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Eaten, Barely Blogged: Shrimp Heads, Downtown Ramen, Bitters-Free Manhattans

Allswell trio

Allswell. Being open till 11pm is not late night dining, not
in NYC anyway, and it's always bothered me, especially on weeknights when maybe
you want to go out to eat at 10:45pm and the pickings are beyond slim.  Allswell serves real food until 3am, not
whole menu, but it's something.  These
hyper-crispy head-on shrimp in a Meyer lemon sauce and duck rillettes were
pre-midnight, normal menu items. The burger, fat and meaty (with cheddar and
bacon, both add-ons) and perfectly pink inside, can be had any time. The fries
were an abomination, though, if you hate wet and oily thick-cut fries like I
do. Steak fries are the bane of my existence. That's the worst part about pub
burgers, which this appears to be emulating.  Bring a friend who likes fat, mushy fries (they
exist!) and let them go wild.

Ganso trio

Ganso. With ramen I often give the same disclaimer I use
with barbecue: I'm neither a fanatic or expert. Obviously, I like both and have
opinions, but I can't speak to what a broth's correct flavor should be or the
specific pH of mineral water needed to produce the ultimate noodles. Frankly, I
just like that there is a ramen shop in that odd pocket of downtown Brooklyn
near the IHOP. The short rib buns weren't anything remarkable, and a little
mesclun-y (I did not try the short rib ramen pictured, but love the idea that
each broth receives a different noodle, subtle and thoughtful) but the spicy
miso ramen with thinly sliced pork belly, Chinese broccoli and a soft-boiled,
soy-infused egg was winsome, if not a little gut-busting (I always find that
Asian noodle soups of this size put me into a coma). I will be even more happy
about Ganso being there when it becomes cold enough to better appreciate the
ramen's warming and filling properties.

Mayflower. A miniscule moderately new bar affiliated with neighboring
Aita, a corner Italian restaurant I may never visit because I rarely eat
Italian food (unless you count pizza). Some might call it a speakeasy (signage
was recently added). Jonathan Ames was there on a date, at least I think so, I
don't like staring at people. The bartenders (who can get overwhelmed when at
capacity) are weird about bitters: on one visit none were used in a Manhattan,
on the other I was asked whether or not I wanted them used. Would it
be too hyperbolic to say that a Manhattan without bitters is not a Manhattan? Still like the place.

Along with Prospect, it's one of two new upscale restaurants to open
on Fulton Street. I figured I should try one of them, and the main reason The
Wallace won out because it was slightly less expensive (entrees in the low $20s
vs. high $20s–now that I live in new shiny condo, no complaints, I'm going
broke buying things like shades for ten-foot-high windows). There's nothing
radical going on, food-wise or with the decor (one might get the impression
this was another tin ceilings, Edison bulb joint, but the interior is oddly
generic like it could've been a suburban Italian restaurant in a previous
life–ok, it was Caribbean) just solid, well-seasoned New American dishes with French
foundations like crispy pork belly on a bed of lentils with braised greens, the
latter an unexpected slight Southern twist, and tilefish with a potato gratin and
beurre blanc tinged with saffron. Manhattans are on the cocktail list and bitters are used, no question.

Il Porto. When I was assigned to review this Italian/pizza
place for
after it opened a few years ago, I thought it was in the
middle of nowhere. I guess it still is, though now that I live down the street and
that the scary-seeming (not just to me) Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge has been
gutted and looks like any generic storefront for sale, the block seems less
isolated and off-putting. With that said, it's not a destination unless you're
already in Fort Greene or Clinton Hill. The wood-fired pizza is pretty good
(arugula, prosciutto and parmesan is popular) though the floury, barely charred
and nearly flaky crust that I happen to like probably isn't the pinnacle of
Neapolitan pie-making.

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