Mar 27

Ramen Setagaya

Why Come Here? Quick bowl of very good ramen

You wouldn’t expect much from a ramen shop located on a strip of St. Mark’s Place known more for bongs than broth. And when you peer through one of the large windows, your confidence is unlikely to increase. The painted concrete walls have little more than a few Japanese characters and posters covering them (grab a table by the window if you can). All of the seating is communal with a counter wrapping around three walls and a big table in the middle. Setagaya is not a great place for groups or for lingering. But if you’re looking to get your ramen fix on quick, it will do the trick quite nicely.

Ramen Setagaya offers your standard ramen shop appetizers (gyoza, buns, etc.) and ramen in pork, chicken and vegetarian broths. If you come at lunch, they’ll slash a full $1.05 off your bowl. The most popular ramen here is the spicy miso (in a pork broth), which is what I ordered. It arrived at my spot in about five minutes. My thoughts are below:

Ramen Setagaya, East Village, NYCSpicy Miso Ramen 2.5/4 stars I really enjoyed the spicy miso broth which was salty with a good kick and strong pork flavor. The noodles were thick and chewy, probably the chewiest I’ve had (but in a good way). The pork was above average – a little tough but much better than the dried up strips you sometimes find at this price point ($12). The other fix’ins of corn, cabbage, bamboo shoots and egg left something to be desired. Given how much I enjoyed the broth, I think this could be three stars with a little sprucing.

Ramen Setagaya
34 1/2 St Marks Place (2nd & 3rd Aves)
New York, NY
Ramen Setagaya on Urbanspoon
Ramen Setagaya

Posted in East Village, Japanese, Ramen | Leave a comment
Mar 24

Cosme

Why Come Here? Excellent New American style takes on Mexican cuisine

Right amount for 2? 4 dishes

Cosme Mexican Dining Room NYC

Dining Room (Credit: Cosme)

As a big fan of the food of Mexico, let’s just say I excited to hear Enrique Olvera of Mexico City’s Pujol (the 20th ranked restaurant in the world) was opening a restaurant in New York. It’s been jam packed since opening in November but I was able to get in late on a Friday night. While this one may not make a top 20 restaurants of the world list, but it’s still a great addition to the New York dining scene.

Step inside Cosme and it feels a bit like the Battlestar Galactica with soaring black ceilings and gray walls in a surprisingly large space. Fortunately there are some flowers and little cactuses on the tables to remind you this is Earth and we do have colors here. It’s also lively enough to not make sitting in this gigantic space awkward and after a couple of their fantastic tequila cocktails you wouldn’t care if it were a spaceship anyway.

The food takes you on a journey of its own as the dishes reach far beyond their Mexican roots. There is no guacamole or tacos on the menu (though you do get to make your own with some excellent homemade tortillas). The most comparable restaurant in New York is Empellon Cocina, but Cosme delves further into the New American realm with some strong nods to Japanese and Italian. Items like uni tostada, burrata in salsa verde and crispy octopus mole give you some idea of the fusion happening here. Prices are also very New American with at least 2 $20+ dishes needed to make a meal for most people. While it’s not the game changing restaurant Pujol might be, it’s still a very unique and enjoyable meal. My thoughts on what I had are below:

 

Cosme, Mexican, Flatiron NYCSliced Raw Hamachi (3/4 stars) Covered in fermented serranos and fish sauce this looks more like something that would come out at an upscale Japanese restaurant. Which makes it a perfect representation of what Olvera is doing here. The fish is a little spicy and sour and makes a great start to the meal.

Cosme, Mexican, Flatiron NYCCobia al Pastor 2.5/4 stars A play on the classic al pastor with whitefish replacing the traditional roast pork and a pineapple puree joining the party. Bonus: you get to wrap it all into a taco using their “single origin” corn tortillas.

 

Cosme, Flatiron, Mexican, NYCBurrata 2.5/4 stars Mexico meets Italy in this one with a perfectly fresh, moist hunk of burrata sitting in a pool of thick salsa verde. How these two took so long to get together I’ll never understand.

Duck carnitas , onions , radishes, salsa verdeDuck Carnitas (3.5/4 stars) It says it’s for two although you could easily split it among four. The slow roasted half-duck has a layer crispy skin protecting the tender meat inside. It comes covered in onions, radishes and cilantro with both habanero and salsa verde. You then get to roll all this into your own taco. It might be more food than you need, but I have faith you’ll find a way to get it down.

dessert, Cosme, Mexican NYCHusk Meringue with Corn Mousse (3.5/4 stars) Normally with so many tantalizing fusion options I would skip on dessert. But no matter how full you are, don’t do it. First off, you get the enjoyment of smashing into the meringue shell. Once inside you find a creamy, smokey dessert that’s slightly sweet and unlike anything I’ve ever tried.

Cosme
35 E 21st Street (5th Ave & B’way)
New York, NY
Cosme on Urbanspoon

Cosme

Posted in Flatiron, Mexican, New American | Leave a comment
Mar 17

Eating in India

As close as you'll get to beef here

As close as you’ll get to beef here

For most people, eating in India conjures images of fragrant curries and tandoori breads. But it also brings on fears of “Delhi Belly” due to let’s say “different” hygiene standards as well as the challenges of navigating unfamiliar menus. After a recent jaunt to the subcontinent, I’m ready to share some tips to help make eating out in India an easy and enjoyable experience. Here’s what you need to know:

First off, India is a vegetarian’s paradise. As much as 40% of the population refrains from meat so you can expect at least half (if not all) the menu dedicated to veggie delights. There’s plenty of potatoes, carrots, peas, spinach, onions and cheese in fried, curry and tandoori oven cooked forms.

For meat lovers, options are a bit more limited. Firstly, cows and pigs are considered holy and rarely appear on menus (in the streets is a different matter…) If meat is on offer, it’s typically chicken or lamb. However, these are also probably the most common source of Delhi Belly. So go with your gut (while it’s in tact) to determine whether the place seems sanitary. I ended up eating vegetarian about 90% of the time with minimal grumblings from my inner carnivore.

Street food is the other potential cause for concern. Basically my rules are: stick to places that look busy and only order food cooked in front of you (really no different than for halal carts in New York). If you follow these practices, you’ll likely be safe eating off the streets anywhere in the world.

On to the food. Below are some of my favorite dishes from the trip should you need a little inspiration on what to order:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaag (or Palak) Paneer A healthier alternative to most curries, there’s generally less if any cream used as the base is primarily pureed spinach and onion. The addition of paneer (a soft, mild Indian cheese) adds a nice texture. And of course cheese makes everything better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChilli (or Chilly) Paneer  A Chinese influenced dish that’s served basically fried cheese, onions and peppers in a sauce similar to Chinese Garlic Sauce. It’s a nice alternative when you get tired of curry but don’t want to chance the Indian “interpretation” of chicken alfredo.

Gatta CurryGatta Curry A specialty of Rajasthan in Northwest India, gatta are balls of chickpea flour similar to gnocci, shown here in a cashew and tomato based curry. I’ve yet to see this in America so be sure to give it a try when you’re over there.

Vegetarian plate IndiaAbove are a few other solid veggie options : aloo dum (potato fry), mixed vegetable curry and dal (soupy lentils) with rice and chapati bread (similar to naan but without butter or yeast).

ThaliThali For those who can’t decide, there’s thali. Think of it as a mini tasting menu. These usually come with bread, rice, at least two to three types of curry, yogurt and a dessert.

Chicken Kadai (or Karahi) When I did opt for meat, this was my staple (yet I somehow managed to end up without a photo). It comes in a cashew nut gravy and is one of the few curries served with bell peppers. Topping it with cilantro ensured I’d be ordering it again.

Masala Chai You’ll find this all over India and if you’re a fan of what we call chai (which just means “tea” in India), you’re in for a treat. Unlike in America where spice packets are commonly used, here they do it the old fashioned way: freshly grinding the spices (cardamom, ginger and pepper). It’s served with a generous helping of milk and sugar.

Lassis

Lassis are basically the Indian milkshake combining salty yogurt with a variety of fruits. At many restaurants I found the sour-salty yogurt over powering and shied away. However, there were two places you must get lassis if you’re in the respective city:

JapiurLassiwalla in Jaipur prepares a creamier lassi without the salty sour flavor. It’s more like really good milk shake, but lighter thanks to the use of yogurt. Mine was mango and came in this photogenic clay cup.

Varanasi India

Lassis and Blue Lassi VaranasiBlue Lassi in Varanasi not only rhymes but is considered by many the top lassi shop in India. The lassis here are more parfait style with fresh fruit chopped and put on top of a bowl of yogurt. For those looking to take their yogurt to new “highs” there are special versions available.

Sweets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn nearly every city you’ll find cases filled with delectable white sweets. They’re heavy on both the sugar and cream which gives them sort of a tres leches flavor. Some are mixed with coconut or chocolate. The shiny stuff in the top photo is actually edible silver. Unfortunately due to the milk content they need to be eaten within 24 hours so you won’t get to take any home. Not that they would last that long anyway.

Old Delhi Walking Tour with MJH Tourism

I highly recommend this tour for anyone with some time in Delhi. While it isn’t entirely food related, you do eat some great food while seeing things and meeting people you never would on your own. You can get more details and book it here.

We started off with breakfast of a chana masala (spiced chickpeas) with poori. Think of Poori as an edible bread balloon. It’s a fried Indian bread that inflates with air when cooked which you then squash and rip up to eat. As you can see, I got to make my own.

Indian spinach cheeseOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe tour also included (among other things) a walk through the spice market at Khari Baoli where you can pick up all you Indian spice needs on the cheap. We ended at our guide Dhruv’s beautifully restored haveli (old mansion) where his wife prepared the meal for us below. Indian home cooked meals vary quite a bit from what you find at restaurants. Depending on how charming you are, you probably won’t have too many opportunities to get one on your trip (this was my only one). Which is yet another reason I recommend this tour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Mar 06

Brucie

Why Come Here? Interesting Northern Italian cuisine in a cozy setting

Right Amount for 2? One item from each section or 2 starters, 2 pastas

There is something about a big Italian meal with friends that no other type of meal can ever seem to match. Sharing courses of pastas, antipastas and meats with a good bottle of sangiovese is simply one of life’s greatest pleasures. Any time I move to new neighborhood figuring out where I’ll have such a meal is a top priority. If you live around Cobble Hill, Brucie should be that place for you.

When you enter the partially subterranean space, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a home in the Italian countryside. Which is exactly where you want to be for such a meal. There are two rooms featuring rustic wall paper, wooden tables and chairs and walls stocked with books and pantry items. The cooking also has a down home feel with a small number of offerings that changes based on available ingredients. In typical Italian format, it’s divided into numerous course with a few appetizers, a pasta course and some large shared meat options. Naturally you’ll want to get in on all them. Here’s what we had on a recent Saturday night:

Brucie, Italian, Cobble HillBread & Butter (2/4 stars) I refuse to give up the notion that bread should be free, but if you’re going to pay a thick crusty slice with homemade lemon butter certainly won’t make you feel slighted.

Caesar Salad (Not Tried) I didn’t try this one but it got rave reviews from others at the table so I’m mentioning it. It bucks Caesar tradition by coming out shredded and includes beets and radish.

Brucie, Italian, Cobble HillMeatballs (2/4 stars) Cooked to tender perfection and served in a bath of tangy marinara.

Brucie, Italian, Cobble HillTagliatelle w/ Tomato Butter (2/4 stars) I saw this written up all over as a must try dish with brussels sprouts and burrata. While I enjoyed the buttery goodness of the sauce, not having those two in my pasta did leave something to be desired.

Brucie, Italian, Cobble HillPaparadelle w/ Lamb Ragu 2.5/4 stars This was described as their take on a Rreuben with a Russian dressing like sauce, rye pasta and sauerkrat. I’ll take this bed of homemade papradelle over bread in my Reuben any day.

Brucie, Italian, Cobble HillChicken alla Brucie (3/4 stars) The signature dish lived up to it’s billing. It’s a whole chicken, cooked under a brick which makes the skin amazingly crisp while keep the meat moist. Then there’s the yogurt sauce and sour sweet potatoes that keep every bite interesting. Bring a friend (or 3) and shell out the $50.

Brucie
234 Court Street (Baltic & Kane Sts)
Brooklyn, NY
Brucie on Urbanspoon
Brucie

Posted in Boreum/Cobble Hill, Caroll Gardens/Red Hook, Italian | Leave a comment
Feb 02

The Gorbals

Why Come Here? Adventurous eating, shopping for hipster clothes makes you hungry

Right Amount for 2? 4-5 dishes

To reach The Gorbals, you have to climb the all concrete back stairway to the third floor of an Urban Outfitters store. The jury is still out on whether this makes the Gorbals a cool secret haunt or one that’s just annoying to get to. Maybe it rubbed some people the wrong way as the early reviews were pretty mixed. After my recent visit I’m happy to say it seems to have found its footing.

Once you make it up the stairs, you find a restaurant with about the trendiness you would expect given the store its located within. The dimly lit dining area has an open kitchen, wooden tables and beams and frosted glass wall separating it from the shopping area. There’s apparently also a rooftop bar I didn’t make it up to on account of it being January.

The menu is about as unusual as the location. Expect to see things like Chicken Schnitzel with the claw still attached, falafel crusted sweatbreads and banh mi poutine. It’s divided up based on where the thing came from with sections like field, coops, stream and barn. Everything is small plates style so you get to share. I’m recommending it for an adventurous meal with friends or a date, particularly if you can’t wait to leave the store to show off your new graphic tee.

Here’s what we tried:

The Gorbals, WilliamsburgChewy Carrots (2/4 stars) Carrots are generally served crispy or mushy, but these guys have found an interesting middle ground. The almonds add a little extra crunch and the butter a savory element. Although the thicker one was a little too chewy, this overall made an enjoyable starter.

cool ranch hummus, The Gorbals, WilliamsburgFalafel-Crusted Sweetbreads (3/4 stars) The well spiced falafel dusting the sweetbreads could hold its own with any fried chickpeas in town. But what drew me to this one was the inclusion of cool ranch hummus. As a kid I used to eat about a bag of those Doritos a day. The Gorbals has perfectly replicated the taste in a healthier hummus format. If you feel like I do, this is a must order.

The Gorbals, WilliamsburgBanh Mi Poutine 2.5/4 stars This is the dish that first caught my eye at The Gorbals and I had no regrets. A substantial order of fries is loaded up with pork, cilantro, spicy mayo and hoisin gravy. Yes, it’s as decadent as it sounds.

The Gorbals, WilliamsburgCeleriac 2.5/4 stars Celeriac is sort of a cross between celery and a turnip. I’d never heard of it but apparently people have been eating it for a while as the Wikipedia notes it was mentioned in the The Odyssey. If it’s good enough for Odysseus, it’s good enough for you. And it’s actually quite delicious served three ways (fried, roasted and pureed).

The Gorbals, WilliamsburgRabbit 2.5/4 stars Very tender leg of rabbit in a tantalizing smoke sauce. It’s also probably the only meat dish here that could be considered “light.”

The Gorbals
3rd Floor of Urban Outfitters
98 N 6th Street (Wythe & Berry Sts.)
Brooklyn, NY
The Gorbals on Urbanspoon

Posted in New American, Williamsburg | Leave a comment
Jan 22

Emily

Why Come Here? Amazing upscale pizza and NYC’s best burger

Right Amount for 2? Two pies, half a burger or appetizer

New York’s newest must try restaurant is in…Clinton Hill. Sounds more like the beginning of an SNL Stefon bit than a true statement. But that’s how strongly I feel about this place. Emily is doing everything right from it’s signature pizzas, to cocktails to quite possibly the best burger in NYC. While the waits are already stretching to an hour, expect them to become unbearable once the big publications figure out where this place is.

Emily is the lovechild of two college sweethearts whose romance began with a slew of pizza dates. The restaurant is named for co-owner Emily while Matt, an alum of Roberta’s and Pizza Moto, helms the kitchen. It’s located on what Manhattanites would call a desolate block although it’s probably considered fairly happening for the neighborhood. The space is a typical dimly lit, brick walled typical Brooklyn establishment that’s nothing special except for what’s coming out of the kitchen.

But what is coming out is truly amazing. Emily is one of those newfangled pizza places with crazy artisanal toppings. While this may make pizza purists may cringe, they can take solace in the fact that the Neapolitan pies are perfectly cooked with crusts hitting trifecta of perfectly crispy, chewy and charred. The pies are divided into four color coded sections: red, white, pink and green. While the red and white are what you expect, the pink come topped with vodka sauce while the green is the first known use of tomatillo sauce on pizza. We tried four pies and I’m happy to say all their topping combinations worked very well. There are also salads, pastas and a burger everyone must eat at least once in their life.

best pizza brooklyn, clinton hill, crown heights, prospect heightsThe Colony (3.5/4 stars) A classic red pie with pepperoni, this guy gets elevated to the next level with the tantalizing addition of spicy (pickled chilis) and sweet (honey) elements. For the sake of my pants, I’m glad it’s located in Clinton Hill.

 

best pizza brooklyn, clinton hill, crown heights, prospect heightsThe Matt (3/4 stars) It’s a secret off-the-menu pie named for the Chef that also refused to photograph well, so you know it’s gonna be awesome. While I don’t have a full list of ingredients, it’s basically a white pie cooked “well done” with a thick layer of cheese and mushrooms and globs of tomato sauce on top.

 

best pizza brooklyn, clinton hill, crown heights, prospect heightsThe Uncle Ray 2.5/4 stars While this white is covered in 4 types of cheese, it’s the dollops of ricotta that really jump out at you. Ham and sichuan oil add a little smoke and spicy.

tomatillo pizza, clinton hill¡PXG! (2/4 stars) This comes from the “green” section and was ordered as much out of curiosity as anything else. It’s topped with tomatillo sauce, mozzarella, cilantro and ‘nduja (similar to chorizo). While this may sound weird and probably won’t be your favorite, the flavors actually worked together surprisingly well. Give it a try for something different.

best burger nyc, clinton hill, brooklyn, emilyEmmy Burger (4/4 stars) Normally the last thing you need to cap off a meal of pizza is more meat, bread and cheese but this is no ordinary burger. In fact after years of searching, I’m ready to proclaim it my favorite in NYC. The juicy, medium rare dry aged beef has an incredible meaty taste. Topped with a sharp 4 year aged Grafton Cheddar with a spicy Emmy Sauce on a pretzel bun, it’s all I’ve thought about since eating it.

Emily
919 Fulton Street (Waverly & Clinton Aves)
Brooklyn, NY
Emily on Urbanspoon
Emily

Posted in burger, Clinton Hill, Pizza | Leave a comment
Jan 15

Le Village

Note: I was invited as a guest of the establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review and opinions expressed are my own.

Le Village East VillageWhy Come Here? Modern and classic French cuisine for both vegan & carnivores, BYOB

I remember trying to plan dinners with a vegetarian friend a few years back. He would always claim he could make a meal anywhere that wasn’t French. That was probably a bit of an exaggeration (come on steakhouses!?), but French cuisine has long been a bane for vegetarians or just those looking for a lighter meal. Enter Le Village. Chef/owner Didier Pawlicki (Taureau and La Sirène) has created a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free friendly French menu while keeping enough carnivorous classics to ensure everyone can go home happy. And in case that’s not enough, it’s also BYOB!

The restaurant occupies a small space on restaurant stacked 7th street that’s way too easy to miss. Find it and you’re greeted with something that combines East Village trendy with Paris café. Green butcher block tables are surrounded by exposed brick walls with photos of East Village life and a neon lit cutout of the Manhattan skyline. It’s a cool yet cozy place that entices you to linger for a while.

One thing I appreciated was that classic dishes were tweaked for lighter consumption. A rich cassoulet substitutes smoked portabello and beans for pork and bacon. The carpaccio is made of thinly sliced beets. While over half the menu is vegetarian and gluten free, you’ve still got your foie gras, Coq au Vin and burger when you want something heftier. Best of all, most entrees come in under $20. All this makes Le Village a perfect neighborhood spot for a casual date or group of friends with different tastes. I’m adding it to my Go To list and you should too.

I was here for a press dinner had the opportunity to taste a lot of the menu. Photos are actual portion sizes. My thoughts are below:

le village, east villageSoupe a l’Oignon (3/4 stars) I’m a sucker for a good French onion soup and this might be the best I’ve had. There’s minimal broth, allowing you to focus on the delicious Swiss croutons. I can’t imagine starting my meal without it.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east villageSauteed Brussels Sprouts 2.5/4 stars Brussels sprouts have been hot for a while now, but this is the first time I’ve seen them paired with berries. I was skeptical at first, but the sweetness turned out to be the perfect foil to the bitter brussels.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east villageBeet Carpaccio Salad 2.5/4 stars Beets are another vegetable that’s been popular in recent years and again Chef Didier manages to present it in a new way. The thin slicing allows the beets to be tender without getting mushy and I enjoyed the sweet-spicy pairing from the wine soaked rasins and horseradish.

 

le village, east village, frenchRoyan’s Ravioles a la Crème (3/4 stars) Truffles, little cheese stuffed ravioli and a “heavy” cream that’s not actually too heavy. This pasta comes as an appetizer and you’ll want to start with an order for the table.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east village, mac n cheeseGnocci Parisian au Gratin  2.5/4 stars Think of this as the French mac & cheese. Fluffy gnocci replaces the mac and it’s smothered in some strong French cheeses. If you’re looking for something rich in the French tradition, this is your dish.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east villageChoux-Fleur Roti 2.5/4 stars A massive head of roasted cauliflower over a bed of quinoa and a knockout red pepper coulis. This is a great light or vegan option.

 

le village, east village, french, veganCassoulet 2.5/4 stars Cassoulet is typically a rich a stew containing sausage or goose and pork skin. This is the vegan version but you don’t miss the meat thanks to smokey portabellos and a hearty mix of beans. It’s something I’d like to eat a lot of this winter.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east villageCoq au Vin (3/4 stars) It’s not all vegan here. This stew pairs a chicken that’s marinated for over a week with bacon and some mushrooms for good measure. You’re sure to leave happy not hungry with this one.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east villageBanana Brulee (3/4 stars) Like something out of my perfect dessert dream, this is basically a cross between creme brulee and banana cream pie. You want it.

 

le village, vegetarian, french, east villageApple Tart 2.5/4 stars The French know their pastries and it shows in this flaky and delectable Apple Tart.

Le Village
127 East 7th Street (1st & Ave A)
New York, NY
Le Village on Urbanspoon
Le Village

Posted in East Village, French | Leave a comment
Jan 07

Delaware & Hudson

Delware & HudsonWhy Come Here? One of the best value and most approachable tasting menus in NYC

Just looking at Delaware & Hudson, there’s little that entices you to dine there. It occupies a sliver of a space on a Williamsburg side street with an entry way that’s basically just a place to hang your coat. Even knowing where I was going, I stared at it for a minute wondering what it was before realizing I had reached my destination. And the fact that their cuisine is described as “regional food from Baltimore to Buffalo” (another Brooklyn “local” food place!) is unlikely to make anyone rush to the L train.

But being unassuming can be a good thing, a point that’s often forgotten in the New York dining scene. The narrow interior with wooden tables and landscape paintings creates a a cozy space that feels like someone’s country home. And while many tasting menus today aim to be the height of foodie opulence, D&H manages to keep theirs both affordable and relatively simple. The dishes have enough frills to keep a foodie happy, but there’s nary a one your Mother would scoff at.

What’s actually on the menu changes weekly depending on ingredient availability but the basic concept remains the same: apps, a pasta, an entree and dessert. Where I was most surprised was the sheer number of starters. When we saw a list of eight, we immediately began discussing which would choose. Then we learned you get them all. At $48 that possibly make D&H the best value per plate menu in the city. Every thing we tried was very good with several standouts. If you’re looking for a big meal or looking to impress out of town guests (or Brooklyn skeptical Manhattanites) this is a great option at a very reasonable price.

We came for the Feast of the Fishes menu served around Christmas. Here’s what we ate:

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynFennel & Potato Soup (3/4 stars) The warm tangy creaminess makes this a dish you’ll wish you could eat everyday this winter.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynPretzel Rolls (3/4 stars) Warm, doughy and with just the right amount of that baked, salty pretzel taste. I hear these are normally on the menu, which is a very good thing.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynFried Oyster with Kohlrabi Slaw 2.5/4 stars Lightly fried with a slightly spicy dressing, these were gone way too fast.

Smoked Bluefist PateSmoked Bluefish Pate (3/4 stars) Smokey bluefish with a refreshing slaw on a toast point. This feels like something that would be an hors d’ouevs at a fancy cocktail party. I want to go to that party.

Salt Cod CroquettesSalt Cod Croquettes (2/4 stars) A solid version of the classic fish stick.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynPotato Latkes, Creme Fraiche, Trout Roe 2.5/4 stars Nothing too unique about these latkes other than the salty roe, but they came out perfectly.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklyn, pastaSpaghetti w/ Sardines (2/4 stars) The handmade spaghetti in lemon zest was excellent. I’m sure the sardines were too, I’m just not a fan of these oily little guys. If you are, this will likely rate higher for you.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynPan Roasted Cod (2/4 stars) Served with carrots, parsnips and winter greens it definitely fit the “seasonal” bill. It was a nice hunk of fish, but nothing worth getting overly excited about.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynLamb Chops (3/4 stars) I consider lamb the most hit-or-miss of meats. I also view chops as the riskiest of cuts. But the gamble paid off here with tender juicy meat and just the right amount of gaminess.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynChanterelle & Black Truffle Mushrooms (3/4 stars) Mushrooms are another ingredient where the quality and preparation make all the difference. These were spot on. The sweet potato puree helped cut the earthiness while a poached egg added richness.

delaware & hudson, tasting menu, williamsburg, brooklynDevils Food Cake Roll 2.5/4 stars Our meal ended with a rich, chocolatey roll with a vanilla sauce and sugar mushrooms. It was a good ending.

Delaware & Hudson
135 North 5th Street (Bedford & Berry Sts.)
Brooklyn, NY
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Delaware and Hudson

Posted in American, New American, Williamsburg | Leave a comment
Dec 31

Best Pizza

Why Come Here? Williamsburg’s best slices, pickled vegetable white pizza

best pizza williamsburg, nyc, brooklynFor me the name “best pizza” conjures up stereotypical Chinese restaurants like “Best Golden Tea House” or “Tasty Noodle” where the owner worryingly feels the need to assure you the food is good in the name. Like most of these places, Best Pizza doesn’t quite live up to the billing. But that’s not to say they don’t serve some excellent ‘za. In fact, I would say it’s the best NY style in Williamsburg. And the best by the slice. Which certainly counts for something.

The pie options are your typical red and white with square or NY-style crusts. The NY crust has just the right amount of flop while the square is thicker without overdoing it. Both pick up a nice amount of char from the over and are covered with a perfect proportion of tangy tomato sauce. The white pies add sesame seeds to the crust, a surprisingly delicious twist. You really can’t go wrong with any combination here.

Much like the pizza, the interior is also an upgrade over your typical slice joint. The white tiled interior adds some semblance of decor instead of the typical wood or concrete walls. The tables are nicely spread so you can enjoy eating your meal without getting elbowed by the people waiting for a slice. Prices are pretty reasonable for the quality with a 20″ pie going for $20. They’ll even deliver it to you with a 6-pack of Bud for only $6 more.

My two favorite slices are:

best pizza williamsburg, nyc, brooklynPepperoni NY Style 2.5/4 stars This is my go to slice pretty much anywhere, but this is a particularly good rendition. The pepperonis are monster-sized (see the photo above) and seemingly devoid of any grease (though maybe its just been absorbed by the beast…)

Square White Pie w/ Pickled Vegetables (3/4 stars) This is the signature slice here and lives up to the bill. Unlike most pizza veggies, these are surprsingly crisp and flavorful without overpowering the pizza itself. Plus it maybe slightly less violates your New Year’s resolutions.

Best Pizza
33 Havemeyer Street (N 7th & 8th Sts.)
Brooklyn, NY
Best Pizza on Urbanspoon
Best Pizza

Posted in Pizza, Williamsburg | Leave a comment
Dec 23

Shalom Japan

Why Come Here? A must try foodie experience, unique and fantastic flavor combinations

Right Amount for 2? 4 small plates, one entree

Shalom Japan brings about the marriage of two of the few remaining cuisines that have yet to pair off: Japanese and Jewish. While some of these combinations have worked better than others, I’m happy to report this one is a match made in heaven. If this restaurant were in the West Village instead of a remote part of Williamsburg (that’s either not yet cool or still cool depending who you ask) you would be calling two weeks ahead of time to snag a table. As it stands I was able to secure our spot a couple days beforehand, but it still was deservedly packed on a Friday night .

Shalom Japan is located in one of the least traveled parts of the ‘burg, right where the Williamsburg Bridge ramp meets the BQE. But as you approach it appears to you like a foodie oasis in a desert of darkness with its hanging lantern and large bright windows occupying a corner space. Once inside, you find a cozy industrial chic space with brick walls, dim lighting and air vents over head. There is little else to distract you from the food, which warrants your full attention.

So what does this Japanese-Jewish combination yield? For starters, note that the “Jewish” plays a supporting role to its East Asian partner with most dishes focused on fish and noodles. It does appear more prominently in things like the sake challah and matzoh ball ramen, but overall I consider the cooking here to be more its own breed than a fusion. None of it would feel out of place at a trendy Fine Dining or New American restaurant. The menu changes every day and consists mostly of small plates with a handful of entrees.  These don’t come cheap as you can expect to drop about $100 per person with drinks, but for the quality I have no complaints. In fact, I would say it was one of my favorite meals of the year. Here’s what I ate:

Shalom Japan, jewish, japanese, williamsburgFall Squash, Housemade Mozzarella, Nigella Seeds, Fried Chickpea Tofu (3/4 stars) Not particularly Japanese or Jewish, but who cares. Every time I eat squash this winter I’ll be fantasizing that it has a thick clump of this mozz on it.

 

Shalom Japan, jewish, japanese, williamsburgPeconic Bay Scallops, Burgundy Truffle Congee, Gobo Chips 2.5/4 stars The salty, savory congee provided an interesting compliment to these tiny scallops. My only complaint is that the promise of truffle proved misleading.

Shalom Japan, jewish, japanese, williamsburgTuna Tataki, Black Tahini (3/4 stars) The black tahini is ink-like in texture and brings a rich sesame taste to the perfectly seared tuna.

Shalom Japan, jewish, japanese, williamsburgSesame Mazemen, Pork Char Siu, Shishito Peppers, Chile Oil (3.5/4 stars) It’s tough to pick a must order dish with the many incredible flavor combinations here, but I’m going to go ahead and give this one the medal. It’s rich and spicy, fresh and porky all over a bed of perfectly done noodles. What more can you ask for?

Shalom Japan, jewish, japanese, williamsburgLox Bowl, Rice, Cucumber, Japanese Pickle, Avocado, Ikura (3.5/4 stars)  Lox and cream cheese bagel is one of my weekend staples, but this opened my eyes to a new world of what can be done with smoked fish. The lox could hold its own against any Jewish deli’s and the comforting mix of accompaniments give it the satisfying hardiness of the brunch staple. I would eat every Sunday morning if I could, but it was the perfect ending to our meal here too.

Shalom Japan
310 S 4th Street (@ Rodney St.)
Brooklyn, NY
Shalom Japan on Urbanspoon
Shalom Japan

Posted in Japanese, New American, Williamsburg | Leave a comment