Monday, September 29, 2008

French Onion Soup & Moules at Bar Tabac

A friend and I met at Bar Tabac the other night for a good meal and lots of people watching at one of their outdoor tables along Dean St. People either love or hate Bar Tabac (128 Smith St. at Dean St., 718-9230-0918, I happen to be a fan & find their food decent, even if the service can be spotty.

We started out with some soups. The Potato Leek soup was really nice; the flavors full and fresh. It was however, all beige, so a photo will not be supplied. The French Onion Soup on the other hand is the one to get, this being a French restaurant and all, and is so photogenic in addition to being delicious.

Mmmmm, all that melted cheese, some of it slightly burnt. It was chock full of sweet onions and bits of soaked bread, YUM!

I then ordered the Chicken Liver Brochette, which is one of their many small plate type items. It was great, on skewers with pearl onions and zucchini, but there was A LOT of it, and so half of it came home with me for another time. It was great with the sauce and spread on the bread we were given baskets of.

My friend got the Moules and an order of Fries. Again, these are some of the best items at Bar Tabac. The mussels come piled high in a tangy, slightly creamy sauce, and were great to share.

The Fries come in a little metal bucket and are perfectly salted with both ketchup and mayonnaise for dipping. Delish!

Bar Tabac is a fun, lively spot with a variety of good food at reasonable prices. Big thanks to Serious Eats for the mention!

Bar Tabac on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dinner at Char No.4

I noticed Char No. 4 before they opened, because of the simple yet elegant signage and the earth-tone color palate that stood out in contrast to the rest of surrounding Smith St. (196 Smith St., between Baltic and Warren Streets, 718-643-2106, I was excited about trying the newest restaurant to open up in the area.

I love love LOVE the lighting in the front room. Hanging from the ceiling are what look like about 30 upside-down round ottomans, covered in a brown burlap-like fabric. Or an upside-down pack of cigarettes. Very cool looking.

We started with the Kentucky Ham, served with Fig Jam, Pickled Onions and a chunk of toasted, crusty bread. WOW! This was ridiculously good. The ham was sliced super thin, had the lightest, nicest flavor and was paired with slightly sweet jam and beautiful pickles topped with black sesame seeds.

For a main course, I ordered the Hanger Steak with BBQ Sauce and Crispy Potatoes. The serving is definitely small-looking, but it's really plenty of food and the steak was perfect. The buttery meat cut easily, was tender and tasty and slightly salted on the outside. The BBQ Sauce was really interesting. I think there was some kind of cayenne pepper in it that gave it a little bite. The potatoes were nice and crispy and again, perfectly salted. Delicious!

My boyfriend got the Shrimp & Grits. This too was incredible. The pieces of shrimp were tender, fresh and not at all fishy-tasting. The dish was covered in lemongrass and scallions which added a nice, green flavor and the grits tasted a bit like really good corn chowder. It was such a refreshingly new combo and so well made.

For dessert there were two options, and we chose the homemade Pralines & Cream Ice Cream drizzled in Old Crow Bourbon. MMMmmmm. This was really great, full of sugar-coated pralines and raisins and made me want to drizzle bourbon over every dish of ice cream I have from now on. Amazing!

It's a bit on the pricey side - but is a nice spot to treat yourself on a special occasion. Thanks to Eater for linking to this review. And for more reviews, check out Urban Spoon.

Char No. 4 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tasty Sandwiches from Ted & Honey

I wrote about Ted and Honey here a few weeks ago when I wrote about a delicious cookie I had from there. I went back to have lunch the other day and got to sit outside, where they've set up a few tables and chairs, to enjoy my sandwich, and bask in the beautiful weather while taking in the sights and sounds of busy Clinton St.

This is a BLAT - Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato on Ciabatta bread (you get 6 or 7 bread options to choose from). It came with a small side salad with big homemade-seeming croutons and a vinaigrette dressing. It was so good. The terrifically smoky, salty bacon comes from a local farm and is organic and the addition of avocado really made it special. The tomatoes were ripe and juicy and there was a perfect amount of mayo. It was a seriously good sandwich. Ted & Honey (264 Clinton at Verandah Pl., 718-852-2212).

***UPDATE - 10/4/08***
I went back to Ted & Honey the other day and had a sort of bizarre experience. The service was SO slow and so weird. My sandwich was placed in a bag without any wrapping to keep it together. My friends and I were treated almost like a burden. It was enough to make me think twice about going back.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Breakfast Sandwiches at Fairway

Ah, the Fairway Cafe. I really do love it. The view most especially, but the food's pretty good, and is a good value as well.

On this visit I ordered an Egg & Cheese on a roll. This is a very basic and simple sandwich, but when done improperly is quite a disappointment. Not so at the Fairway Cafe. This breakfast treat came with a substantial amount of egg and a perfect amount of gooey, melty cheese. Yes, it's American cheese, but that's why this is a basic staple for breakfast. It's comfort food at it's best on a fluffy Kaiser Roll.

My boyfriend ordered the Ham & Cheese on a croissant. This comes a little bit more deluxe, with a side salad of abundant, fresh greens and a pile of perfectly salty potato chips. There's also the obligatory pickle spear, but it's needed, and it's good. It cuts the salt & grease with some tang. The sandwich was also nicely stuffed with it's components on a grilled, flaky croissant. Tasty.

And of course, I had to order a cranberry scone. If you read my former Fairway Cafe post, you know how much I love these scones. I mean, look at it! It's Gorgeous! Full of plump cranberries, causing the scone to burst apart, all crusty and sweet and excellent.

I got an iced coffee to go with this lovely breakfast and at Fairway, it's self-serve when it comes to pouring the coffee. On this day, they were offering Hazelnut and Mocha flavors, and so I decided to combine them into a one flavor. It turned out OK; a bit much after a while, but kinda nice for something different.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Good Fork - Dessert

Part Three of The Good Fork: Dessert

Everything we got in the way of sweets at The Good Fork was just divine. My sister ordered the Warm Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce. It was molten in the middle and cakey on the outside and so chocolately we ended up ordering a second one because everyone wanted some. The sauce was a nice, tart addition to the sweetness of the chocolate.

I ordered the Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding. I think I exclaimed out loud every time I took a bite. It was SO good. So warm and dense and comforting. Really, it was perfect.

My step-father ordered Steve's Key Lime Pie direct from Red Hook itself. Steve is famous for these pies and for good reason. They are a perfectly balance of tart and sweet with a lovely citrus overtone. The crust is a lightly sweetened crumbly mixture, just moist enough that it holds together. YUM!

My grandfather ordered the Goat Cheese Panna Cotta which was delightfully rich yet light at the same time. It had a delicate consistency and was really good. It was all beige and white however, and the photograph does not do it justice. You'll just have to go there and see it for yourself!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Good Fork - Entrees

Part Two of The Good Fork: Entrees

Upon the recommendation of the bartender at Sunny's, I ordered the chicken. He said it might sound pedestrian, but I'd find it to be excellent, which I certainly did. This chicken was juicy and savory, with the tastiest flavor. It's also organic, which is something I'm trying to limit myself to when it comes to eating meat. The potato-parsnip mash it arrives on top of is a wonderful alternative to plain potatoes, and the braised leeks on the side were nice as well, all in a creamy smooth gravy.

My boyfriend ordered the Striped Bass over Vegetables, which was among the specials offered that night. The fish was wonderfully done and needed no extras. Meaty and flavorful, with corn, spinach and parsnips, he rated it a thoroughly satisfying meal.

My sister ordered the Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Eggplant and Capers. There wasn't enough, and left her feeling a bit hungry. The eggplant was nicely done, but the tomato sauce was a bit flat. I don't think pasta is a strength at the Good Fork, but with so many other amazing options, it's easy to avoid.

Big thanks to Serious Eats for the mention!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Good Fork - Appetizers

It was my Mom's birthday recently, so a big group of us went to the Good Fork (391 Van Brunt St., 718-643-6636, to celebrate. It's such a nice place. The interior is all blond wood with low lighting and the main dining room has a curved ceiling that makes you feel like you're in a cozy and well-decorated boat. The food is incredible too, well-made, with the best, freshest and local when available ingredients.

The Good Fork gets as much local produce as they can from Red Hook's very own Added Value Farm, so they have lots of seasonal options on their menu. The host and waitstaff are also really friendly, and if it happens that they don't have a table for you when you drop in, they will take your phone number, suggest one of a few bars in the area to go to, and will call you when a table becomes available. Each time I've been there has been such a pleasant experience. Since there were so many of us, and so much good food, I decided to take this whole week to describe all that we dined on.

Part One of The Good Fork: Appetizers.

The number one, best, most delicious item we ordered from the menu (and we ended up getting three orders) was the Caprese Salad. Made from red and green Heirloom Tomatoes and fresh Basil from Added Value, as well as the most amazing fresh Mozzarella from Caputo's, it was the hit of the night. Nobody could get enough of the creamy, almost meaty cheese and the sweet tomatoes. It was as gorgeous as it tasted.

My next favorite was the Diver Sea Scallops. They were HUGE and came with currants, curried quinoa grilled scallions in a pineapple vinaigrette. The sauce was subtle, with just the right zing and the scallops were incredibly meaty and delicious; we were finishing off the sauce with our fingers! Please excuse the eclipse-like shadow on the top of the photo. I was trying to minimize the glare from the flash.

I ordered the Grilled Nectarines over Frisee, with Maple Bacon. It was good, but the vinaigrette was too vinegary and there weren't enough slices of nectarine to balance out the plethora of frisee.

The Scallion Pancakes are really good, with a light sesame soy sauce on the side. There were enough of them so that it was satisfying and easy to share as well!

My mom got the Crab Cake appetizer, which comes with a little salad of endives on the side. This cake is a treat, so tasty and flavorful, not boring or ordinary at all. It's done well, which is a rarity when it comes to crab cakes, as so often they are just lumpy things plopped on your plate. Not at the Good Fork!

On Wednesday I will describe the wonderful entrees we enjoyed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Candy & Caramel Apples in Coney Island

It's so sad about Coney Island. So often the city doesn't take care of the unique and special spots that make it the amazing place it is. It's more than likely that Coney Island will change drastically in the next few years and we'll lose something truly historical.

These are some treats a friend and I indulged in recently, as we savored the last bits of summer on the boardwalk amidst the craziness of Coney.

The Caramel Apple was a Macintosh. Unfortunately, it was really mealy and not tart enough to balance out the sweetness of the caramel. My friend also noted that the caramel was not buttery enough. However, all of that did not keep her from happily finishing her apple.

The Candy Apple was made with a Granny Smith. It too was slightly mealy, but regardless it was delicious. The candy shell was hard and crunchy, and the tartness of the juicy apply balanced out the sugary sweetness. It was yummy summer fun, best enjoyed in the salty air with amusement park sounds in the background.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pizza from Amorina

Oh. My. God. I just had the yummiest pizzas ever. I met some friends at Franklin Park (618 St. John's Place at Franklin,, where you can order in from any number of restaurants whose menu is in the bar's menu book. We chose to order from Amorina (624 Vanderbilt Ave., at Prospect Pl.,, an Italian/Pizza joint in Prospect Heights. We got three pizzas and an order of Eggplant Parmagiana. Heavenly. I'll start with my favorite.

The Gorgonzola E Frutta pizza had gorgonzola, pear, fig and honey which resulted in an incredible flavor experience. The sweetness of the honey and fig paired with the strong gorgonzola and the mellow, cool pear - it was delicious, like dessert pizza.

Then there was the Norma. First of all, I love the name. It calls to mind a passionate, dark-haired Italian woman, proud of her food. This pizza consisted of eggplant, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, ricotta salata, mint and basil. The mint was an interesting and unique addition. It stood out, but also blended in nicely with the basil; they are from the same family after all. This pizza was fresh and tasty, and the cherry tomatoes made it perfect for a summer meal.

Lastly, we had the Margherita, a uncomplicated, classic pizza with stewed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. It too was delicious, with simple, clean flavors.

In addition to all this pizza, we ordered the Eggplant Parmagiana. It was a little oily, but was scrumptious. Cheesy comfort food with savory slices of eggplant drowning in tomato sauce. It was a good thing they sent along big hunks of soft, warm bread to soak up all that goodness.

I can't wait until I can get that fruit pizza again!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cookies & Cupcakes

I'm a big baked-items fan. Cookies, croissants, cake, cupcakes, scones. I'm always on the search for the best of the best. Cookies are my favorite though, and I'm always looking for a place where I can get a reliable, satisfying cookie.

This first cookie was purchased at the Carroll Gardens branch of Naidre's (502 Henry St. at Sackett St., 718-596-3400, They get their baked goods from a number of spots around town, some of which are great, some, not so great. This cookie, the Oatmeal, Dried Cherry & Pecan, was great. It was chewy, packed with plump, tart dried cherries and nutty pieces of pecan. Sweet, but not too, and the oatmeal made me feel like I was also eating healthy.

This second cookie was purchased at the newest incarnation of the space at 264 Clinton St. at Verandah Pl. It's called Ted & Honey (718-852-2212) and is located where the big, red Delicatessen used to be. I actually worked there for a brief time in the early months of 1998 and loved it so I'm happy to see it up and running again as an eatery. This Macadamia Chocolate Chip cookie was so crisp and full of melty chocolate chips and pieces of Macadamia. YUM, so good. I took it home and ate it with a big glass of cold milk.

Then there's this cupcake I tried from S'Nice (315 5th Ave. at 3rd St., 718-788-2121). Woah, what a cupcake. It's the Carrot Cake Cupcake and was SO dense and the frosting SO rich, I had to eat it in two sittings. S'Nice is a vegan & vegetarian restaurant, with really surprisingly good food. It's great, despite that lame-o name.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Seafood & Steak at Sidecar

I first heard about Sidecar, a newish restaurant in South Park Slope (560 5th Ave., 718-369-0077, from Brooklyn Based. They hosted one of their subscriber cocktail parties here back in the Spring, and I loved the interior, and drinks, so much I decided to try it out for dinner.

It's a dark-wood kinda place with booths along one wall and seating along the kitchen area in the back. We sat in the front, at a table overlooking Fifth Ave. through big, open windows. I made sure to order the eponymous cocktail which really is amazing. Sweet and tart and strong. And beautiful, served in this sweet little glass with sugar coating the rim.

We first chose an appetizer off of the specials list - Braised endive salad with beets and a creamy dressing. It was quite tasty, but it got cold fast and the dressing coagulated, which then made it kinda gross. Eh.

For a main course, my friend got the Seafood Salad, also from the Specials list. It. Was. Amazing!!! Really. It was an Italian take on the simple concept, and was so fresh and tasty and FULL of yummy pieces of calamari, shrimp, baby scallops, tomatoes, capers and basil. Delish!

I ended up ordering the Skirt steak with frites and two sauces on the side - a garlic aioli and a warm pickled cucumber tomato sauce. That second sauce was so good, I could have eaten anything with it spooned on top. The steak was fine.

I asked our waitress where they buy their meat and was told the name of a big meat wholesaler which disappointed me. I've been reading so much about food lately, how it's raised and grown, and I'm trying to limit my meat eating to what I call "Happy Meat". I want to only eat animals that are raised on small farms, by dedicated farmers who won't use hormones or antibiotics to get more meat out of their animals. I'm still grappling with this, and figuring out how I want to achieve my goal. I still ended up ordering the steak, but I didn't enjoy it much knowing that it probably came from a big CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) where the treatment of animals is less than kind.

Sidecar is really nice though. I'll definitely go back, but will probably stick to the veggie & seafood options, of which there are plenty.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Weekend Getaways to Brooklyn

Special Report: Tonight on the Travel Channel, Samantha Brown will be heading to Brooklyn to check out the goods. She even goes to Black Mountain, where Eat It just wrote about! Check it out tonight at 10pm. Here's the link.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meat & Cheese & Wine at Black Mountain

It's been a while since I've written about anything with meat; either be warned, or be enticed. I went to Black Mountain with a friend to dine on their little plates full of yummy food and drink robust red wine. Black Mountain (415 Union St., @ Hoyt St., 718-522-4340, is a cozy, comfy place that feels like a friend's country house dining room. It's full of wooden tables, the light is low and in the winter, they have a roaring fire going in their fireplace which is a rare treat.

We chose the Winter Salad, a mixture of lettuce, green beans, chick peas and cherry tomatoes, that comes with Potato Salad and Papadum on the side. The dressing was a nice, mustardy vinaigrette, light yet flavorful, and the potato salad was a creamy, tasty surprise.

We also got the Charcuterie Plate, an assortment of cured meats, pate, bread and olives. In addition to slices of crusty french bread were slices of Lard Bread, a local (Carroll Gardens) specialty. The meat was wonderufl, the mustard was strong and the olives was spicy and briney.

It feels kinda fun to eat at Black Mountain. The waitstaff is so friendly and ready to give suggestions should you ask, and there are so many items to choose from, there's something for everyone.

Black Mountain Wine House on Urbanspoon
UrbanSpoon has more reviews.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Salad at Apt. 138

Eating in a backyard garden is such a sweet bonus to dining out in Brooklyn during the warm months. I went with a friend to Apt. 138 (138 Smith St., between Bergen & Dean Streets, 718-858-0556, and sat out back under the trees to have lunch.

We each ordered the Iced Tea, which was infused with mint, served with a wedge of lemon in a nice big pint glass and SO refreshing, especially on a hot summer afternoon.

I ordered the Watercress Salad with blue cheese, green apple and walnuts. There were perfect portions of each item; plenty of nuts, cheese and thin slices of apple. The dressing was slightly creamy and lemony and made for a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

My friend got the Beet Salad with goat cheese and orange slices. She described it as delectable, and that the tart goat cheese provided a perfect balance to the sweetness of the beets. She also noted that the portion was not enough for a nursing mom. We did have a basket of toasty French bread and a plate of olive oil that helped fill her up, but if you're in the same boat maybe order an appetizer as well.

It's a nice spot, away from the hustle & bustle of Smith St. Go there while you can, as Fall's a-comin'!