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celebrating the glories of eating in brooklyn. from the gut.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lodge and Castro's Offer Dining Contrasts

Following up on a recommendation in New York Magazine's article about South Williamsburg, I ventured out to Lodge Saturday night. I was doing housework until 11pm. Lodge is open until 2am, 7 nights a week. Perfect I thought.

Not so fast.

The magazine said Lodge will make you feel like you're at a cabin in the Adirondacks, but upon entering the place, it immediately felt more sleek than cozy, more New York than Killington. With stone walls and cool antler pendant lights, there were definitely hints of a ski lodge in the decor, but to me the restaurant was suffering an identity crisis. Does it really want to be a lodge or an ironic interpretation of one? Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Led Zeppelin played over the speakers. Robert Plant seemingly screaming in your ear while trying to eat isn't that much fun. Well, for some it might be. The tables are practically on top of each other.

While prices ($10-15 for an entree) are reasonable, the food also suffers from an identity crisis. Mostly down home American with parts Mediterranean and Asian, what I ate didn't inspire. The best part of the meal was the special cheese plate consisting of an aged Gouda, goat cheese and a third that I can't remember the name of (sorry!) with slices of granny smith apple and seasoned walnuts. The insipid grilled trout was served with some sort of equally lifeless red pepper puree and asparagus. My dinner companion had the special seafood stew which tasted of frozen fish and mushy vegetables.

Then came dessert. We ordered the flourless chocolate cake which was dried out and stale. We didn't eat it and the waitress never asked why. When the bill came, I wondered why we should have to pay for something that simply wasn't good? Afterall, you can return a shirt if you don't like it.

My impression of Lodge is that it aims for a formula and lacks passion.

On Sunday, I ate lunch at Castro's, a small, authentic Mexican restaurant on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill. What a contrast.

Castro's is my favorite Mexican restaurant in the borough. The tacos are excellent as is the mole sauce and pollo pepian. I had the carnitas en salsa verde, a roasted pork in "green" sauce. The grease of the meat combined with the green sauce to create a mouthwatering dish. Throw in a few Negra Modello's and I'm good to go.

Lodge is located at 318 Grand St at Havemeyer 718-486-9400. Castro's is located at 511 Myrtle Avenue 718-398-1459.

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