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Posts from the ‘Williamsburg’ Category

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Schnitzel, Hot Pot, $1 Oysters

zum stamtisch trio

Zum Stamtisch might not serve the best German food in NYC, but you have to appreciate its longevity. (The first thing I ever wrote for money in NYC–and was paid 7 to 14 times more than what I’ve been offered for blog posts in modern day–was about German bars in Glendale. Zum Stamtisch is the only one of four still standing in its 2002 form.) And commitment to Bavarian kitsch. This is not a young person’s restaurant, especially not on an early Sunday evening. Everything could use a few shakes of salt (perhaps the clientele is watching their sodium intake). The schnitzel, available in pork only, is a stellar specimen, though, with a super crisp-and-craggy breading that’s not oily in the least. The mustardy vinegar-based potato salad is also well done; the starchy chunks have a few browned edges that add a little character. There is an impressive list of after dinner digestifs that does include Jaeger and Bailey’s but also gets a little more esoteric. Forget Fernet, this is Underberg and Escorial Grün.

little sheep

Little Lamb. I’ve said this before but I’m still not sure who’s ripping of whom. Little Lamb Happy Family, which has sat on Flushing’s Main Street for some time, is a blatant counterfeit.  But Little Sheep, which opened last year and Little Lamb, which recently appeared in the SkyView Center, are cut from the same cloth, complete with flat screen TVs showing videos of the Mongolia-based chain’s origin story. Little Sheep is bigger and has a liquor license (though Lamb serve what appears to be cola in wine carafes). Little Lamb has a view of the Applebee’s, its neighbor, and was still doing a 10% off promo when I visited (both pros, if you ask me). Bizarrely, the entire seafood section had an X through it on the order form (a con). The spicy side of the half-and-half broth contained an unusual amount of cumin–I’ve never had a hot pot where cumin seeds stick to everything, and the greens in the mixed vegetable platter were kind of strange and included lettuce (I find cooked lettuce grotesque) as well as weird frilly leaved weeds I’d never seen before. Everything was pleasant enough, though if this were a competition Little Sheep would win by a (wooly) hair.

extra fancy trio

Extra Fancy has always struck me as more of a drinking establishment even though both times I’ve eaten there in the past it has been fine (if not full of loud drunken people encroaching on my space). Apparently, they are trying to get fancier with the addition of a new chef. That seemed to translate to a $35 steak special, lobster pie and more charcuterie. I didn’t even realize they did a $1 oyster happy hour, practically a requirement in Williamsburg, but it was appreciated. A chicken pate topped with a layer of cider jelly and a big dose of toasted pistachios was one of the better I’ve had of late, bone marrow with barbecue-sauced brisket and Texas toast was also fun and now makes two restaurants in a six-block radius serving bone marrow with Texas toast (see Brooklyn Star). I stuck to the shared plates, but will most likely return in the very near future because I sometimes Lent dine to appease others and live down the street.



1 Knickerbocker

twoshovelR.I.P. That was fast. (6/17/14)

It can be hard to gauge a restaurant this fresh, especially during the lull between Christmas and the new year. At least in this East Williamsburg deadzone that everyone calls Bushwick where it appears that 80% of the neighborhood has returned from whence they came for the holidays. Only two blocks from the Morgan Ave. L and the streets are dead and dark at 7pm, making the area seem more desolate than is actually the case (grousers who would like to cling to the area as gritty and undiscovered should take note).

1 Knickerbocker hits all of the stylistic notes that one has come to expect from a gastropub and that are still in vogue on the cusp of 2014: tin ceilings, house-made bitters, boutique vermouths, pickles, offal. Oh, and a scotch egg, which I’d like to deem a local prerequisite even though The Rookery is the only other example I can think of (shocked at Dear Bushwick’s omission).

One thing that separates 1 Knickerbocker from its ilk in other neighborhoods is the size. The place is enormous and a perfect antidote for those averse to squeezing between two inches of table space. Booth for six? No problem. And on this particular evening, a luxury for two. (For the record, The Randolph Brooklyn also ranks highly for booth-lovers.)

1 knickerbocker manhattan

You can start with a nice Manhattan riff. With rye and an absinthe rinse, the drink is a little Sazerac-y. Birch bitters up the herbal quotient.

1 knickerbocker fried pig ears

Admittedly, it was the fried pig ears that drew me in. This version plays up the crunch more than the chew (I don’t mind a bit more gooeyness) and gets its lusciousness from mayonnaise flavored with pickled peppers. Fried curry leaves were a distinctive touch. Where curry powder tastes like fake Indian food, if you’ve ever smelled or nibbled curry leaves–maybe without even knowing it–the flavor is recognizably Indian.

1 knickerbocker scotch egg

There is synergy with the scotch egg, which also relies on a flavored mayonnaise–black garlic, in this case–and a pickled hard-boiled egg fried in a pakora-like coating, so one or the other would probably suffice.  Thankfully, the sausage is chicken instead of the usual pork, so overall this isn’t as heavy as it looks.

1 knickerbocker sprouted chickpea salad

Shredded brussels sprouts and chickpeas with a peppery yogurt dressing.

1 knickerbocker farmer's plate

Ok, more pickles and eggs. The farmer’s plate did have a hearty selection of smoked meats, and substantial cheeses, though clearly, I was remiss in ordering any warm entrees like the roast elk or pork cheeks, mostly because I was snacking and drinking. Despite saying gastropub, the mains have touches like caraway, spaetzle, juniper and dill that are less London and more Berlin bistro.

1 Knickerbocker * 1 Knickerbocker Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Dishy: Covert Khao Soi

qi flickr two

It’s inevitable. No matter how much amazing local (and not so local–I broke down and tried pulpo a la gallego one evening) food I may eat while abroad, when I return to NYC the first thing I want is Mexican or Thai (assuming I didn’t go to Mexico or Thailand, obviously) and preferably delivered to my door. (I did actually go as far as registering for, the Seamless of the UAE, and attempted to place an order for a mixed grill and fatayer but it kept rejecting my credit card.)

Qi is my neighborhood (home and work) standby for better-than-you’d-think Thai. It’s usually crispy pork and basil and a beef tendon if it’s dinner or duck salad if it’s lunchtime. Maybe what they say about travel is true and now my horizons have been broadened because I broke out of my routine and ordered something listed as salmon wild ginger curry with kanom jiin noodle a.k.a. Brooklynized khao soi (it’s not served at the Times Square branch). And it was good.

qi flickr one

The lip-tingling coconut milk broth, seven on a scale of  one-to-ten, with fish balls resembling mini bocconcini comes separate from the base components–musty strips of krachai, sour, slightly sweet cabbage, bean sprouts, chopped green beans, sliced red onions, thick round rice noodles–to reduce transitory sog. I couldn’t say whether the kanom jiin (more commonly spelled jeen) were fermented over a period of days as tradition dictates. I do know that the egg yolks remained impressively wobbly while the salmon skin had lost most of its crunchiness, as would be expected as side effect of delivery. The main thing that was off was the proportion of liquid to stuff (the primary photo is half of what came in the plastic containers). It got a little soupier after a stir, though.

That’s the Brooklyn Flickr filter, by the way (I’m two-timing Instagram). Could you tell? What neighborhood in Brooklyn do you think that is?



Eaten, Barely Blogged: Good Burger, Bad Burger, BBQ

elm brunch trio

At The Elm there were a lot of empty tables during the brunch Sunday (and I was still told preemptively  that I couldn’t be seated until my full party showed up, even though I didn’t ask to). What gives? I’ve generally considered myself as a member of the opposition in the war on brunch, but I wanted to try that burger. It’s two dollars cheaper during brunch ($16) than dinner , which I suppose is pricey (remember when $12 burgers used to spazz people out?) but more than ok because it’s one of those special, thick, aged like a steak patties, medium-rare without asking, juicy enough to soak through the bottom of the brioche bun if you chit chat too much while eating. The dinner menu says white cheddar while the brunch one says comte–whether different meals actually demand different cheeses or if the two menus are out of synch is a good question. Frankly, I don’t even remember the cheese because the meat blend was so dominant. The pickled onions and tomato confit were a nice touch, though. The fries were real fries (see below) which is the best one can hope for. You could also have an omelet or lobster benedict.

red robin western bbq burger

Red Robin I hate to say this as a chain apologist, but Red Robin is just sort of off. Both of my adult experiences, the latest being at the new Staten Island mall location to visit the recently opened Uniqlo and to take advantage of a housewarming gift card (thanks, by the way) for the house I no longer live in, have done nothing to persuade me. (Last time there was glitter in my ice.) In every way, it’s the anti-Elm burger. You can’t have it cooked less than medium and it doesn’t matter because the patty is too thin anyway. The bun and toppings are all you taste, and this particular burger comes with mayonnaise despite already being dressed with bbq sauce, which shouldn’t be allowed. The most distressing aspect of this restaurant’s M.O., though, is the bottomless fries premise because they’re steak fries and what kind of monster could or would want to serving after serving of soft, mealy potato slabs? When considering this offering, paying $6.50 more at The Elm feels like a true bargain. I did like the pretzel bites with cheese sauce even if they tasted inexplicably like peanut butter.

rookery scotch eggThe Rookery Even as New Nordic flourishes seep into all corners of the culinary world, gastropubs persist. I managed to eat two scotch egg renditions in a single week without even realizing it (more on Alder, which I’m not calling a gastropub, later).  More pub than gastro, The Rookery has a small menu with West Indian tweaks like curried goat in the shepherd’s pie and oxtail used for sloppy joes, however the egg is fairly straightforward with some bitter greens for balance. Order it and the sweet and sour brussels sprouts (with the rashers, of course) which are spicy more than sweet or sour.

Hometown Bar-B-Q It could’ve been the lateness (is 9:30pm late?) or the brutal chill (it was coat-wearing temperature even in the restaurant) but I was surprised by the lack of patrons on a weeknight. The brisket was very good, both crusty and just fatty enough to freak out the lean brisket-lovers (I know you exist, but why?). I wish I had ordered more of the beef than the pork ribs because a pound is a lot for two people, pink with a perfect smoke ring or not.  I’ve never been able to capture bbq adequately with a smartphone; the all-brown food is always set atop a brown piece of paper on a tray that’s on a brown wood table, creating a dark reddish mud-toned photo that only a Martha Stewart would be comfortable sharing online.



Cerveceria Havemeyer

twoshovelFor me, Cerveceria Havemeyer, newborn kin of La Superior, has been a bit of a lifesaver.  It fills the same super-close, crowd-pleasing (who doesn’t like Mexican food and margaritas?) free seats on a weekend night niche as Taco Chulo, but with better food and music (someone really likes Thee Oh Sees and The Walkmen).

For you, I don’t know? I would say that if you happened to be in Williamsburg and wanted a good sit-down taco al pastor and a strong drink, this would meet, and maybe even exceed your needs. (The now permanent Brooklyn Taco pop-up inside of Donna also thrives in this Williamsburg-Mex genre, but with more emphasis on the cocktail side and fewer menu options.)

cerveceria haveymeyer taco al pastor

Carne asada and tinga are fine standards, but lesser cuts are sorely lacking in the immediate area. So, in addition to the recommended spit-roasted
pork, it’s nice to see cheeks, tongues and skin also put to use (eaten, but not pictured).

cerveceria haveymeyer volcan

Volcanes are tostadas blanketed in melted cheese (the lava?). Rajas work for that vegetarian friend, but meats can be piled on instead.

cerveceria haveymeyer aguachile

The masa-avoidant can have aguachiles (and ignore the accompanying basket of tortilla chips) which are a less lime-marinated ceviche. The shrimp version with truly raw seafood, no firming or pinkening, was powerfully spicy.

cerveceria haveymeyer margarita & chicharones de harina

It’s also fine to just drink and snack on the free (bottomless, as they say in the Red Robin world) chicharrones de harina, Puffed wheat
wagon wheels striped with hot sauce and served with lime wedges. The $12 margaritas (classic, guava, hibiscus, tamarind) are really two drinks in one. Half sizes are available for half the price.

Cerveceria Havemeyer * 149 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Isan, Umami, Venison

larb ubol lunch

Larb Ubol Typically, one mediocre Thai meal and I’m done with a place. Yet, I still have a good feeling about Larb Ubol, despite the papaya side salad that was all lime and sugar and the crispy pork that was properly lush but lacking any heat to balance the fat. Lunch specials are never a prime showcase, so I will cut some slack, especially since there are eight different som tums, some using pickled fish and preserved crab, and ten larbs. This Isan restaurant can’t be only catering to office workers spilling over from Times Square–though they are certainly trying to cover all bases:  you can have your larb made with liver or tofu.

louro group

Louro  I can’t guarantee that anything pictured here will be available–at least in this exact form– because it was part of one of chef David Santos’ Monday night Nossa Mesa Supper Clubs (I was a guest, full disclosure). The theme was umami so there was lots of in-house pickling and fermenting (the walls are lined with glass jars containing many of the fruits of this labor) with standouts including thick, custardy chawanmushi with crab and aged soy sauce distilled on site,  a yogurt cake with thyme ice cream that appeared to be surrounded by an intense salted caramel that was actually made from peach umeboshi, and bone marrow stuffed with a chunky blend of beef brisket and mussels and served with a kelp cracker.  The next Nossa Mesa will be Octoberfest-themed.

Kristophe is the fancier venture from the owners of Krolewskie Jadlo, which means fresh stonework made to look aged and wine barrels instead
of suits of armor.  There is also duck in the pierogies, chanterelles in the mushroom sauces, and a kale salad apropos of
nothing. I just had a burger, though, because that’s what I was in the mood for. It might have been wiser to have just gone traditional instead of with venison
patty covered in brie, walnuts, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms and a chipotle cranberry relish. Too much. I just wanted the pretzel roll really.

The Elm

threeshovelThe Elm has generated nearly as much skepticism as it has praise, most of it unfounded. The location isn’t obscure or difficult to reach (one stop from Manhattan, if you even live in Manhattan, and a five-minute walk?), there’s nothing that odd about it being subterranean or in a hotel (though I’ll admit boutique hotels with pools are douchey by default) and I’m not fully convinced that the neighborhood can’t sustain a more ambitious culinary venture, despite Williamsburg’s fondness for meatballs, barbecue and fried chicken.

There’s a lot of money in Brooklyn, if you haven’t noticed, allowing the restaurant to function as either a neighborhood spot or a destination. I’ve treated it as both, once on a weekend date with a shared cocotte and a bottle of wine (a Willamette Valley pinot noir) and another on a weeknight at the bar with a friend, drinking cocktails, three plates among us. Either way, you get the full amuse, bread basket, mignardise treatment.

My main resistance to The Elm was my bizarro experience at Corton, the only restaurant where I’ve ever been asked to not take photos. And I’m quick and discreet to a fault (a better shot of the chicken kiev would’ve been from above, but I’m not about to stand up during a meal and maneuver). Three years makes quite a difference in the food world, though. On my bar visit, the servers were careful to position the plates just so, primping the food for a better shot. Not only could staff care less about food photos anymore, they actively participate (not Liebrandt, himself, obviously, though he does make the dining room rounds).

the elm amuse
That amuse is a warm, hyper-savory, salty thing, with a quick bread texture. Black olive is in the verbal description, though the bite doesn’t taste
particularly olive-like. The friend who is a notorious over-salter (to the point where I’ll add extra salt when I cook for her and she’ll still add more every time) called this “salty,” a positive.

the elm, foie gras, spiced strawberry gelee, pickled strawberry, ginger

the elm brioche

Foie gras and strawberry, hit with crystallized ginger and served with brioche, could almost be a starter or a dessert like the foie gras doughnut at Do or Dine. One of the only dishes I actually remember from Corton, also involved foie gras and a fat piece of brioche.

the elm gnudi, tom yum scallop, summer onions, lime

A tom yum scallop and gnudi, foamy and  coconutty, felt more boutique hotel with a pool in Asia, despite the modern Western signifier: a nasturtium leaf like a lilly pad floating in sauce.

the elm flavors of bouillabaisse, amadai, mussel, orange confit

the elm tiny shrimp

The scallop is fleeting while the “flavors of bouillabaisse” is jam-packed like a tardis of seafood. A crisp-topped block of tilefish was the focus (lobster and mini potatoes were also lurking) but my favorite part was the tiny shrimp like you might normally see dried and used to jazz up Thai condiments or Chinese rice,  individually, battered and fried. Adorable.

the elm short rib, argan oil, heirloom carrot, pl sauce

The short rib with the PL sauce, more closely related to HP than donkey, didn’t make a huge impression on me, not because it was lackluster, but
sometimes hunks of meat, even small hunks, can get upstaged by more unexpected combinations on the table (plus, I ate half the bouillabaise before swapping for this so it wasn’t pristine–my own doing). I’d forgotten that argan oil, the now ubiquitous hair product, was edible.
the elm elysian fields lamb, charred eggplant, ras al hanout

The lamb is in a similar vein, stylistically, a little Middle Eastern with quinoa rather than couscous. I loved the deeply hued, intensely flavored blobs
(see below also). Dark stiff quenelles may be the new drizzles and drops. The smoky eggplant sheened so purple it was almost black like a good iridescent Goth

the elm chicken kiev

the elm pommes aligot

Chicken “Kiev Style” comes in multiple parts: garnishes on a plate, en cocotte and with a side of velvety cheese-infused potatoes (pommes aligot, if
you want to be precise) that rank right up there with “robuchons” (not an ill-punctuated possessive, but my household nickname for the famous butter-crammed potato puree). The browned fleshy logs contain the liquid herbed butter you’d expect while the crispy texture comes separately from the tot and wing conglomerate.

the elm chicken kiev plate

Broccolini, a candied lemon peel, aioli and a swampy blob, which logically would have spinach origins, but probably didn’t.

the elm cookies & cream, hibiscus jelly

Hibiscus jellies and cookies and cream mini muffins, not all that different in appearance from the initial olive disk, aren’t real desserts, but I never had the urge for those. I hear they’re good.

The Elm * 160 N. 12th St., Brooklyn, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: A Month or More

So, I’ve eaten a few things in my absence, a lot or not much, depending on your perspective. I don’t eat out every day, and I don’t relentlessly pursue newness. I will likely elaborate on a few of these in the near future.


JG Melon: A belated birthday burger. My first time ever at the UES institution.


L’Albero dei Gelati: No salmon or blue cheese gelato, but the savories of the day, saffron and red pepper, were pretty nice paired with cheese and salami.


The Elm: Convincing a vegetarian to eat a few dishes at the bar with me meant no large format sharing (the$48 zillion vegetables in a cocotte contains pork
broth, by the way). I will have to return.  There was a tom yum scallop.

Bagelteria: I reached new levels of laziness and ordered an egg and cheese on a roll (plus a bagel with lox to make the delivery minimum)
from Seamless on a Sunday morning.


Desnuda: Two visits ordering the exact same thing, $1 oysters and one of my new favorite cocktails, The Reformer (Cherry Heering, Elcano fino sherry, Avua Amburana cachaça, Peychaud’s bitters, and pasilla and scorpion chiles). The drink is spicy but almost melon-tasting, a surprise because I hate melon.

maggiano's aviation

Maggiano’s:  I’m no lover of Italian-American food, but I do love a new-to-me chain, and it’s rare for one of these types of places
to serve non-sweet cocktails. Yes, I went all the way to Bridgewater, NJ for an Aviation (so many leave off the crème de violette, which is the whole point)
and something called Catcher in the Rye (Knob Creek Rye, Luxardo Maraschino, simple syrup, old fashioned bitters). The food was what you’d expect.


Motorino: Delivery once, dine-in another time. The Brussels sprouts pizza is classic, despite not being particularly summery. The tomato pie with four varieties made up for it with his hyper-seasonality.

Roberta’s: So, I’d never been before. An embarrassment, considering that for me it’s hardly the arduous journey media makes it out to
be (under two miles/30-minute walk). More pizza, the Beastmaster (mozzarella, gorgonzola, pork sausage, capers, onions, jalapeno) plus duck prosciutto and a
grilled squid special. The thing that stands out the most, oddly, was the peanut butter and celery gelato that tasted exactly like peanut butter and celery. This is the only restaurant where I’ve ever seen an e-cig smoker at a table. (I have them too, but it feels too douchey to use them indoors in public.)

jail bong

Sripraphai: They really don’t believe you anymore when you say you want things spicy, yet I still go. The nam priks and assorted chile pastes in the fridge are another story and I’ll always pick up two each visit. This so-called “jail bong” is blistering hot, humid garbage funky and delicious as all get out. It was described to me as being “like blue cheese,” but I would say it tastes like the fermented anchovies that it moslty is.

Ootoya: Read more here. It’s the new Times Square branch. Pricier than a typical lunch, but also peaceful and not like anything else in the neighborhood.

gambrinus piano

Gambrinus: There’s no doing this Russian seafood café any justice in a sentence or two. The bar is shaped like a boat, staff is dressed like sailors, everyone sits
outside and drinks vodka and smokes—that’s why the indoor piano player is all alone.

Zizi Limona: There is $5 house wine at lunch, which would be compelling enough without the chicken and smoked eggplant sub with paprika-dusted fries and

jacobs pickles

Jacob’s Pickles: When our waiter informed us that a marriage proposal was about to go down, all I could do was think about ruining it somehow, potentially using Twitter pre-emptively. Unfortunately, no diamond rings appeared to be lurking in the fried chicken biscuit sandwiches.
Battery Harris: Somehow six pints of beer, jerk wings, two patties and a kale salad only cost $29. All-Monday happy hour is a feat.

dairy queen blizzard

Dairy Queen: It took me 15 years to finally ride the Staten Island Ferry, and there was a mini Blizzard (my childhood fave, turtle pecan) waiting for me on the other side as a reward. Supposedly, there will be another Dairy Queen appearing in Times Square before the end of the year, and then it will cease being special.


SanRasa: It wasn’t just the most interesting thing walking distance from the ferry, but also the only business that appeared to be open on Labor Day (even the Subway was shuttered). Lamprie, this enormous mound of basmati rice, caramelized onions, cashews and kingfish curry, a croquette that may have been fish or vegetable mush, topped with a paper umbrella and served in a banana leaf, is as good an introduction as any to Sri Lankan food.


Sadly, SanRasa’s beer garden was closed. Luckily, I was fueled by a giant can of Modelo on the ferry.

peter luger steak

Peter Luger: There was a steak for three (I hate the odd-numbered steak divvying) for my visiting mom’s 63rd birthday. Benecio del Toro was sitting at the
next table, so she at least got one celebrity sighting. Mother may know best, but I ordered the creamed spinach (am I the only one who likes it?) despite her protestations.

Dumont: Still a very good burger. Medium-rare is taken seriously.

qi tea

Qi Thai: I order delivery all the time at home, and pick-up duck salad for lunch when I’m at work in Times Square. I had never ordered Thai iced tea to go, however. Apparently, it comes in plastic takeout container. I guess it’s not so much weirder than how they put drinks in plastic baggies in Thailand.

brooklyn star marrow

Brooklyn Star: Smoked bone marrow and Texas toast is probably meant to be a shared plate, but I made it my dinner last night. It’s good having a place to eat after midnight on a Tuesday.


Eaten, Barely Blogged: Chinchulines, Cue, Cavatelli

Boca juniors parrillada

Boca Juniors You'll hear about La Fusta or El Gauchito, if you hear about Queens Argentine restaurants at all. Boca Juniors, not so much, possibly because it's a theme restaurant. What kind of self-respecting food-loving Buenos Aires resident would eat at a Jets-themed steakhouse catering to American expats? No matter, it's fun, and the food is respectable enough. Have a few empanadas, order some grilled meat (if you look out of place–I did–you may get cautioned against the parrillada for two, pictured in its sweetbread, intestine and blood sausage-filled glory, but it takes little to convince that you know what you're getting into) or pasta. I have no idea staff still breaks into song and does a dance routine with blue and yellow umbrellas; on this early mid-week evening, the room was half full with most tables for two seated side-by-side at four-seaters, positioned to watch the live Boca Juniors game on the two wall-mounted flatscreens. The elderly couple in Boca jerseys splitting a bottle of wine were my heroes. Or maybe it's the Argentine house wine pours, always to the rim, that are my heroes. Inexpensive Malbec and a jumble of organ meat are made for each other.

Fatty cue green chili lamb bao

Fatty 'Cue I only went once in its former guise and
that was three years ago so I'm hazy, but Fatty 'Cue 2.0 doesn't seem radically
different to me. The layout's more or less the same. There are cocktails, smoked
meats, funky dips, pig's ears and heads. Maybe the baos are new? There could be
more vegetables than previously. The one notable difference is that the pork
ribs, still great and salty-sweet from fish sauce and sugar, were $14 for three
last time and $12 now (the online menu says $11, but I don't think that's
correct). So, maybe lower prices? The green chili lamb bao was done more Indian
than Southeast Asian, with a tamarind sauce, yogurt and cucumber. Winsome. The
whole steamed fish, the only non-meaty large plate, seems an odd choice in
retrospect. The components were straightforward, turmeric and lime rubbed onto
the fish itself, with chile sauce and ketchup manis for dipping. No complaints,
but I would stick with the meat.

Aita trio

Aita I think I said I would never go here, not out
of malice, but because I eat Italian food so rarely. After 10pm on a weeknight,
though, the dining choices in an immediate two-block radius after a few
Manhattans at Mayflower, are slim. The fried rabbit in the style of fried
chicken with a lot more sage, was fun, if not bony. Something possessed me to
order wheat pasta, cavatelli, with a lamb ragu and favas, not completely out of
whack with this still-cool-at-night spring (that's not a complaint, and no,
it's still not summer, Memorial Day over or not). If you want to continue with
the rye-drinking, the cocktail list isn't bad.

Best Pizza

I shouldn't be too harsh on my friends' eating
quirks because it's not as if they have no good ideas. I would've walked by
Best Pizza, never giving it a second thought, if I hadn't been introduced to it
and the vegetable (god, never say veggie or veg) slice earlier this year. Not the
green pepper, olive, mushroom blech that passes for a non-meat slice, but kale,
beets, cauliflower and blobs of ricotta that are more of a treat.

Best pizza

The white slice, which only occurred to me yesterday
after being called out in the latest installment of Real Cheap Eats devoted to
food off the L line
, is the better meatless option, if you ask me, though. Less
crusty, so the toppings (not that there are a lot of them) have more presence.
Lemony ricotta, sweet caramelized onions and an unexpected sprinkling of sesame
seeds are all you need. Oh, and maybe a shake or two of chile flakes.

Best Pizza * 33 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, NY