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

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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
Delaware and Hudson on Urbanspoon
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

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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

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Dec 17

Flight

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.

Flight, Yorkville, gastropub, restaurant, bar, nyc

Photo courtesy of Flight

Why Come Here? Crowd pleasing menu in a cozy setting, chance to sample many items with one of their signature “flights”

Flight is a recently opened gastropub in Yorkville that draws its name from the numerous “flights” of 3-5 food items or drinks they offer. This is a great setup if you’re like me and always want to sample as much as possible. The food flights range from standards like cheese and charcuterie to sliders to the blowout “barnyard” flight of lamb, filet mignon and southern fried chicken.  Drink flights include beers, wines and whiskeys and refreshingly don’t include the usual price penalty versus ordering a single drink by the glass.

Inside, Flight represents the intersection of old and new that is Yorkville. An old school L shaped bar offers ample spots to eat or drink while watching the game on one of their big screen TVs. The cozy back dining area features a beamed ceiling, exposed brick walls and charcoal banquettes. The front is enclosed with windows that open up in warmer months to provide the airiness of outdoor seating without the bustle of a Manhattan sidewalk. Throughout you’ll find drawings of things like flying animals or flights of stairs – a subtle play on the restaurants name. This cozy setting and upcoming weekly live jazz nights are sure to make it a hot date night spot in the area.

The fare is a nice variety of American classics that is sure to please a wide crowd. In addition to the flights, there is a good selection of salads and apps like cornmeal crusted calamari and tostados for a light bite or snack at the bar. Those looking for a full meal will find no shortage of interesting options among the many pasta, meat and seafood dishes. The variety of offerings for both eating and dining make Flight a great spot for almost any occasion.

We were given a sampling of the Flight menu so portions in the pictures are generally smaller than you would likely receive. My recommendations are below:

thai curry, flight, yorkville, gastropub, bar, restaurant, nyc, upper east sideSteamed PEI Mussels (2/4 stars) The mussels are fresh and served in a tangy and slightly spicy thai curry sauce. You’ll want an order on your table.

 

flight, yorkville, gastropub, bar, restaurant, nyc, upper east sideSpinach + Goat Cheese Salad (2/4 stars) A light, refreshing salad with big spinach leaves and a hunk of cranberry crusted goat cheese in a tangy balsamic reduction.

 

flight, yorkville, gastropub, bar, restaurant, nyc, upper east sideAvocado + Seafood Salad (2/4 stars) For those looking for a slightly more substantial salad, the chunks of calamari and shrimp make this a solid option.

 

flight, yorkville, gastropub, bar, restaurant, nyc, upper east sideShrimp Crostini (2/4 stars) This cheesy, garlicky piece of toast is the perfect compliment to a jumbo shrimp.

 

flight, yorkville, gastropub, bar, restaurant, nyc, upper east sideFilet Mignon 2.5/4 stars Tender, flavorful and perfectly cooked in a savory gravy. If you’re in the mood for steak this will not disappoint.

 

flight, yorkville, gastropub, bar, restaurant, nyc, upper east sideWarm Apple Tart 2.5/4 stars Make sure to save room for dessert. This is a classic done perfectly with nicely spiced apples and a flaky homemade pastry crust.

Flight
1479 York Avenue (78th & 79th Sts.)
New York, NY
Flight on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Upper East Side | Leave a comment
Dec 13

Bar Bolonat

bar bolonat

Inside Bar Bolonat (courtesy Yelp!)

Why Come Here? Unique Israeli inspired small plates, date night

Right Amount for 2? 1 Large plate, 3-5 smaller plates

Bar Bolonat comes from the team behind Four-Star Falafel maker Taim and Dishelin Guide go-to spot Balaboosta. So you can imagine I’ve been angling to get in here since it opened last Spring. While it’s pedigree made tables tough to come by at first, things seem to have settled down and weeknight reservations are now available without too much notice.

Bolonat is located on a quiet corner of Hudson Street right after the Eight Avenue split and across from Abingdon Square. It’s a smallish restaurant (or average by West Village standards) that’s made even more intimate thanks to a bar that separates it into three sections each with a single row of tables. Because of this spread, it’s surprisingly quiet inside even when crowded. All this combined with dim lighting and a cozy minimalist decor adds Bolonat to the list of great Village date spots.

The fare at Bar Bolonat consists of Israeli-inspired sharing plates. This means many flavor combinations you won’t find anywhere else and a menu where I was thoroughly excited to try every dish. The options are divided into three sections of increasing portion size – snacks, small plates and larger plates as our waitress informed us. Note the use of the term “larger” as nothing on the menu is particularly large or cheap, so expect to drop to drop some decent coin for a satisfying meal. Thankfully the wine list contains many interesting bottles under $55 and is well curated. Still, the prices and lack of a true knockout dish mean I probably won’t be in a rush to return but I certainly recommend giving it a go at least once.

Here’s what I had:

israeli, bar bolonat, west village, za'atarJerusalem Bagel (2/4 stars) Airy, soft, thin and shaped like a race track this is not your typical New York bagel. Which is probably why they call it a Jersualem Bagel. It’s served with za’atar and olive oil and is a tasty start to the meal, although it also kind of makes you feel like you’re paying $6 for your bread.

 

israeli, bar bolonat, west village, bombaEveryday Cauliflower 2.5/4 stars This dish is aptly named, as I wish this was the kind of cauliflower I could eat every day. The vegetable is perfect baked with the flowers browned and the rest remaining tender. The tahini and peanut “bomba” balls add some very interesting taste and texture.

 

israeli, bar bolonat, west villageZa’atar Ravioli rating-0stars This was the only miss of the night. The ravioli itself was expertly prepared but I can’t say I really tasted the eggplant or za’atar. The spinach and potato were also overly salty.

 

israeli, bar bolonat, west village,Shrimp in Yemenite Curry 2.5/4 stars The curry is similar to a Thai or Malaysian yellow variety with a healthy slug of Middle eastern spices, turmeric and cilantro. It’s definitely a taste I’ve never had before and would like to again, although if anything I found it a little too delicate.

 

israeli, bar bolonat, west village, spiced beef, bulgarHudson Street Kibbeh (3/4 stars) Described as “bulgar teardrops” you don’t really know what to expect when you order these. It sort of looks like Stonehenge and it sort of tastes like a mix between falafel and a samosa.

 

israeli, bar bolonat, west village, Minute Steak 2.5/4 stars Despite being very thiny sliced, they’re able to nicely char the spiced exterior while providing a juicy pink interior. It’s probably the boldest dish flavor-wise on the menu. It deserves a 3 for the taste alone, but it loses a half-star because it’s a smallish amount of skirt steak for $31.

Bar Bolonat
611 Hudson Street (@W 12th St.)
New York, NY
Bar Bolonat on Urbanspoon
Bar Bolonat

 

 

Posted in Middle Eastern, West Village | Leave a comment
Dec 06

Tacos Morelos

Why Come Here? Cheap, delicious and authentic tacos

Regular readers of this blog are probably aware that I view tacos as one of the most important food groups. With meat, veggies and cheese on a glorious corn of flour base they provide everything you need in a handheld format. Unfortunately New York’s taco carts are not a haven for this cheap eat staple with many using store bought tortillas and meat that could pass as Bazooka Joe chewing gum. However, if you know where to look great authentic tacos street tacos can be found on the cheap here.

One of your best bets is Tacos Morelos, which became my neighborhood go-to upon moving to Williamsburg (it helps that it’s open 24 hours). They also have a cart in the East Village and two brick-and-mortar locations. Morelos serves a wide range of tacos with standards like al pastor and chicken as well as the more authentic meats tongue, goat and salted beef. At $3 a pop, they’re priced for a good face stuffing. They come on two perfect homemade corn tortillas which have just the right amount of give and are never too dry. Toppings are the traditional heap of cilantro, onion, cotija cheese with a lime wedge to squeeze on at your pleasure. I also recommend adding their spicy salsas, one of which is called guacamole although it seems like more of a thick tomatillo salsa. All the meats are simmered in spices and have a great flavor. My recs are below:

tacos morelos, taco cart, east village, williamsburg, jackson heightsAl Pastor Taco (3/4 stars) My favorite taco at Morelos. The pork is tender with a flavorful spice rub and the hunks of pineapple are particularly sweet and refreshing.

tacos morelos, taco cart, east village, williamsburg, jackson heights

Enchiladas Taco 2.5/4 stars The enchiladas are also pork but marinated in different spices and hotter overall without the pineapple. I’ve got no complaints.

tacos morelos, taco cart, east village, williamsburg, jackson heightsCecina Taco (2/4 stars) The Cecina contains salted beef and these are the only guys I’ve seen offering this in NYC. The beef has a salty-stewed taste with a good kick, although sometime it can be a little tough, costing it half a star.

Tacos Morelos Williamsburg Cart
Corner of N 7th Street and Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

East Village Cart
Corner of 2nd Street and Avenue A
New York, NY

East Village Store
438 East 9th Street (b/w 1st Ave & Ave A)
New York, NY
Tacos Morelos on Urbanspoon

Jackson Heights Original Store
94-13 37th Avenue (@ Elmhurst Ave.)
Jackson Heights, NY
Tacos Morelos on Urbanspoon

Posted in East Village, Mexican, Williamsburg | Leave a comment
Nov 25

Cafe Mogador

cafe mogador williamsburg garden

Back & Garden of Williamsburg Location (courtesy Cafe Mogador)

Why Come Here? Great Moroccan cuisine in a cozy atmosphere

Right Amount for 2? Mixed platter, 1-2 apps, 1 entree

When a place has been open for over thirty years and still packs the house every night, you know it’s something special. Cafe Mogador combines a sleek, dimly lit space that’s romantic enough for a first date but cool enough for a meal with friends with delicious light, original and affordable Moroccan fare. Basically it’s perfect for almost any occasion. So much so that since moving a few blocks away from their Williamsburg location, I have come here more than any other waiter service restaurant.

While the food at both locations is basically the same, the two-year-old Williamsburg outpost of “Mogs” (as only I call it) is the more attractive of the two. You enter into the main dining room and find what looks like an old farmhouse other than the long bar taking up half of it. There is wood siding and random old photos with some exposed brick as required by neighborhood ordinance. While that’s nice on its own, the true star here is the enclosed garden in back. It’s loaded up with plants, flower and couches making it one of the areas best date spots. And to top it off, tables are actually well spaced by NYC standards. The original East Village location is part underground and packed quite a bit tighter. It still enjoys a romantic and mysterious candle lit ambiance that feels like some trendy den in Marrakesh.

The menu is loaded with Mediterranean appetizer staples like hummus and tabouli, but also gets more interesting with yogurt & cardamom tandoori chicken and veal & bulgar meatballs. You could easily make a meal of apps and no one would fault you. Although if you want to get into the entrees, one of their specialty tagines is definitely the way to go. A tajine is a Moroccan clay pot meal and you can choose to put either chicken breast or a leg of lamb in one of four preparations. I’ve never gone wrong with any, although I prefer the chicken. I hear it’s quite a popular brunch spot as well.

 

hummus, tabouli, eggplan, israeli salad, cafe mogador nycMixed Platter 2.5/4 stars When you go to Cafe Mogador, you are required to start your meal with this. It includes their hummus, tabouli, tahini eggplant and arabic salad. The texture of the hummus is perfect and while I don’t usually love tabouli, I’d say this is the best I’ve had.

Yogurt & Cardamom Marinated Tandoori Chicken 2.5/4 stars This is only an appetizer which is unfortunate cause I could eat a whole meal of it. Dipped in the accompanying jalapeno and roasted red pepper chutney it’s sweet, spicy and tangy.

cafe mogador nyc, moroccanChicken Charmoulla Tagine 2.5/4 stars This is my favorite tagine combination. The charmoulla sauce is a heavy on the cilantro and very herbaceaus. The simmered chicken is very tender.

 

cafe mogador nyc, moroccan, williamsburg, east villageSpicy Carrots (2/4 stars) If you like cumin, you’ll need an order of these. The carrots are cooked to a perfect firmness and they’re not that spicy, unless you dip them in the accompanying chili paste of course.

 

cafe mogador nyc, moroccan, williamsburg, east villageBlackened Zahatar Chicken (2/4 stars) You get a breast and a thigh, blackened with some very tasty Moroccon spices. Served with a little salad and crushed home-fry style potatoes, it’s a steal for $18.

Meatballs (1.5/4 stars) Cooked in a light, cardamom flavored broth these were tasty little balls. They were a little hearty for a hot July evening, but I may try them again now that the weather has cooled.

 

cafe mogador nyc, moroccan, williamsburg, east villageRoasted Haloumi Cheese (1.5/4 stars) Served with a kebab of roasted veggies and z’atar bread, this actually ended up tasting more like an Italian flatbread than anything else. It’s a good combination of flavors albeit nothing special. The roasted tomato is the highlight.

Cafe Mogador Williamsburg
133 Wythe Avenue (N 7th & 8th Sts.)
Brooklyn, NY
Café Mogador on Urbanspoon

Cafe Mogador
101 Saint Marks Place (1st & Ave A.)
New York, NY
Café Mogador on Urbanspoon

Posted in East Village, Middle Eastern, Williamsburg | 1 Comment
Nov 18

Casa Noble Tequila at The French Cheese Board

Note: I was invited as a guest for a complimentary tasting event. This was not in exchange for a positive review and opinions expressed are my own.

That cheese and alcohol go well together comes as a surprise to no one. In fact I could probably live on these two alone, although granted not for very long. While wine & cheese was once considered the ultimate pairing, the recent trend has been to try to combine it with other types of booze. I am a fan of this. Recently I’ve been to pairings of cheese with beer, sake and now tequila. I’ve yet to be disappointed.

My most recent event was hosted by the French Cheese Board and Casa Noble and therefore consisted of pairing French cheeses with the Noble’s tequila. Now there are two categories of tequila: the kind you have poured down your throat in Mexico and the kind you sip or make a non-sweet cocktail with. Casa Noble is clearly the latter and is one of the best tequilas I’ve ever tasted. As far as sipping tequilas go, it will be my first choice going forward. The cheeses were also excellent, and paired very nicely with Mexico’s finest. My thoughts on the pairings are below:

tequila and cheese pairing, the french cheese board

Casa Noble Crystal & Mimolette: Think of the mimolette as the French version of Edam, or basically a more mild aged gouda. If you like that style, you’ll love this cheese. The Crystal Casa Noble was the smoothest blanco tequila I’ve tasted. It had some nice citrus and salty notes that really hit their stride when paired with the mimolette.

tequila and cheese pairing, the french cheese boardCasa Noble & Epoisses: Epoisses is a semi-soft that’s pungent without overpowering making it pretty approachable. The reposado was unusually sweet with hints of vanilla and caramel. It’s absolutely a tequila made for sipping.

tequila and cheese pairing, the french cheese boardCasa Noble Anejo & Fourme d’Ambert: The Fourme is a crumbly, creamy well-balanced blue. The anejo picks up a a deep and unique flavor from three years of aging in french white oak. With hints of butterscotch, hazezlnut and honey it’s as complex as a good whiskey.

If you want to learn about making French cheeses or just want to try and buy some at a discounted price, the French Cheese Board is hosting a free public event this Friday (11/21) from 11-7. Check it out.

The French Cheese Board
26 West 39th (5th & 6th Aves)
New York, NY

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