am really, really jealous of Jennifer Olin and her partner Dr. Emelike Agomo.

I went over to see their new house the other day. It is an amazing 1925 home with a fireplace, big picture windows, original hardwood floors and all kinds of nooks and crannies that you would expect to find in a wonderful old home.

It’s absolutely beautiful. But that’s not why I’m jealous.

After the house tour we walked across the street, say, about 50 paces, and there we were on the patio of Brooklyn Athletic Club. Yes, the cool, hip new place the regulars call BAC with a mini croquet court, tables and fire pits out front and horseshoe, badminton, bocce courts, picnic tables and a new food truck out back.

How cool is that to be able to walk out your front door and into a restaurant/bar/playground?

“We love our neighbors,” chef Jeff Axline says. “We have regulars who just walk over here all the time. They bring the kids during the day on weekends and at night it turns into an adult playground.”

We copped a table on the front patio and dived into the menu. Olin insisted we try the sweet potato gnocchi with caramelized mushrooms and apples, which was a great call. Then it was on to the humongous sandwiches with everyone sharing.

 "We have regulars who just walk over here all the time. They bring the kids during the day on weekends and at night it turns into an adult playground.” 

The Clubhouse burger is a two-hander with a little heat from a smear of jalapeno jam on a Slow Dough bun. Then there’s the smoked turkey breast sandwich with Brie and a green apple mayo and my personal favorite the FBLT. That’s a BLT where the T is a fried green tomato with a slathering of mayo that tastes like deviled eggs on toasted sourdough.

All of which come with a cone of hand-cut fries perfectly seasoned. And there was a lovely bottle of wine involved in lunch. And lots of leftovers.

All of this while watching a little child toss croquet balls on the court and, even though it was a sunny day, people huddled around a fire pit roasting marshmallows for s’mores.

And conversation about how BAC is a real neighbor in this ‘hood.

“We were starting to move in while they were getting the restaurant ready to open,” Olin says. “The motor on our gate wasn’t working yet and one day I came over to bring some things in and was struggling with the gate. All of a sudden this guy comes running over from the restaurant and helps haul it open. Then he introduces himself as Chef Jeff.”

And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“It’s so funny” Olin says. “Even recently, when BAC was up and running and they had customers, I was bringing in groceries and Chef Jeff came running over to help out. I just love him.”

As lunch was wrapping up, Dr. Agomo showed up to join us. He settled in to eat the leftovers and get a fresh order of those fries. And both chef and partner Shepard Ross came over with salutations of “Hey, Doc!”

Dr. Agomo is a big guy, with a big appetite. And he loves the food here.

 It will likely only get busier once the big luxury apartment complex going up across the street opens. 

“We eat here at least once a week,” he says.

“Actually,” Olin adds, “I was out of town for a week and when I got back Ross told me Eme had eaten here every single night while I was gone.”

But the bond goes beyond food. Both neighbors look out for each other, both places have multiple security cameras some of which point at each other. And then there’s the fact that Olin and Agomo weren’t aware of a homeless guy living behind their house until BAC’s valets told them about him.

“His name is Shaggy Dog,” Axline says. “He’s harmless but we keep an eye on him since they moved into the house.”

Apparently BAC has fit right into the neighborhood, becoming a good neighbor as well as a destination for drinks, food and fun. And it will likely only get busier once the big luxury apartment complex going up across the street opens.

So maybe you should visit now, before it gets too crowded. Wait, it already is packed. But there’s always a little room in the BACyard at a picnic table even on the busiest nights.

So even if you don’t live next door, get on over there and check this place out.

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