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.
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!
Stone Park Cafe
324 5th Ave, Brooklyn 11215
(At 3rd St)
Located next to Washington Park in Park Slope is an outpost of pure deliciousness known as Stone Park Cafe. I’m so anxious to tell you about their food that I’m not even going to bother with any sort of introduction except that you should definitely check out the Old Stone House located inside the park before or after you have a meal at Stone Park Cafe. Lots of old Brooklyn history! On that note, let’s dive straight into the food!
Tarte Flambé: We started things off with the tarte. A wonderfully crisp pastry with creme fraiche (similar to sour cream but much less sour and not as thick), lamb bacon, caramelized onions, and some frisee. Now I have never heard of and I definitely never had lamb bacon before but as most of us already know, anything called “bacon” is usually just plain awesome and such was the case here. The bacon was very lightly crisp and with good reason. I think if it was fried any further you would not only lose its unique flavor but you would definitely lose its texture and size. For some reason the the flavor of the lamb bacon reminded me somewhat of really good prosciutto. Now take that flavor and combine it with the very slight sourness of the creme fraiche and the sweetness of those lovely caramelized onions and you end up with a salty and slightly sweet flavor with a slightly creamy texture. The crispy tart adds just the right of amount of crunch and texture contrast to the soft and creamy creme fraiche and bacon. An amazingly delicious appetizer that may slighly remind you of a mini pizza. Although there was 4 of us, I could have easily devoured this entire appetizer on my own. Highly recommended!
Scallop & Marrow Tacos: Being a huge fan of bone marrow, these days if I spot it anywhere on any menu then I will most certainly have to order it. The last amazing bone marrow that I’ve had was at Flatbush Farm but I think Stone Park’s bone marrow has officially taken over first place in my book. Although the bone marrow was buttery and delicious on its own, it was the addition of the scallops which I thought took it over the top. I loved the fact that this dish was served over a bed of rock salt because what you need to do is take some of that incredible bone marrow, brush it slightly against the rock salt and finally add a piece of scallop but don’t forget the caramelized onions as well. The end result will probably be one of the best scallops you’ve ever tasted! The soft and slightly chewy texture of the scallop with the gelatinous bone marrow was simply glorious and the sweetness of those caramelized onions, wow! Now mind you, the bone marrow was served with small sides of cilantro, avocado, jalapeno, and lime but because I was so overwhelmed with just the bone marrow and scallops on their own, I completely forgot about those other fantastic ingredients. I am almost certain that if I were to add those additional items, this bone marrow would have been stellar!
Grilled Baby Octopus: Ahh those wonderful mollusks! Octopus has always been a huge favorite with me but only when properly prepared. Bad octopus is usually like a bad steak, tough and chewy. How was this octopus? Soft, tender, and flavorful! The chorizo added a wonderful spicy zest and the fingerling potatoes provided a nice starchy and mellow sweetness along with the sweet tomatoes. Personally I really dislike lemon on any seafood but just the right amount of preserved lemon was used with this dish to provide a very gentle and not overwhelming tang. A well seasoned appetizer bursting with a lots of flavor!
Grilled Hanger Steak: What a fantastic cut of meat this was! Prepared perfectly medium, just as requested. This was a tender hanger steak. It probably would have been already great with just the usual salt & pepper but in addition to that, the steak was prepared in an absolutely delicious and slightly sweet red wine reduction that was perfect for dipping. Served on a bed of spatzle (German egg noodles) and sauteed spinach, this dish definitely ranks high on my list of hanger steaks.
Grilled Lamb Top Loin: If you like lamb you will definitely love this! If you’re one of those people that are turned off by that distinct gamey lamb flavor then you will still love this! I love gamey meat but this lamb let you know that it was lamb without the overwhelming taste that is usually associated with lamb. Once again perfectly prepared and very tender. The sliced lamb was served on top of minted barley, crispy artichoke hearts, and ground lamb kabob. I don’t really know what it is about mint that works so well with lamb but the minted barley was a great taste and texture contrast. The crispy artichoke hearts were amazing! Sweet and perfectly crisp! They could easily be served as an appetizer on their own. And just when you’ve thought you had enough lamb, you get a somewhat different taste of lamb in the kabob which will remind you of sausage. Overall an excellent lamb entree!
Center Cut Pork Chop: I’ve mentioned before that usually I am not a fan of American style thick cut pork chops but I had a feeling that Stone Park Cafe would not let me down even if I took a chance on a thick cut pork chop. I was definitely right about that! All I can basically say is WOW! I really don’t think I’ve had such deeply flavorful pork chop in a very long time. When I say flavorful I mean the rich flavor extends all the way through that juicy and tender pork, not just a thin layer of flavor on top. Adding even more flavor were the pickled mustard seeds and demi (a rich brown sauce made from the stock of beef and veal) which covered the top of the pork chop. The slight zest of the seeds with the rich sweetness of the sauce was fabulous. The accompanying potato rosti (grated potatoes which are shaped, mixed with various spices, and then fried) was crispy on the outside with soft, delicious, and lightly sweet potato on the inside. The sauteed green were flavorful as well. One hell of an amazing pork chop to say the least!
Onion Rings: I’m only mentioning these onion rings because they were one of the best I’ve had. Wonderfully sweet onions in a perfectly light and crisp batter that wasn’t greasy at all. The dipping sauce made me think of a cross between Russian dressing and chipotle sauce. The onion rings on their own were great but the sauce made them even better!
Latte: By now I was nearing a food coma but of course a meal like that is never complete without coffee and dessert! Hands down one of the best lattes ever! Perfectly creamy with that perfect hint of roasted flavor not to be mistaken for burnt coffee. I would have had 2 cups but I still needed room for dessert.
Affogato: Classic Italian desert usually consisting of vanilla ice cream and hot espresso poured over it. Stone Park cafe used caramel ice cream instead along with hazelnut whip cream. You already know that their coffee is outstanding so you can only imagine how delicious this was especially when the ice starts melting and combining with the espresso.
Apple Turnover: MMmmmm so warm and delicious! Thinly sliced apples on a wonderfully chewy and lightly crisp pastry. Sweet and tangy. The vanilla buttermilk ice cream is so rich and delicious. Who needs apple pie when you have something like this?!
Summer Blueberry Cheesecake: A very rich and decadent cheesecake with a wonderful graham cracker crust with a delicious and sweet blueberry topping. I only wished that the cheesecake was more firm but that’s just a personal preference.
Chocolate Brioche Pudding: OMG! If I had to choose one killer dessert at Stone Park then this would most definitely fit the bill! If you love bread pudding then you will love this even more. If you love a rich chocolate brownie then once again you will love this! The best way I can describe this dessert is that it seemed like a cross between bread pudding and fudge brownie. The texture of this on your tongue is unreal! Smooth, rich, creamy, over the top decadence! I purposely had to eat this with small bites because I wanted to savor every last tiny bit of it. When combined with the accompanying scoop of caramel ice cream this dessert is absolutely heavenly! A MUST HAVE!
Stone Park Cafe is one of those restaurants where I can confidently walk in, order something completely random from their menu and know that not only will I not be disappointed but I will be presented with an everyday dish that is taken to extraordinary heights. Absolutely everything I’ve had so far, including their amazing brunches, shines with delicious and pronounced flavors! I simply cannot recommend Stone Park Cafe enough! It is a crime to be in Park Slope and never and never taste the incredible food of Stone Park Cafe!
Le Petit Cafe
502 Court St, Brooklyn 11231
(Btwn Nelson & Luquer St)
I started going to Le Petit ages ago. Actually it was so long ago that I remember that the only things they served were coffee and desserts plus there was definitely no outdoor seating area in the back. There was one specific thing that always kept me coming back. It was their Iced Green Tea Latte. It was seriously amazing! I remember at one point they changed the recipe or used a different mix for the latte. A bad but brief move. Luckily they went back to the original. Over the years I have seen Le Petit Cafe evolve into a full service restaurant with one of the most beautiful interiors and seating areas I have seen. Their food was always tasty. Fast forward to Father’s Day 2012. On that blistering hot day I took my folks to Le Petit since their back seating area is not only gorgeous but it is also shaded from the sun. The perfect brunch spot while escaping the heat! What followed was something that I refer to as “A bad food day.”.
Steak & Eggs: My dad, being the constant carnivore that he is, started off with steak & eggs. Many times if I do not intervene, my father will order a steak well done and it would arrive with the texture of a burned shoe but I managed to get my 2 cents in and order his steak medium. I was pleased to see that it arrived with a pink center as opposed to a piece of charcoal. Unfortunately that was the only thing pleasing about the steak & eggs. Although the meat did arrive medium it was still pretty tough and chewy. That of course is not necessarily a fault in the preparation. It can sometimes be simply attributed to a bad cut of meat. Secondly, besides being somewhat tough and fatty, the steak lacked any flavor. Even the most fundamental and basic steak seasoning (salt & pepper) was missing. The potatoes were just as flavorless as the steak. Let’s just say that the tastiest part of that dish were the eggs and the whole wheat toast.
Shrimp Omelette: Things only proceeded to head further downhill after the steak & eggs. My mom ordered the shrimp omelette. Seriously, this was one of the most blandest omelettes I have ever had. It simply tasted like it had no seasoning. The shrimp inside it were quite bland as well. The only thing that slightly helped it were the slices of avocado and a sprinkle of some salt. Some cheese or spices could have definitely helped or if all else fails then just throw in the emergency food lifesaver: bacon.
Veggie Burger: I decided to go with the veggie burger since I had consumed a little too much meat that week plus I always love a good veggie burger. This was definitely not a good veggie burger. The texture of it felt like paste. I like a veggie burger with some defined texture and firmness but this was just too mushy. As for the flavor department, it just wasn’t good. It was something like salty beans except the beans were put through a blender and turned into goo.
Banana Bread Pudding: You have no idea how much I was hoping that dessert would step in and save the day but alas it was not so. The bread pudding was not bad but it wasn’t great either. It was served lukewarm and the texture was somewhat lumpy. It was decent but I was expecting more.
Tiramisu: It was just ok. I’ve had way better.
I know this was quite a disappointing review but please don’t be shocked when I tell you that Le Petit Cafe really does have great food. I’ve had countless delicious brunches there and several great dinners. Maybe they were just having a bad day which can happen even at your favorite restaurant. Maybe they had a different chef? Maybe Uranus was not aligned with Venus? Who knows? Whatever was the reason, it will not deter me from returning. It will take another bad meal for me to reconsider Le Petit. Believe me, it really is a gorgeous restaurant with great food offerings and wonderful atmosphere. Although on that day I was not happy with any of the food items we ordered, what did matter was that my folks still enjoyed their food and the lovely atmosphere. As always, your mileage may vary.
21 Mott St, New York 10013
(At Mosco St)
When I want authentic Chinese cuisine there is only usually one place I go and that of course is Chinatown. Whether it’s in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, each borough’s Chinatown offers something unique and different. One such unique place has always been Hop Kee. I have been eating there for ages. Perhaps it’s because of the large variety of food choices on the menu or maybe because everything there is always so flavorful or maybe because prices there are just so cheap or perhaps it’s because my friend’s father happens to work there. It’s all of the above! Any outing to Hop Kee usually turns into an enormous feast of Cantonese fare and this time was no exception.
Beef Chow Fun: Yes we have all had beef chow fun before but you cannot always find that perfect combination of flavorful tender beef and fresh tender flat noodles. Delicious and well seasoned! Actually I have to say that pretty much everything at Hop Kee is amazingly well seasoned with flavors that you simply cannot just dismiss.
Salt & Pepper Calamari: Crisp on the outside and so very tender on the inside! Fantastic flavor from just the right amount of pepper and salt. Often times fried calamari requires a dipping sauce but not here. Simply great without anything extra!
Salt & Pepper Pork Chops: I love good pork chops and I particularly love pork chops in Asian eateries because the pork chops are usually flattened and extremely tender. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a time and place for a great All-American pork chop, such as the incredible pork chop served at Buttermilk Channel or Flatbush Farm, but there’s still something quite different about Asian style pork chops. These pork chops had a wonderful crispiness to them and essentially the same seasoning as the aforementioned calamari.
Crab Cantonese Style: OMG! This is what I live for! It’s probably my favorite dish at Hop Kee. Yes the crabs are absolutely messy and are a total pain in the arse to work with but don’t be afraid to get down and dirty with these beauties because you will be rewarded not only with a mess on your pants and shirt but also some of the sweetest and most delicious crab meat you’ve ever had! If you want a real flavor extravaganza then you need to scoop up some of that wonderful ground pork in black bean sauce that accompanies the crab, find a nice piece of crab roe, and finally add some of that crab meat which you so patiently struggled to get. The result of all that effort is just plain ‘ol WOW!
Sauteed Clams: Fresh and large clams sized clams in a tasty black bean sauce. Flavorful and definitely not rubbery.
Young Chow Fried Rice: You can’t just have Chinese food without some fried rice. This fried rice was fluffy, moist, and tender. It had great flavor once again from the seasoning and some help from the bits of roast pork and peas. A great side dish to pretty much anything!
Crispy Chicken: Roasted chicken that was perhaps glazed with crack! Tender and juicy on the inside but the best part was that incredible crispy skin.
Fillet of Flounder with Silk Squash: Coming back to the seafood department, we had some wonderful flounder. Lightly crisp pieces of fresh flounder that just fall apart in your mouth. The Silk Squash that came with it was great! It reminded me somewhat of a cross between zucchini and okra.
Sauteed Green Beans in Garlic: I think I could have easily consumed the entire plate of these amazing string beans! Amazing buttery flavor with a prominent garlic taste. Tender and delicious!
Lotus Cow Skin Soup: I don’t think I have ever eaten the same soup twice at Hop Kee. Each time the soup is a completely new and unique taste. As expected, the cow skin is obviously quite fatty and chewy and may not be to everyone’s liking but the pieces of lotus in that soup’s broth are delicious. I guess I can best describe the flavor of this soup as a slight resemblance to liver or something mineraly.
Pork & Shrimp Dumplings: Fresh house-made pork and shrimp dumplings. These guys were huge and with just the right dough consistency. Nothing like eating a tough and leathery dumpling. Inside each dumpling you will find some delicious pork and nicely sized chunks of shrimp. Yummy!
Chinese Spinach in garlic: If you like spinach then you will love this dish! Great garlic flavor!
Sweet & Sour Ribs: Crunchy pork ribs in a sweet & sour sauce. That says it all!
Forget anything about ambiance and atmosphere because Hop Kee definitely lacks both. From street level you might be somewhat hesitant to try this amazing below-ground level restaurant. Fear not! Go there! Eat there! You won’t regret it and you won’t have to refinance your house and kids to eat like a king!
175 7th Ave, Brooklyn 11215
(Btwn 1st & 2nd St)
I remember when I first tried Sweet Melissa over in Carroll Gardens. It was right next to one of my favorite sushi spots, Osaka. It’s usually quite rare to find good dessert in a sushi spot other than the typical green tea ice cream so going next door to Sweet Melissa’s was the obvious thing to do if you wanted some serious desserts. That was many years ago and I believe that the Carroll Gardens location is now closed. Luckily all was not lost as there was a second location in good ‘ol Park Slope. Over the years, Sweet Melissa has greatly expanded their menu beyond just the dessert arena. It was time to see if their savory food was as good as their desserts.
Sour Cherry & Almond Granola: A very nicely toasted granola with a great crunch. It consisted of whole almonds, dried sour cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and of course yogurt. I think these were all wonderful ingredients but at the same time I think the overall flavor was mostly tart in what was an already tart yogurt. In my opinion, some raisins or perhaps some honey would have balanced out the tartness and added some light sweetness. You may enjoy this dish if you don’t mind the sourness but personally I would have preferred it to be sweeter.
The Parisian: This was not your everyday ham & cheese sandwich. There were strips of honey baked ham, Camembert cheese (very similar to Brie), slices of green apple, and some virgin olive oil all packed between two slices of focaccia bread. Many contrasting flavors for sure. From the light sweetness of the ham to the light moldy taste of the Camembert. The green apple adds a wonderful unexpected crunch and its tartness contrasts the sweetness of the ham, cheese, and focaccia. A tasty sandwich for sure. Did I mention that there’s a green salad on the side? Minor details.
Sweet Melissa has some pretty excellent desserts. You should definitely give their bread pudding a try. Their coffee is pretty good too. The Parisian was a delicious sandwich so I think I will definitely try some other items from their brunch menu when I’m not there stuffing my face full of bread pudding.
605 Carlton Ave, Brooklyn 11238
(At St Marks Ave)
I don’t know what it is for me but I love finding a restaurant that seems tucked away deep inside an area full of brownstone homes and with no other restaurants in sight. I guess it’s like finding a hidden gem in the middle of nowhere and James is definitely a gem. Serving American cuisine with some of the finest, freshest, and local ingredients, James serves up some really tasty fare. Let’s have a look at their brunch shall we!
Spicy Bloody Maria: I think every brunch deserves a great Bloody Mary or a Bloody Maria. Essentially a Bloody Maria is identical to the Bloody Mary with the exception of the the vodka being replaced by tequila. In general, James has some great drinks and their bartender does a great job with the usual stuff as well. I’m mentioning the Bloody Maria because it definitely stands out as one of the best I’ve had. Not too thick and not watery either, the Spicy Bloody Maria has a generous dose of horseradish with a serious spicy punch. It’s a tasty drink but stay clear if you cannot deal with spice.
Black Kale Salad with poached egg: A very nice and refreshing salad. The roasted smoked almonds add a wonderful nutty and smokey flavor as well as a nice crunch. As usual, adding a poached egg makes everything so much better! The perfect bite is creamy from the egg yolk, followed by the smokiness of the almonds and a bit of salt from the ricotta salata which is basically a slightly salty version of ricotta cheese. Fresh kale on its own is quite boring I think but James throws in some great additions that take this kale salad to another level.
Pulled Smoked Pork: I can only start by saying “Oh my!”. Succulent, tender, and perfectly smokey pulled pork in a rich and sweet BBQ sauce! You would think the goodness ends there but it does not because all that fabulous pulled pork is sandwiched between two amazing cheddar scones! The accompanying side of cole slaw is rather bland but there is a reason for this. Take a bite of that cole slaw after you experience the sweetness of the pork and you will understand. I love anything with cheese and these cheddar scones were outrageous! If you love pulled pork then this sandwich is a MUST HAVE!
Sauteed Wild Shrimp: There is good polenta and there is great polenta and James certainly prepares one hell of a polenta! It’s buttery, creamy and spicy. The wonderful spice comes from harissa paste, a Tunisian chili paste, as well some garlic that is added to vegetable stock. The result is then poured over the shrimp and polenta. Speaking of shrimp, they are fantastic and cooked to perfection!
I can only say good things about James because I have never been disappointed with their food. An honorable mention should also be made to James’ excellent coffee and the fact that they actually have heavy cream upon request. Furthermore, James makes an amazing burger that you simply must try on any Monday night which is their weekly burger night offering their fabulous burgers at 50% off the regular price. Last but not least is the Pressed Chicken which is another favorite of mine. There’s more food worth mentioning but I’ll save that for an eventual dinner review.
SkyIce Sweet & Savory
63 5th Ave, Brooklyn 11217
(At St Marks Ave)
The first time I walked by Sky Ice I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it. I took a glance inside and from what I gathered it was an ice cream/dessert place. Having walked by it another time, I saw a blackboard on the street that indicated they were serving savory Thai dishes as well. Clearly Sky Ice was not just a dessert spot. Last week I managed to convince a couple of my friends to sample this place with me. What followed was a mixed bag of reactions.
Diced Beef: To be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember the name of this dish and that’s ok because as nice as it may have looked, it was totally lackluster. The beef was somewhat dry and almost bland to the taste. Furthermore, the beef was basically served at room temperature. I don’t know if that’s how it’s supposed to be served or if it was just sitting there waiting to be picked up by the waitress. Either way I think it should have been served hot. The accompanying rice was no better. Slightly dry but overall insanely overloaded with tumeric or cumin (I always confuse the two). The only thing that slightly gave any flavor to the beef was the dipping sauce which was a tad tart. I think this dish may have been a special since I cannot seem to locate it on their regular menu. Thumbs down and not recommended!
Salmon Chu Chee: I thought we were in some serious trouble after that tasteless beef. Luckily, it was salmon to the rescue! Cubed chunks of salmon in a sweet and spicy curry sauce with broccoli and a side of white rice. The salmon was prepared well. Moist, tender and not overcooked. The curry was quite flavorful with a rich sweetness as well a nice spicy kick. I can’t say that this dish was spectacular but it was definitely good and a huge improvement after that beef. It made me believe that perhaps they do serve food with flavor.
Chicken Wings: Your standard sweet and spicy wings. Pretty good but nothing to rave about either. Would have been nice if they were crispier as well.
Ice Cream: I had heard from a friend of mine some time ago that SkyIce has amazing ice cream. After the beef, salmon, and wings we weren’t quite sure if we should attempt something else but I managed to convince my friends that SkyIce is known to have very good ice cream. Reluctantly they agreed to give it a whirl as I went up to the counter to order the ice cream. One of my favorite ice cream flavors has always been coffee so when I saw Thai Coffee ice cream I knew I had to have it. I also needed to try something new and unique as well and when I spotted Black Sesame Seaweed my curiosity got the best of me. I got one scoop of Thai Coffee and one scoop of Black Sesame Seaweed. That coffee ice cream was delicious! A very rich and strong coffee flavor with a hint of something unique in it. Now it was time for Black Sesame Seaweed. I honestly did not know what to expect from it but I was preparing for the worse. I took a spoonful into my mouth and my tongue was immediately attacked by a wave of saltiness. Just as I was preparing to say “This is nothing but salt!”, what followed was a fantastic rush of sweetness from the black sesame! When the two flavors met it was definitely OMG fantastic! If you try nothing else at SkyIce then you must try the Black Sesame Seaweed ice cream. It may sound awful but it’s pretty awesome. I’ve been seriously craving it lately!
I have a feeling that SkyIce really does have some hidden gems. The salmon was definitely a hint in the right direction. I feel compelled to come back and try some more of their food again. Something inside is just telling me that they really do have some delicious food and I need to find out what it is. Their food selection seems quite extensive and I only mention that because of their very confusing menu situation. I think I must have looked at possibly 3 or 4 different menus there. They really need to consolidate them! However, should their food turn out to be meh, I will still return for some more of that amazing ice cream!
620 Vanderbilt Ave
(between St Marks Ave & Bergen St)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Another supporter of locally grown food and ingredients is Milk Bar. Owned by a couple of Australians, Milk Bar has been one of my favorite brunch spots in the Prospect Heights/Park Slope area ever since my friend introduced it to me a couple of years ago. So here’s what chowed down on at Milk Bar!
Full Eggs with avocado: I love this dish so much that I just had to post multiple snapshots of this masterpiece! Featuring two of my favorite things, poached eggs and avocado, this brunch plate will not disappoint. Two thick cut pieces of toasted bread with Gruyere cheese, smoked ham, poached eggs, avocado, and tomato. Man this thing is good! What I found really interesting was the smokiness of the ham. When I took a bite of that ham combined with the Gruyere cheese the combination had me thinking that I was eating Gouda. As usual make sure you break those wonderfully poached eggs and let the yoke run over everything. You’ll want the bread to soak up some of that yolk! And speaking of bread, the bread has a fantastic crunch while being soft in the middle. It slightly softens with the runny yolk on it but that’s definitely a good thing. You will also notice that this dish is pretty large. I had no problems devouring the entire thing but just in case you’re not a glutton of my nature you may choose a half order instead. A very very fulfilling brunch with textures from crunch to creamy and flavors that will simply make you go Mmmmmmmm!
Lamb Sandwich: Man what happened?! After something as phenomenal as the Full Eggs we thought we were definitely on a roll but it seems our food ecstasy ended with the Lamb Sandwich. We saw someone nearby eating this thing and let me tell you that by its looks it seemed great. You know that feeling when something just looks so good even though you have no idea how it really tastes so you decide to order it anyway? Well that’s exactly what we did. From the sound of it, I thought it would be a winner. Shredded lamb meat with aioli sauce on a brioche bun. Well I hate to say it but after my first bite my immediate reaction was: this lamb is not only dry but sorely lacking in the flavor department. I think if perhaps there was some more of that aioli sauce in there then this sandwich might have been salvaged.
Milk Bar uses some of the finest and freshest ingredients and that is reflected in the taste of their food. Although the Lamb Sandwich was a let down, the Full Eggs are a MUST HAVE! Next time I’d like to sample some of their savory muffins, their meat pie, and their biscuits & gravy. Another one of my favorite perks is freshly squeezed OJ which you can have in a large tall glass. Last but not least is their coffee! Try their Australian Iced Coffee. You’ll love it! The space is rather small but cozy. Try for an outdoor table or just grab a seat at the bar by the window.
440 Bergen St, Brooklyn 11217
(Btwn 5th & Flatbush Ave)
So the last time I was at Melt I was there for dinner with some friends. I recall they were out of several entrees and the items we actually did order took almost an hour to arrive. Now I don’t mind waiting for food especially when I’m at one of my favorite restaurants, such as Melt, but when the food took an hour to arrive and tasted totally meh I did get concerned. Things like that do happen and happen at some of my favorite places. Every place can have a bad day or two and you know something, that’s perfectly fine! As long as it does not become a consistent pattern I will always come back to a place that has great food and Melt really does have great food! People are always in a rush to bash a place. My criteria for any new restaurant I attend is quite simple. I usually go with several friends so that I can maximize the number of different things I can try. If none of those dishes leaves me with a positive impression then yes I will probably bash the place. However, if just one dish makes a really good impression then I will most definitely return to try more. So why am I not talking about the food yet and wasting your time reading a paragraph about bad days at good places? Because Melt is a great spot with some pretty damn good food! On that note, let’s talk about the brunch I had there last weekend!
Fried Chicken Benedict: I have always enjoyed a good Eggs Benedict since I’m a huge fan of the poached egg. I really love it when a place takes a standard dish like Eggs Benedict and adds something special to it. In this instance it was fried chicken. So you’ve got yourself a crisp fried chicken breast with a poached egg on top of it that is smothered in a rich sausage gravy instead of your usual Hollandaise sauce. All that goodness is sitting on top of a nicely toasted English muffin. On the side you’ve got some wonderfully crisp bacon, some home fries with onions, and some fruit as a nice refresher. The best way to eat this is to break the egg and let the yolk flow over everything! So many great flavors attack your palette! From the lovely egg yolk to the crunchy fried chicken with that fabulous gravy. Of course you cannot forget that you have bacon waiting and ready to make this dish even tastier! The home fries were prepared just right and with a good choice to use waxy potatoes. . There is nothing more ridiculous than home fries that are still hard or crisp on the inside. Once you devour everything, the fresh melon and cantaloupe make a sweet finish.
Lobster Benedict: Very similar to the Fried Chicken Benedict with the exception that the gravy is replaced by the standard Hollandaise sauce and the fried chicken is replaced by generous chunks of fresh lobster. You still have your home fries and fruit but alas no bacon. As good as the bacon is, it would probably distract you from the sweetness of that wonderful lobster. I was also glad to see that the lobster was served warm instead of chilled. The lobster was fresh and delicious which made for another fabulous Eggs Benedict dish.
French Toast: Currently I have one French Toast king and that is Frankie’s 457. Their French Toast is divine but an honorable note should still go to Melt for their French Toast. According to the menu, Melt uses Texas Toast which is soaked in Bourbon. Could I taste any Bourbon or know of its actual presence? Not really but the toast was still tasty. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a light sprinkle of confectionery sugar on top. Definitely one of the better French Toasts I’ve had and the fresh strawberries were fantastic.
Melt continues to please with their delicious brunches! I really want to come back again but this time for dinner so that hopefully they can make up for the last disappointing dinner I had there. Go to Melt! It’s good!
88 5th Ave, Brooklyn 11217
(Btwn Warren St & St Marks Pl)
Pure Bistro just recently opened on 5th Ave in Park Slope. I’ve walked by it several times and took a quick peek at their menu. The menu consists of American cuisine with such items as sandwiches, burgers, salads, and various other tasty sounding items. From what I have heard about Pure, it seems that they are targeting healthy eating and natural ingredients which is perfect for a place like Park Slope where residents demand that their cow comes with a resume and their vegetables are grown in volcanic soil from Indonesia. On that note, let’s get to the food!
Guacamole and Organic Tortilla Chips: I worship avocados. They are like the bacon of the vegetarian world. They simply make everything better! It is for this reason that I pay homage to the food gods and the Aztecs for inventing guacamole. However I don’t think there was any kind of Aztec influence in Pure’s guacamole. It had great consistency but it was totally bland. Some lime juice, some salt, and some spice would have definitely made this a great guacamole but unfortunately it was just blah.
Vivente Panini: So after a disappointing start with the guacamole we moved on to the Vivente Panini which essentially consists of grilled chicken, mozzarella, roasted peppers, and pesto. Almost immediately I noticed the toasted bread which looked very nutty and grainy. Let me tell you, the bread at Pure is excellent! It was very fresh, soft, and hearty with a wonderful crunch from the seeds and grains. The chicken was super tender, juicy, and most importantly cut thin. I can’t stand it when a sandwich or a panini has a huge slab of meat shoved in there. The mozzarella was nice and gooey with a nice taste of freshness that can only come from good quality mozarella. The pesto was also very flavorful. It was actually so good that I was thinking of having some extra pesto on the side for dipping purposes. Overall a very tasty panini.
Garlic Skirt: Our food roller coaster continued with skirt steak. After that delicious panini I had high hopes for this steak but as much as I hate to say it our roller coaster started heading downhill. The steak was ordered medium rare. When it arrived we sliced it open and could clearly see it was cooked completely all the way through. I was a little worried but then again as shocking as it sounds I have had some pretty good skirt steaks that were well done. I sliced off a piece for my first bite. The meat was slightly chewy but tender and juicy overall. The real problem was that this steak was either insufficiently seasoned and/or marinaded (if at all). The most basic steak seasoning of salt & pepper would have given this steak some life but this piece of was definitely heavily lacking in the flavor department. The same goes for the bland mashed potatoes and spinach that came with it. Thumbs down!
Pure Burger: Next in line was the burger. Now I was really concerned since we had ordered the skirt steak medium rare and it definitely was not. The burger was ordered medium rare as well. Would it arrive prepared in the same fashion as the steak? Sure enough it was. Now before I give you my 2 cents on this burger, let me tell you what it consisted of. Once again a nice nutty and hearty looking bun, generous amounts of turkey bacon, American cheese, sauteed onions, lettuce, tomato, and finally something called Pure sauce. Did I mention that the burger was not medium rare! After my first bite, the temperature of the burger became completely irrelevant because not only was the beef tender and juicy but it was so flavorful! And that Pure sauce, which I think somewhat resembles Russian dressing, was delicious! The crunch of the turkey bacon with some of the crunch from the nutty bun was great. The sweetness of the sauteed onions when mixed with that Pure sauce was just plain ol yum! After that skirt steak, this burger totally surprised me in the best of ways. In the immortal words of Samuel Jackson: “That is a tasty burger.”.
Clearly we saw that Pure Bistro had some dishes that lacked flavor and were just OK. On the other hand, Pure had some dishes that were just surprisingly delicious! An honorable mention also has to be made to Pure’s iced mint tea and iced coffee. Both of which were refreshing and delicious. There is no doubt that I will be back to try some of Pure’s other selections.
Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Ave, Brooklyn 11201
(Btwn Front & Water St)
I’ve been hearing many good things about this place for quite some time now. Since I was already around DUMBO, I figured it would be a great time to finally see what this spot is all about. My friend and I decided on having brunch there. On our way there I remember thinking to myself that in all my years of living in NY, I’ve never been down this block before. I have to say I really loved the look of this place. Old, beat-up, and with a charming antiquated feel to it. My kind of place for sure!
French Press Coffee: I originally wanted a latte but I was told that they do not have an espresso machine. However, I was then informed that they do have French Press Coffee so of course I could not refuse. Please excuse my brief hipster moment. Not much else to say here except that the coffee was great. My only slight disappointment was that they do not have heavy cream which is something that I think is so much better than Half & Half or even whole milk.
Asparagus Omelet: Normally I am not a huge fan of omelets and I am rarely treated to what I think is a great omelet but this was an omelet that made me go WOW! By its name alone it sounds like an absolutely boring and bland dish, I mean how exciting can asparagus and some eggs be even though I really love asparagus. This was surprisingly fantastic! I don’t think I’ve ever had an omelet that felt so fluffy and airy. Wrapped inside the omelet was some brie cheese and several asparagus spears. The combination of all 3 ingredients made this a really tasty omelet. You have the light sweetness of the asparagus plus its subtle crunch which gives a nice contrast in texture. The cheese added a nice buttery flavor as well. Avery deceiving omelet for which I expected utter blandness. I was definitely proven wrong. Man I could definitely put away 2 of these if I had the chance!
Duck Egg Confit: This dish definitely reminded me of the Italian Eggs from Dizzy’s. Both dishes are quite similar however Vinegar Hill’s version uses an actual duck egg (instead of a chicken egg) and large pieces of fried bread (instead of small pieces of focaccia). I also do not think there is any cheese involved as was in the Italian Eggs. So you have your eggs sitting on top of large pieces of fried bread followed by a very moist and tender duck confit on the bottom. Almost forgot to mention the generous portion Sambal on the side of the duck egg. Sambal is essentially a hot chili sauce with a wonderful kick. If you have never had duck eggs before then I highly recommend that you try them. The yolk seems much richer and much thicker than a chicken egg and I think the flavor is somewhat better. The only thing I did not like was the fact that these pieces of bread were fried to a point where the bread became a little too hard. There were times I felt I was going to cut the inside of my mouth with these hard and sharp pieces of bread. The duck confit was also slightly a bit too salty but not a big deal overall. To fully experience the taste of this dish you need a piece of that fried bread. Add some duck to it and finally top it off with some egg and Sambal. Hopefully you won’t sever the inside of your mouth but even if you do, it’s damn worth it!
Vinegar Hill House will most certainly be revisited by me again. I loved the old fashioned look and feel of the place and brunch was definitely delicious. Now I just need to sample some of their dinner offerings which I hear are quite amazing but we will save that for another time!
Pedro’s Mexican Bar & Restaurant
73 Jay St, Brooklyn 11201 (At Front St)
After Park Slope, DUMBO has to be one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC. What I love most about DUMBO is the fact that you can still see a lot of the old and historic Brooklyn almost everywhere you look. From old trolley tracks and cobble stone streets to old fashioned signs on buildings, DUMBO remains an area that is quite rich in NY history. When it comes to eating in DUMBO, I haven’t really explored too many of the local eateries there. Every time I visit DUMBO, it’s almost certain that one way or another I will walk by Pedro’s and each time the place looks jam packed with people. I decided that this time I would finally give this place a shot and see if the crowd is really here for the food or just for the margaritas.
Elote: I love grilled corn on the cob and any time I see it on a menu I will always order it. It is a popular street food in Mexico and various other Latin American countries. I have seen many variations of this dish but essentially it’s grilled corn on the cob that’s slathered with mayo (or chipotle sauce), spices, and sprinkled with cheese. The elote at Pedro’s was ok and definitely not the best I’ve had. It was covered in way too much plain mayo, contained zero spices, and had very little cheese. Luckily the corn itself was tasty and sweet but it would have been much better with a touch less mayo, some paprika, and definitely a lot more cheese.
Mexican Green Apple Soda: Although sodas are not the healthiest thing in the world, the one good thing about Mexican sodas is that they all use natural cane sugar which is probably a good reason why Mexican Coke tastes so good. The Green Apple Soda (Manzana Verde), although quite sweet, was definitely tasty and refreshing on that particular hot and sunny day. Unfortunately it was quite filling, as most sodas are.
Fried Plaintains with Beef: An extremely oily dish but a very tasty one as well. A sweet plaintain split down the middle, stuffed with ground beef, covered with cheese and then fried. This was a wonderful combination of sweet and savory! The beef was very flavorful as was the cheese. Besides the plaintain, I doubt there was anything healthy about this dish not to mention that some people might be turned off by the heavy amount of oil it was swimming in but I would definitely come back for this dish.
Fajitas Mixta: Fajitas with chicken, beef, and shrimp. Total disappointment! The beef and chicken was definitely tender and might have actually been quite tasty if it wasn’t for the excessive amount of salt that was apparently used. The shrimp was even saltier than the meat! The peppers and onions were a little less salty but overall this dish had more salt than the Dead Sea. The only thing somewhat helped the situation was the bland rice and beans which I will discuss next.
Rice & Beans: Rice & Beans is a pretty simple side dish but it’s preparation can tell you so much about a place. All I can say is that the rice, besides being slightly dry, along with the beans was very bland. I suppose it made an excellent side dish for the sodium infused fajitas.
I’m not entirely sure about Pedro’s yet. The Fried Plaintains with Beef were great but the rest of the meal was rather disappointing. I was very curious about their Mofongo but the waitress was kind enough to inform me that at the moment their Mexican chef was working in the kitchen and that I should hold off on the Mofongo until the Dominican chef’s shift begins. I guess that alone gives me a reason to give Pedro’s another shot.