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Eaten, Barely Blogged: Uncleansed

Zeppelin Hall
Somehow a Saturday juice cleanse (never attempt such nonsense on a weekend) segued into an Oktoberfest celebration at a Jersey City beer hall. By 6pm I felt cranky, useless, and zombie-like, which may have had more to do with caffeine withdrawals than a lack of solid food. I carried beet juice in my purse but ended up with a mug of Spaten Oktoberfest and a shared bratwurst. I am a failure at detoxing and can’t go without one meal a day (today was breakfast and dinner juicing with a Trader Joe’s burrito for lunch and that’s as good as it will get). I would not even continue perpetuating the juicing sham if I had not paid good money for a discounted 18-bottle supply from RueLaLa late one pathetic night. On the walk from the PATH to the subway I noticed the new all mirrors, glass, and flatscreens-filled so-called gastropub, The Fulton, that had replaced The Blarney Stone. Ugh, an opening night party was in full-swing and was pure Meatpacking District mashed with Murray Hill. Will bros and the tanned, hair-straightened ladies who love them really make the Financial District a regular habit?

The Vanderbilt
The Vanderbilt is very likeable, even though I’ve never given it a proper post. I wouldn’t call it a destination even though we drove there and have done so numerous times, and it’s clearly popular because there’s almost always a wait unless you go on the late side. James pointed out (it was his pick) that we don’t have any restaurants like it in our neighborhood. Bullshit, I thought. Doesn’t the entire northwest swath of Brooklyn have small plates (what some like to refer to as tapas) coming out if its ass? But then I started drawing a blank. I can’t think of anywhere in Carroll Gardens that serves well-priced snacks and sharable dishes with an American bent. Things like charred brussels sprouts with honey and Sriracha, perfectly caramelized, sweet and spicy, or the crispy little slab of pork belly flavored with smoked maple syrup and surrounded by cheddary grits. I don’t even like hot dogs and appreciated the Bird Dog, a foie gras and chicken tube steak on a potato roll with fat patatas bravas-esque fries.  Nearly nothing is over $14 and plenty of wine is under $10 a glass. I’m still trying to think of a comp in a ten-block radius from my apartment.

Maria’s Mexican Bistro
I never wanted to eat at Maria’s when it was in Park Slope, but now that it’s in Sunset Park it seems ok. Sometimes you want to eat in that neighborhood but feel like more atmosphere and reprieve from potentially blasting jukeboxes. My trio of enchiladas came with three different fillings—shrimp, chicken and queso fresco—and an equal number of sauces to match. Despite the bandera in its name, tomatillos, red chiles, and mole equaled green, red, and brown. White? Brown? Whatever. One of the flashier things to order is the molcajete Norteño, which is a bunch of sizzling shrimp, steak, queso fresco, and peppers served in one of those nubby lava rock vessels commonly used to pound guacamole in).

Waterfront Ale House
I’ve never had anything except the cheeseburger at this bar with a bustling dining section, and was a little wary after my last experience dealt me a medium-well instead of medium-rare. And I was especially nervous after waiting for 20 minutes on a weeknight after 9pm with harried (it’s a popular place with some oddly high-maintenance customers). I don’t send things back anyway, but if you had to and it took half an hour to receive your food in the first place, would you bother? No worries, the cheeseburger was perfectly pink and juicy with just a little sog; the brioche bun always stays together. Half of the fun is deciding which condiments to use from the twenty or so mustards, ketchups, and assorted savory liquids and goos displayed next to each table. Sweet-hot Inglehoffer mustard and green chile Tabasco for the burger and a mix of ketchup and chipotle Tabasco for the fries, followed by a blob of fruity HP and a dash of Outerbridge’s Sherry Peppers sauce on my finger because I always forget (flavor memories are just as weak as my normal memories) what the unusual amber liquid tastes like. Like alcohol and habaneros. I will return when fall finally stops feeling like summer and have a glass of their famous eggnog. Eggs, cream, sugar, and liquor is the anti-juice cleanse.

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