Incredibly Cheap Eats: Kielbasa Dinner at Happy End in Greenpoint

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The bill of fare at Happy End beckons from a chalk board right outside the front door.

Once long ago it was a corner tavern, and a mirrored bar with masses of dark wood remains a fixture in the front room, only now set meals are dispensed across it, and various juices and sodas. When I first went there years ago, Happy End had a giant serve-yourself thermos of Kool-Aid in the back room, which was sole beverage offered.

The place is Polish, and one of Greenpoint's homeliest restaurants--and cheapest, too. Dinners run slightly less than seven dollars, which include a choice of dense salads, served on a separate plate. The main attraction is a mountain of meat, fish, or poultry, with meat being predominant, whether experienced as chops, stuffed cabbage, boiled beef, cutlets, or massive smoked sausages. It was the sausages that I opted for on a recent rainy afternoon, a pipe bomb of kielbasa, nicely charred and smoky enough to set fire alarms off, topped with caramelized onions, which gave the sausage further gravitas.

The dinner comes with a regulation two scoops of mashed potatoes, and a ladle of brown, paprika-shot gravy. Mothers with toddlers accumulate in the back room, along with white-haired ladies carrying shopping bags. Guys in shirt sleeves and idle hipsters run in for carryout, and then leave bearing bags of Happy End's excellent pierogi, available in several flavors. While happy end might mean something quite different in a massage parlor, here it means good, satisfying food at bargain prices. 924 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-383-9862.

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