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Whither the Internet?

These times really are a changin’. I remember the good old days when every little product had a goofy website, complete with flashy games and useless information. Internet cutbacks in the snack food industry, perhaps? I don’t know, but I was sorely disappointed by the paltry coverage of the new Kellogg’s® Eggo® Waf-fullsTM on their site. Eggos don’t even get their own product page. I wanted to learn more about these apple cinnamon, maple and strawberry filled monstrosities. I mean, waf-ful doesn’t rhyme with awful for no good reason. I’ll get to the bottom of this.

And speaking of lame websites. Nestlé is even worse. I’d seen these Mocha Nestlé Bars that probably aren’t even new, but they were to me. I wanted to know more, dammit! The only American product site they had was for Butterfingers and the link didn’t even work! Fortunately, Kit Kat Japanese and Lion Bar German were kind of cool.

The Crepe Factory

Closed: The crepes are gone and Cafe Dore, a Caribbean joint, has surfaced.

I don't make a practice out of hanging out in the family-ish parts of
Brooklyn (or any city for that matter), but I'd forgotten my bag at work
Friday night since I was in such a hurry to leave. Saturday I had to go back
for it, and since I was in a real car instead of my usual subway car, I
thought it'd be fun to see neighborhoods I never see. This brought me to
Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and The Crepe Factory.

I'd really been dying for a crepe for ages, so this was a golden
opportunity. I really should've gotten a sweet one, but since this would be
my first meal of the day at 4pm, I opted for a savory ham and gruyere
delight. It hit the spot, and then some. It was a bit excessive and I can be
a big eater. Not that I'm complaining about large portions. Actually, my
only complaint would be the table of completely ill-behaved, ruckus-making,
precocious little kids with the oblivious liberal mom. But, I guess it was
my own fault for spending a Sat. afternoon in Carroll Gardens, right?

The Crepe Factory * 270 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY

Asia Cuisine

I haven't made a habit of mentioning Chinese take out joints. There just
doesn't really seem much point since the names and food all blur together
into one giant generic mass. I love Chinese food, but I'm so burnt out on
boring $4.50 lunch specials full of fried saucy stuff.

But the other day I was running errands during lunch and couldn't help
but notice this place with lots of handwritten signs in the window. Roast
pork bun $1.20 first caught my attention (I love pork buns), then what
really cracked me up was the one reading, "Chinese Pizza" in large print
with Scallion Pancake smaller beneath it. It reminded me of the Asian-run
Mexican place in my neighborhood with the "Chimichanga: Mexican Egg Roll"
sign in the window. The things people will do to entice wary customers. It
worked on me, though. Minor dim sum items could definitely add a lift to an
otherwise mediocre lunch.

Now, I'm a cheapskate first and foremost, so I usually pack a lunch, but
I've also been trying to eat healthier. But you can only eat carrots,
raisins and yogurt so many times a week before you break down. These
tempting little signs in the window were my downfall. I had to check this
place out.

I ordered a roast pork bun, scallion pancake and small hot and sour
soup. The total was under $5 and the results were pleasing. It was too much
food really. The soup contained preserved vegetables which to me always
makes hot sour soup that much better, though I'm not sure if they're really
supposed to be in there or not. The pancake was cut into seven filling
pieces. I couldn't even finish everything, which isn't like me. It wasn't
like the food was sublime or anything, but it got me out of a mini afternoon
rut and that counts for something.

Asia Cuisine * 218 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY



The oldest pizzeria in the U.S.? The oldest coal-burning oven? Something
like that. Many swear by Lombardi's. However, I just sort of ended up there.
I'd wanted to go, but on this particular evening, Raoul's was the plan.
Twice the price, triple the crowd and who knows what else. I just wasn't in
the mood for a sceney place (I mean, the "New York Times" claims it to be a
favorite of Matthew Broderick and Gwyneth Paltrow, and who needs that). It
was freezing, and even though we were supposed to be a bistro mission, but
in the back of my head I was thinking how good an old-fashioned piece of
pizza sounded (actually I was thinking how great a Hawaiian pizza sounded,
but that's blasphemous in N.Y.) so we headed east for some simpler fare on
Spring St.

It was a house salad, a large sausage and mushroom pie and root beer. I
don't know where the root beer idea came from since I never drink soda and
it's not like this is Pizza Hut. All was good and low-key, and we ended up
sitting next to the third guy from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?." Not George
Clooney and not John Turturro–the other one (who I just looked up so as not
to sound uninformed–it's Tim Blake Nelson). Who needs Gwyneth, right?

I only regret leaving the leftovers in James's fridge. I meant to bring
a piece to work for lunch and I fear it'll be gone by the time I make it
back over there. (Yep, they were gone when I checked the next night.)

Lombardi's * 32 Spring St., New York, NY

Miss Williamsburg

I really shouldn't be writing about this restaurant because anything I say
will be clouded by the all-around bad night I was having the evening I dined
there. I had too much to drink before showing up at 11pm (an hour before
closing) and got into some heavy relationship talk (which I never do) and
was irritated by the pretentiousness of putting on the menu how you couldn't
have extra parmesan or lemon in your espresso (not that I would ask for
either, but the fact that they were so overly bold their attempts at
authenticity like some hipster Mario Batalis). I barely tasted my food–a
shared mussel appetizer, farfalle with artichokes and part of a panna cotta,
ended up bawling for no good reason, then getting a $75 bill (which at least
I didn't pay for). All in all, a night to forget. (2/17/01)

Miss Williamsburg Diner * 206 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Plataforma Churrascaria

Yes, it's true. Nothing says I Love You like meat, meat and more meat. I did find Churracaria Plataforma to be a mildly odd Valentine's dining choice. But I wasn't disappointed, I had wanted to try the place and I've never gone in for any of that oysters, champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries, intimate dining nonsense. This un-subtle choice actually kind of made me feel relieved. Stuffing yourself silly on the most romantic of holidays is a brilliant idea, if you ask me.

I'd been to Riodizio, which didn't even have a salad bar so I was pretty excited about Plataforma (even though I know you're not supposed to fill up on the side dishes). This is sort of the king of NYC rodizios, at least in price and popularity. The salad bar is enormous with selections like sushi (strange for a Brazilian place, though I hear there's a large Japanese population in the country), hearts of palm, a handful of different seafood concoctions, green salad, shrimp, vegetables and loads loads more.

Then once you're done with that course, the games begin. You flip your coaster from red to the green side and the meat starts filling your plate–like five different beef preparations, chicken, sausages, salmon, pork loin, ribs, etc. On top of this, they bring side dishes to the table to accompany the meat: rice, fried plantains, polenta, asparagus, mashed potatoes and this confusing one I never figured out–it looked and tasted like a large plate of bread crumbs with bacon mixed in. What the heck do you do with that?! (I've since learned that it's farofa, toasted manioc flour that should be sprinkled over anything soupy).

Of course I couldn't resist a piece of coconut caramel cake and a glass of dessert wine (stiff caipirinhas were already sipped with dinner) to round things out.

I was interested in seeing what sort of crowd Plataforma would draw on Valentine's Day. It was a melting pot really. We had some pouty Eastern European girl on our left who shared three heaping plates of salad with her date and then not surpringly ate little else when it was time for the meat. Sheesh, what's the point.

Originally on my right, was this freaky, frumpy couple. The guy never took his stocking cap off, the girl was all stringy-haired, they barely exchanged a word. I could see them getting excited about the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie and sitting around engrossed with their Playstation or hanging out in Xena chatrooms.

They were replaced with a livelier couple, though I can barely remember the woman since I was too busy checking out the guy's sparkling diamond earring and glistening jheri curl (to be honest, it wasn't a full blown jheri curl, but that's how I like to remember it).

The couple I was most fixated on were the little hipsters sitting behind James. Didn't they have someplace cooler to go? I mean, Plataforma verges on carnival-like (and the contorting piano player was charmingly grotesque), but it's not really campy enough to go just for shits and giggles. The girl looked like she was in grade school and had the ten-year-old-boy Williamsburg body to finish the look. The guy was a bit older and was wearing a muscle tee (so hard for guys to pull of that '80s retro look) with a green Space Invaders-like character on front, had a giant funky, rectangular, flat-screened watch, compact futuristic Sony camcorder, horn rim glasses and lots of shopping bags. He was all Mr. Gadget/internet millionaire chic. So gross. What really irked me was the way the girl let her chocolate mousse just sit in front of her for like 15 minutes without touching it. I was this close to going over and eating it for her.

A night to remember? In a way. The food did me right, but I ended up having a bit of trouble with my tights falling down in Time's Square on the way home. But that's a whole other sad story.

Churrascaria Plataforma * 316 W. 49th, New York, NY


There's nothing inherently wrong with this restaurant. It just doesn't put much of a smile on my face. I never look forward to dining there, yet somehow I've found myself inside more times than I'd like to admit. For a city that supposedly never sleeps, it's odd that this is one of the few 24 hour options in the East Village.

This Sat. we got a late start–too late for pizza at Time Cafe or mussels at Belgo (It was a Lafayette kind of evening). We wandered, all the while knowing in the back of my head that 7A is where we'd end up. I threw a minor fit like some bratty food snob (which I'm really not) when it was suggested. This is drunk food and I've actually had some memorable 4am moments there, but it's not where you should begin the evening. 7A a last resort of blah sandwiches, burgers and nachos. At least you won't leave poor and still hungry, I suppose.

The funny thing was that on this crabby night, we ended up running into the people we were supposed to be hooking up with for drinks later on. No fancy- meeting-you-heres were even exchanged. I mean outside of Odessa (which I like) and Stingy Lulus (which I'm so-so on), where else would you be eating after midnight? No surprise at all.

7A * 7109 Ave. A, New York, NY

Big Enchilada

I give such little thought to eating here that I've never even mentioned it
before. It's not bad, but it's not great either. My friend Jessica can't
praise it enough, but she's vegetarian and their standards are always so
askew. She insists it's comparable to west coast Mexican food, which is way
off the mark. I guess if you only eat rice and beans in your tortillas you
might not be as sensitive to regional differences. But let me tell you, it's
not the same at all. Not one bit. I will say that it's better than
San Loco or Bennies (which isn't saying much), but it's nothing to go out of
your way for. The burritos are decent, the salsa's fresh, the prices are
right and it's next door to Cinema Village. If you're catching a less than
ubiquitous movie in the neighborhood, pop in for a quick meal.

Big Enchilada * 28 E. 12th St., New York, NY

Cafe Centosette

I've probably walked past this place a million times on the way from the 3rd
Ave. L stop to James's. Yet strangely, we've only eaten there once and that
was for brunch.

I was feeling lazy last weekend, so much so, that our fri. evening
consisted of eating at this place less than a full block away and drinks at
the (newly) Irish bar across the street. The food sort of fits that
criteria, as it's nothing you'd travel a long distance for, but a meal is
far from disappointing. The odds are anything you'd order would be better
than what you could whip up yourself–and for about the same money you'd
spend buying the ingredients at Food Emporium a block up the street. I had
fettucine alla vodka with ham and shrimp, a glass of house red wine, and a
cannoli and it while it didn't put stars in my eyes, it put more of a smile
on my face than Pizzeria Uno, or most of the other restaurants in a
two-block or less radius, would have. (2/9/01)

Not bad, but never amazing. I was feeling lazy, ordered fettucine alla
vodka and a glass of house wine, then just realized that's exactly what I
had last time. Oh well. It'll probaby happen again some time in '03.

They moved somewhere on Second Ave. (04)

Cafe Centosette * 107 Third Ave., New York, NY