Archive for the ‘Brooklyn’ Category

umamichatter: Rose Water Restaurant (NYC)

April 3, 2008

Larry works in publishing, and has lived in Park Slope in Brooklyn for the last few years. Had I known him back when I lived in the Slop (as I call it), I may have not moved out.

Ok no, I still would have. You see, the Slop, at least 7th Ave, is now barfbag yuppie central- lots of stroller rage, desolate by 10pm (except for the bars overcrowded with people who play professional frisbee), lots of brunch spots. You know what I’m talking about. Fucking brunch! Don’t even get me started.

But I will say that the Slop probably has one of the better, more quality restaurant communities in the city. Blue Ribbon, Al Di La, Flatbush Farm, blah blah.

Last week, Larry went to Rose Water on Union Street. Here’s his evaluation. Sorry, no pictures. Yes, Larry’s real name is “Lawrence”- Larry lives below 5th Ave, which makes him Marginal Slop Fringe, and much cooler in my eyes. Love ya, Lar.

Lawrence: i ate at rose water in park slope for restaurant week

me: oh wow i haven’t heard of that
how was it
what kind of food?
11:40 PM Lawrence: new american
the appetizers and the entree were okay.
but i was really wowed by the dessert
11:41 PM me: oh tell me more
what did you order
11:42 PM Lawrence: i just started with a salad.
me: go on
11:43 PM Lawrence: just a sec. i should look up the menu for a refresher.
me: ha
i like your style
11:45 PM Lawrence: ok. i started with the market baby greens and herbs.
11:46 PM boring, right? but i just came from the gym and was feeling like starting off light.
me: ha
it’s ok
i feel you
11:47 PM then whaddya get
Lawrence: then i got the “roast chicken under a brick”
me: wow lar, sounds kinda boring
how was it?
11:48 PM under a brick???
Lawrence: ha!
me: what does that even MEAN?
Lawrence: i think that it gets roasted with a brick on top of it.
11:49 PM me: oh, ok, that sounds kinda neat
what did it taste like though
Lawrence: it was pretty good.
11:50 PM me: was it marinated?
Lawrence: it was spiced up. i was like a fancier version of the rotisserie chicken you get at the supermarket.
11:51 PM me: hm yeah
Lawrence: there were turnips and onions involved.
me: typical restaurant chicken
nicely cooked?
i feel like restaurants never get vegetables right
at least roasted ones
Lawrence: it was. the meat was pretty tender and flavorful.
me: good good
11:52 PM ok now dessert
Lawrence: for dessert, i had the caramelized brioche.
11:53 PM it was really tasty.
me: i hope that came with ice cream?
Lawrence: yes, caramel ice cream.
me: ooooh
11:54 PM Lawrence: it was nice and flaky on the inside and but was all sugary and gooey on the outside.
me: droool
another thing that places don’t do right
Lawrence: i normally don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but i really enjoyed it
me: nice you found a good one
11:55 PM Lawrence: i also tried my friends cornmeal apricot cookie sandwiches for dessert
11:56 PM me: dude that sounds AWESOME
how was that?
Lawrence: i think i enjoyed that just as much
11:57 PM fresh apricots squeezed between two homemade cookies
me: OMG
with ice cream?
Lawrence: served with almond milk for dipping.
11:58 PM that sounds so great
apricots are totally my favorite
Lawrence: you would really love it then
me: apricots, apricot jam, dried apricots
poached apricots, apricot yogurt
11:59 PM but apricots stuffed in a cookie with dipping sauce?
dude i am so there.
ok now
interior? service?
12:00 AM Lawrence: the decor was nice. they’re going for the cottagey look, i think.
12:01 AM me: ah
Lawrence: it’s not a very big space, but i felt very comfortable.
me: the fucking cottagey look!
applewood, gramercy tavern…
Lawrence: i know — so typical park slope
me: for the love of god!
Lawrence: we had very good service as well.
me: total after tip?
12:02 AM Lawrence: well, since it was restaurant week the prix fixe was $23
plus $8 for my share of the wine
12:03 AM plus tip comes to $38
me: for a bite of the apricot cookie
so worth it

Thanks for a great report Larry! Make sure to check out Larry’s website, The Larry Page, where he obsessively orders and reorders his top 100 films and albums of all time. The lists are dizzyingly comprehensive- but the boy has good taste (Prince is a Gold Inductee in The Larry Page Hall of Fame!)

Rose Water Restaurant
787 Union Street

Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.783.3800

Deal of the Year

March 25, 2008

Dear Poor New Yorkers,
Please do yourself a favor and go to Blue Ribbon Sushi this week for dinner during Brooklyn Restaurant Week. For $23, you get a seaweed salad, this below, and green tea ice cream. No joke, this is the best deal you will get all year. I do this every year- sometimes twice during the week. How could you not?

They don’t take reservations, but I went tonight at 8:30, was seated in 20 minutes, and the place was pretty much cleared out by 9:30pm. Deal ends Sunday.

Buon appetito,

Blue Ribbon Sushi
580 5th Avenue (at Garfield)
Brooklyn, NY
T: 718.840.0404

Umamiventure #7 : Pacificana, Sunset Park

February 22, 2008

This past Sunday we intrepid Umami Marters made the trek to Sunset Park for an Umamiventure visit to famed Chinese joint Pacificana. Although Pacificana is best known for dim sum, we threw caution to the winds and reserved a table for dinner.

Waving aside the free (maybe? we weren’t sure…) soda awaiting us at our table, we ordered a bottle of wine and some frosty Tsing Taos and got down to the business of serious face-stuffing. $30 and about 10,000 calories later, we were a happy group.

Our first main dish and the undisputed hit of the evening was Peking duck (above), chopped up and served right at the table. While the pancakes served with the duck were thicker and fluffier than most of us were expecting, the overall package was fatty-salty-deeeelicious and well worth the longish trip on the N train.

Pacificana is (as its name implies) all about the food of the sea, and we put its substantial fish skills to the test. Two kinds of crab (“Hong Kong Style” and “Ginger and Scallion”) were both tasty and fun, requiring a sizable amount of upper body strength to get at the sweet sweet (and occasionally spicy) meat within. We also devoured a whole striped bass (the time lapse between the before and after photos below is about 5 minutes) and a number of shrimp dishes. Crispy baby bok choys and some “pea leaves” (which I’d never had before) were good, too, and made me feel a little bit less like I’d just consumed my weight in fried shellfish.

Was Pacificana good? Yes indeed. Was it as good as Chinatown stalwart Congee Village, where dinner never seems to cost more than $11, no matter how much you eat? That’s a toss-up. The specter of Congee Village was certainly raised during dinner (as is pretty much inevitable whenever you’re discussing New York Chinese Food That Is Totally Awesome), but we never did reach a verdict on whether Pacificana’s substantial charms were really worth the higher pricetag. Either way, the trip was worth it—as head Umami Marter Kayoko’s fortune cookie wisely noted “a gathering of friends brings you lots of luck this evening.”

Pacificana Restaurant
813 55th St @ 8th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 871-2880

Past trips include:
Jackson Diner – 01/08
Sripraphai Restaurant – 11/07
Taste of Jackson Heights – 10/07
Red Hook Ball Fields – 06/07
Ocean Jewel Restaurant – 06/07

A Saturday Lunch at Peter Luger

February 13, 2008

“No other steakhouse serves a porterhouse so breathtaking” –Frank Bruni, The New York Times

Mr. Bruni, I coudn’t agree with you more. Some of you might already know that I am a huge fan of a tasty piece of steak. Many might also know that I am an even bigger fan of delicious burgers.

Recently I had the pleasure of indulging in both. A few weeks ago I went to Peter Luger Steakhouse (PL) with three wonderful friends, I enjoyed my meal so much that I have decided to share the experience with you. A good friend was in town and my roommate was smart enough to book us a table on a saturday. You see it isn’t always easy to get reservations at PL’s. Our friend, a steak loving man, was truly delighted when he heard the news that we were off to PL’s. For those of you who haven’t been, when you walk into the Brooklyn location you can almost imagine the hustle and bustle of its early days. You see the Brooklyn location was established in 1887 and was initially called “Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley” and was frequented by the predominantly German residents of the area. In fact PL is so old it predates the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge. Holy Smokes!

Anyways back to the meal. Since I am still a hard working student PL’s steak prices are a little too steep for me. Luckily for those who are on a budget, PL offers an AWESOME lunch menu that includes a Luger-Burger for under $10! Yes, I am serious!

So since I am on a budget I ordered the delightful yet simple burger. This is not your fancy sauce filled burger, it is a meat lovers burger. The ground sirloin patty is amazing to the taste. The only toppings you get are an onion chunk and cheese all on a toasted sesame bun. SOO GOOD!

To make a long story short I truly enjoyed every bite. What made the lunch even more memorable were the good times shared with my friends AND a Diane Feinstein look-a-like sitting behind me (that’s her walking away in the pic!). I literally stared at her 100x. It was great. And it helps to have generous friends who order the steak, wink wink.

Oh and by the way the steak is better to the taste if you let it sit for a few minutes to let the meat soak in the juices.

Peter Luger Steakhouse
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Get Directions

(718) 387-7400

* approximate times

Pies ‘n Thighs Manifesto: A Response

January 18, 2008

To respond to a few heated DOH supporting comments in the PnT post, I just want to address a few things.

I don’t think that it’s wrong to want a clean environment for your food. However, I think that there is a grave misconception by the DOH and the DOH supporters in general, which is that restaurants are holy spaces devoid of the same sort of hygiene issues that are in your own kitchens.

When I bring up flashy restaurants like Buddakan and the star chef joints, I ask, do you REALLY think that aside from their glossy exteriors, they are really “cleaner” than places like PnT? I think you all need a little restaurant experience to see for yourselves. Restaurants and chef status is all very glamorized at the moment, but at the end of the day, it is still all the same service industry and no one should forget that.

Now, I am not saying that the DOH is not important in matters of regulating the food industry from a governmental standpoint, because it definitely is. One Eater commenter said, “the DOH have to like you too”. This is very true. However, it is clear that this administration has made it its mission to support the extravagant Buddakans and the Olive Gardens while forcefully closing the smaller, more quirky joints which are integral to the fabric of NYC.

The bullying of the DOH to such restaurants as PnT, the Sunview Luncheonette (mentioned by commenter Crusty the Clown) in Greenpoint, or publicly humiliating the sushi chefs of Ushiwakamaru a few months back are fine examples.

What they should have done with the Luncheonette is offer some sort of stipend to help with the restaurant upgrades to keep them “clean” and up to code, because ultimately, the city NEEDS places like that, just as much as the people do. The place was around for over 40 years! You can’t buy that kind of time and devotion, Bloomberg!!!

If the DOH and the administration continue closing down these entrepreneurial small businesses replacing them with more corporate, more luxurious (hence more expensive) joints, we are all going to be priced out of NYC, and quite frankly, the city is just going to bore us to smithereens.

It’s already happening, don’t you see?

Pies ‘n Thighs Manifesto

January 16, 2008

Wednesday night is the last night for Pies ‘n Thighs, a little hole in the wall (literally) southern eatery under the Williamsburg Bridge, consisting of a kitchen, a cash register, and an empty lot next door that is set up with picnic tables during the summertime. The Department of Health is ordering its demise in one way or another– a true tragedy, only proving the extent to which the NYC administration continues to strip the city of its livelihood and spirit, that will leave us with just another barren wasteland of mirrored glass highrises and Olive Gardens.

PnT has the best fried chicken I have had in NYC, the chicken skin so crisp, never soggy, with fat salt chunks sprinkles. The pulled pork box is also a local favorite, with its vinegary tang; and the mac and cheese is a divine side dish from the cholesterol gods. And let’s not forget their apple pie with shaved cheddar melted on top. The food here is always consistently excellent- I can’t remember a one time that I had a disappointing meal since it opened. Could you say that about your precious Buddakans and your star chef empires, DOH?

Although they say that they will reopen in a bigger space this summer, much of the charm came from the cramped entrance, the short doors, the girls making biscuits behind the counter, getting a beer from the bar next door.

PnT needed to be landmarked, not closed. We’ll all be there for your grand opening though, PnT, cause you know what? FUCK THE DOH.

For the time being, PnT, good night.

*Read the supplementary follow-up to this post, Pies ‘n Thighs Manifesto: A Response

Community Juice Girls!

November 8, 2007

The girls who run the juice truck every Saturday at the Grand Army Plaza Farmers Market are really on to something. They’re cute, they’re fun and they’re doing something great for us and the planet! Leesaw Andaloro and Deborah Smith say that with their Green Pirate juice truck, they “aim to stimulate a hip and sexy culture of conscious healthy living by creating an environment where healthy food choices and health education are easily accessible, affordable, taste delicious and are delivered with love and great music!”

Kayoko and I strolled up the bio-diesel fueled truck one Saturday and loved the girly beet infused pink lemonade. Let me tell you- it was both sexy and delicious. Rock on, juice gals!

We Heart Di Fara

October 7, 2007

That’s it, I’m hooked. The pizza’s amazing, but the best thing about a trip to Di Fara in Brooklyn is to visit the divey little joint and watch the one and only man who is responsible for these glorious slices in action. Domenico De Marco, a small little floury man from Naples, makes all the pizza himself and even rings you up. He has raw crusty pizza dough up to his elbows and happily cuts fresh basil with scissors over each and every big bubbling pie. As we walked out the door with smiles he yelled, “Grazie! Buonanotte! Ritornate!” and went back to grating his undoubtedly imported cheese. Oh, don’t worry- we’ll be back!

Atlantic Antic

October 5, 2007

Sunday was a truly beautiful day in Brooklyn- breezy, warm, blue skies dotted with cumulus clouds. The light is changing, it’s got an orange glow now, which I think has everyone shaken up, pretending that summer is still not over (cue Weezer: say it ain’t sooo!!!)

My friends Kumiko and Troy picked me up and we headed over to the 33rd annual Atlantic Antic, which was a full on street fair, 10 blocks long, raging with food stalls of nearby Brooklyn Heights/ Boerum Hill restaurants, bands, retail vendors (selling everything from kitchen ware to vintage jeans), go-go girls, and belly dancers. I’m serious.

We mainly stayed between Clinton and Henry Streets, which seemed to be where the best food was– Kumiko and Troy had been to this before, so they had an idea of where to go. There really were thousands of people there, which I would usually try to avoid at all costs, but it was really festive and fun, and the food was pretty phenomenal as far as street fairs go. The best part? We got to walk around on the street and drink beers!

First up, the Waterfront Ale House, which served 3 kinds of locally brewed beers, and some really awesome pulled pork burgers. The pork was tender and spicy, and oh my god, the cole slaw! They put some dijon mustard in there, which added the perfect kick.

Next, La Mancha Restaurant had a huge grill out, bbqing fresh sardines. Seriously, these were the best sardines I’ve had in a long while- super fresh, simply slathered with sea salt (I’m assuming) and grilled. Genius. They also had a huge pot of paella that was also very good– with squid, clams, and shrimp. When is the last time you went to a street fair with grilled sardines and paella? Pretty great- and a Don Quixote and Sancho Panza mascot to boot! Gotta go eat at this place soon.

Um, not full yet. We had falafel next– I didn’t catch the name of the place, but it was good. The falafel balls were crispy and hot. I don’t have falafel enough- it’s something I need to explore more.

To top everything off, we had the very famous Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie. THE BEST. They bake out of Red Hook and take these pies to another level. The filling is tart and creamy, and the crust is just so buttery and crunchy. Heavenly. If you’re lucky, these are often on the dessert menus in NYC, although I’ve only had them in Brooklyn restaurants. A man who looked like he spent most of the year fishing in Florida was selling the pies out of the back of the company van- it was sweet. I asked him if he was Steve, to which he replied, “there is no Steve,”– which was the perfect answer.

We were stuffed at this point (surprised?), but here are the offerings of the venerable Sahadi’s. Despite my satisfied belly full of sardines, bbq, paella, falafel and key lime pie, I was sad to pass Sahadi’s up. Next year for sure…

Welcome to Brooklyn Party!

August 13, 2007

As a welcome gesture, my dear newly-wed friends Vanessa and Payman decided to throw me a “Welcome to Brooklyn” Party. Let me tell you- these 2 really know how to entertain! (And they got a chance to try out all those wedding gifts). They had quite a spread prepared- all Brooklyn inspired fare. Our friend went out around 9pm to pick up a couple pies at Di Fara’s, and they were so busy that the poor thing didn’t return until 3 hours later….but she had with her the MOST amazing pizza. This stuff put Grimaldi’s to shame!

Payman had a full service bar going. Drink specials were posted on the board and my favorite was the “Brooklyn Cocktail” – a mix of Old Forrester, Dry Vermouth, Maraschino and Angostura.

But that was just the beginning….after several Nathan’s hotdogs, a Brooklyn Lager or 2, and lots of dipping in the chocolate fountain, I was officially sworn in as a Brooklyn-ite. Thanks, Vanessa & Payman! I look forward to more eating and drinking together in my new borough.