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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Village Voice Travels to Pakistani Restaurant, Skyway

Continuing on the theme of Middle Eastern diners in Brooklyn:

Even though stories still circulate about a dwindling Pakistani presence in the city, and even though Coney Island Avenue's Little Lahore seems to be shriveling, Pakistani restaurants have been popping up elsewhere around Brooklyn, offering cheap meals of rice, roasted meat, vegetable curries, and smoking-hot flatbreads.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More Than Bocce Ball at Union Hall

I've been reading a lot about Union Hall since it recently opened in Park Slope. Based on the reviews, there seemed to be too much going on, perhaps unfocused, to really appeal to me. Looking for a place to eat after my shift at the Co-op (it's down the street), I literally stumbled upon Union Hall. From across the street I thought "Well that place looks cozy."

Once inside, any reservations I had about the place dissipated. Overall, Union Hall is successfully executed. The finishes are high quality and the place is comfortable. Although the most unique features are the two bocce ball "lanes," the rest of the space is decorated as a grand, yet comfortable library you could imagine in one of the brownstone mansions nearby. Victorian sofas add to the feeling of warmth and for me the fireplace in the winter is the biggest attraction.

Although the beer selection is fairly standard, some draft standouts are Six Points Brownstone ale (from Red Hook), Boddingtons and Lagunitas India Pale Ale, not to mention $3.00 cans of PBR and Schlitz. The food menu is eclectic with much of the food infused by beer or liquor. Burgers are always a good benchmark for pub grub. Union Hall's burgers come as three small, not mini, burgers known as the "Triple Threat." They were quite delicious. The patties themselves are sirloin beef mixed with scallions, smoked bacon and Guinness. Each is served with its own topping: Vermont cheddar, barbequed jalapenos and mushrooms. I liked each one. The only downside was that the burgers were served with chips, not fries. For $11.00 they ought to throw some fries on the plate.

According to the bartender, the flatbread with herbed cream cheese and duck confit, as well as the saga blue cheese balls coated in Apple Cinnamon Cheerios of all things are knockouts. I'll save those for winter by the fireplace.

Union Hall is located at 702 Union Street, 718-638-4400.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Farm Flourishes Off Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights

From the Queens Ledger:

The other remarkable thing about this particular garden is that it sits right above a subway station, which is titled after a distinct, but nearby garden: it's the Brooklyn Botanical Garden stop on the shuttle train which connects Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

According to the article the farm grows "peas, corn, bush beans, broccoli, grapes, collard greens, cabbage, beets, sunflowers, peppers (bell and hot), okra, mint, sunflowers, carrots, basil, cilantro, thyme, butter beans, green onions, zucchini, squash, and strawberries."

Park Slope Pastries With Belgian Roots

From the New York Times:

Hubert Colson owns a pastry shop in Mons, Belgium. Yonatan Israel, a native of Paris, is a filmmaker in New York. Together they have opened Pâtisserie Colson, a trim little pastry shop and cafe at 374 Ninth Street (Sixth Avenue), Park Slope, Brooklyn; (718) 965-6400. Mr. Israel was able to spend some time in Mons learning how to run a bakery because his father is a business partner of Mr. Colson’s. Mr. Israel hired Michelle Doll-Olson to do the baking, using some of Mr. Colson’s recipes: pains au chocolat ($2 each); financiers, some topped with dark chocolate (75 cents and $1.50); chocolate mousse ($3.50); an almond-scented Belgian rice pudding tart ($3.50); and a folded brioche with raisins or chocolate ($2.50). Homemade ice cream and waffles are also served, along with sandwiches, salads and cheese plates, and beer and wine.

Hidden Kitchens

Hidden Kitchens is a wonderful podcast produced by the Kitchen Sisters for NPR. They travel around the country telling the previously untold stories of regular folks and their kitchens. Their latest show is about a woman name Georgia Gilmore in Montgomery, Alabama who operated a restaurant in her home and helped fuel the civil rights movement. It's quite inspirational. The sounds and people they interview really take you back to the time and place.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New York Times Reviews Farm on Adderley

For a place run by first-time restaurateurs, the Farm on Adderley is getting a lot of things right in the dining room. It is comfortable, airy and spacious, with plenty of room between tables. Though the décor is more city clean than country cluttered, there are warm touches throughout, like the antique oil lamps among the wine bottles and the mix-and-match vintage chairs that appoint the tables. And when the weather is cooler the charming backyard garden will be far more welcoming.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sanaa, New Yemeni Spot on Atlantic Avenue

From the Village Voice:

Sanaa aims to function as the Middle Eastern diner of choice on this stretch of Atlantic, competing with older Lebanese and Syrian establishments. Thus, the menu features salads, bread dips, shish kebabs, and vegetarian entrées galore, in addition to the Yemeni stuff. There are what seem to be inventions, too.

Friday, August 04, 2006

For a Taste of the Beach Head to Williamsburg's Surf Bar

Maybe this isn't your weekend for the beach house on Fire Island? Don't despair. Surf Bar will make you feel like you're in a tropical paradise replete with sandy floors, beach kitsch and an expansive garden deck with tiki lights. A sun-bleached surfer in Jams wouldn't be out of place.

Specializing in an eclectic menu of seafood, I was pleasantly surprised by the freshness, prices and taste in the no frills food. Calamari, easily overcooked, was nice and tender in the salad of mixed greens. I also tried the seafood gumbo where plump shrimp, scallops and other fish were served on a skewer in a chunky tomato sauce, accompanied by fried corn meal. The fried yucca and sweet potato fries made tasty side dishes while one of my dining companions proclaimed that his whole sea bass done "Costa Rican" style may have been the best he's had. The peel and eat jumbo shrimp in Old Bay seasoning was a treat as well. For dessert we tried the "ridiculously" (the waitress's words) chocolate ice cream which tasted just normal to me.

Overall Surf Bar is a fun, laid back place. For the summer time it's perfect and in the winter I can see it coming in handy to fight off the February blues.

Surf Bar is located at 139 N. 6th St., (718) 302-4441

Thursday, August 03, 2006

City Search Best of New York

City Search has come out with its Best of New York guide. Taking a glance at the restaurant section, I am surprised that DiFara's didn't even make the top 10 in the pizza category and that Fornino came in first. Brooklyn pizzerias make up 4 of the top 10. (Side note: I used to love Sal & Carmine's when I lived on the Upper West Side.)

The Best Outter Borough restaurant honors goes to Lil' Bistro 33 in Queens, while the editorial winner was Applewood. Brooklyn dominates the category taking home 7 of the top 9. Applewood, Stone Park Cafe and the Grocery are expected winners while Dressler and Fanny perhaps less so.

Brooklyn also makes a respectable showing in the Best Breakfast category with Egg being the editorial winner and Tom's Restaurant and Blue Sky Bakery comprising 2 of the top 10.

I'm glad to see Cafe Steinhof came in second in the Cheap Eats category. Must be the 5-buck goulasch on Monday nights. And I never realized how romantic Brooklyn is with St. Helen, Locanda Vini & Olii and Crave making up 3 of the top 10 in the Best Date cateogory.

Other important categories where Brooklyn spots won: Best Hamburger, Best Dessert, Best Italian Food, Best French Food and Best Late Night.

For more of the winners, here's the full list.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Jacques Torres Now Does Ice Cream

From the New York Times:

Jacques Torres, the chocolatier, is now making ice cream and selling it in the form of sandwiches layered with homemade chocolate-chip cookies ($5), in chocolate-dipped cones ($4) and in triple-scoop sundaes ($6), with a choice of sauces and set into bowls of dark chocolate, including an oval one that looks like a cacao pod.

Heaven in Dumbo.