276 5th Ave, Brooklyn 11215
(Btwn Garfield & 1st St)
I’m pretty sure that many of us can recall our poor college days when a basic food staple for us used to be Nissin Cup O Noodles. Nothing could beat Cup O Noodles when you were in a pinch and had only a few bucks to your name! Never mind the fact that this sodium infused meal replacement was probably one of the most unhealthiest things you could eat. The point was that it got you through your day or night! Little did I know back then that Cup O Noodles is actually based on a more authentic Japanese treat called Ramen. Ramen is essentially a noodle dish served in various types of broths from miso to fish to meat and various others. In the past several years, Ramen has become extremely popular and dare I say trendy in New York with some places having a long line out the door. As it turns out, Park Slope has several ramen spots but I have to say that the one I frequent the most is Naruto Ramen.
Tantan Ramen: At Naruto this has always been one of my favorite ramens. The Tantan ramen consists of a spicy sesame broth that is hearty, flavorful, and is sure to warm your bones on a cold day. In this wonderful broth you will also find minced pork, a small fish cake, beansprouts, and scallions. The pork on its own is very tender and flavorful but after it has spent some time soaking up that wonderful broth it becomes even more delicious. The soft thin noodles are also very tasty after they absorb some liquid. If you’re going to Naruto for the first time, I would highly recommend you start with the Tantan ramen simply because it’s bursting with flavor!
Hell’s Fire Kimchee Ramen: If you love Kimchee (Korean spicy cabbage) then you are sure to love this ramen. If you are weary of spicy foods then you will most assuredly hate this ramen and blame me for your burnt tongue. Although you can order this ramen with varying degrees of spice it will still be somewhat spicy to the uninitiated. Besides the fiery spice of this ramen there are two things I specifically love about it. The incredibly tender, smokey, and flavorful pieces of roast pork and the hard boiled egg. The pork and the egg both absorb a lot of rich flavor from the broth. I really love this ramen on days when I’m sick with a cold. The warm spicy liquid soothes your throat and definitely relieves a stuffed nose.
Naruto Ramen is a wonderful little cozy spot that serves up some of the tastiest ramen as well as other Japanese treats. The ramens are full of flavor and large in size. One ramen alone is like having an entire meal! I have often wondered how some people can put away an entire bowl of ramen with several mugs of Sapporo beer. More power to them! If you’re looking for a delicious Japanese comfort food then look no further! Throw out your entire stock of Cup O Noodles and head on over to Naruto Ramen for the real deal!
230 5th Ave, Brooklyn 11215
(At President St)
We are back to where it all began! Dizzy’s! My first ever post and review at a time when my photography skills were still just in their infancy. I figured I should return once again to one of my favorite brunch spots to try something new and to post some better photographs of Dizzy’s delicious comfort foods.
Buttermilk Biscuit and Sausage Gravy: Thick, rich, creamy, and peppery goodness is one way to describe this gravy. With an abundant amount of sausage bits, this gravy on its own just hits the spot! It’s so good that you almost forget the fact that you also have this wonderful warm and buttery buttermilk biscuit to go along with the gravy, not to mention the fact that we also threw in a nice little sunny side up egg in there as well. You know how much I love combining different things on my plate so I won’t have to tell you twice how good that biscuit becomes once it’s smothered in that amazing gravy and topped off with a little of that golden egg yolk. Do yourself a favor and have the Buttermilk Biscuit and Sausage Gravy at Dizzy’s. You will not regret it!
Otis Sandwich: I’m always in search of some kind of new and tasty breakfast sandwich so when I spotted the Otis I knew I had to try it. The fact that this was a somewhat healthy sandwich persuaded me even further to give it a shot. Breaking down this sandwich you’ve got a spinach wrap filled with egg whites, veggie sausage, avocado, and pepper jack cheese. I am always a little hesitant when it comes veggie sausage because some try too hard to imitate their meat counterpart and end up tasting synthetic and with an odd texture. These veggie sausages were just fantastic and full of flavor! If I didn’t know any better I would probably think these were meat sausages. With the light spicy kick of the pepper jack cheese combined with the creamy avocado, you practically forget that somewhere hidden underneath all of that are those boring healthy egg whites. Not only was the Otis very tasty but it’s actually quite healthy and I’m pretty sure it would still be delicious if you decided to be even healthier by skipping on the cheese.
I’m really glad to see that Dizzy’s is thriving at their second location but then again I am not surprised since the original Dizzy’s is always packed and packed for a good reason. Although I prefer their brunch slightly more than their dinners, the food at Dizzy’s has always sent me home with a very full and satisfied belly.
446 Dean St, Brooklyn 11217
(Btwn 5th & Flatbush Ave)
I have to admit I was pretty upset when my beloved Taro Sushi decided to move from its uniquely charming yet cramped space on Dean Street but that’s a whole other story. I was left wondering for many months as to who or what would takeover the old location of Taro. Months later there was finally some news. Apparently a new “authentic” Italian spot was coming to the hood named “Va Beh’” which loosely translates from Italian to mean “It’s all good.”. My question was “Just how good is all good?”.
Fried Eggplant: Simple, good, and tasty but then again what isn’t good that’s fried!
Carciofi e Cannelini: Really great crusty and chewy bread topped with artichokes and Cannellini beans. The mildly sweet artichokes were really good especially with the slightly nutty taste of the Cannellini beans. I really liked the fact that this was a large crostini. Usually when I order crostini, it’s about the size of two bites but this was definitely a generous serving.
Spinaci Tomato e Pancetta: I really enjoyed this salad. The spinach was very fresh as were the red peppers.You also had your hard boiled egg, sweet onions, and most notably the pancetta. Pancetta is what you might think of as being Italian bacon and we already know that bacon makes everything so much better. The flavor combination of egg, pancetta, and sweet onions was excellent but what really took hold of me was the dressing. I detected a hint of anchovy in the wonderful dressing and I just love anchovies on anything and everything. Overall a very refreshing salad with various textures and flavors consisting of sweet, salty, and savory.
Red Snapper Crostino: Once again a very generous portion but I have one gripe about this appetizer. It would have been great but I thought the fish was overly salty. The bread obviously helped to subdue the saltiness but a lot of the natural fish flavor was lost to the salt.
Roasted Zucchini: If you love zucchini then you will love it even more roasted. Even more sweet once roasted in some olive oil.
Orata al Forno: This is where things started heading drastically downhill. When this oven baked fish arrived I could not help but detect the distinct aroma of a “not so fresh” fish. Most people know how much I love fish and how often I bust people’s chops when they want a fish that’s not too “fishy”. Many of my friends find that the majority of my fish consumption is usually too fishy however this fish just didn’t smell right and this is coming from a person who will eat some foul smelling stuff! I was not sure if it was the entire fish or perhaps just the head or maybe the innards were not properly cleaned out. I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn that smell alone was not enough to deter me from trying that fish. I took a few bites of the fish and the taste was perfectly fine but it was pretty bland to say the least. The only place I could detect some mild flavor was on the skin which was probably salted and basted in olive oil. For a whole fish and for the price that was charged ($22) I was sorely disappointed. I love a good whole fish and I have consumed many great ones at other places but unfortunately I cannot recommend the whole fish at Va Beh.
Pollo con Endive: To be perfectly honest, I just didn’t understand what they were trying to convey with this entree. The dish was pretty simple and that’s perfectly fine but in the end it was just a very average piece of grilled chicken. Although it was very thin and tender, it was charred in many places. Many bites consisted of a pretty bitter taste from the charred meat. And speaking of bitter! This part completely baffled me! The chicken was covered with a huge pile of endives and I am talking about ridiculously bitter endives! How in the wold could this possibly be a tasty combination I ask?! I had no choice but to completely sweep away the bitter endives and enjoy the non-charred parts of the chicken. When the waiter initially described this dish it sounded very enticing however I will definitely not be recommending or even ordering this entree again.
Tiramisu: As always, I like to give a restaurant a final shot to make up for a rather disappointing meal. Dessert was going to be my last ditch effort. I’m very glad to say that the Tiramisu was excellent. Very rich and very creamy, this Tiramisu had a wonderful pronounced flavor of espresso. I need that huge dose of sugar in order to get over that insane bitterness from the chicken.
I am a bit confused here. The appetizers were very good but the main entrees were a complete letdown. I’m not really sure of the verdict regarding Va Beh. I have read many raving reviews about it and recently several friends were kind enough to share their positive experience with me. There is definitely a large number of positive reviews! After some thought I realized that all of these reviews had one particular thing in common. It was pasta! Everyone was praising the pasta! Clearly I have to return to Va Beh and try their pasta. It’s the only fair way to make a conclusive decision I think. To be continued…..
Red Hook Lobster Pound
284 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn 11231
(Btwn Verona St & Visitation Pl)
Yes I’m back in Red Hook again but this time for a quickie! No, not that kind of quickie! Last week my friend was kind enough to let me know about the $20 lobster dinner special every Wednesday at the Red Hook Lobster Pound. Another reason to get me into Red Hook? Of course it is!
Lobster: What can I tell you except that you’re getting a super fresh 1.5lbs live lobster directly from Maine, steamed until cherry red! Our lobsters were probably in the middle of their molting season because the shell was quite soft and required no assistance from the nutcracker. The meat was fresh and slightly salty in the legs but overall sweet. The tamale (the green goo) was extra creamy and extra yummy for some reason. I love that stuff! A fine lobster indeed.
Lobster Mac n Cheese: Good and bad! Good because the cheese was creamy and slightly sharp. I hate it when a mild cheese is utilized to make mac n cheese. That never makes any sense to me. This cheese was flavorful! Bad because there were probably three or so slivers of lobster that required an electron microscope to discover. Add more lobster please! Lastly, this mac n cheese could have used a nice crispy cheesy crust, a foundation of any respectable mac n cheese.
If you need a quick lobster fix and you’re in the neighborhood then Red Hook Lobster Pound is your place. All of the lobsters are shipped straight from Maine and are currently waiting on death row for you to consume them. If that one lobster isn’t enough for you then I highly recommend you try one of their lobster rolls because they are insanely delicious!
277a Van Brunt St, Brooklyn 11231
(Btwn Visitation Pl & Pioneer St)
As promised earlier, we once again made our way back into Red Hook. Besides all of the wonderful gastronomic findings in Red Hook, I have been immensely enjoying doing some random photography in the neighborhood. The area is truly eclectic and is evolving at a rapid pace. Last week after our great brunch at Home/Made and after some more street photography, we came upon a spot called Kevin’s. After quickly perusing the menu, we knew that we would probably be back here again next week since the focus at Kevin’s is primarily seafood. Sure enough not only did we come back to try Kevin’s on Saturday but we returned on Sunday as well. The following review is a combination of those two separate brunches.
Eggs Chesapeake With Home Fries: I love Eggs Benedict any which way imaginable but I love them even more when I can get them with seafood!. A Benedict with crab you say? Bring it immediately if not sooner! My Benedict arrived with two poached eggs perched atop two pieces of toasted Challah bread covered in just the right amount of Hollandaise sauce. At first I saw no traces of any crab but little did I know that two crab cakes were very stealthily tucked away underneath those poached eggs. I really liked the toasted Challah bread. It made an excellent platform for the eggs and crab where all I needed to do was just lift up the bread to my mouth instead of using a knife and fork. The eggs were prepared well, the crab was sweet and flavorful, and the slightly sweet and crunchy Challah bread was extra yummy especially after it absorbed some of that egg yolk. Unfortunately I was a bit let down by the home fries. The potatoes on their own were good but they lacked salt however if you combined some of the potatoes with the egg yolk, Hollandaise sauce, crab, and Challah, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Challah Grilled Cheese BLT: We ordered this without the cheese and instead asked for eggs but it was still a great sandwich. Once again utilizing some more of that great crispy Challah bread, this sandwich contained generous strips of perfectly crunchy/chewy smokey bacon followed by some greens, a little mayo, and golden yellow egg goodness. Without any doubt I am quite sure this sandwich would be even more awesome with cheese. Very flavorful and with a great texture contrast from the bacon and crispy bread.
Apples with Raisins in Yogurt: On our second visit for brunch we were offered a complimentary treat. A very simple yet appetizing little plate of sliced apples and raisins smothered in some type of Indian yogurt which in turn was dusted with cinnamon. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking but it was tasty and I’m always very appreciative of anything complimentary.
The Adirondack: I was eyeballing this on the menu during our first brunch so it was only natural that I would try this the second time around. Once again you have the same type of Eggs Benedict as in the Chesapeake except this time the crab was replaced by a very generous amount of some ridiculously amazing smoked trout! This trout was just excellent! Perfectly smokey and with just a slight hint of salt which didn’t subdue the natural flavor of the trout. It was flaky and tender and was absolutely delicious on its own. Dip that trout into the accompanying horseradish cream and you’ve just raised the deliciousness factor. The way I really enjoyed this dish was to place some trout right on top of the eggs and once again pickup that crispy Challah bread and simply take huge bite out of everything. This was definitely my favorite dish out of everything we had. I highly recommend it!
Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes: I can’t even remember the last time I’ve had pancakes. On the rare occasion that I have them it’s usually around Winter time when pancakes make a wonderful comfort food. Often times I find pancakes to be quite dry and very filling. I also end up using a lot of syrup to remedy the dryness and sometimes even the lack of flavor. However the buttermilk pancakes at Kevin’s will not steer you wrong. They were light, fluffy, and moist. Filled with blueberries. I only wished that these pancakes had more of them but that’s just a personal preference. These pancakes were definitely quite good but I do wish that the batter was slightly sweeter.
French Press Coffee: Kevin’s Stumptown coffee is simply excellent! Get it!
I’ve been having a blast exploring Red Hook! So many amazing and unique little spots and spaces to photograph in an area alive with art and history. Tucked away in those little spaces are some truly wonderful gastronomic delights such as Kevin’s. I found the brunch at Kevin’s not only delicious, but satisfying and comforting in such a way that gives you simple pleasure. The simple pleasure when you know a meal just hits the spot!. Dinner at Kevin’s is next and will definitely be something that will go on the to-do list
293 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn 11231
(At Pioneer St)
Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood which was once called the crack capital of America as well as once being considered one of the worst neighborhoods in the U.S. It’s pretty amazing how things have changed! What was once an area that very few brave souls would venture into has now turned into a beautiful green and industrial area with thriving businesses as well a large artistic community. Over the years, Red Hook has drastically changed but what has not changed is some of the amazing Brooklyn history that one can find on a stroll through Red Hook. From the old trolley cars behind Fairway to old factories and industrial buildings of an era gone by. Did I also mention that Red Hook has some really great food? You knew that was coming. I’ve been hearing things about a spot called Home Made. Wanting to explore more of Red Hook and being hungry was the perfect excuse to see what Home Made was all about.
Wild Mushrooms & Fontina Scramble: We studied the menu for what seemed like an eternity. You know that dread every time you’re trying out a new restaurant with a rather short menu. You always want to make sure that you get something really good and something that will leave an impression on you. Well the menu had a large selection of scrambled eggs so we figured that the eggs must be pretty popular. With that in mind, my friend went ahead and ordered the WIld Mushrooms & Fontina Scramble. What I didn’t know until later was the fact that my friend ordered this dish without the cheese. I enjoy scrambled eggs every now and then but they are probably not my first choice on any breakfast/brunch menu. With that being said, these eggs were not the average scrambled eggs! I was expecting totally boring and typical scrambled eggs. I took one bite of these eggs and I was instantly taken with how soft, buttery, and creamy they were. The texture was very smooth and soft. The flavor was not intensely dramatic but it was so much better than your average typical dry scrambled eggs. I then took another bite but this time with some mushrooms. The mushrooms were very abundant and only served to add more flavor to the already delicious eggs. The eggs were served with toasted walnut bread and potatoes provencal. First let me tell you about these potatoes. They were outstanding! Perfectly roasted potatoes with fantastic crispiness on the outside while soft and tender on the inside. These potatoes were roasted in virgin olive oil but what really made them stand out was their intense garlic flavor which came from a good number of large garlic gloves which were roasted along with the potatoes. Those creamy and buttery cloves mixed in with the potatoes and olive were awesome! Have a bite of the eggs with some of these potatoes and once again the flavor is elevated. Lastly was the glorious toasted walnut bread. A thick slice of some the most heartiest and tastiest fresh bread I’ve had in a long time. Nicely crisp on the outside while soft and chewy in the middle, the bread made a wonderful addition to the taste and texture contrast of the meal. As I had said earlier, my friend ordered these eggs without the fontina cheese. That alone tells me that these were some of best scrambled eggs I’ve had in a very long time. I can only imagine how good they would have been with the fontina cheese.
French Toast: Man I am just a stickler when it comes to French Toast. For years now, my absolute favorite French Toast has been at Frankie’s 457 in Carroll Gardens. Perhaps it is unfair but I end up comparing every French Toast to Frankie’s French Toast. And the interesting thing is the fact that it’s not like Frankie’s does something magical to their French Toast, its their bread that’s magical. The French Toast at Home/Made without a doubt is still very good! The large slices of fresh pears were wonderfully crisp and lightly sweet. The sauteed apples added a much softer fruity texture and additional sweetness. Most of all, I really enjoyed the addition of the dried cherries which added a nice but not overwhelming amount of tartness. The big difference for me however was in the bread. In general I love brioche but I think that once it is soaked in a liquid it simply gets too soft and mushy. I love it when my French toast is nice and crisp on the outside yet soft and chew on the inside. This has always been the primary reason that Frankie’s French toast always WOWs the crowd as well as myself! This of course is just my personal opinion and in no way should make you think that the French Toast at Home/Made was anything less than great.
Our day in Red Hook turned out to be a lot of fun with several great food discoveries such as Home/Made along with some others. Red Hook continues to evolve into a neighborhood that is rich with history and with an eclectic collection of food and art. Some of that wonderful art can be seen within the small cozy confines of Home/Made. The space is rather small but beautiful and very comfortable with great soft couches. A perfect date spot for sure! Should you ever find yourself shopping at the great Mecca of not so cheap particleboard furniture (IKEA), before you even think of having those damn Swedish meatballs, drop everything and head over to Home/Made for some tasty goodness and higher quality furniture.
524 Court St, Brooklyn 11231
(At Huntington St)
My craving for fried chicken had finally reached critical mass and there was only one way to remedy the situation: Buttermilk Channel! With my Zipcar and my friend in tow, we were on way!. We reached out destination at approximately 4:20pm only to discover that the restaurant opens at 5pm. What to do for 40 minutes? My friend quickly resolved that issue for me by informing me about something I did not know existed in Brooklyn. She went on to tell me that not very far from Buttermilk Channel there is a Momofuku Milk Bar. Now anyone who knows me knows that I go bonkers for the diabetes inducing treats at Milk Bar! I figured we could go pick up some dessert and then head back to Buttermilk. Needless to say I will spare you the sad story and cut to the chase, I bought $20 worth of goodies which I later completely forgot inside the Zipcar when I returned it to the garage. Normally something like that would ruin my day but I think the meal at Buttermilk Channel made everything all better.
Complimentary Pastries: After we sat down at our table we were presented with this complementary treat. I’m not entirely sure what to call it. The shape resembled a muffin but this pastry was hollow once I broke it in half. The texture of the dough reminded me slightly of the texture of a donut. This pastry was light and airy. Slightly chewy and slightly sweet, it started to taste very dessert-like once you got a bite with some maple syrup on it. I’m glad we only got two of these things because I could have kept eating them endlessly.
Barbecued Oysters: Are you kidding me?! This was the first thing I spotted on the menu and right away it just sounded like a “MUST HAVE” item! Barbecued oysters with smoked bacon and green onions. These beauties arrived piping hot and smelled of sweet barbecue sauce. As usual in my eagerness to taste something new, I nearly scorched off a few dozen taste buds from my tongue but it was damn worth it! Try to imagine sweet barbecue sauce with smokey bacon crunch followed by a wonderful creamy oyster. Absolutely heavenly! This was so good that we had to have a second order! A fabulous appetizer that once again continues to prove the fact that bacon really does make everything better!
Buttermilk Fried Chicken: At long last my fried chicken craving would be satisfied and with no ordinary fried chicken! Now your typical buttermilk fried chicken recipe calls for chicken immersed in several cups of buttermilk along with various spices and then refrigerated for several hours before actual frying time. I do not know for how long Buttermilk Channel keeps their chicken immersed but it sure must be a very long time because the chicken is just incredibly flavorful! The flavor starts with the wonderful crispy skin and goes completely all the way through the meat! Not only is it delicious but it is so tender and juicy on the inside. Next, pour some of that delightful and lightly sweet maple syrup on that chicken and now you have reached Level 2 of sweet & savory goodness. It’s literally finger lickin good but the sweet and savory heaven continues with the addition of the glorious cheddar waffles! Waffles with cheddar cheese inside is just a plain awesome idea! The light sweetness of the waffles with the cheddar cheese is amazing! I usually end up getting a second order of just the waffles. Try these waffles with some of that divine chicken meat and crunchy slaw and you will have a holy chicken experience.
Benton’s Ham Wrapped Brook Trout: This was just a symphony of flavors! Where do I even begin? I guess I will start with the grits. Whether or not you like grits is irrelevant because you will love these grits! These grits were buttery, creamy, and most of all cheesy and with a nice thick consistency. Next you have roasted radishes with a lovely slight firmness and light sweet flavor. Lastly we come to the fish. The brook trout on its own was tender, moist, and delicious. I prefer trying things individually at first to see how flavorful they are before I combine them with the intended ingredients. I then proceed to taste the trout wrapped in the ham. The ham was just wonderful. Thin and smokey, the flavor with the trout was excellent but what really made this dish stand out for me was the grain mustard butter. That combination of butter and mustard was perfect with just the right amount of mustard that wouldn’t overwhelm you. This was definitely one of those dishes where you can take a combined bite of everything on the plate and achieve a wonderful harmony of flavors. One of the best fish dishes I’ve had in quite some time.
Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding: Stuffed from oysters, chicken, and fish yet there is always room for dessert, especially when it comes to bread pudding. This was some decadent bread pudding! Served hot with chocolate chunks and melting chocolate salted butterscotch on top. Perfectly soft and moist texture with rich, sweet, and delicious flavors from the butterscotch as well as a nice hint of salt. The side of vanilla ice cream definitely helps quell all of that rich sweetness. I am very selective with bread pudding but this one was easily a hit!
As I had said earlier, forgetting my Momofuku desserts in the car was not a complete tragedy thanks to the wonderful meal at Buttermilk Channel. Their chicken and waffles will leave you happy and wanting more! If you’re looking for some fantastic and flavorful comfort food then by all means give Buttermilk Channel a shot. There’s a reason there’s always a long wait for a table. The food is worth it! There is a little secret however to avoid all that waiting. Do as we did. Come right before opening time. Also be sure to try their amazing pork chop and excellent variety of delicious Bloody Marys.
288 3rd Ave, Brooklyn 11215
(Btwn President & Carroll St)
Ahh yes the lovely Gowanus Canal. Home to PCBs, various other toxins, and perhaps the Park Slope Swamp Thing. Not exactly the type of things that would bring seafood to mind but then again I always have seafood on my mind. It’s hard to believe that just a stone’s throw away from the canal there exists a little seafood haven known as Littleneck. Just another random spot that I have passed numerous times. Once Google told me that this was a seafood joint, it was just a matter of time before my crew and I would invade this place to sample the bounty!
Oysters: Glancing over at the “Raw Bar” blackboard I was instantly drawn to my favorite oyster: the Kumomoto. These native Japanese oysters are relatively small oysters. They are the kind of oysters I would recommend for anyone that’s never tried an oyster before but is now willing to get their feet wet. They are not at all like the intimidating huge oysters that resemble a “bad chest cold” in a shell. Their texture is soft, slightly creamy, and the flavor is wonderfully sweet. A great tasting oyster that might just convert a non-oyster eater to the dark side. One other interesting oyster was the Totten Virginica. Up until now I have not heard of these before so you obviously know if I’ve never heard of it then I definitely have to try it! Needless to say, they were outstanding medium sized meaty oysters with a wonderful creamy texture. For a moment I thought I was eating a very large Kumomoto! Overall, the oyster experience in Littleneck was excellent. All of the oysters were super fresh and all were very delicious. The selection of oysters may not have been as large as one may find in Maison Premiere but then again you’re not gonna find a Maine Lobster Roll or Clam Roll at Maison Premiere either! They oysters went down really well with some hot sauce and a pint of Milk Stout.
P.E.I. Mussels: I think that after oysters, mussels have to be my second favorite shellfish. P.E.I. mussels come from Prince Edward Island (in case you were wondering what the hell is P.E.I.) which is known for it’s optimal conditions and climate for raising great mussels. Now mussels on their own can be pretty good but it’s usually the broth or sauce that they are prepared in that really makes them stand out. Littleneck prepared their mussels in a wonderfully sweet thai basil curry. These mussels were fantastic! You know you’ve got great flavor when you’re looking for bread to sop up all of that curry goodness. The mussels were devoured quickly and the curry broth vanished in minutes!
Red Snapper Ceviche: I love a good ceviche. Ceviche is essentially raw fish that is marinated in various citrus juices and spices. The acidity of the juice can often slightly cook the fish. Ceviche usually reminds of high quality sashimi that’s bursting with flavors of tangy citrus and hot peppers. Unfortunately there was no bursting with this ceviche. Although my friend enjoyed it, I thought it was one of the most blandest ceviches I have ever had. The onions and cilantro barely helped. It definitely needed some Latin American assistance in the flavor department. Sadly, I cannot recommend this ceviche.
New England Clam Chowder: One of my favorite comfort foods of all time. There is nothing like a great New England Clam Chowder on a frigidly cold Winter’s day. It just has a way of hitting that comfort spot and warming your bones. If it was Winter that is precisely how I would have felt about Littleneck’s New England Clam Chowder because it was great but with one exception! It was desperately crying out for some salt. After remedying the situation with a few sprinkles of salt, this chowder went from great to excellent. It was thick, creamy, hearty and with large generous chunks of clams and potatoes. I will return on a cold Winter’s night for this!
Idaho French Fries: Now I’m not really sure if it was the way these fries were prepared or if it was because of the Idaho potatoes but these fried had really great taste! Perfectly crispy and with just the right amount of salt! The flavor of the potato really stood out. If you love fries then you have to try these fries! Plain and simple!
Full Belly Ipswich Clam Roll: Oh my goodness! It’s been a really really long time since I have had a Clam Roll but this clam roll was unreal! It’s no surprise that it was named one of the 10 best seafood sandwiches in NY. A generous heap of golden fried clams with just the right amount of crispness on the outside and divine sweet tenderness on the inside! These fried clams were just exploding with flavor! The buttered toast and tartar sauce only continued to ascend this sandwich out of the stratosphere! A must have if you come to Littleneck!
Maine Lobster Roll: Man what a lobster roll! Piles of huge chunks of fresh and sweet lobster meat with just a tiny hint of mayo. A lobster roll is a lazy lobster lover’s dream come true! No work required to enter lobster heaven! I loved that the lobster was extremely fresh and not cold like it just came out of the freezer. Once again the buttered toast helped to contain all of that amazing lobster meat. A fantastic lobster treat for any lobster aficionado! Once again another MUST HAVE!
Riccotta, Gooseberries, and Cantaloupe in Sweetened Vinegar: We saw that there was pie on the menu but unfortunately they were all out. However this particular item really piqued my curiosity as I was listening to the waitress describe it. I heard good stuff like ricotta cheese, gooseberries, and cantaloupe but I did a double-take once I heard sweetened vinegar and salt. Vinegar in dessert?! What sort of madness is this but of course always looking for something different and unique, I knew I had to try this. I was definitely rewarded for being open minded because this dessert was uniquely delicious. I was never a huge fan of ricotta cheese but this cheese was creamy yet granular and on it’s own tasted delicious. I then tried some ricotta and gooseberries which gave an ever so slight sweetness to ricotta. Now it was time to sample that vinegar concoction. I combined some ricotta with gooseberries and dipped it into the chocolaty liquid. The combination was marvelous! There was a distinct flavor of chocolate with an odd sweetness that was probably the vinegar but you would probably never guess that it was vinegar. The flavor was subtle and delightful. I then dipped the slightly salted cantaloupe and the flavor was just just so refreshing! Definitely a very distinct and unique dessert that does not overwhelm you with intense sweetness but instead refreshes and surprises at the same time.
Stepping into Littleneck, you will instantly notice all of the nautical knick knacks throughout the room. It definitely adds a lot of charm and character to the place and makes you feel like you’re about to consume fresh seafood right from the docks. Luckily it’s not the Gowanus docks. Our experience at Littleneck was great. It’s an excellent spot to have some beers and oysters or a full meal. That clam roll will be on my mind for a very long time!
BLT Bar & Grill
123 Washington St, New York 10006
(At Carlisle St)
As we all know, the downtown Manhattan area around the former World Trade Center became quite desolate after 9/11. Once flourishing businesses were either destroyed, damaged, or eventually went out of business. Restaurants were one particular business that was hit hard in the area. Throughout the years several new eateries would show up here and there but their days were unfortunately numbered. For quite some time, people simply did not want to be near the affected area. Eventually the construction of the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower began and I am happy to say that an incredible revitalization has been taking place here in downtown Manhattan ever since. Business are slowly but surely making a huge comeback, new construction is happening practically on every block, and most importantly the hustle and bustle of people has once again returned. I am confident that downtown Manhattan will not only return to its former glory but it will most assuredly surpass it! One such new construction has been the new downtown W Hotel and with it arrived BLT Bar & Grill. My friends and I are always searching for new lunch spots around the office so it was time to give BLT Bar & Grill a try!
Grilled Chicken Sandwich: We started things off with the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. I loved how this sandwich arrived in three sections on a small cutting board along with a pickle and fries. Served between toasted multigrain bread, this chicken was very tender and flavorful on its own but that’s just the beginning because you also get some wonderful sopressata and mozzarella cheese in this sandwich. The sopressata adds a slight peppery and garlic taste to the chicken and the mozzarella adds that mild cheesy goodness. What really made this sandwich great was the olive tapenade that was applied to each section of the sandwich. The tapenade will immediately remind of really good pesto. Together with the nuttiness and crispness of the multigrain bread, this sandwich will take you through several flavors and textures. I usually find chicken sandwich somewhat boring or lacking in the flavor department but this chicken sandwich is definitely one I would order again!
BLT Burger: Let me just say that I really enjoyed this burger. Every restaurant always seems to have their own idea of what “medium” or “well done” is supposed to be and any time I order meat or a burger in a new place I am always hoping that they get the temperature right. I ordered my burger medium and it arrived perfectly pink and medium. The beef was very tender and really juicy. The kind of juicy that runs down the length of your arm and makes a wonderful stain on your shirt which you wore to work. Taking a small sample of just the beef, I was happy to say that it was well seasoned. The gooey aged cheddar cheese was generous and distinct in flavor with just a slight sharpness. If it was up to me I would have extra sharp cheese on all of my burgers. You may also not realize how important a good bun is when it comes to burgers. Personally, I love burgers that are served on English muffins but this bun was very soft and slightly sweet and worked really well to absorb the juiciness of the beef. Lastly, I must not forget about the glorious bacon! This was some really great bacon. Really thick and double smoked, this bacon had the perfect crispiness/chewiness ratio and an excellent smokey flavor. This burger is definitely going on my downtown list of great burgers.
Scottish Salmon Burger: You can tell by the photo that you get a generous amount of salmon on this burger. Unfortunately what you cannot tell from the photo is that the salmon was completely unseasoned. I took a few bites of it just to makes sure and yes it was good quality salmon but it was completely blah. A definite salt & pepper crisis! You might think that this was the end of the salmon burger but luckily the burger came with three things that saved the day! There were red onions, some wonderful avocado, and a really nice cayenne tartar sauce. After applying some of that creamy tartar sauce things dramatically improved. Together with the red onions and avocado, this burger finally picked up some flavor! I really think this could have been an excellent salmon burger if the salmon was properly seasoned. Thank goodness for avocado and tartar sauce!
Fries and pickles: Fries and pickles were served with all of the aforementioned dishes. The fries at BLT Bar & Grill are excellent! Perfectly crispy, slightly battered, and with just the right amount of salt. As for pickles, if you love sour and salty pickles as much as I do then you will definitely love these.
It’s really great seeing downtown Manhattan coming back to life after so many years. BLT Bar & Grill is a great addition to the many new restaurants in the area. Their food is good, if somewhat pricey, but I will definitely return again for lunch when I’m craving a really good burger not to mention that I’m also curious about their dinner offerings. And yes I don’t just eat in Brooklyn!
298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn 11211
(Btwn 1st & Grand St)
A couple of months ago my friend and I stumbled upon this wonderful spot while walking around Williamsburg. Upon approaching Maison Premiere, my attention was immediately drawn to the beautiful facade which invited you to enter a different time and era. Once we stepped into the bar it was like stepping through a time machine back to the 1800’s. You see Maison Premiere was constructed with great care to recreate an Absinthe bar straight out of the late 1800’s French Quarter in New Orleans. I often speak of my love for anything old and historic and this place sure did have it all down to the finest details. From a bar with antique bottles and labels, to bartenders dressed in classy authentic garb from that time period, to a bathroom with an old drawstring toilet. Now you may think I came there for the Absinthe but that could not be farther from the truth because as it turns out I despise anything that tastes like black licorice or Anise and yes I’ve tried it numerous times. What I was there for was the oyster happy hour! I’ve been to several oyster happy hours in various places before and most of the time I was very disappointed. I came with high expectations.
Oysters: I was instantly impressed the moment I took a look at the happy hour oyster menu. The selection was fantastic! Usually oyster happy hour implies a few oysters that perhaps were fished out of the Gowanus Canal or oysters that are so tiny you need a set of tweezers to eat them. I had to control myself because I basically wanted to order every single oyster from that menu and for a buck each could you blame me! After calming down and coming to my senses, for Round 1 we decided to go with the Shooting Point Salts, the Conway Royals, the Malpeques and the Elkhorn oysters. Each and every oyster is freshly shucked outside in the gorgeous garden area so we knew these oysters were as fresh as we could possibly get them. Our oysters arrived on a lovely bed of ice and we couldn’t wait to dig into them. After applying some horseradish and a touch of cocktail sauce we systematically went through each oyster. The Shooting Point Salts were meaty, briny, and delicious. The Conway Royals had a lovely sweetness. The Malpeques have a great balance between brininess and sweetness. Last but not least were the Malpeques which were meaty, briny, and with a slight mineral quality to them. These oysters were super fresh and outstandingly delicious! There was no way we could stop now so we had to go for Round 2. This time we had some more Shooting Points, some Block Islands, and the Wild Cocktails. The Block Islands were nice and briny. I cannot recall the taste of the Wild Cocktails but what I can definitely tell you is that every single oyster was super fresh and simply delicious! It’s a good thing 7pm rolled around and happy hour came to an end because I could have easily put away a few dozen more of these beauties!
Jonah Crab: There’s no way I can pass on crab if I spot it on a menu and since I’ve never had a Jonah crab before, I figured this would be an excellent time to try one. These North Atlantic crabs are related to the Dungeness crab but are somewhat smaller. If you have ever had Stone crab then you will find that the claws of Jonah crabs are quite similar in density. The flavor is lightly sweet and very delicious but the biggest downside is that Jonah crabs are the kind of crabs that require a lot of work for a small reward. They are meaty but getting to all that tastiness requires patience. I always like to say that food tastes so much better if you work hard for it!
Alaskan King Crab: As tasty as the Jonah Crab was, my hunger for crabs was still unsatisfied. What does one do when you want large amounts of fresh crab meat without having to do a ton of work? You order some Alaskan King Crab legs of course! These crab legs were absolutely heavenly! Ridiculously fresh and so sweet and tender. None of that aftertaste of a frozen crab. I could eat these things forever but as well all know from watching The Deadliest Catch, Alaskan King crab is far from cheap.
Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo: Now I’ve never been to New Orleans (I know, shame on me!) but most of us know that gumbo is a very popular dish with roots set deep in Louisiana. This gumbo was thick and hearty. It was also very flavorful and with a great spicy kick. The tender shrimp were perfectly cooked and were a great contrast to the sweet, spicy, and smokey Andouille sausage. Definitely give this gumbo a shot!
If you love oysters then you absolutely must make your way to Maison Premiere, especially for the $1 oyster happy hour which starts daily at 4pm and ends at 7pm! The oyster selection is incredible not to mention how fresh each oyster is. It is by far the best oyster happy hour that I have currently been to. If you love Absinthe and drinks that are prepared with the loving care and precision of a magical potion then you must go to Maison Premiere! The outdoor garden area is lush, green, and simply magical! It will make you feel completely secluded from the outside world while you are indulging on some of the finest and tastiest treasures from the sea.
Perhaps you’ve just completed a pub crawl and downed a dozen or so of those fine local microbrewed beers or maybe you were out with some other hungry Russians who convinced you that Vodka is part of a daily nutritious breakfast or maybe you woke up in a strange room wearing a “Furry” outfit while thinking “Maybe those 15 shots of Tequila wasn’t such a good idea.”. No matter what the case, many of us have been there in one form or another and often times we find ourselves desperately seeking that extremely junky, greasy, comfort food to soak up all that booze and help us get through the remainder of the day or night.
Personally, after an evening of intoxication I’m usually craving a really good bacon cheeseburger or sushi. What’s your post-blackout comfort/recovery food?
369 7th Ave, Brooklyn 11215
(Btwn 11th & 12th St)
I remember the news last Fall when I heard that finally there would be a place in Park Slope where one could indulge in Korean-style fried chicken. For those of you who have never had Korean fried chicken, I implore you to immediately drop your Lipitor, leave your jobs, mail your kids to Space Camp, and make your way, immediately if not sooner, to the nearest Bon Chon restaurant because you haven’t had fried chicken until you’ve had Korean fried chicken! Perfectly crisp chicken deep fried with various spices and seasonings (it has to be crack) to amazingly non-greasy perfection! Yes it’s really that good but let me not stray from the objective here. At first there were very few details regarding this new restaurant. Initially, all I knew was that the chef and owner was a popular contestant on Top Chef and that it was going to be an Asian-American fusion restaurant. By now you may probably already know that I rarely get excited by celebrity chefs and celebrities opening their own restaurants because in the end it’s all about food, not the celebrity status! After two weeks of being open I recall us finally making our way over to Talde. They did not take reservations and I was already dreading the long wait that I had read about. Sure enough once we got there our waiting time was about two hours but you know something, it was well worth it! We really did have a very tasty and enjoyable dinner. Now this was last Winter and I haven’t been back to Talde ever since but this weekend it was time to see if their brunch was as good as their dinner! We got seated immediately. Surely that was a sign of good things to come.
Bloody Mary: A great brunch should always start with a great Bloody Mary unless of course you completely despise Bloody Marys in which case you may proceed to next paragraph. If you’re still reading then you need to know that Talde makes an excellent Bloody Mary! Boldly spicy, this Bloody Mary not only has a wonderful kick to it but there is a hint of something slightly briny in it as well. Perhaps it’s from the pickled ginger which sat on the surface of the drink itself or perhaps it is some other secret ingredient since the menu indicated that the Bloody Mary was an “Asian inspired house made recipe.”. Talde’s Bloody Mary has moved into my Top Three Marys List which consists of Stone Park Cafe, James, and now Talde. My only regret was that I ordered the smaller drink instead of the larger one.
Bellini: Hard to believe but yes I’m about to rave about another drink! Now as most of you probably know a standard Bellini consists of Prosecco with peach puree but Talde’s Bellini gives the typical Bellini a swift kick in the ass! Combining Prosecco, real mango, passion fruit, raspberry, and orange juices, this Bellini is one of a kind delicious and refreshing! A perfect nectar of sweet and tart. Oddly enough I noticed an aftertaste of what seemed to resemble grapefruit even though no grapefruit was used. After you finish off a couple of large Bloody Mary’s, go for the Bellini.
Chilaquiles: A traditional and popular Mexican dish, Chilaquiles are basically quartered corn tortillas which are lightly fried. Red or green salsa is then poured over the tortillas. This dish may be served with an egg as well as some chicken. Talde adds it’s own element of fusion by incorporating tofu but not just any tofu, BBQ tofu! I found the tofu to be to my favorite part of this dish. The tofu has a unique smokey flavor which slightly reminded me of Gouda. The red salsa was good but I found it a bit too tart however that was easily remedied by the fried tortilla and some of that wonderful oozing egg yolk. You get wonderful texture contrasts from the crunchy tortilla to the brittle but soft tofu and when you add that lovely egg yolk ,life for that brief single moment, becomes slightly better.
Lobster Bao: Picture your typical Maine lobster roll but forget about that New England hot dog roll and think spicy mayo. That’s Talde’s Lobster Bao! Big chunks of fresh and sweet lobster combined in a really delicious and spicy chile mayo, all piled into a folded, soft and slightly chewy, bun which you typically see used in Asian steamed porn buns. For a shellfish lover such as myself, this was a great twist on the standard New England lobster roll. The only problem is that usually just one is not enough.
Korean Chicken Wings & Waffles: Chicken and waffles! A huge THANK YOU goes out to the Soul Food gods for this fabulous invention! What a fantastic combination of sweet and savory but wait till you hear what Talde does with an already amazing dish! Earlier on you may remember me raving about Korean fried chicken. Having had dinner at Talde, I already knew that their Korean fried chicken was great but this time it was just going to be wings and with something sweet involved. There are many places that make great tasting wings but no so many that perfected the art of perfect crispiness. Besides the wonderfully sweet and spicy flavor of these wings, it is that amazing crunch that shines through above all else! You would think that wings smothered in such a such would lose their crispiness but not here! I was enjoying these wings so much that I had completely forgotten about the waffle! I thought the flavor extravaganza began and ended with the wings but man was I totally wrong. The lightly sweet waffle was slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. It was wonderful, especially with some of that creamy rich butter that rested on top of it but then I applied some syrup. It was then that I experienced a moment of sheer bliss. The syrup took these waffles to the OMG level! This wasn’t your typical Maple syrup. This was coconut brown butter heavenly goodness. It had just the right amount of sweetness to it. Not only that but the brown butter and coconut gave it “one of a kind flavor”. At this point the only logical thing to do was to try the chicken wings with the syrup. After all, fried chicken and honey were meant for each other so why not give this a shot! That was the best decision I had made that afternoon. The wings on their own are scrumptious but with some of that syrup on them……..WOW! Korean Fried chicken: IT’S A MUST HAVE!
Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Fried Rice: The kitchen was only moment away from closing and I wanted to try just one more dish. We all love fried rice but fried rice with egg, cheese, and sausage?! It had to be done! We placed our final order right before kitchen called it a day. The fried rice was very good. Soft, fluffy, and full of flavor with one exception. I simply could not detect any hint of cheese in this rice. The fried rice was still one of the best I’ve had but I’m positive that it could have been even better if perhaps more cheese was used or if a sharper cheese was used. However, my friend did something brilliant. He applied some of that fabulous syrup from the waffles onto the rice. The rest was rice history! Need I say more?
Brunch at Talde was great! Chef Dale Talde puts a new spin of some very classic American and Asian dishes. Two culinary backgrounds were not only harmoniously combined but combined in such a way that will leave an impression in your mind and make you want to come back for more. We walked out stuffed and more importantly we walked out happy. We will most certainly be back again for dinner but unlike last time, I will not only be armed with my hunger but with my camera as well. In the meantime I am anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Pork Slope, the latest venture from the Talde team. Check out Pork Slope!