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

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

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


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 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)


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)


Payment: Cash Only

Take Out: Yes

Delivery: Yes

Open Late: hours depend on location

Bar/Happy Hour: Yes

September 9, 2008


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, 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)


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
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