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.
Bahia Restaurant & Cafe
690 Grand St (between Graham Ave & Manhattan Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
I have been wanting to revisit this Salvadoran restaurant in Williamsburg ever since my friend took me there several years ago. The last time we were there we loaded up on a bunch of appetizers and I walked away stuffed and with a good impression so this time I wanted to return and try some of their entrees. I was hoping for another great impression however this time it was a mixed bag. On that note, lets get to the food!
Maranon: This rocked! I never knew that the cashew plant bears fruit and that its juice is one of the most tastiest beverages I’ve had in a long time. Sweet but not overbearing and very refreshing. I really don’t know what to compare it to and even though it was from concentrate it was still great!
Yuca Frita Con Chicharrón: We started things off with an order of fried yuca and pork chicharron. The yuca was fried just right. Golden brown, not greasy, and with just the right amount of salt. I love a good fried or boiled yuca so I was happy with this one. As for the pork chicharron, well I thought it was fried a tad too much. It was definitely beyond a nice golden brown crust and some might say it was a bit burnt. Although it was still pretty tasty it was definitely on the dry side once you bite into it. I would assume that was because it was deep fried a little too long.
Pupusas: A very traditional Salvadoran dish is the pupusa. This appetizer is precisely what made me want to revisit this restaurant. A pupusa is essentially a pancake-like dish made from hand-made corn tortilla with various fillings. The pupusas we ordered were filled with pork, refried beans, and cheese. Let me tell you that this thing was still as delicious as the very first time I tried it several years ago. The combination of pork, beans, and cheese was full of flavor. The really surprising part is that we also ordered a pupusa with just pork in it and it tasted blander than a session of C-SPAN so I guess the cheese and beans really help this dish! Get the pupusas but make sure you get them with some good stuff inside!
El Campesino: Craving some beef, we ordered one of their steak entrees. This entree consisted of grilled shell steak, gallo pinto, avocado, and Salvadoran cheese. I wish I could say great things about this steak but unfortunately it just barely made the OK grade. First of all it was served well done which is a big fat no-no in the steak world. Secondly, I’m not sure how well seasoned it was but it lacked any kind of flavor. The gallo pinto was a disappointment as well. Hardly any flavor which was most likely due to a complete and total lack of salt. The cheese was ok but once again nothing too exciting. Avocados were great but I’ve never met an avocado I did not like.
Pollo Al Ajillo: Grilled chicken breast in garlic sauce served with white rice. Simple, tender, juicy, garlicky and delicious! A simple dish that really hit the spot. Enough said!
Parrillada De Mariscos: If there was only one choice of food for me to choose from in this world then it would definitely have to be seafood. I could talk all day about seafood and write poems dedicating my love for it but I shall refrain from doing so. We saw a dish being carried by the waiter that had a bunch of random seafood on it so of course we had to inquire what it was and moments later we ordered it. So basically you have your mussels & clams, salmon, grilled shrimp, tilapia, and calamari all served in a garlic & tomato sauce. To be honest this dish was all around good. Big tasty mussels, great shrimp, and fish all in a light and flavorful sauce but I do have to say that I’ve had similar dishes in other places that were a lot better. Would I order this again? Sure I would but only to share with several people.
Empenadas De Leche: Time for some dessert! I do not think this dessert was on the menu. Most likely it was a special so of course we had to try it! Picture an empenada stuffed with crushed plantains forming a sweet and tangy custard along with a creamy and milky filling. I was really hoping this was sweetened condensed milk but unfortunately it was not. Not bad but not great either. I think if it actually did use sweetened condensed milk then this dessert would have been a real winner.
Flan: Dessert clearly did not end with the empenadas. If I see flan on any menu I MUST HAVE IT! You really have no idea how hard it is to find a really great flan and I really love a good flan. More often I am disappointed with the flans I’ve had and Bahia’s flan was unfortunately not much different. A great flan is all about texture! It should creamy and smooth but with just the right amount of thickness. It should not have the consistency of an omelette and should have strong flavors of caramel and condensed milk. Bahia’s flan gets a thumbs down not so much because of the flavor but because of the more common problem: Texture!
Coffee: No dessert is complete without a good cup of coffee. I took a few sips of the coffee and that was it. Forget about the coffee!
D’Elidas Hot Sauce: An honorable mention goes to the hot sauce. It really improved and even saved a dish or two! It was so good that I bought a bottle for home.
Well I was hoping for OMG but Bahia failed in some departments and did pretty well in others. If I’m in the area and craving some Salvadoran food such as some good pupusas or some good grilled chicken I think I would give Bahia a shot. Their menu is quite extensive so who knows perhaps they have a hidden gem or two hidden in there somewhere!