Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dinner at Locanda Vini e Olli

I have a new favorite restaurant. It's Locanda Vini e Olli at 129 Gates Ave., at the corner of Cambridge Pl. (718-622-9202), in the space formerly occupied by the old Lewis Drug Store. Much of the drugstore-vibe has been preserved, with glass shelves showcasing ancient remedies, beautiful wooden cupboards and built-in turn-of-the-century apothecary drawers. It's a lovely little spot - cozy and festive all at once, with friendly staff who make you feel at home right away. And then there's the food. It's divine. Seriously. It's excellent and delicious and made from the highest quality ingredients. Their meats are free-range & sustainably grown and even their take-out bags are 100% recyclable.

We started out with the Charcuterie Della Terra plate for the table (with Venison Prosciutto, Duck & Prune Pate & Cacciatorini, all served with delicious jams and preserves), and an assortment of their Crostini. Everything was incredibly flavorful, creatively & well-paired and delicious. It was great to get all of this and share it among four people.

I chose to get the special Ravioli, house-made, fresh & delicate. Covered in butter & cheese and stuffed with escarole & pine nuts. Fantastic.

My husband got a pasta dish with a seafood mix on top. It's not on their regular menu, and I can't remember the name exactly, but it was a unique combination and had a strong, savory flavor. Also wonderful.

My brother-in-law ordered the Grilled Duck Breast with chick peas. The duck was incredibly tender, so there was no need for a knife to cut through it. But it was the chick peas that really stood out. I don't know what they did to them, but I've never tasted anything so good in my life. We even contemplated getting a side of the chick peas but realized we were too full.

I highly recommend heading here as soon as possible if you haven't yet been. It's one of the best places around and is good for family outings, dates, hanging out with friends, whatever. I can't wait to go back.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Giveaway Winner!

OK, so there were fifty of you who threw their names into the ring for this one. An incredible rate of participation, I think. So I put everyone's names into a hat and randomly picked two winners. Congratulations to Millionsuns and BrooklynSourpuss! Please email me and I'll forward your info to the publishers who will send you the books directly. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Giveaway!!!

The Book Giveaway contest is officially over! It's going to take a bit of time to figure out the winners, so I'll post on Monday morning who won, so stay tuned. Thanks to everyone who entered! Have a great weekend!

Hey! I've got TWO copies of The New Brooklyn Cookbook to give away to two lucky readers. This delicious book lists recipes from 31 of the best Brooklyn restaurants that have contributed to the amazing dining experience that is happening in Brooklyn right now.

Comment on this post and tell me what your favorite Brooklyn restaurant is. I'll pick two winners randomly from all the entries. Deadline for posting is 6pm Friday, October 15th. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dinner at Karloff

Yay! 160 Followers! Thank you! My goal is to get to 200. Do you think it can happen? I think so, with your help. Spread the word!

A friend and I checked out the new Karloff (254 Court Street, between Kane & Degraw, no phone) recently, and had a really good meal and a really nice time there. It's very casual, kind of open-space barn, country-kitchen feeling, with a counter where you can place orders to go and get ice cream, and lots of blond wood furniture and floor planks. The menu is written on a big chalkboard in front, where there's also a big communal table that seats about 10. There is table service, and our servers were super friendly and halpful when consulted about what was being offered that night. They were out of the pierogis (D'oh!) but that just encouraged us to branch out and try some things we might not have otherwise.

We started with the Beet & Cabbage Salad with walnuts, dill, carrots, cauliflower and red onions. It was fabulous. So many great flavors and textures, bursting with freshness and crunch. I loved it!

We then shared two entrees. We ordered the Chicken Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and found it to be lovely. It was moist, if a bit on the mellow side flavor-wise, and had a good texture - not dense or rubbery at all. The potatoes were ok - again, they needed more butter and salt, but they were passable.

We also got the Beef Stew with Barley which was also very good. Nice, big chunks of meat in a savory tomato-based sauce, with carrots and green beans as well. The barley made for a great combination - slightly nutty and earthy, and hearty. Good for a cold, winter night.

We also got desert. I know, so decadent! We got the Apple & Lemon Blini, a la mode. These were excellent! There were small pieces of lemon rind dotting the entire dish, which provided an interesting balance to the sweet apples. The crepe-y dough was delicate and the ice cream was creamy and had a real vanilla flavor that is sometimes hard to come by.

I think that once Karloff works out the few kinks, they'll be a great addition to neighborhood dining. It's nice to have something different, instead of yet another Thai or Sushi or American Bistro to choose from. Go Karloff!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Brunch at Lilla Cafe

****UPDATE - Lilla Cafe has Closed. 6/3/15****

More Brunch! There are a ton of new places all of a sudden, and I want to check them all out! Last weekend I went to Lilla Cafe (126 Union St., between Hicks St. and Columbia St., 718-855-5700) with a friend and had a really lovely experience. We sat in the backyard, next to a pretty little garden and at one point, the chef came out to cut some fresh herbs! They got lots of points for that! We ordered coffee and juice and relaxed in the breeze.

We started out with the Panzanella Salad, with chunks of bread, cucumber, tomato, roasted red pepper, calamata olives, red onions and capers in a balsamic dressing. It was delicious, with the Mediterranean flavors mingling, the briny capers bursting through and the bread making it dense and substantial. Quite good.

I went with the Egg Sandwich on Foccacia, with cheese and bacon and a small side salad. This was also really good. The bread wasn't too "bread-y" but rather nicely herbed and toasted. The portions were well balanced and made for a satisfying dish.

My friend ordered the Huevos Rancheros with refried beans and spicy tomatoes. She said it was fairly spicy and very tasty, although it could have used a little sprig of something green, or perhaps some avocado for some color. The eggs were well poached too, no runny whites at all. In addition to the beans was a side of cheesy grits. Always a plus!

All in all it was a great experience. Our server was attentive but not intrusive and the menu had a number of enticing options. The menu changes every eight weeks or so, and I'm eager to go back and try their dinner. I hope they make it - that spot has had such bad luck!