December 29, 2008

Wafels and Dinges Truck

Laurel has been raving about this place for quite a while, and working in Chinatown, I can never find a food cart that I trust. Seriously, for all the crap I put in my mouth, I just don't trust these carts.

Either way, I finally got to experience the fantastic Wafels and Dinges this past Sunday at the Brownstoner Flea Market in Fort Greene. Made how you want, you have a choice of a few different types of wafels: Brussels (light n' crispy) or Liege Vanilla or Cinnamon (soft 'n chewy, packed with a lil' extra flava) and more. I chose one with Cinnamon cooked inside, and "dinged" it with melted Nutella (totaling $5, $4 for the Wafel, $1 for the Dinge) and powdered sugar (FREE). It was yummo mcgee. I walked around attempting to eat it with a melted (recycled) fork. Not a good situation, but it slowly turned into more of a knife rather than a fork, so it almost made it easier to cut.



Also, I hear they do some pretty cool "get free dinges" promotions, but I'll let Miss Laurel tell you about that, since she's actually experienced it. - Jennifer



Seriously, people. What about a WAFFLE truck is not totally great? When I heard about this dream come true, and learned that they often park near work, I pretty much ran all the way there.

I've tried a couple if different combos: the Brussels (which is similar to your standard Belgian waffle) with strawberries and whipped cream, and later the Liege (chewier and, as Jennifer said, more flava) with strawberries and powdered sugar, as seen above. They offer other toppings like chocolate, bananas, honey, and now I hear they have a savory waffle with BBQ on one side and cole slaw on the other. As you've noticed, I haven't been able to pull myself away from my love affair with strawberries and waffles. So good!

These waffles are definitely tasty. They make them when you order, so they are fresh and delicious. My favorite type is the Liege; I could eat this waffle all by itself, no toppings necessary. The value isn't too bad-- $5 for a waffle, $1 per topping. The waffles aren't huge, but they are good for a breakfast or dessert.

Also, they often have something every day that if you repeat or answer, you get a free topping. I've done this three times: once I said the word of the day, once I answered a trivia question, and once a few co-workers and I sang The Muppet Show theme song on 45th Street. Totally worth it.

Check out their website to see where they are parked in real time (and what today's word or task is), and go get one. You deserve it. -Laurel




Address: parks in Midtown and near Union Square usually, call the number on their website or check their Twitter for updates.


Website: http://www.wafelsanddinges.com/


Payment: Cash Only

Delivery: no

Open Late: nope

Bar/Happy Hour: nope, no drinking on the sidewalk allowed

December 21, 2008

Desserts by Michael Allen

You better believe that I was excited when I discovered a little bakery opening up around the corner from me (they are literally located in the next building over). I went in on the first day they were open, and they were starting out slow with just a few items to sell. We sampled a bit of brownie, madeline, and Michael handed us a little almond-flavored treat hot out of the oven. It was all delicious, and we left with a baguette and brownie, having spent $4.

An issue I often encounter with brownies is that they are not chocolatey enough. His brownie was very chocolately and not too sweet with a lightly crispy crust and almost gooey underneath. Delicious! The baguette was good, but not the best. I decided I needed to try a few more desserts.

So far, I've tried their mini tartlets, which were delicate and lovely and would be pretty at a cocktail party, chocolate croissant, which wasn't quite flakey enough but the chocolate filling was yummy, and the cupcake and truffles pictured below. The cupcake was a little dry, the icing was very good, and the truffles were rich amd smooth. And the bit of their chocolate chili we sampled was really, really good.

He offers lots of items, including muffins, pastries, tarts, cakes, cookies, bars, and fancy chocolates. They also have two soups a day, coffees, breads, and offer free wi-fi. The space is cozy and rustic, and the service is friendly. I would definitely recommend giving them a try-- I'm hoping this lovely little bakery with thrive.. I'm doing my part. -Laurel






First of all, I must point out that the cupcake looks like it had little babies - but those are actually truffles. I wish cupcakes could have babies.


So Desserts by Michael Allen just opened literally around the corner from Laurel's house. And since I'm sure many of you have either A) Ever been to Clinton Hill or B) Don't plan on going any time soon, I'm about to do my best to convince you otherwise. The combination of this and Brown Betty (which we are reviewing later) will make you hop a train right over.

This little shop is run by Michael Allen (SURPRISE!) and his wife and their son. When you walk in you are greeted with a friendly "Hello!" and told everything you should eat. I, of course, being as easily swayed as I usually am, wanted EVERYTHING. Luckily, I was totally satisfied, and they like giving out a little bit of sampling.


On this particular visit (the picture visit), I purchased a half dozen espresso truffles, which are pretty much as amazing as they sound, and oh-so-fresh. YUM. And I also got the chocolate-iced vanilla-cake cupcake, which wasn't the best cupcake I've ever had, but certainly not the worst. The cake part was moist, but obviously cooked on the bottom rung of the oven, because the bottom was a little burnt. We also sampled the "Chocolate Chili," which consisted of beans, vegetables, and cocoa - kind of like a mole sauce. Michael apparently put a whole chocolate bar in the soup. Excellent decision - it's absolutely delicious.


The next time we stopped by for me to grab a quick brownie - which Laurel had been raving about. Moist, but not overly decadent. it was definitely one of the best brownies I've ever had.


Okay, here's to hoping that I've convinced you to take the A/C to Clinton Washington or the G to Classon and eat at this place. Or, since they don't deliver, maybe we could convince Laurel to deliver some for you. Just ask nicely. - Jennifer



Address: 1015 Fulton St, Brooklyn (Clinton Hill)


Website: http://www.michaelallendesserts.com/

Payment: Cash or Credit


Delivery: no

Open Late: nope


Bar/Happy Hour: no, but they have coffee and an espresso machine

December 17, 2008

Lil' FRANKIE'S


We came upon Lil Frankie's quite by accident the other night when Momofoku was too crowded (we're going there soon, don't worry). It looked so cozy and smelled delicious and the price was right., so we decided to give it a try. While we waited by the bar for our table we ordered a round of beers. Amy and I had the cream stout on tap, and though I don't know what it was, I would suggest it (a lot of help, I know). After about 20 minutes, we were seated by the kitchen (or the one that makes the pasta, anyway), which luckily wasn't too loud or ridiculously hot.

We decided to order a couple of pies and share, the choices being the Pizza Margherita ($10) and the Pizza Polpettine ($11) which was topped with baby meatballs, tomato, mozzarella, and sage (although they used Italian parsley the night we went). Amy and I also ordered a side of Spinach al Forno ($5.25), although the two pizza were enough for the three of us.


The pizzas, which came out really quick, were cooked in a wood-burning oven, and were pretty freaking delicious. Not the best pizza I've tried in New York--that would be quite the feat-- but nothing to shake your head at. The dough had a nice chew, the ingredients were fresh and quality. The little meatballs were tasty and adoreable. The spinach was really good, kind of like a fresher creamed spinach with a nice crust of parmesean cheese on top.

I would recommend Frankie's from what I tasted for sure, especially if you're looking for some late night dish, since they are open until 4 AM on the weekends. -Laurel

Lil' Frankie's was quite the find, especially considering we struck out twice with Momofuku Noodle and Tuck Shop, which were both overcrowded. And considering we were panged (pung?) with hunger and pretty much broke (after all it's the holidays, and I just bought myself some clothes...I mean, starving children presents).

This restaurant was a little crowded as well, but we got in fairly quickly. We ordered a round of beers (I didn't particularly care for the wheat beer, but I'm not that much of a beer person), and I just got a simple Paulaner. Either way, while we were standing there waiting for a 3-person table, I realized that sticking out the short 15-20 minute wait is worth it - if you have only 2 people in your party. I say this because as we were standing there, a 2-person table became available, and they went through FIVE sets of names before they found someone that hadn't left. And while that sounds like people had waited a long time, that's not true. We had been there when there was only 2 people on the waiting list before us and they were both parties of 2. So I know 15-20 minutes sounds like a lot, but really - this place moves fast.

So fast in fact, that by the time that it took for us to get a table (took much longer for us, pays to have a significant other and that's it, I guess), as soon as we ordered, literally 5 minutes later, the pizzas were on the table. I must admit, either I was in a little bit of a tipsy haze (beer does that to me, that's why I don't drink it) or it was just really dark in there so maybe I just lost my sense of time, but it was like magic. POOF. And the pizza was DELICIOUS, but as my counterpart said, wasn't the best in NY. The pizza was made well and the dough was soft, and the sauce just right. The meatballs were a tad spicy (Thatza spicy meat-ball!) but we figured that's why they were so tiny - so they didn't overpower the pizza. That sage/parsley was weird, so I just picked it off, but I'm sure it would have tasted okay. And I can't eat spinach...so...there you go! Eat here. That is all. - Jennifer

Address: 19 First Ave (btwn 1st and 2nd St)


Payment: Cash Only

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Totes, Sun-Thurs, 2am / Fri-Sat, 4am

Bar/Happy Hour: Full Bar

December 12, 2008

Shanghai Asian Cuisine

At work, we call this the "Awesome Soup Place." Mainly because, as the name suggests, the soup is Awesome. Said soup is Wonton Noodle Soup, with hand-prepared wontons that instead of being too thick and filled with some weird gray meat, are made more like dumplings with fresh, homemade dough and delicious pork and chives. Also in the soup has noodles and the broth has scallions and bok choy. It also comes with a side of fresh chilis. All this for only $4.75.

Most of the people who work there don't speak English very well, so be prepared to point. And also, they really, really, really want you to sit down, eat, and then leave. But take your time and wave them off and it will be fine.

The time I went there with Laurel I tried their dumplings. They were exactly right. They were basically the wontons deep fried, which is fantastic. The other day I decided to step outside of the box and order something different. However, I wasn't in to the Sesame Chicken. The rice was delicious and there was fresh broccoli. However, the chicken was tough, and the sauce wasn't sweet enough. However, it was definitely some of the more authentic Chinese I've ever had, so maybe I'm just too Americanized.

Seriously, go by the Awesome Soup Place. The woman who owns it is adorable and always there, and the people around you will probably be eating crab, lobster, and about 100 billion other things that I'm not sure are on the menu. Or there will be middle-aged white women talking about how good CSI is. -Jennifer

P.S. - The first one to spot "The That's What She Said" in this review, I'll buy you the soup.



Jennifer has a lot of experience with this place, but I'll give my two cents. We went here one night after work for some din, and were greeted fairly enthusiastically by the staff. The space has about 8 tables or so, and two of them were taken. We were asked if we were ready to order about 3 times, and one of the times the lady taking our order tried reeeeally hard to get us to order lobster. We must look like we're made of money. Instead, I ordered the wonton soup with noodles ($4.50). I'm worth about $6.00 including tax and tip, as she found out.

The soup came out after a few minutes and was very hot. It was a big bowl--I ended up taking half of it for lunch the next day--and had ramen-like noodles, bok choy and wontons floating in the broth. The wontons were really more like little dumplings with tasty filling, nothing like the cheap Chinese take-out place on the corner's wonton soup, which contains tough noodles, mystery meat and not much else. I could have eaten a whole bowl full of these little dumplings, and the broth was pretty good too. I love bok choy, so that was a welcome addition, although I have to say I'm not sure the noodles were necessary. I'll take them, though!

Since all I've had is the wonton soup, I'd definitely recommend it. It's tasty and the price is right. -Laurel
P.S. I spotted THREE that's what she said's in Jennifer's review.. what does that say about me?

Address: 14A Elizabeth Street (btwn Canal and Bayard)

Website: No website...it's not listed anywhere

Payment: Cash Only

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Somewhat

Bar/Happy Hour: A few beer selections

December 8, 2008

Neighburrito


We found this place nestled between Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop and Welcome to the Johnson's (world's darkest bar) when we finally stumbled out of the bar starving last week and saw that our fave sandwich shop was closed.

I was most excited by the fajita quesadilla (aka fajita-dilla, $6.50), and even more so by the fact that you could get spiced steak for the same price as chicken or any other meat. And it was greasy and pretty unhealthy looking and tasting, but everything was fresh and I'm going to pretend that means it's healthy. Also, the tortillas and chips are seem homemade (clarification: they aren't :) ), and you get your choice of mild, medium or hot salsa. The mild is simply pico de gallo without the spicyness, and then it slowly gets hotter from there. I actually dig that, because most of the time mild means it burns my tongue. But if you want more flava, go a little hotter.

The next time I went I built my own neighburrito, with chicken, soy cheese, black beans and rice. This one didn't have as much flavor, even with the medium salsa, but it was still good. The next time I had it was today, when it was delivered to my office. I'd like to pretend like I got something other than the spiced steak fajita-dilla, but 1) I LOVE steak, and 2) there isn't really a two. I just love steak.

Meanwhile...there are also lots of vegetarian and vegan options for those with special diets, whether chosen or otherwise. -Jennifer


Neighburrito is a tiny spot in the Lower East Side near some of my favorite places, including Sugar Sweet Sunshine, so it was only a matter of time before we discovered it. The spot largely serves as a take-out and delivery spot, but there is a saw-horse like counter dissecting the restaurant with a few stools for those who choose to stay. Food is made when you order it, so they aren't the speediest.. or the slowest, either.

Their menu offers various signature burritos (including a "breakfast" burrito, served all day, that included eggs and chorizo that I need to try), quesadillas, tacos, and make-your-own options. The meat options include carnitas, steak, chicken, and marinated tofu.

I also ordered a fajita-dilla with steak during our first visit, and it was pretty delicious. It was a good portion, sliced into four piecesand contained peppers, onions, cheese and steak. The steak was cooked just so and pretty generous. On my next visit, I ordered a fajita burrito, which contained black beans, cheese, peppers, onions, corn salsa and steak. It also came with sour cream and salsa, as well as chips. This was a pretty big burrito, big enough that I couldn't eat my chips, but mine also wasn't as good as the quesadilla. It lacked a little.. something, and the steak wasn't as good this time. Still a pretty tasty burrito.

All-in-all, I like Neighburrito. They use fresh ingredients and make things to order, and have lots of options. The prices are also good, and they're open late. I'd recommend for take-out or late night nosh. -Laurel


Address: 127 Rivington Street (btwn Essex and Norfolk)


Payment: Cash, Cards

Take Out: Yeppers

Delivery: Pretty big delivery area

Open Late: Sunday-Wednesday, open til Midnite, Thursday-Saturday, open til 2am

Bar/Happy Hour: Nope, but there are horchatas!

November 28, 2008

Golden Mall and Yipin Chinese Cuisine

So begins a photo-heavy post about our adventures in Flushing one Saturday evening. We ate and we ate and we ate.. our main targets handmade noodles and dumplings. Our comments will follow each picture, since otherwise we might all get a little lost.



Liang Pi ($3.50), Xi'An Small Delights, Golden Mall

L: Golden Mall is one of many "food courts" around Flushing. You enter and walk downstairs, where there are tightly packed vendors and a few tables squeezed in. There are people having hot pots, ordering dumplings and noodles to go, and even some shoes for sale. Nothing quite like it.

This cold noodle dish came out quick (no heating required), and featured bits of squishy tofu. I don't eat a lot of cold noodles, but this was pretty good. The spices were well done, but I'm not a big squishy tofu person.. more like a firm person. It was lightly spicy and had an interesting flavor.

J: As for the Golden Mall, a couple of us agreed that it smelled like a pet store. I think it was just all the fresh fish, etc. and they were frying it. Not that the frying it had anything to do with a pet store, but I'd say it was just all the fresh food. There were lots of people down there though, and everyone wanted us to eat at their booths...but when I looked at a pair of boots in one little booth, I thought the woman was going to cuss me out. She did not want me in there.

As for the food...The boys were raving over this one, but I have to say I wasn't a huge fan. I like my tofu more firm than squishy, and I wasn't overly impressed by the taste. And it was cold, which David kept saying it was the Chinese Tuna Salad, but I didn't really like that either.

Sauteed Lamb with Cumin Burger ($2.50), Xi'An Small Delights, Golden Mall

L: This was like a delicious, more interesting Sloppy Joe. The lamb was finely chopped with some bits of onion and pepper and spiced with cumin. It was a nice meaty snack for 2.50. It really could have been any meat, though, as it didn't taste overly lamby (yummy either way).

J: This was probably my favorite. The meat was so tender, with a little bit of cumin and other spices - but there wasn't too much. And the pita was fantastic - soft and flavorful, and the perfect combination with the spicy lamb.

Stewed Pork Noodle Soup ($4.50), Xi'An Small Delights, Golden Mall

L: I ordered this one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The broth tasted like beef and veg, and was loaded with lots of hand cut noodles, chunks of pork, onions, bean sprouts and cilantro. The noodles were big and chewy, and I must say they were difficult to eat with chopsticks. The pork was delicious and falling apart it was so tender. It's a lot of soup, plenty for a meal (or, in my case, for leftover lunch the next day). My only problem was it could have used more meat and veg-- this soup was mostly noodle.

J: I liked Laurel's little pot roast soup. It was good. The broth was tasty, and with all the other ingredients, it was definitely better than mine. And those noodles were so LONG they were really hard to get in my mouth (that's what she said?).

Lamb Noodle Soup ($4.50), Xi'An Small Delights, Golden Mall

L: This soup was very similar to my soup, but with lamb. It was milder, and a good warm up for a cold day. I liked it, but it really needed more lamb, and a bit of added spice.

J: There was almost no lamb in this soup (the amount pictured above as about how much was in there, and I had to pull that up for the picture), and unlike Laurel's, the broth wasn't very good. And as for the lamb meat - it wasn't very tender and was a little hard to chew. However, I did like the bits of green onion and cilantro, it made it have a little more flavor. And of course those crazy long noodles were hard to eat. I attempted to take mine home, but after carrying it all over Flushing decided that I would never eat it, and threw it away.

Qishan Saozi Noodles (can't remember, I think $4.50), Xi'An Small Delights, Golden Mall

L: Check out them noodles. This dish was hot and had handmade noodles, scallions, lamb and a midly spicy sauce. I think the sauce had cumin it it. It was hearty and pretty tasty, and had an interesting not-overly-spicy flavor.

J: I loved this one. This was probably my second favorite dish. The little bits of ... whatever the meat was, probably chicken....was so tasty (I don't think it was lamb). I can't even explain the flavor though - let's say a mixture of spice and a little bit of vinegar. There was also lots of green onions, etc. The boys debated over this one and the top one being their favorite for a while. While they did that, I snuck bites.

Sichuan Dumplings, Chengdu Tianfu Small Dishes, Golden Mall

L: These dumplings were handmade, your standard pork and chive variety. They were a nice texture, but lacking in filling, and were drowned in chili oil. A little chili oil=good. A mouthful=greasy overload.

J: These were hard to eat. You couldn't take a bite, because the rest would slip out of your mouth and fall on the floor. The only real alternative was eating the whole thing at once. Which means having grease run down your chin. Also, I didn't like the way they were shaped, or their filling that much. If anything, they just tasted like noodles with chili oil...and a lot of it.

Handmade Cold Noodles ($4 or $5), Yipin Chinese Cuisine

L: This place was small, and the lady that was serving us was cute. The cold noodles were thinner noodles (than seen previously in this post) bathed in a chili sauce. These are definitely good and surprisingly fairly mild. They are pretty oily, but if you haven't been eating oily food all night like us, then these won't set you over the edge. Like they did me.

J: I loved the little old lady at this place. She was like the Chinese grandmother I never had. I believe these were the noodles where everyone started feeling a little sick. They actually reminded me of the dumplings, but they were in noodle form, and they were cold. These had just a very mild chili sauce taste and not much more.



Pork and Thistle Dumplings ($4 or $5), Yipin Chinese Cuisine

L: These pretty handmade dumplings tasted similar to pork and chive dumplings, but with a slightly different, sweetly bitter taste. They were excellent. Not too doughy, great with a bit of soy sauce. Boy do I love dumplings.

J: These dumplings were just right. Exactly how you think of dumplings. The dough was soft and not overly chewy. And the filling was your traditional pork and chive, and there was more than enough.


Address: Golden Mall: 41-28 Main St; Yipin Chinese Cuisine: 40-04 Union St

Website: N/A

Payment: Cash

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: no

Open Late: Not sure! We were in Yipin at 9 pm and they weren't closed, though

Bar/Happy Hour: I think I saw some beer at Golden Mall..

November 5, 2008

Caracas Arepa Bar


Lines, Lines, Lines. Those are the first three words that I think of when I think of Caracas Arepa Bar. But like rollercoasters and voting (Yes, we can), they're worth the wait.

The first time we ate from Caracas Arepas, Laurel picked it up from the to-go side (to the left. the "Bar" is to the right, and there is a closing thrift shop between), and met me in Thompkins Square Park so we could pretend we are homeless. The second time was a mere attempt on my part. My friends were going to meet me but even though they were running late, and I had already waited about 30 minutes for them, with our names in with the hostess, we were still going to have to wait an hour to an hour and a half. The third time was successful. We showed up, and got inside in about 30 minutes. We had to sit at the bar, but it wasn't bad at all and the waiter was attentive. The only bad thing was that my camera died, so we couldn't get a picture of the food. I attempted to draw them, but I am completely untalented in every way when it comes to art. And instead of looking like arepas, they looked like diapers.

At least they didn't taste like diapers! In fact, let me move on from the "Line, Line, Line" part to the "Worth the Wait" part. On my first visit, I had ordered the La Del Gato with beans. The La Del Gato ($5.75) contains guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices. With beans, it would be all of my favorite foods COMBINED and GRILLED. BOOM - Flavor explosion. It's like a Taco Bell commercial, but the food is actually good. The third (and most successful) time Laurel and I shared the De Pollo ($5.75), which contained grilled chicken breast with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. It was surprisingly sweet, tasted a little like barbecue, and was the perfect combination of flavors.

This place is delicious. I strongly suggest at least attempting to get in. Isn't too busy before around 7, it seems, but you never know. - Jennifer

[Insert awesome picture of food here.]

Caracas is a delicious place. Arepas are relatively new to my food world, but I'm happy to welcome them to my eating out diet. So good!

So, for those of you who don't know, arepas are a South American dish and resemble a cross between a sandwich and a taco. Fillings are stuffed inside a handmade fluffy grilled corn tortilla, and include black beans, slow-cooked pork and beef, chicken, fried plantains, avocado, cheese, and more.
I ordered the De Pabellon ($6.75), filled with shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and aged cheese. This is the arepa they are famous for, and there's a reason why. It's delicious. The flavor combo is different and slightly complex, but the salty-sweet-chewy-meaty combination is just good.

One arepa doesn't seem big, but it's pretty filling. However, if you're starving like we were, I'd suggest getting three and splitting one, or starting out with an appetizer. Note that there are lovely pictures of their arepas and other items at Caracas' website below (sorry for the lack of photo evidence).

The take-out location has a bit of seating, but a bit is it.. not to say that the proper location is much better. The space is tight and the wait can be long, but the staff is friendly and the food is tasty, so, as Jennifer said, it's worth it. Note that they make everything fresh when you order it, so don't expect real speed, even at the to-go location. But sit back and relax-- it's part of the experience. -Laurel



Address: 93 1/2 E 7th St (at 1st Ave)

Website: http://caracasarepabar.com

Payment: Cash, Cards

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: no

Open Late: 10:30

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes, wine and beer

October 28, 2008

The Usual



Jennifer and I came upon The Usual on the way to go running in Prospect Park (no--we didn't eat instead of run), and made note for brunch. We returned later with big appetites, and found a table for two right away.

The atmosphere is casual, but doesn't have squeaky plastic booths but rather cafe style seating. The menu is pretty classic diner, though, with lots of options. We did what we do best in brunch situations: ordered something sweet, ordered something savory, and split them between us. Above you see the waffle with strawberries, and below an omelet with turkey sausage, onion and cheese with home fries and toast. Prices are standard, our bill came to about $19 with all this and hot tea.

The waffle wasn't unusual or over-the-top, but well done. It was crisp on the outside, pillowy and chewy on the inside, and the strawberries were fresh. The omelet was also good, not as fluffy as it could be, but good with a good portion of tasty toppings mixed in. The homefries weren't my favorite-- I like them crispy-- but not bad, either. The portions were appropriate, especially since we were so hungry. We ate it all, but were full afterwards. All-in-all it was a solid brunch.

I would recommend this place as a solid brunch spot in Prospect Heights if you live in or are visiting the area. Nothing spectacular, but still pretty delicious and sometimes nothing will do but some eggs and a waffle. Nice place to reverse your calorie burn after a run. -Laurel


Yes, we ran. I was unbelievably proud of myself. We decided in that run to start training for mini-marathons. Since that day, Laurel has continued to run, and I've...not. But here I pledge myself to start running for realz.

Ok, now that that's out of the way. Exercise really does burn calories to give way to starvation, and while The Usual isn't that mind blowing, the food is definitely filling, tasty and cheap. Our waffle was sweet and flaky, just like a belgian waffle should be, and the omelet wasn't spectacular, but the sausage inside was the perfect counterpart to the onions and cheese. And unlike my dining companion, I love home fries soft or crispy or pretty much any way (I love potatoes), but these potatoes lacked a certain pizazz. Nothing ketchup and salt won't solve, but my favorite homefries are those that don't need any extras.

The Usual is cute inside, and while the place is very diner-y menu wise, but it's more reminiscent of a down home local family joint, rather than the diner from Seinfeld, which had more of a ... dirty feel (is it just me that thinks that?)

Either way - if you're ever around going for a run, you should stop by. Or if you live somewhere close, you should make it your place to hang. Or if you have to pee, you should check out the tiny bathroom. - Jennifer

Address: 637 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn

Website: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantdetails.asp?areaid=0&restaurantid=41632&neighborhoodid=0&cuisineid=31&home=Y

Payment: Cash, Cards

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: No

Bar/Happy Hour: No

October 19, 2008

Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System


Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System.. quite a mouthful isn't it? (pun intended) This newly opened storefront, lovingly referred to as simply Dogmatic, was formerly a street cart I'm ashamed to say I never visited. The new space is located right off of Union Square and is small and modern. The storefront is all glass, and the seating consists of a communal table in the middle with pull-out attached stools, and some seating on one side up against the wall (not big group friendly). When David and I went on a Thursday night they weren't busy, and we had no problem finding seats and our food came out pretty quickly.



The concept is fresh, locally made sausages (chicken, pork, beef, turkey) in little baguettes with your choice of "topping." They skewer the baguettes on these hot pokers, squirt in your sauce, and slide in the sausage-- and ta da! a fancy hot dog. The small-ish menu includes these variations of sausages, several fillings (see below, plus some), chips, ice cream, and various handmade sodas.

I ordered a turkey sausage with chimichurri sauce, David ordered a pork sausage with horseradish mustard, and we ordered an asparagus (as the menu says, "not a sausage") with truffle gruyere to share (each $4.50), along with a homemade grape soda ($2.50). The turkey sausage was tasty, but somewhat overpowered by the chimichurri.. albeit the chimichurri was yummy and fresh-tasting, if you like that sort of thing. The baguette was crusty and very good. I had a bite of David's, but mostly got the mustard--which was good, but there was too much of it. The asparagas was lightly grilled, but the star was the truffle gruyere sauce. The soda was creamy and, honestly, a little medicinal tasting. I kind of liked it, but David wasn't a big fan.

My advice is to try it if: you like sausage (shame on you if you are a meat eater and you don't), you like baguettes, and you don't mind paying $4.50 a pop for some good quality. One isn't quite enough, so if you're ravenous go for two, if you're with someone share a second one, or order some chips or ice cream to accompany. And please, try the truffle gruyere, but word to the wise: let it sit a moment, and eat with caution. Hot cheese may come shooting out when you least expect it! -Laurel




Address:
26 E 17th St (near Union Square)

Website: http://eatdogmatic.com/

Payment: cash or credit

Take Out: yes

Delivery: don't think so

Open Late: I'm not sure and I can't find it anywhere online. Sorry folks, I've failed you

Bar/Happy Hour:
No alcohol, just homemade sodas.

October 10, 2008

Angelo's Pizza (with guest reviewer Matt Litman)



First things first. Take serious look at that pizza and tell me it's not good. They don't call it fat people porn for nothing.

When you're looking for good pizza I think geography must play a factor. If you're from Chicago you will favor the deep dish. New Yorkers like their "New York" style pizza, and if you're lucky and from Italy, thin crust and fresh ingredients conquer all. If you're from Knoxville and stuck with the unlucky decision between the $5-$5-$5 deal from Domino's or Papa Johns drowned in a butter dipping sauce then I guess anything that signifies New York will do just fine. Midtown New York normally does not get much in the way of recognition when it comes to pizza, but two relative powerhouses still remain - John's and Angelo's.

Friday we took a visiting co-worker from Knoxville out to Angelo's - Better known as the coal-oven joint famously attached to the hip of Letterman's Studio on Broadway. Today's Angelo's is probably a far cry from what put it "on the map" but it still a pretty good pie. Between 5 of us we got two large pies, one pepperoni and one sausage...sometimes it's good to eat with a bunch of porkaholics. For the first couple bites you'll need a fork and knife to deal with initial entry thanks to the piping hot delivery, stringy cheese and flimsy pointed end. After that, put down the fork and knife and dig in.

Angelo's is a good pizza. It's one of those pies that you can relate to the good old college days in the sense that you were drunk and before you know it you've just housed the entire $5 large pie. The difference this time is that you're older, sober and the pie costs $17.50. The will to eat the whole thing is still there.

Now, for what we all came here for - From order to delivery took about 15 to 20 minutes. From delivery to leaving nothing in sight takes another 5 minutes. The sauce is mild and the cheese is fresh, but not over powering...just enough to leave that much anticipated string from the pan to the plate. All this gives way to what I thought was the surprise of the pie itself - the sweet and soft crust. It's not too thick and not too thin...like Naan bread compared to a tortilla wrap or pita. The crumbled sweet Italian sausage was spot on, but sparing. The little pepperoni discs were great as well and they were a little more liberal with their application leaving for another greasy pie. All in all, I'd go back. And if it were a rainy day, I'd order in. -Matt



I can't say I have all that much to add to Matt's thorough review [his views on overweight individuals' sexual preferences are not necessarily those of the blog], but let me lay it out plain and simple. It's coal oven, which is a good thing. The pizza is good--not the very best I've ever had, but nothing to shake your head at. Definitely satisfies that pizza craving, and the prices are on par with Lombardi's and Grimaldi's (kinda high, but the norm for coal oven). It's in midtown, a quality pizza wasteland. And they have tons of seating, which is always rare around these parts.

We went around 1:30 and were immediately seated. Service was prompt and our pizza came out quick and hot. Two large pizzas was just right for five hungrys, and we all left happy, albeit without any Letterman spottings. I'd recommend this place if you're looking for coal oven pizza in midtown and don't mind paying the price. The crowd is mostly tourists, but it's still especially good if you have a group! -Laurel
Address: 1697 Broadway near 54th St (with two other locations)

Payment: Cash & Cards

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Midnight on the weekend

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes

September 30, 2008

Grey Dog's Coffee


The Grey Dog Café was just starting to fill up as we arrived one evening after work. We were lucky enough to snag a table and I decided to browse the extensive menu before getting in line to order. They serve everything from breakfast entrees to burgers, wraps to pb&j, and also serve a variety of coffee drinks, smoothies, and even beer and wine.

I wasn’t feeling overly hungry so I opted for the chili. I headed up to the counter to order and was pleasantly surprised at how efficient and speedy the staff was. Once I had placed my order, I returned to the table to wait for my meal to be delivered. A few minutes later everyone else at the table had gotten their orders. It hadn’t been long and I wasn’t concerned, but the next thing I knew, a waitress approached our table to apologize to me for misplacing my ticket in the line and causing me to have to wait so long for my food. She offered me a free desert for waiting and I chose the oatmeal raisin cookie to the disappointment of my table.

The chili arrived about a minute later and was served with a helping of cornbread. The chili itself was spicy and very hearty but the cornbread was a bit dry. The oatmeal raisin cookie was the size of the desert plate when it arrived. I highly recommend sharing these monster sized cookies. I tried to get my tablemates to share it with me, but I guess I was the only one who enjoys oatmeal raisin cookies so I ended up taking most of it to go. The cookie was perfectly crunchy around the outside and chewy in the middle.

The Grey Dog Café is a great place to go if everyone is in the mood for something different. The only drawback is that the music can be a bit loud so it may not be the perfect place to go and attempt to carry on much of a conversation. -Amy


The first time I went to Grey Dog's, I got my food to go because I was running to a movie. The sandwich was a little greasy, and I ate it so quickly, I didn't really remember what it tasted like. The second time, luckily, I got to sit down with some friends and enjoy myself, even though I was late. Laurel was sick this day, so she didn't do much eating, so we asked our good friend (who has reviewed before for us) and soon to be fellow New Yorker, Amy to help us with this review.

I wasn't feeling that well, and had decided to eat healthier, but I have never been able to resist a reuben, and dove right in. It came with chips and a pickle, all for $9.25. It might seem expensive for a sandwich, but it was huge, and I only dug through half. And surprisingly, the second half held together well for my next day's lunch. Laurel and I then split homemade apple pie ($5 for more than enough) - a tasty end to a great meal. I also got a hazelnut iced coffee, but it was not very tasty.

Also, as I'm one for ambiance, I certainly loved the music and decor. It was a cool, folksy cafe place where you can just chill with your friends. As a warning though, it gets very, very busy - there was a line to the door by the time we left, so get there early for dinner (around 6:30 works)! And supposedly if you go in the morning, there's a hot male barista working, and the same person who gave me that tip also says there's a hot chick barista too. Might be worth a peek - Jennifer

Address:
33 Carmine Street (@ Bleeker) and 90 University Place (@12th St)

Website: http://www.thegreydog.com/
Payment: Cash, Cards

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Til 12:30am on Fridays and Saturdays, til 11:30am other days

Large Group Friendly: Not really, and it fills up quickly

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes

September 23, 2008

Fiore


I discovered Fiore through one of my favorite sites, Serious Eats, via one of my favorite critics, Ed Levine. Upon drooling at the tasty looking pictures and reading about their reasonable prices, I was sold. So far, I've been here twice.

The first time I took my friend Erin and her fiance during their visit to NYC. We ordered a bottle of wine and the fried calamari to start. The wine was reasonablly priced and well presented. The calamari ($6) was excellent-- it was easily a big enough appetizer for four people (cheap!) and included fried thin strips of zucchini and some marinara for dipping. It was light and crispy and addictive.

For my main dish I ordered the Cavatelli Broccoli E Salsiccia ($9), AKA cavatelli pasta with broccoli rabe and sauage. It was a perfect portion with al dente pasta, chunks of savory sausage, shaved parmesean, and crisp-tender, lightly bitter broccoli rabe. I enjoyed the simplicity of it, the pronounced flavors--you could taste each ingredient, and the execution, as everything was cooked perfectly.

During my second visit I had the Penne Carbonara, which was not as successful as my previous choices, but tasty nonetheless and well executed. I admire the thoughtfulness of the menu here, and it feels and tastes more expensive than it is. The atmosphere is pleasant and the service is very good. Try it! -Laurel


My first trip to Fiore was after a trip to a bar somewhere in Williamsburg to participate in The Onion Society for the Preservation of Alcohol Meeting #39 (sponsored by Jameson). Needless to say, by the time we went to the restaurant, I was stumbling - just a tad. Totally in the mood for something greasy, I decided against my normal toasted ravioli or some sort of pesto sauce or gnocchi (my favorite!) and went straight for the lasagna.

I'm not sure if it was the alcohol or that it really did just taste this way, but the lasagna resembled Stouffer's to me. However, I loved the beef inside - it was just right and completely juicy. Other than the food, I really dug the ambience...it was very romantic, especially with Laurel looking at me across the way. It was also crowded, but not until later into the night, oddly enough. I'm definitely interested in eating there again to try something different. - Jennifer

Address: 284 Grand St near Roebling (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Website: http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/fiore/

Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: No

Delivery: No

Open Late: Midnight on weekends

Bar/Happy Hour:
Full bar and wine list

September 16, 2008

RICE (at Brooklyn Bridge Park)


This is an odd review to write, as my experiences with Rice have never involved the physical restaurant or their normal menu. Nonetheless, here I go giving my opinion again.

This review is specifically of Rice's offerings at Brooklyn Bridge Park, including the outdoor movies this summer, and their set-up on Pier 1 (not the home goods store, that would be silly). The movies are one of my favorite things about summer in Brooklyn-- free, fantastic view, good movies, pretty good food. Rice offers food at each of the movies in addition to the standard popcorn and candy. This includes grilled corn, hot dogs, chicken and veggie burritos, salad, chips, grilled meats, and juices.

The first movie I went to I had grilled corn and a hot dog (I think it was about $5 for the two). The grilled corn was really very tasty-- well-cooked, slightly charred, covered in Mexican cheese. Just how I like it! The hot dog wasn't bad, but not spectacular. I did like the grilled red onions on top. During my second visit I got a chicken burrito ($5), which contained chicken, tomatoes, rice, and lettuce. It was pretty good, but was small, and in need of some beans if you ask me. Finally, when I visited the pier, I had some more corn (still good!) and some white wine sangria, which was refreshing ($7 I think).

The movie food review is a little out-dated, but I highly suggest you hit one up next summer. As for Pier 1, it ends on the 28th, so get yourself out there pronto! The view is awesome and the atmosphere is fun. The food is pretty solid and there's a bar, so can't beat that. -Laurel


As Laurel said, our experiences with Rice have been outside near the water. Probably a pretty good place to give something a try, if you ask me. The first time we ate there, I also had a hot dog. I wasn't too into it. It was a little cold and with little to no flavor, but it was outside from a tent/table, so I'll excuse it. However, the sweet onions were a delightful addition. I'm interested to try it at their restaurant, but I'm not sure it's available.

Either way, the next time we went, I snatched up some fish tacos and chips with guacamole salsa. They were all right. The slaw on the tacos were pretty good, but not much flavor. The fish was smoky, but otherwise, also lacked flavor. I had to add the guacamole salsa onto the tacos, to give it a little more flavor. Also (and I never say this), they could have afforded for it to be a little spicier. All in all, the separate parts of the taco were pretty bland, but together, they were...really bland. I think with a little bit of spice, it would have been delicious! (PS - I just realized I said "flavor" 3 times.)

One awesome thing about Rice is their environmentally friendliness. Their delivery van is filtered with Waste Vegetable Oil, from the food they cook. And they also use the van to transport 1000 lbs. of organic waste to the Red Hook Farm in Brooklyn each week! Pretty righteous, to quote hippies...and myself. - Jennifer



Address: Manhattan - Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, 115 Lexington Ave @ 28th St (Murray Hill), 292 Elizabeth St. (Nolita) Brooklyn - 81 Washington St (Dumbo), 166 Dekalb Ave (Fort Greene)

Website: http://www.riceny.com/

Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: hours depend on location

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes

September 9, 2008

Soule

Soule is right down the street from my new apartment, and I pass the orange-hued, modernly decorate soul food restaurant daily. One night I finally ventured in, along with a few hooligans (including Jennifer, of course) for some dinner.

We were the only customers, which would normally be worrisome, but I had read some promising reviews. The menu includes all kinds of soul food staples: fried chicken, curry goat, catfish, and lots of side dishes. Dishes range from $7-15. I went for the jerk chicken with string beans and macaroni and cheese ($10).

The chicken was cooked well, and while the sauce was a blend of sweet and spicy, it wasn't my favorite. The macaroni and cheese was pretty good-- also not the best I've ever had, but executed well. The string beans were especially tasty, fresh and simply cooked with garlic. The service was attentive and our food came out fairly quickly. I will most likely go back, partially due to the location, and also because there is definite potential there. I think I just picked the wrong thing for my personal tastes, and will try try again. If you're in the area and in the mood for the menu, might be worth a stop in! -Laurel


I love ginger ale. When I was younger, my mother used to give me it all the time when my stomach was hurting and it never worked, but I acquired a taste. A few months ago, a woman who works in my office, made homemade ginger ale and was so excited to bring it in for me. I was excited too - I had never had homemade ginger ale. 

However, when she brought it in, and stirred ginger (juice) with the club soda, it wasn't what i expected. My throat burned so bad I started crying, which made it go through my nose, which made me start sneezing ,which in turn made snot drain down my face. All this to say, that's exactly how the homemade Ginger Beer affected me at Soule, with a little less sneezing and drainage. Also, I was dying for some fried plantains, and as you probably know from reading our Habana Outpost...post, I LOVE. Unfortunately, they were out.  Otherwise, their green beans were amazing. And I didn't try the salmon and rice (pictured above), but our dining companion was apparently very impressed. I'm down to go again, if they have plantains that day. - Jennifer

Address: 920 Fulton Street (Clinton Hill, Brooklyn)

Website: http://www.soulerestaurant.com/

Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: No

Open Late: 12am on weekends

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Nope (don't be fooled by that wine glass on the website)

September 5, 2008

Habana Outpost



Habana Outpost is a crazy looking fixture in the heart of Fort Greene, and is extremely popular in the summer. Jennifer and I squeezed our way in one lovely summer night and enjoyed a picnic table outside and some dinner.

The inside is tiled-up and festive, and the outside is the definition of the word festive-- it sports a good amount of picnic table seating and an old painted shell of a truck where the food and drink are served. After standing in line inside for a short while, I ordered a steak quesadilla ($8.25) and a Six Point draft ($2.50). We scored a picnic table outside (it was packed on a weeknight) and dug in. The beer was a deal. The quesadilla was really pretty good, and the steak tasted very smoky, obviously grilled. It was a little pricey, but hey, it was steak.

The atmosphere is a fun one. Habana shows movies outside certain night during the summer, and holds various other events when the weather is right. That's the cool thing about the Outpost location-- it's a gathering place for the community. It also takes a very eco-friendly stance, with lots of recycling, environmental building practices, and you can ride a stationary bike to blend your own smoothie! I'm going to try that one day.

I'd recommend it, especially on a nice night. I could sit there forever. Be aware that other people will have the same great idea as you, though! -Laurel




This place was packed: line going towards the door, people everywhere. When you order (inside) you have to take your order to the cook (outside in a trailer), and then they make it, call your name, and you get your food. Seems easy enough, but when you also get a beer and would like to snag a place to sit, it gets complicated. For some reason, I felt the need to get up about 20 times, and every time I shoved my ass between this couple who were sitting on separate benches but were meeting in the middle. Granted, I have no ass to shove (despite how much disgusting food I shovel into my mouth) but it was still really annoying. Eventually they stood up and moved somewhere else to talk, but by then, I was done with the ass shoving.

Oh yeah, the food. By the time I ate it, it was a little cold, but still delicious. I ordered a veggie burrito. It wasn't huge, but it was definitely filling. It was grilled like a quesadilla, which was different (and welcome). I wouldn't say it's the best thing I've ever eaten, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. What I really loved (as per usual) were the grilled sweet plantains. I can't get enough of those things, and they're better, and sweeter, and plantain-ier...everywhere we go.

Like Laurel, I'm down with their recycling efforts. Pretty righteous. I really dig places who care about the world around them - especially with how much waste restaurants produce per day. If anything, it's a great reason to at least give them a try. I know it's a tad out of most people's way, which I understand, but here's another selling point: there's a lot of really hot people that dine there. Just sayin' - Jennifer

Address: 757 Fulton Street (Fort Greene, Brooklyn)


Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: No

Open Late: 12pm to 12am, closed Tuesday
Large Group Friendly: Yes, but can be packed on weekend nights when the weather is nice

Bar/Happy Hour: Full Bar, Six Point (local) beer is $2.50 all the time

August 19, 2008

Joya


I have eaten at Joya many-a-times, on account of it being a favorite restaurant of my aunt's and it also being near her house. Therefore, whenever we'd visit and she didn't feel like cooking, we'd often end up here. Upon moving to Brooklyn, I continued to make the occassional Joya visit, as I did this past weekend. To sum up, 'bout time I reviewed this place.

Joya serves Thai food, including fried rice, homemade noodle dishes, curries, spring rolls, and more. The prices are one thing that bring me here for repeat visits, as most entrees are around the $7 mark, and can easily feed two people. You know what that means? Two people can eat fresh and tasty Thai food for $3.50 apiece, plus tip. Nice. The other thing that brings me back here is, as you might have guessed, the food. It's not what I think of as cheap food--it's well made with fresh ingredients, nicely spiced, and generously portioned. I'll review a few of my favorite dishes from here, two of which I had this weekend.

One thing I often order from here is the Pad See Yue ($6.95), a noodle dish with chicken or beef, chinese broccoli, egg and homemade flat noodles in a brown slightly sweet sauce. It's some of the best Pad See Yue I've ever had, and the noodles are delicious. The broccoli gives it a bit of crunch and the sauce is tasty but not overpowering. This weekend I ordered the fresh mango salad ($4.95) and the chicken spring rolls ($2.95). The mango salad has loads of fresh sliced mango, spring onions, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrot and a light citrus dressing. So summery and fresh, and really great if you love mango. The spring rolls (includes 2) are hot and crispy and come with a plum dipping sauce, and make a good appetizer.

The interior of Joya is industrial and modern, with a concrete floor and a long bar in the front. There's a good amount of seating and some garden seating in the back, but dinner (especially on the weekends, which I just don't attempt) is often really crowded, and because of said concrete floor, is very loud. That, and they have a DJ at night. Does not good conversation environment make. I'd suggest going at lunch, especially when it's nice out and you can sit out back, dinner on a weeknight (and with someone you don't really like to talk to), or their takeout/delivery is also very good. The service isn't overly friendly but pretty attentive and accurate (and by no means rude).

So try it if you're in the area. You might see me there. -Laurel


Laurel has been talking about Joya since she moved to New York (which would explain why her post is much longer than mine). Let's be honest, Thai food gives me a little bit of a scare. My stomach can't handle curry, and I'm quite the weakling, so I was extremely hestitant to eat at Joya. However, I love Pineapple Fried Rice, probably one of my favorite foods, so I know not all Thai food is scary.

Unfortunately, they don't serve this at Joya. BUT, their regular Shrimp Fried Rice is excellent and largely portioned - I definitely had enough for lunch the next day. Also, it wasn't greasy at all, the vegetables were fresh, and the balance of flavors were perfect - not spicy, but just a hint of soy sauce.

And of course, the outside patio is beautiful and perfect for a nice afternoon lounging in the sun to discuss how excellent Tropic Thunder was. No crazy bathroom stories at this restaurant - but as a warning, they aren't labeled, and unisex. - Jennifer


Address: 215 Court St @ Warren (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, New York)

Website: Yelp

Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late:

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Full Bar

August 15, 2008

Pop Burger


I heard about this place from Roland and Alyson at work, and I was instantly interested. Okay, it was probably because I thought they said Pot Burger, and I was amazed at the idea. Either way, I was ready to give the place a try. It's pretty big - in the front you order from the bar and they yell your name when it's ready. There are about 10 tables, and then the back is darker and you can have table service if you would like.

Taylor and I went last night to kick off a night of adventures at gay bars and UCB. Let's just say I was a tad disappointed by the food. The burgers were tiny - like Krystal's, but the taste and size resembled the late and great SLAMMERS from Hardee's (Carl Jr.'s for you west coasters that read our blog, which would probably be no one) mixed with a BIG MAC, aka there was crappy shredded lettuce and Thousand Island dressing. The fries were great, and the onion rings were like Burger King. Let's be honest - it was a mixture of fast food with a much better logo.

One more thing - the bathrooms in the basement are absolutely disgusting, no details - just know they are. But there is a Simpsons pinball machine lurking in the corner, so it kind of made up for it. Except that you think about all the people who didn't wash their hands and were like "OH, PINBALL! LET ME PUT MY DISGUSTING POO HANDS ALL OVER IT!" and then went back upstairs and ate their food or touched their girlfriend's food or WORSE - touched your food somehow (as in, you come out of the bathroom, think wow - this pinball machine looks impeccably clean, play a game and go upstairs and touch your food, your significant other, etc.) Either way, think twice about touching the pinball machine. Just sayin'. - Jennifer

(I just realized that I stereotyped hetero-men and lesbians as the types who do not wash their hands after pooing. Please except my sincerest apologies, I did not intend to offend.)

Address: 60 9th Ave (between 14th and 15th Streets)

Website: http://www.popburger.com/

Payment: Cash & Credit Cards

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Yes

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Nope! - But the Milkshakes looked...interesting

August 12, 2008

Food at the Brooklyn Flea



So, we've brought you one review from the Brooklyn Flea--a fab flea market with all sorts of goodies in Fort Greene--Kumquat Cupcakery. Those delightful little treats are tasty goodness, but Brooklyn Flea offers a few other options--a couple of which I tried out this past weekend.

A few notes for beginners: The Brooklyn Flea is a Sunday-only event, open from 10-5. It offers items like jewelry, antiques, furnishings, clothes, records, original art, food, and other random things. The market is outdoors and is located on the track field of a high school, but, barring a major storm, is rain or shine, since vendors are under tents. Food-wise, the flea regularly has waffles, ice cream, french food, sandwiches, cupcakes, and best of all.. some vendors from the Red Hook Ballfields.

If you don't know about the Latin American food at the Red Hook Ballfields, google it, for it will be covered in a later post. I decided that this Sunday warranted a pupusa, a thick corn tortilla that is stuffed with different ingredients. The pupusa stand offers several different variations, of which I have tried the pork and cheese and the bean and cheese, and they all cost $2.25. Bargain. Two would easily make a meal.

These tasty creations are topped with raw shredded cabbage, red chili sauce (much like an enchilada sauce for you Mexican food fans), and sour cream. Pickled jalapenos are optional. They make the pupusas right there in front of you--patting then out and tossing them on the grill. And they are delicious--a little crisp on the outside from grilling, with a tasty bit of filling in the middle. The cabbage adds more crunch, the chili sauce adds some nice flavor, and the sour cream adds a little cool to the mix. Tasty combo indeed.

The other item I tried this weekend was a chocolate chip cookie from Wanna Hava Cookie (http://www.wannahavacookie.com/). They offered samples, which I am a total sucker for, and had various kinds of whoopie pies (chocolate cakey cookies with vanilla, mint, chocolate or peanut butter filling) and your usual cookies, like chocolate chip, oatmeal, and snickerdoodle. I went for the classic chocolate chip cookie, of which I am a big fan, and have yet to master in the kitchen.

It was definitely a good one. A little crispy around the edge, chewy in the middle, with both milk and dark chocolate chips. I was satisfied, and would eat again. Cookies are $1, or 6 for $5. A wee bit steep if you're not buying 6, as they aren't huge, but they use quality ingredients.

So if you haven't been flea'ing, you should go! Find a bargain, and stuff yourself. Two of my favorite things ever. -Laurel



Address: Lafayette Ave b/t Vanderbilt and Clermont (Ft Greene)


Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: No

Open Late: Nope, and only open on Sundays

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Nope!

August 7, 2008

The Smith


I've walked past tons of restaurants on 3rd Avenue that I've wanted to step into every time I decide to walk from St. Marks to Union Sq (or vice versa). However, my fear of just up and walking into a restaurant to eat stems from the fact that I'm generally poor, and am quite embarrassed when I cannot even remotely afford the restaurant I just walked up to. Generally, when this happens, I make some comment like "Oh, that food sounds absolutely horrid," or "I'd die before I'd eat steak" (both of which are generally untrue, and I love steak).

Either way, at the advice of Ryan, a few weeks ago I finally stepped into one of those seemingly expensive, "hip" restaurants on 3rd - The Smith. It's a cute spot that's a little too loud, but I dig the music so it's not annoying.

Every time I've passed this place in the past, it's bustling. That night was no different. The four of us got a table in the middle of the restaurant in no time at all though, and soon we were enjoying our loaves of bread and bottle of wine. Dinner-wise, I opted for the burger, as usual. I've never in my life eaten so much red meat, but lately, I can't seem to kick the habit.
Either way, look at that burger, could you resist that? Didn't think so (unless you're a vegetarian and the very sight of meat makes you go into convulsions...) So yummy and greasy and melt in your mouth - everything a burger should be. My fellow dining companions chose to either stick with wine, a little dessert or Char Broiled Organic Chicken in a Red Wine Vinaigraette and fries (which are delicious by the way), and I believe they were all equally satisfied with their choices.
The restaurant not necessarily that cheap (13 smackers for the burger, 17 for the chicken), but it definitely makes me less nervous to walk up to menus on 3rd Avenue and attempt a bite to eat. And on Sunday nights at The Smith you can get a burger and a beer for $12, maybe we'll do that instead of biscuits and gravy for our next Book Club Meeting...
Just as a note - the owners of this restaurant also own Jane and The Neptune Room, and expect to see me there soon for a little taste. - Jennifer


Address: 55 Third Ave (10th & 11th St)


Payment: Cash & Cards

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes
Open Late: Sun-Tues til 12am / Wed & Thurs til 1am / Sat til 2am

Large Group Friendly: Yes and No - Depends on when you go

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes, with a fantastic drink menu

August 5, 2008

N. 28


Pizza is such a great thing. It's the perfect combination of all worthy food groups, and one of the best smelling things ever when it cooks. I loved pizza before I moved to New York, and then I loved it more. For NY has some of the best pizza out there, and tons of choices to eat from.

N. 28 is located in the heart of the West Village a few doors down from a bookstore with some great deals (aptly named the Unoppresive Nonimperialist Book Store... no joke). There's outdoor seating on the sidewalk, and inside it features a coal-burning brick oven to the left and some cozy seating to the right. The menu is relatively small, but offers options for meat and veggie eaters alike. The ingredients are high quality and Italian. The pies come in 14", 18" and 29" and start out circular, but the latter two sizes grow in length only and are cut into rectangles.


There were four of us, so we got two 18" pizzas, which turned out to be the perfect amount. We ordered the 5 formaggio (five cheese, including mozzarella, gorgonzola, parmigiano, fontina, and provolone) and the pizza alla diavola (hot soppressata, red chili pepper, and mozzarella). Both came out piping hot and delicious, the former a very cheesy "white" pizza, with great flavor from all of the quality cheeses, and the latter with a tasty fresh tomato sauce and a lightly spicy soppressata. Both had perfect crusts-- thin but not too thin and lightly crisped all the way through.

The service was Italian and decently attentive. The prices are normal.. $16-26 for an 18" pie ($8-13 a person). The atmosphere here is good, with a good view of the oven, outdoor seating, and a cozy interior. I would suggest this place for some tasty brick oven Italian-style pizza anytime you're in the neighborhood. P.S., they take reservations. -Laurel




Address:
28 Carmine St at Bleeker St

Website: http://www.numero28.com/

Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: Midnight on the weekends

Large Group Friendly: Yes

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes
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