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I find it irksome how New Yorkers are so tied to their neighborhoods, particularly Williamsburgers who treat the “nabe” like some hipster hobbit shire. I will gladly venture out of Carroll Gardens, though it recently struck me as odd that I haven't tried any of the newish restaurants in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene. In fact, I don't think I've set foot in the Pratt area since working there half a decade ago (jeez, its weird to quantify NYC time in terms of decades. It simultaneously makes you feel authoritative and really old).

For my first proper meal since my big S.E. Asian vacation I was aiming for something relatively local and recently opened. Little Bistro, Taku, Beast and Luz were the contenders, and somehow the latter won out.

The food is a Nuevo Latino mish mash, the décor modern and stylish, the clientele multicultural and both youthful and mature. It cuts a wide swath. James and I shared a trio of acceptable empanadas, tasty but kind of mushy. My entrée, a fairly traditional plate of lechon, plantains and rice and pigeon peas worked (and probably cost $5 more than at a Puerto Rican take out joint, a fair price for the ambiance). The pork was juicy and flavorful rather than dry and bland as it tends to be at these upper scale Hispanic restaurants.

James chose a weird dish of salmon crusted in brown sugar with something green and a lima bean puree. He wasn't fond of it, which wasn't surprising since it sounded a little off. The couple seated closely next to us ordered the exact same duo, he the fish, her the pork. Not that that's a testament to great ordering skills. I would suggest sticking to the less experimental dishes, and having a few strong caipirinhas.

Oh, and skip their version of a molten cake, which anyone with good sense would do anyway. I was just tempted by the accompaniments of coconut ice cream and caramelized bananas. James proclaimed the less-than-molten overcooked cake a “fucking muffin” which drew the amused attention of the loud Bay Ridgey girl right next to us (who'd replaced the earlier couple) who claimed to be an expert in molten cakes and joked that shed order hers “rare.” Unless you want to bond with your dining neighbors (and I know some people enjoy that sort of thing) keep quiet about your dessert's shortcomings.

Luz * 177 Vanderbilt St., Brooklyn, NY

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