Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hey everyone,

Hope you're having a lovely, relaxing and tasty Thanksgiving weekend. I'm taking today off, but will be back on Monday with more Brooklyn food.

-Eat It

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Italian at Bocca Lupo

I feel so lucky to live within walking distance of Bocca Lupo (391 Henry St., on the corner of Warren St., 718-243-2522), the new-ish restaurant in Cobble Hill that serves small plates of deliciousness, Paninis and has a long wine & special cocktails list. They have a great brunch too, but today I'll be focusing on some of their dinner options.

We ordered a salad, an appetizer and the special pasta of the day, all which arrived at the same time. We got the Roasted Beet Salad over Frisee with Toasted Pine Nuts and Ricotta Cheese. A light dusting of salt and pepper covered the entire dish, which enhanced the taste wonderfully. The beets were tender and slightly pickled by vinegar, the greens were fresh and the ricotta was smooth and a great alternative to the standard goat cheese usually found in this type of salad.

We also got the Veal and Porcini Meat Balls which were out of this world. They were almost creamy in texture with a subtle yet complex. They come piled upon a big, thick slice of crusty bread and slathered in tomato sauce. YUM!

The special pasta was Congilio alla Cacciatore (penne with hunter's style rabbit ragu). The rabbit was earthy and game-y (in a good, "deep" way) and the sauce was light - it didn't overpower the flavor of the rabbit. This was served with a shaving of pamesean cheese and slivers of basil.

Then, for dessert, we ordered one of the most amazing dishes ever - the Mascarpone Cheesecake with Apricots in Rum. This - was - heaven! We were so drawn to it that we started eating before I was able to snap a photo. The cheesecake has a slight crust, the Mascarpone was light, fluffy, smooth and decadent, and the apricots were juicy and savory. Incredible. I'd come back just for this and an after dinner drink alone! A sprig of mint sits atop the cake.

I highly recommend this place for a nice evening out. Our friends over at Gastronormous also have a review of Bocca Lupo if you want more info.

Bocca Lupo on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tex-Mex at Pequena

Looking for some good Tex-Mex food some friends and I went to Pequena (86 S. Portland Ave., between Fulton & Lafayette) to see what we could find. True to its name, Pequena can fit only about 20 people. It's a bit tight, but the colorful decorations help create a fun atmosphere and if you're open, spontaneous conversations occur with your neighbors.

I got there early so I ordered a Margarita while I waited. I got it on the rocks with salt, and it was perfect - tart, strong and delicious. You don't get a basket of chips with salsa unless you order it, which feels a bit stingy, and since I was waiting for the rest of my party before I ordered, it would have been nice to have something to nosh on while I sipped my drink.

So, I ordered the Shrimp Tostadas after seeing the same dish arrive to the woman sitting to my right and finding it appealing. You get two crispy tortillas covered in shrimp, guacamole, tomatoes and cotija cheese. Everything was delicious except for the chewy, rubbery shrimp. They seemed to have been frozen and were terribly disappointing. All dishes come as an appetizer or as a main, which includes beans and rice. The beans were great - black, flavorful, if a bit salty, and the yellow rice was good.

My boyfriend ordered the Fish Tacos. You get three thin corn tortillas, covered with flaky white fish, chunks of avocado and a very spicy sauce. Too hot for my taste, but flavorful. One of my friends got the Mushroom Tacos, which look just like the photo below, but with big slices of fresh mushrooms instead of fish.

My other friend got the Chicken Enchiladas Verdes which she loved. These were spicy too, very fresh tasting and slightly vinegary, in a good way. Covered in melted cheese and cilantro this was probably the best dish of the night.

All in all the food here was decent and will fulfill your craving for Tex-Mex. Just stay away from the Shrimp!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fish at Diner

My Dad was visiting recently so I took him to Diner (85 Broadway, 718-486-3077) to have dinner. Not only did I know we were in for a fabulous meal, it would be guilt-free, as the people behind diner use only seasonal, well-raised food, happy, quality meat and have sustainability as the cornerstone to their philosophy. Check out their blog to read more about them and their ideas about food. The menu changes frequently, so the dishes I had might not be available exactly as I describe them.

The printed menu lists only a few dishes that are consistently made, like burgers and market salads. Since the specials are many, your server will write them down on the paper table covers as he or she describes them. It's a nice touch, and makes it easy on you when you're deciding to refer to the list. In addition to the wonderful food, the interior is lovely and comfortable as well. The main dining room is a renovated 1920's Kullman Diner, complete with booths and bar stools. The low lighting contributes to the Noir-ish feeling inside and there's an extra room in the back to accommodate more patrons.

I started with one of their special cocktails, a Martini made with a slice of pickled and roasted red pepper as garnish. Not only was it amazing to behold, it was delicious. Just a hint of hotness lingered with each sip, and as the capsicum soaked in the gin, the heat of the drink increased slightly, adding some adventure to my imbibing.

For appetizers we each chose something from the Specials. I got the Crostini on Country Bread with Chanterelles. It was a simple dish, but the flavors were complex. Buttery but not greasy, earthy and hearty, I savored every bite.

My boyfriend ordered the Squash Soup which came garnished with big leaves of Cilantro. This was the perfect Autumnal dish, and tasted so good since the ingredients were so fresh. With a dollop of cream and chunks of squash it was light yet satisfying.

My dad got the Cardoon Salad. None of us had ever heard of this stalk vegetable that was described to us to be like celery but is actually related to the globe artichoke. It was great. The cardoon was dense and almost meaty and was dressed in a lemony parmesean sauce atop a bed of lettuce greens.

For my main dish I chose the Cod with Pork Sausage and Clams. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten, EVER! Seriously, I couldn't believe how tasty it was, and how well everything went together. The mild cod had a nice consistency and provided balance to the strong, savory sausage. The clams were great too, and the leafy greens sprinkled about added a light, slightly bitter note.

My boyfriend got the Swordfish with Chick Peas and Pickled Peppers. This too was wonderful - the fish was like a piece of steak and the peppers added a bit of a kick to the dish, but in a subtle way. Yum!

My Dad ordered the Gnocchi which were light and almost fluffy in consistency. They were amazing little balls of dough covered in a buttery sauce and topped with cheese. It was a small portion, so choose something else if you're really hungry. Although, there were originally seven but my Dad couldn't resist eating one before I snapped a photo!

After dinner we were pretty full, but since dinner was so fantastic, we wanted to sample the desserts. We got the French Apple Tart with cinnamon whipped cream. It looked amazing, was served warm and the dough was nicely flaky. The flavor of the apples shone through instead of being drowned in sugar.

But it was the Flourless Chocolate Cake that...took the cake! It was so smooth, slightly bitter due to the dark chocolate used and topped with a thin layer of dense chocolate. It was truly unbelieveable.

I would recommend Diner to anyone, for any meal, since everything is thoughtfully prepared with the freshest and best ingredient and is presented lovingly. It's a completely pleasurable experience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eggplant Parmigiana from Francesco's

The Pizzeria/Italian Restaurant on the Corner of Union St. and Henry St. is one of my go-to places for slices and some of the best Eggplant Parmigiana Hero sandwiches around. It used to be called Nino's, which I used to go to back in Junior High for lunch, but about a year ago it was upgraded and is now called Francesco's (531 Henry St., 718-834-0863). I was worried during that transition time, but I'm happy to say that Francesco's may be even better than Nino's was.

We usually start with a small order of the House Salad. This is your basic lettuce, tomato and sliced red onion salad, but it's dressed simply yet deliciously with white vinegar and oil, with a dash of oregano flakes and black pepper. It's fresh-tasting, tangy and perfect.

Then there's the Eggplant Parm. Hero. With gobs of melted mozzarella oozing out, and the bread a touch burnt on the ends, it's such a hearty meal, we split it in two! Loaded with slices of breaded and fried eggplant, in a wonderful marinara sauce, it truly is a work of art. Every once in a while a slice of the eggplant is undercooked, or cut too thick, but I can easily overlook that since everything else is so good. And there are never any left overs!

Monday, November 17, 2008

French-North African at Cafe Lafayette

Some friends of mine were in town for the weekend and we had a whole 'dinner and a movie' plan. Since we were seeing a movie at BAM, we figured we'd head to Ft. Greene for dinner. Since it was Friday night, we were turned away from some places for not having a reservation, but luckily, Cafe Lafayette (99 S. Portland Ave., between Fulton and Lafayette, 718-858-6821) had a table for four available out front, and since it was a balmy night, we grabbed it. Cafe Lafayette is a nice French Bistro that offers the classic French dishes with a North African twist.

For starters, we got the Shrimp Fritters and the Rosemary Goat Cheese Salad. The Fritters were good; a bit oily, but the chili sauce on the side added a nice sweet and spicy kick, and the light batter did not overshadow the flavor of the shrimp. And it came on such a pretty little plate!

The Salad had a yummy, light dressing and two slices of toasted baguette topped with generous slabs of rosemary-covered goat cheese. The bread was a little greasy, but nicely salty, and the cheese was creamy and tart. The greens were good too - fresh and piled high.

My friend got what I thought was the best dish of the night - the Vegetarian Couscous with Harissa Sauce. It was presented nicely, the couscous was moist and the flavors of the veggie stew (carrots, garbanzo beans, broccoli) were deep and complex. Very tasty.

The next best meal was the Moules in Coconut Sauce. A big bowl arrived chock-full of mussels in a delicious, slightly sweet and milky coconut broth, and a side of french fries that were well-salted and flecked with parsely. The mussels were tender and yummy, and the coconut was a nice departure from white wine or tomato sauce.

I got the Goat Cheese Panini, with Roasted Red Peppers, Portabello Mushroom and Arugula. The bread was grilled so the cheese gets melty and the mushroom was substantial, meaty and delicious. I wasn't super hungry, so it was the perfect amount of food.

My boyfriend got the Spinach & Cheese Ravioli in Tomato Vodka Sauce. This was a fine dish, but not memorable. The portion was good, and the sauce was competently made, but it didn't stand out among the other, more interesting and flavorful meals.

Cafe Lafayette is a really nice place - the dining room is small and cozy, perfect for cold winter nights, and the burgers are also excellent. Grilled Merguez Sandwich anyone?

Friday, November 14, 2008

French Toast at Frankie's

Frankie's 457 Spuntino (457 Court St., between 4th Place and Luquer St., 718-403-0033) is a charming, cozy little place on Court St., deep in the heart of Carroll Gardens. The inside is all brick and warm tones, with Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and a big window at the back that overlooks their backyard and the train tracks in the distance. You can sit at the bar and have a good time watching people come and go, or you can sit at the little table for two in the front window and feel like you're in your own private world, looking out onto the street. The first time I ate here, a few months after it opened, I sat in the front window and watched the first snow of the season fall. It was sublime, as was the food that followed.

Today I'm highlighting my favorite breakfast food from the Brunch menu: The French Toast. Mmmmm, it's SO good. Made from two thick slices of crusty bread, it soaks up the egg just enough and is cooked to perfection so the outside is ever so slightly burnt and the inside is still moist and light. Hints of vanilla waft up at you, as it arrives with slices of banana, strawberry and real maple syrup, and once you taste it, you'll never be able to get French Toast anywhere else. Gorgeous!

I always get a side of their thick-cut Bacon. It's almost like ham it's so meaty. And salty and sooo good!

My boyfriend ordered the Granola with yoghurt and fruit. This turned out to be surprisingly good. It was chock full of almonds, walnuts and pecans and wasn't too sweet. The yoghurt was nice and tart and the fruit was simple - bananas, strawberries and raisins. The granola was somewhere in between museli and granola, with less crunch than granola, but it didn't turn into mush like museli tends to do. I think it's a new favorite!

The coffee is great at Frankie's too - strong, but not burnt tasting, and the lattes and cappucinos are made with care.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Benefit for P.S. 29 at Bocca Luppo

Lisa Trollback, the Co-President of the PTA at P.S. 29, asked if I would mention the fund raising event for the school here and I'm happy to spread the word. Next Tuesday, Nov. 18th, Bocca Lupo, the fabulous Italian restaurant on Henry St. (at Warren St.) is hosting Uncorked for a Cause to raise funds for P.S. 29, also on Henry St., which will soon suffer the massive budget cuts to public education. Even though I went to P.S. 58 on Smith St., I hope many people attend to support public education and enjoy the wonderful dishes at Bocca Lupo. You can get a slight discount if you purchase tickets ahead of time, just click the link above and you'll be directed to the site.

Unfortunately I can't make it, but you should go and tell me how it is!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thai from Teeda Thai

My boyfriend and I probably order Thai food once every two weeks, and this last time we decided to mix things up a bit and try a different place. Teeda Thai (218 Columbia Street, between Union and Sackett Streets, 718-643-2737) is an unassuming little restaurant on Columbia Street that makes quite good food and is a nice alternative to the other spots in the neighborhood.

We started with one of my favorite dishes, the Fish Cakes. Their texture might not appeal to all, as they are slightly rubbery, but I love these savory and yummy treats, as well as the slightly fire-y sauce that comes on the side, a vinaigrette with red pepper flakes, chopped peanuts, cucumber and red onions.

We also got an order of my second favorite Thai appetizer, Chicken Satay. I just LOVE peanut sauce, and this one is creamy and thick and delicious. Four skewers of perfectly grilled chicken come in an order, and are a great classic starter.

As our main dish we split an order of Pad Thai with Tofu. Teeda Thai makes a really good Pad Thai, with fresh and crunchy bean sprouts, thin slices of red cabbage and carrots, and lots of chunks of Tofu. The sauce is light, flavorful and slightly sweet, with chopped peanuts and plenty of noodles - perfection!

While it seems that most of their business is take-out, it's also pleasant to eat in the restaurant. It's warm and quiet there, and it's nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of Smith and Court Streets sometimes.

Teeda Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dessert at Dressler

On Friday I wrote about the delicious Appetizers and Entrees my family and I had at Dressler's in celebration of my recent birthday. Today I'm going to focus on the two desserts we had that night.

My sister always gets whatever the chocolate option is and at Dressler's it was a Chocolate Souffle Cake with Thai Ice Cream and Cocoa Wafer. This was incredible. Served warm, it was smooth, rich and melty chocolate goodness. Slightly bitter due to the use of dark chocolate, but clean and subtly sweet; it disappeared in a matter of minutes. The Thai Ice Cream was interesting/weird though - it was kind of dry tasting, and bitter as well. It did offer a nice balance to the sweetness of the Souffle Cake, but was not something I'd enjoy on it's own.

We also ordered the Warm Pumpkin Brioche Pudding, one of the special desserts on the menu that night. This too was lovely - warm, custardy and dense, and served with Vanilla Ice Cream with Hazelnuts. It was a perfect seasonal treat, and was comforting on the chilly rainy night.

Eating at Dressler's is a wonderful, slightly lavish experience, and definitely worth the trip.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Meat & Fish at Dressler's

It was my birthday recently, and my parents took me to Dressler (149 Broadway, 718-384-6343) for dinner to celebrate. It was my first time there, but I had heard such good things, I was looking forward to it. Everything I had heard was true - our experience was SO nice, in every way. The service was attentive but unobtrusive, the food was delicious and carefully prepared and the room was grand yet warm, with high ceilings, pretty iron work around the wall lighting and incredibly ornate chandeliers in the dining room. We were seated at a booth and settled in for our meal. We ordered so many dishes, I'm going to write about appetizers and entrees today and finish with desserts on Monday...stay tuned!

My mom and I shared a plate of 6 oysters, three of each variety (Wellfleet and Bluepoint). The Wellfleet had a fuller flavor than the Bluepoint, brinier and saltier with a slight metallic taste, but both were fresh and delicious, especially with the horseradish and onion sauce that accompanied them. Such a treat!

We also shared a Smoked Trout appetizer that came wrapped in crepes. This was unbelievably flavorful yet delicate at the same time. The fish was smoky, almost meaty, and came dressed in a perfectly creamy, tangy sauce. This was then topped with a small salad of Frisee, micro greens and slices of Granny Smith apple which provided a nice tartness to balance everything out.

My step-father got the Artichoke Hearts Salad with canneloni beans and arugula. This too had a slightly smoky flavor and was dressed in the same lemony creamy sauce, with big slices of shaved Parmesan cheese on top. It was pretty incredible.

He also ordered the Baby Beet and Citrus Salad, with roasted tomato tart, chevrot and micro greens. The citrus paired well with the earthiness of the beets, and the goat cheese rounded it out with a little tang.

Our entrees were even better than the appetizers though. My boyfriend got what I thought was the best item on the menu - The Cider Braised Pork Shank with cabbage, creamy spaetzle and whole grain mustard. Oh man was this good! The cider gave it a touch of sweetness and made it the most tender pork I've ever had, practically melting off the bone. The spaetzle was great and went nicely with the sharp taste of the mustard.

My mom ordered the Day Boat Cod with Chard, Salsify, Butternut Squash, Parsnip & Brussel Sprouts. The mild, flaky fish went nicely with the flavors of the vegetables which were earthy, mellow and slightly sweet.

I got the Braised Short Rib & Grilled Hanger Steak with Horseradish Whipped Potato, Onion Jam, Spinach & Bordelaise. The rib was amazing; wonderfully tender and rich, but the steak was ever so slightly tough. Still tasty, but next to the rib, uninteresting.

I really liked it here and will definitely go back - I've been thinking about those ribs!!! Check back on Monday when I'll write about our desserts.

Dressler on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vietnamese Sandwiches from Hanco

The Banh Mi craze of the last few years is one of my new favorite food trends. I love these little delectable treats, stuffed with whatever your heart desires - shredded chicken, pork, sardines or Tofu, pickled veggies and sauce.

We placed an order from Hanco's (85 Bergen St., between Smith and Hoyt Streets, 718-858-6818) and within half an hour our meal arrived. We started with an appetizer of Garden Rolls (lettuce, cucumber, mint, Chinese chives and rice vermicelli wrapped in rice paper) which come with a yummy peanutty sauce. They're light and fresh and the lettuce provides a lovely crunch. Delish!

My favorite is the Tofu Sandwich, the only totally vegetarian option on the menu as far as sandwiches go. It's SO good with pickled veggies, creamy chunks of Tofu and a savory sauce on a flaky French baguette. Every bite is enjoyable.

My boyfriend chose the Shredded Chicken Sandwich, with the same pickled veggies as well as "fresh boiled chicken". The chicken was nice and moist, if a bit bland, but the veggies and sauce make up for any missing flavor. You can get these little babies either not spicy at all, mild, medium or hot. I'm fairly sensitive to food spiciness, so I stick with the mild which has an ever so subtle burn to it.

To wash this all down we got an Almond Bubble Tea. I have a sort of love-hate feeling towards these tapioca pearl-laden drinks. I love anything Almond flavored and this milky drink is scrumptious, but I only eat a few of those 'bubbles'. Too many and I start to feel ill. That's why it's perfect to share.

Yay Hanco's!

Hanco's on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 3, 2008

Burgers & Pasta at Cafe LuLuc

I recently had dinner with some friends at Cafe LuLuc (214 Smith Street, between Butler and Baltic Streets, 718-625-3815) for the first time in a long while. I usually only go there for Brunch because of their amazing pancakes and salads, but we wanted an easy, not too pricey meal at a place central to all our apartments and settled on LuLuc.

There were three orders of burgers (I know, how annoying is that?), and I think everyone was disappointed. The buns were "budget" and fell apart. The meat was dry and fell apart too, and the fries were not the usual thin salty treats they normally are. They were thicker and greasier and ended up being left on the plate. Oh well. The pickles were good though, and the cheese was plentiful and perfectly melty.

I got the Seafood Fettucine with slices of calamari, mussels in the shell and lots of huge slices of garlic. Topped with basil in a creamy tomato-y sauce it was hearty and satisfying but not amazing. It needed something, some special flavor. Maybe sun-dried tomatoes or capers would have given it a little zing. As it was it was a bit plain.

I don't think I'll be rushing back for dinner, but like I said, it's the pancakes that are the house special.