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I don't know why it took us so long to try this place since I'm a big Thai
fan and it's only a block from James's apt. I've always been scared off by
that row of restaurants along the west side of Third Ave. between 12th and
13th (the only one I've ever tried, Rochjin, just went out of business after
mere months–that space is cursed). It also seemed mildly peculiar that they
have a bar and do a brunch. The assorted appetizer plate was a bit bland, it
looked large and enticing, but flavor was lacking, dipping sauces would've
been a definite plus. But the entrees weren't half bad. The prices were
perhaps a dollar or two more than at competing places, but not completely
outrageous. They're definitely aspiring to more than mere take-out: the
presentation is artfully arranged on large square plates, sprigs of things
sticking out saying take me seriously. Unorthodox items like massaman
avocado show up as a special. We stuck to the familiar and tried a red curry
and a shrimp, ground chicken and basil dish that weren't half-bad. (5/31/02)

I guess we must like Montien since we've been back again in less than a
month. This time: addictive fried squid with sweet chili sauce, panang curry
with pork, and basil chicken. We asked for spice and we got it. It was good
at the time, but was my stomach was feeling it the next day. (6/21/02)

Montien* 90 Third Ave., New York, NY

Cafe Steinhof


I was thinking this place would be more like Zum Schneider where I had a
traumatic semi-meal (through no fault of the restaurant–a stoned, birthday
boy friend starting digging into my plate of food) a few weeks prior. I was
thinking beer and sausage, but it's a little more refined.

Initially, I was a little thrown off by the distracted, cross-dressing
host. He had this mild Liza Minelli meets Riot Grrl look that I couldn't
figure out. He's the effeminate type I can't put my finger on, the kind who
might get all crazy and try to give me an exotic foot massage without my

So the restaurant is Austrian, not German and what do I know about
authenticity? James insisted there was nothing Austrian about the food, but
he's got his culinary history all wrong, claiming paprika's Indian when
everyone knows it's associated with Hungary. And that's what I had, the
chicken paprika with spaetzle. It was very rich in a dark red sauce, more
sour creamy than spicy as I'd expected. Not a big noodle fan, the spaetzle
still hit the spot, and tasted even better re-heated as leftovers. James the
sour puss (ok, fine, fried cod might not be an Austrian specialty) had
sauerbraten with red cabbage. Items that struck me as Austrian: Black
sausage strudel, liptauer cheese, Gulash, Linzer Torte and Rosti. It's all
German/Swiss/Hungarian mish mashed, but so what. They also had a cocktail
called the Klaus Kinski. While a scary man, at least it wasn't the Arnold

Cafe Steinhof * 422 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, NY



I've only ever eaten at the Nyonya in Chinatown where the service has that
odd Asian curtness (like the waitress telling my sister and her friend
visiting from England they couldn't have two orders of the same stuffed
tofu. "Too much food," "order another one if you're still hungry.") Being in
Brooklyn, perhaps the Sunset Park branch would be more relaxed. It was
Chinatown bustling at 10pm on a weeknight, but not harried.

We ordered the requisite roti canai, then a smoky char kway teow and
house special shrimp, which were mammoth and in a totally rich, almost black
sauce, heavy on the shrimp paste, which I love. After toasting shrimp paste
for a homemade curry, James declared I'd finally achieved that Asian store
smell in the privacy of my own apt. Yeah, it's pungent, but it always
bothers me how cookbooks will substitute anchovy paste instead…and ginger
for galangal. Bah. I got my Malaysian fix without a hitch. The only dilemma
is squelching my perpetual laksa craving in favor of food that can be
shared. I prefer variety, and laksa will plain fill you up. Maybe the
gluttonous solution would be to get the laksa to go? Coconut milk overdose
all around.

Nyonya* 5323 Eighth Ave., Brooklyn, NY


Ack, red sauce. I'm weird about Italian-American food, but every now and
then I'll concede. Plus, it was a rainy, lazy Friday night and John's is
mere blocks from James's.

With a few of the specials it appeared the chef was attempting to branch
out in odd ways. The bruschetta used guacamole as a base (and was
surprisingly good) and a miso halibut was also offered (didn't take the
bait). The trouble with avoiding red sauce, is that you're generally faced
with lots of white, creamy and fatty alternatives (which I like a little too
much). Regardless, I went the high calorie route. The chicken stuffed with
cheese in a sauce of champagne-glazed mushrooms was downright tasty. I
intended to eat half and save the rest to give my arteries a break, but darn
it if I didn't down the whole portion.

John's Restaurant * 302 E. 12th St., New York, NY

Kettle Corn

Orville Redenbacher's Kettle Corn  I don’t like popcorn much. In fact I’d never made microwave popcorn in my entire life until this evening. The converting factor? Kettle corn. Salty and sweet? Love the combo, along the lines of chocolate covered pretzels.

BB Sandwich Bar

I knew the big deal was the cheesesteaks, and that's what I went for. What I
didn't quite realize was that that's the only item they serve. The
whole experience is mildly disorienting at first. It's unclear if you're
entering the right establishment, as the door is inside a hallway, reggae
music was playing and no signs or menus were anywhere in sight. Though the
front of the building proclaims BB Sandwich Bar, I feared I'd stepped into a
Jamaican pattie joint. "We only have the cheesesteaks sandwich" proclaimed
the quiet Eastern European counter woman. Well, good enough, that's what
we'd come for anyway. I love the absurdity. I thought Hero's Sweet Potatoes
was single-minded (I know they do Korean food now), but this took the cake.

The sandwiches are prepared in batches so ours were ready to go. They
are not traditional, nor claim to be, though I wouldn't deem them overly
foofy either. The deal breaker for many would be the substitution of kaiser
roll for Italian bread. That doesn't bother me, but I am sort of a purist
where the cheese whiz is concerned. They cram a good portion of meat topped
with caramelized onions, spicy pepper relish and scant provolone. That's my
only beef–more cheese taste. I mean, cheese is in the name, right? Of
course that didn't stop me from quickly devouring their cheesesteak and
contemplating a second. Too bad they're not open late Sat. nights, I could
really go for one now.

BB Sandwich Bar * 120 W. Third St., New York, NY

Sweet Mama’s


What an odd scene. I honestly think this was the first time I've ever
uttered the words, "we're the youngest ones here" in Williamsburg. The aim
was barbecue and for some inexplicable reason I deterred James from going to
Pearson's with the promise of ribs at the newly located Sweet Mama's. I also
told him not to beat me if they didn't have ribs on the menu, though how
could they not, billing themselves as Southern and all. Well, the ribs were
on the menu in print, but not in presence. They'd just run out. Blasphemy.
I'll chalk it up to grand opening kinks, but that's a bad thing. I had
chicken with white barbecue sauce that wasn't white. I don't know what white
barbecue sauce even is, but for some strange reason I thought it'd be white.

Things turned interesting when the restaurant closed up shop at 11pm.
The bar scene grew a bit, a jazzy band started playing and craggy
milk-drinking lesbians sat in the corner. I became freaked out by the 4'11,
tan, heavily banged blonde, 50-something in a hot pink polyester dress with
white pumps and lots o' makeup primping in the bathroom mirror. Next thing I
knew, she started cutting a rug. I was a little shocked at first, then a bit
soothed. It looks like a slice of Park Slope came with the restaurant's
move. Williamsburg could use a little scene-shifting. (5/11/02)

So, it's back in Park Slope and in a lesbian bar. I wouldn't even know
that if I hadn't been assigned the place to review for Time Out NY. Odd,
very odd. (3/1/03)

*Gone for good. (6/11/04)

Sweet Mama's * 559 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY

Franklin Station Cafe


I've always wondered what Tribeca French-Malaysian would be like, and now
that I've sampled some I'm still not too sure. Granted, I went for
breakfast, not the most representative meal of the day. The place offers
legitimate Malaysian dishes like laksa, rendang and satay along side roasted
turkey and tuna salad sandwiches. It's not fusion, and based upon the
seemingly Malaysian and French duo working behind the counter, appears to be
a friendship arrangement. Unfortunately, I can only comment on the
unadventurous ham and cheese omelet I ate. Boring, I know, but it didn't
seem right to risk congee in a non-Chinese establishment.

Franklin Station
* 222 W. Broadway, New York,NY