Friday, October 31, 2008

Comfort Food at Enid's

I went with a couple of friends to Enid's (560 Manhattan Ave. at Driggs Ave., 718-349-3859) the other night for dinner. I really like Enid's and have eaten some of the best Brunches and the best Veggie Burgers there. There are some drawbacks (the incredibly loud music and poor service if you're not young and hip-ish), but that being said, it's got a good thing going with the food.

I got the Apple Salad with Bacon Bits and Blue Cheese. I know, you're thinking, "Bacon Bits!?", but at Enid's they're made from real bacon and aren't just bacon-flavored bits of cardboard. Plus the crispy, tart slices of apple and generous chunks of blue cheese, all nicely dressed in a lemony dressing make this a real pleasure to eat, and it's filling!

My friend ordered the Veggie Burger, which I think is one of the best around because it's homemade and not dry AT ALL. She felt that the bun was dry though and the burger could've been hotter, but that it was, indeed, delicious. She got it with mashed potatoes on the side which come covered in creamy gravy and a small salad of mixed greens.

Her boyfriend ordered the Chicken Fried Steak which he described as "lots of fried, but not greasy at all" and nicely seasoned. We all remarked on the amazing-looking red cabbage slaw on the side but he said it didn't have a lot of "kick". He also chose the Mashed Potatoes as his side, but you can get one of about eight choices (Cornbread, Collard Greens, etc.).

My boyfriend chose to get three sides instead of one entree. In the photo below you'll see the Mac & Cheese, the Spicy Pickled Beets and the Green Beans. The Mac & Cheese is great, and almost famous, and the Pickled Beets were incredible - so spicy our lips were tingling! The Green Beans are lightly sauteed so they're still crunchy, flavored with garlic and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Very nice.

For dessert we shared the Pear & Cranberry Crisp and the Chocolate Mousse Cake. The Crisp was a perfect fall choice, sweet fruit with tangy sour cranberries, an amazing brown sugar and butter top, and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream but it was the Chocolate Mousse Cake we all fawned over - WOW! So dense yet airy, soft and soooo chocolately - it was truly amazing. I will most definitely be back to get that again!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Indian To Go from Raga

Some nights, after a long day at work, I'm not only too tired to cook but I'm too tired to go back out to a restaurant to eat, and what I want most is for someone else to prepare some tasty food and bring it to me in my cozy apartment. On these nights, when my cravings run along the lines of Indian, I turn to Raga Indian Restaurant (142 Smith St., between Bergen and Dean Streets, 718-522-3027), an Indian restaurant on Smith St. that provides consistently good and thoroughly satisfying food.

I usually start with the Assorted Indian Hors D'Oeuvres which is a mix of Pakoras (Veggie, Chicken and Banana), a Samosa and what looked like a big fried slice of eggplant. It arrives with three different sauces (Mint, Tamarind, and Onion Relish) and a touch greasy, is the perfect beginning to this meal. The Pakoras are my favorite; flavorful nuggets of fried-ness, and the Tamarind Sauce is the best.

I also usually get some kind of Chicken Tandoori - this time in the form of Chicken Tikka - which is a good portion of nicely cut up chunks of chicken meat with loads of onions and lemon wedges. I love tandoori; it's been a favorite since I was a kid and Raga's tandoori is tangy and savory and the chicken is not dried out.

We also ordered the Lamb Kurma and the Sag Paneer. The Kurma is a lovely creamy sauce, slightly sweet from the almonds and raisins, and the lamb is tender. Sag Paneer is Fresh Spinach with Cottage Cheese - but not like small curds of cottage cheese - this comes with cubes of a mild cheese and is another of my favorite Indian dishes. The photo below shows both, as well as the various sauces. PLENTY of food for two people with enough left over for lunch!

This all came with two containers of Basmati rice which has a nice, delicate flavor to balance out the strong flavors of the other dishes. I also usually order some bread - Nan is my favorite, a denser, tastier choice as opposed to the more greasy, insubstantial Poori. Yay Raga!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marlow & Sons

I went to Marlow & Sons (81 Broadway, between Berry & Wythe, 718-384-1441) to have dinner with a friend recently and had a thoroughly good time. The front space is half country store and half restaurant with a few tables squeezed in. The back room is cozier, with lots of wooden tables snug on one side and a dark wooden bar lining the other.

Marlow & Sons has a regular menu that features cheeses and meats and a few entrees which they supplement every night with incredible specials made from in-season items. We both started with the special Market Salad which featured Swiss Chard, thin slices of Butternut Squash, lemon juice and parmesan. It was SO good. The lemon and parmesan were the perfect tastes to pair with the squash and greens. It was bright and crisp and earthy at the same time.

We also ordered a plate of the Toscano and two cheeses. I didn't write down the names of the cheeses (sorry!), but they were both delicious. The triagular-wedge one was creamy yet sharp and the other was harder and a bit nutty. The Toscano was not my favorite though - it was a bit greasy and somewhat bland. I prefer a sharper, saltier taste and should've stuck with the Soppressata. We dug in before I snapped the photo, so while it is a small portion, it was bigger than this!

I ordered the Pork Rillettes with mustard, sweet onion jam, bread and apple slices. I think I ordered wrong, not because it wasn't good, but my friend doesn't eat meat, and this dish is one to be shared with one or two other people. It's rich and heavy, and is delightful with the mustard, jam and apple.

My friend ordered the Potato and Swiss Chard Soup which was delicious and full of strips of swiss chard and the pureed potato created a lovely thick consistency. It was full-flavored and satisfying.

To treat ourselves, we got the Ricotta Fritters with apple sauce and cream for dessert at the suggestion of our very helpful waiter. They were amazing little dough balls covered in sugar & cinnamon, with chunky applesauce and sweetened mascarpone. Wow! These were my favorite of the night. So light and fluffy but substantive. A perfect Autumnal ending to our Autumnal Meal.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ethiopian at Ghenet Brooklyn

Mmmmm, I love Ethiopian food and I love the event of going for Ethiopian, where the traditional way to eat is that you sit around a big plate laden down with a variety of dishes and eat with your fingers. I recently went with a group of friends to Ghenet Brooklyn (348 Douglass St. at 4th Ave., 718-230-4475), a sort-of-new addition to Park Slope's ever-changing 4th Avenue. The interior is warm and inviting, although A LOT of incense was burning off and on throughout our meal which was a tad overwhelming, but did not in any way negatively affect our experience of the food. The waitstaff is also friendly and helpful should you need some guidance with ordering, or modifying the incense-burning.

We started out with three appetizers, the Kitfo Tiklil (Classic Ethiopian steak tartar rolled in Kategna), Asa Tiklil (Tuna tartar rolled in Kategna), and an order of the Kategna (Toasted Injera coated with Berbere served with mild cheese). They two Tiklils looked almost the same, so I'll just include a photo of the Steak Tartar version which everyone seemed to prefer over the Tuna. It was more flavorful and had a bit more depth to it than the Tuna which was on the bland side. Each though was super spicy because of the Berbere spices used on the outside of the Kategna.

The Kategna appetizer was great and the mild cheese was wonderful - sort of tangy like a soft goat cheese and just as creamy. The Berbere is made from red chili peppers, onions, garlic and other spices, then sun-dried and mixed with more spices so it's REALLY hot, so be warned.

We then ordered a Combination Plate for Four which consisted of all the Vegetarian Dishes and four of the Meat Dishes. There were six of us, and it was more than plenty.

In the middle you have Gomem (Collard Greens), Engoudae Wett (Mushrooms with Berbere Sauce), and Fasolia (String Beans and Carrots in a caramelized onion sauce). Around the outside, starting at the top with the dark reddish section and going clockwise is Doro Wett (Chicken in a blend of Ethiopian spices), Atkelt Wett (Cabbage, Potato & Carrot cooked in a caramelized onion sauce), Sega Aletcha (Mild Beef Stew), Mesir Wett (a Lentil dish), Doro Aletcha (Mildly seasoned Chicken in a light onion sauce), Shiro Wett (a spicy bean dish), Sega Wett (Beef with Ethiopian spices), Aterkek Aletcha (Split Peas in a light sauce) and Shiro Aletcha (a Mild Bean dish in an herb sauce).

The descriptions are quite vague, not mentioning any of the specific spices, but they do have subtle differences in taste. The chicken dishes had a boiled egg in the middle of them, and the Doro Wett has a smoky, almost BBQ flavor. The Spicy Bean dish was not spicy at all, certainly not when compared to the Kategna in the appetizers. The Mushrooms were a big hit, as they were meaty and very flavorful. The Beef Stew was also popular, as it had chunks of tender meat, whereas the beef in the Sega Wett was a bit dry. Many of the bean dishes were on a the sweet side, and some of the vegetables had a tang to them.

The Injera, the big, spongy bread everything is served on and which you eat with was great, and we got an extra order. It almost tastes a bit like sourdough, as it has a little bite to it, which is nice in combination with the milder veggies and meats.

All in all the visit was a success. In the future, I wouldn't get so many appetizers, as the combination plates are more than enough. And I would've liked to have tried some dessert, like the Cream Caramel. I was also intrigued by the presence of Tiramisu on the menu!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pulled Pork & Quesadillas at Pacifico

There are a lot of opinions out there about Pacifico, a Mexicanish place on Pacific St., just off of Smith St. in Boerum Hill (718-935-1294). Even though they removed a few of my favorites dishes from the menu, there are still reasons why I like it there and continue to go.

1. They have a fireplace, and in the dead of winter, there's nothing as cozy as a roaring fire a few feet from where you're sitting.

2. The Margarita's are fantastic and you can get them by the pitcher. Just make sure you're there with some friends...

3. The Pulled Pork Sandwich. I know - it's a little weird since it's a Mexican place, but it's really good. It comes on a nice, soft bun, with cole slaw on top of the messy pork, which is slightly greasy, but really tender, tasty and very delicious. It doesn't taste smoked, but more like it's been simmering all day in a spicy sauce. It also comes with Yucca Fries which I love.

I usually get the Guacamole to start with, mostly because I love Tostones, but also because it's yummy, with chunks of avocado and bits of tomato and onion.

On this particular visit, I shared everything with a friend, so for our second entree we got the Quesadillas with Shredded Yardbird, which is Turkey and Chicken and is quite good. Topped with a bit of guacamole, sour cream and sprinkled cotija cheese, and stuffed with the delicious meat, they were also quite substantial.

Pacifico on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cake Man Raven

A friend of mine who lives in Ft. Greene had been wanting to take me to Cake Man Raven ever since she knew about this Food Blog. We made the trip together on a recent Saturday afternoon to the narrow storefront at 708 Fulton St., where S. Oxford St. & Greene Ave. intersect (718-694-2253). The sidewalk out front is crowded with lush tropical-looking trees and flowering plants, complete with a little bench for sitting and enjoying your slice of cake, should the weather permit.

As you walk in, you're met with two big deli cases full of plastic take-out containers with big, fat slices of Southern Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. That's it. You can get other flavors of cake if you're ordering a whole cake (German Chocolate, Pineapple Cream Cheese or Coconut Pineapple), but as far as slices, the Red Velvet is all you're gonna get.

Which is fine, actually, because it's amazing. Definitely go with a friend, because it's even too much for two to finish. The cake is dense and moist and subtly sweet. The frosting is thick and creamy and very sweet. Try to have some coffee or tea to balance out the experience, or else you might go into shock. It's a perfect, decadent treat. Check out Gastronormous's recent visit also!

Friday, October 17, 2008

French at Le Barricou

On a recent trip to Williamsburg, a friend and I decided to try a new place we hadn't been to yet. I suggested Le Barricou, located at 533 Grand St., between Union & Lorimer, based on the menu listed on their website. Unfortunately, we were both pretty disappointed with our food.

I only have one photo to show for our outing, I wasn't inspired by what was set before me. The appetizer I got, the Pate from the list of Specials, was a bit gross. First of all, it was a HUGE portion - bigger is not better when it comes to pate. It was also too cold. It did have plenty of Cornichons though, which ended up being the only draw for me.

For her entree, my friend ordered the Salad Nicoise, also from the Specials Menu. Described as being served with string beans, it came with none, and instead was on a bed of lettuce, of which there was not enough. The portion of tuna was nicely sized, but did not muster much of a reaction from her.

I ordered the Moules Marinere, which came plentifully loaded in the bowl. They were fine, nothing special, not garlicky enough, and a bit plain. Le Barricou was underwhelming. Oh well, but maybe for the best, being that there are SO many amazing restaurants in the area.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Meat at Fette Sau

A reader recently asked if I'd been to Fette Sau yet, and it just so happens, coincidentally, that it's the place today's featured food items are from (thanks for the comment FN!). Fette Sau is great, and also snagged Zagat's Best NY BBQ of 2009! Located at 354 Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg (between Havemeyer and Roebling, 718-963-3404), it's housed in the former space of an auto body shop, where a long drive-way, lined with tables, leads to the main space inside. At the back is the bar, which features many kinds of whiskey and bourbon, and has tractor seats as bar stools. Along the right wall is the counter where you order your food, sold by weight, which is made in a smoker that can hold 700 pounds of meat. There are usually 5 or 6 different cuts of meat to choose from, which are served up on a tray lined with butcher paper, as well as a number of sides (beans, broccoli), but the meat is the real champion here.

There are signs posted on the wall explaining where the meat being served is from. Not everything is local (one listed a farm in Iowa), but it does seem that the meat comes from farms that specialize in that particular animal or breed, and so you're not getting factory-farmed meat, which is a good thing.

Something to take into consideration - because the presentation is so simple at Fette Sau the photos don't do the food justice. It's meat after all, which can end up looking a little gnarly, but believe me when I say that it's some of the best around.

On this visit, we ordered 1/4lb. of Brisket, 1/4lb. of the Pulled Pork and one Spicy Sausage. This all comes with two incredibly soft buns that are perfect to make mini pulled-pork sandwiches with. The tables come stocked with bottles of traditional BBQ Sauce, Molasses BBQ Sauce and Malt Vinegar.

I think the Pulled Pork is my favorite. It's juicy, flavorful and so tender it just falls apart if you even look at it! Delicious.

The brisket is pretty amazing too. Slightly charred on the outside, yet moist and savory, it's good alone or with any one of the sauces. The sausages are great too. The spicy one is pretty hot, so be warned.

Fette Sau is a great place with incredible food, delicious beer (served in jars) and flights of whiskey & bourbon. AND, when you're done, you can wipe your hands on the little wet naps they give you with your order.

Fette Sau on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 13, 2008

Amazing Cupcakes from Ladybird Bakery

A friend celebrated his birthday at a local bar, to which another friend brought two huge bakery boxes full of some of the most amazing cupcakes I've ever had. The cupcakes, from Ladybird Bakery in Park Slope (1112 Eighth Ave., 718-499-8108) were an assortment of vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cake with a whole bunch of icings and toppings.

The hit of the night was the red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. It was devoured before I could snap a picture! The frosting was creamy, subtly sweet, and went incredibly well with the red velvet cake, which was moist and tasty.

There was a vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting that was really nice too. The frosting tasted like real strawberries! And also reminded me of Breyers Strawberry Ice Cream.

There was a Vanilla Cupcake with Sugar Frosting and Coconut Flakes that was pretty amazing, with the consistently moist cake, and tons of coconut on top. The Buttercream Frosting was too buttery for me, but that's my preference. It was beautiful though, with colorful sprinkles.

You can see that these cupcakes were so enticing, nobody was able to keep their fingers away to sample all the toppings and flavors.

Ladybird Bakery has so many options for building your own birthday cake too - standard cake options, specialty cakes (ie. orange, mocha), types of filling (ie. flavored buttercream, fudge) and all kinds of frosting (ie. vanilla, chocolate glaze). The results are as good as the choices sound! YUM!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eggs Benedict & Omelettes at Chez Oskar

On a recent rainy day, I met a friend for Brunch at Chez Oskar. Located at 211 DeKalb Ave. between Vanderbilt and Clinton Aves., it's in the heart of Ft. Greene, amidst shops and boutiques, near the Ft. Greene Park & Pratt University. It's also got terrific food.

We ordered the Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelet, the Eggs Benedict with House Cured Salmon, and a side of Applewood Smoked Bacon and shared it all. We were so hungry we started eating before I remembered I needed to take pictures, so these were taken after we divvied everything up (imagine twice as much as what's here).

These were some of the best potatoes I've had. Really crunchy, well cooked and nicely seasoned. The poached eggs were perfect as well, the yolk was still a bit runny, but there was no nasty raw egg white to contend with. The salmon was a nice change, although you can get this with the classic Canadian Bacon, or Proscuitto, or with spinach if you're going veggie. Just a touch of hollandaise sauce tops this dish, for a little zing.

The omelette was good, but I would have preferred a bit more goat chesse in mine. The bacon though was amazing, in thick slices of smoky, salty meat from Applewood. A side Mesclun salad accompanies these dishes as well. Nice to get in a little greens.

There are also a number of breakfast drinks available in addition to the normal brunch fare including Strawberry Mimosas and Mojitos. The decor is cheery and colorful, perfect for a chilly or rainy fall morning. For more reviews, go to Urban Spoon.
Chez Oskar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bacchus French Bistro

Bacchus Bistro (409 Atlantic Ave. between Bond and Nevins, 718-852-1572, is a fun little place with a great, long backyard. The food is hit or miss though, with the appetizers generally being great and the entrees disappointing.

To start I ordered the Puff Pastry with Goat Cheese, and a Pear & Fig Jam. It Was Amazing! Really. The goat cheese was tangy, warm and melty, and went so well with the light phyllo dough and fruit. It doesn't look like much, but I savored every bite.

My boyfriend ordered the Sea Scallops with Braised Endive in a Burgandy Wine Sauce. These little guys were delicious too. Nice and big and almost meaty, gently seared to carmelized perfection in a delicious sauce.

For a main dish, I ordered the Duck with Raspberry Jam, Creamed Celery Root and String Beans. The duck was OK, but a little tough, and was DROWNING in raspberry jam. I had to scrape most of it off because it was too sweet. The creamed celery root was a nice alternate to mashed potato, but was so salty it wasn't as enjoyable as it could've been, and I like salt. The beans were good - nice and garlicky, but I wouldn't order this again.

My boyfriend ordered the Pork with a Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin. Again, everything was really salty, kind of shockingly so. The pork was good, juicy and flavorful, but they need to let up with the salt. I actually put some of the raspberry jam on a piece of the pork and found it to be wonderful. The sweetness cut the saltiness and added something to the meat. Strange. The squash & potato gratin was great though, and the broccoli was perfectly cooked and refreshing amid the salt.

I'd definitely go here again, I'd just stick to the appetizers and more simpler meals. They also have a good brunch.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lucali Pizza

FINALLY, we got to eat at Lucali and try the much-talked-about pizza for ourselves. Lucali (575 Henry St., between Carroll and 1st Place, 718-858-4086) opened in a storefront that used to be a Candy Store I remember going to with stolen quarters to play video games when I was 10 years old, so it was a nice little trip down memory lane for me. But let's get on to the food.

There are really only two options available to order here - Pizza or Calzone - with a number of toppings available for your pizza. I was tempted by the Porcini Mushrooms, but at $8 extra I decided to stick with the Pepperoni, which was great, and is from G. Esposito & Sons just a few blocks away on Court St. It's also important to note that it's BYOB, so if you wnt to drink make sure to bring a bottle of wine with you, or stop in to the Deli on the corner for some beer.

The crust was nice and thin but was soggy in the center which made it difficult to eat. The ingredients were definitely fresh, and the mozzarella was delicious, but the cheese was sliding all over the place and I thought the crust was too wide at the edges; the sauce had not been spread out far enough.

I liked the pizza, and found it flavorful, but I don't think it's worth the long wait, which is the case more often than not. Overall the experience was just, meh.

Lucali on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kielbasa & Bratwurst at Radegast

Radegast Hall Biergarten (113 N. 3rd, at Berry, 718-963-3973) in Williamsburg is a really big, fun place with a range of food options and like, a million types of beer. You can order a full meal, like Braised Rabbit, or you can help yourself from the "Self Serve" station at the back of the room with the retractable roof.

The retractable roof is opened up on nights when the weather's good. There are long wooden tables to sit at, and table service for beer and food from the regular menu. We opted for a mix of both.

We started out with the Charcuterie Plate, which has a number of cheeses from Murray's Cheese Shop. There was sweet and spicy sopressata, pepperoni and salami, as well as four cheeses that included the most amazing brie I've ever had. The goat cheese was on the harder side and was deliciously tangy. This all was served with two kinds of mustard, a spicy and a sweet, as well as BIG slices of Raisin Walnut Bread which was SO much nicer than slices of plain baguette.

We then ordered the Keilbasa with Fries and the Bratwurst with Sauerkraut. The Kielbasa went well with the spicy mustard and was so juicy and tasty.

The Bratwurst had a strong flavor but when paired with the sweeter mustard it tasted so good it quickly became my favorite of the night. The fries and bread were good too, but why bother with all that when there's such good meat on hand to savor.

It get's super crowded here, but since there's so much space, it doesn't feel cramped. Good for large parties and weekend celebration. Big thanks to Gastronormous for including us in their Friday Feeder post!

Radegast on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bialys, Croissants & Raisin Nut Rolls from Mazzola Bakery

Mazzola's Bakery (192 Union St., at Henry St., 718-643-1719) is my neighborhood bakery. It's old school and the ladies who work there (and the one young guy who's still in High School and works in the afternoons), are awesome. So efficient and fast, but warm and friendly at the same time. At night you can smell the fresh baking bread wafting around the block. It's one of my most favorite things about the neighborhood.

The bagels at Mazzola's are not that great. In my search for an alternative, I discovered the Bialy. Oh wonderful Bialy - not too big and with a sourdough-y tang and little bits of onions in the center that offer a nice bite. I usually get it toasted with cream cheese; it's the best little breakfast meal on the go.

Their plain croissants are decent. You have to take into account that this is an Italian bakery, so don't expect perfection. If you're dying for a croissant, this will do you well. It's big, soft, flaky and buttery.

Their Chocolate Croissants are great though. The chocolate is soft and evenly spread throughout, not a hard log of chocolate in the center. It's baked so that it's nicely browned on the outside.

The best item offered at Mazzola's though, is the Raisin Walnut Roll. This is a dark roll full of fruit and nuts and dusted with cinnamon. It's hard on the outside and soft & dense on the inside. I usually get it with butter, but it's definitely tasty without, and goes well with a nice, hot cup of coffee, of which there are a number of flavors available at Mazzola's. Big thanks to Serious Eats for the mention!

Mazzola Bakery on Urbanspoon