Skip to content

Archive for

Heart and Palette

Thankfully, I stumbled upon a palate problem right before the end of the month. I was starting to get concerned that 2014 had turned itself around. #blessed

Also, there is a new venue called Pinot’s Palette in Staten Island. I would like to hold the borough responsible for that name, but it’s a national chain and actually involves painting.


International Intrigue: Country-Hopping, Coops, Cheesecake

I’m not buying any of this fine dining musical chairs–Noma to Japan, Fat Duck to Melbourne, Can Roca on worldwide road tour–until after April 1. Though nothing about this news is particularly funny, so who knows.

Tangentially related to food, a Park Slope-inspired coop will open in Paris next year.

This piece on Moscow’s fascination with everything Brooklyn, Williamsburg, specifically, is not new, but new to me today (via Michele Humes on Facebook–is there a protocol for Facebook linking?). Most importantly, I learned that there is a restaurant called The Moscow Cheesecake. To my knowledge, cheesecake has no hip variation unless Russians are being ironic about Junior’s.

With over 900 stores, South Korea is Dunkin’ Donuts’ largest international market. Of course “The New York Pie Doughnut,”a.k.a. the Cronut knock-off, gets a shout out.

Oh, and by the way the first-ever Fuddruckers in Europe opened today. Varese, Italy is the lucky recipient. The beef is sourced from Piedmontese cattle and locals have a burger created specifically for them called The Lumberjack with bacon, Provolone and grilled mushrooms. Poland and Switzerland could be next.

Cool Story, Sis

Though I rarely post about it, I do have a thing for unnaturally colored food. It’s bright; it’s fun–why not?

Sarah Rainey over at The Telegraph isn’t having of it, though. One might think that an article titled “Why I Can’t Stomach Technicolor Food” would be about Burger King’s black ninja buns or McDonald’s cherry blossom burgers, not heirloom tomatoes, blue potatoes and, er, white asparagus.

 I like my potatoes white, reliable and predictable. Just as I like my carrots orange, my asparagus green and my tomatoes red.

Maybe this is what constitutes trolling in the UK. Rainey does like multi-colored igloos, it turns out.

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.



The Runner

twoshovelThe Runner is very much a neighborhood restaurant, and one that’s needed in this particular neighborhood. (I’m selfishly interested because it’s likely that I will move back to Myrtle Avenue in the fall.) It’s the kind of restaurant–mousses, bone marrow, oysters, brown spirits–that wouldn’t be groundbreaking in other parts of Brooklyn, but Myrtle Avenue has held out a little longer than other gentrifying drags Even in Clinton Hill, Fulton Street gets most of the newcomers.

I’m often torn between wanting to try a brand new restaurant and giving them some breathing room because, you know, kinks can cloud an experience. Then again, if a restaurant is obviously on a PR tear, they’re asking for customers. And on my first visit (I will come back) The Runner didn’t seem prepared for them.

the runner steak frites

It also seemed like I’d fallen into some vortex, arriving with reservations before the crush, yet getting lost in the subsequent shuffle. A table came in after I did, ordered steak frites, ate their steak frites and paid for their steak frites before my steak frites showed up. And the steak frites were my favorite thing (hence, the half-eaten iPhone pic because I dove in so quickly). The fries were perfect, neither too fat nor thin, and the hanger steak was spot-on medium-rare with pan juices blending with what seemed to be a scallion-based chimichurri. It’s a good deal for $18.

the runner tongue bread with pistachio honey butterThe pizza oven leftover from the previous tenant (Anima, which I walked past a zillion times but was never compelled to visit) is being put to all sorts of uses like the tongue bread that contains no offal (sadly). It’s cibatta vaguely shaped like a tongue, and really a warm, crusty vehicle for the amazing pistachio-honey butter. Even used sparingly, though, there wasn’t enough butter for the amount of bread.

the runner bone marrow

Ah, bone marrow a la M. Wells, topped with breaded escargot like a new classic. The snails and sweet onion-apple jam would be great with bone marrow, but the vessels didn’t contain enough wobbly fat to even spread on a piece of toast (in contrast to a version I’d encountered a few nights before at Extra Fancy where there was almost too much marrow for the bread).

the runner roasted cauliflower

There are two vegetable dishes. I received both; the roast cauliflower with raisins, fried shallots and parsley that I originally wanted, and agrodolce spaghetti squash with pine nuts and basil as a free buffer while waiting for entrees. They did make a good lunch the next day.

Efforts were made to smooth the logjams (initially, I attributed the issues to the oven but a cocktail also took nearly 30 minutes to arrive). I was also offered a free dessert, but declined because I’d already had more than enough food. Despite some glitches, I could see myself returning and having the steak frites (also that tarte flambé) and a glass or two of wine at the bar.

The Runner * 458 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Chicken Is the Real Cronut

While looking for something else completely, I stumbled upon the existence of the term “grocerant,” which really just means young people buying more prepared food in-store and ordering restaurant takeout and delivery more often (I don’t think it includes frozen Arby’s curly fries, however). “Palate” was also used correctly to describe these sophisticated types, but sophistication only goes so far.

While it may seem like the entire universe is already hip to things like Sriracha, if not totally over it and onto the next fiery thing, 63% of Americans had no idea what rooster sauce even was and only 18% had ever tried it. Only ramen burgers and cronuts had less recognition.

Then again, more than half (55%) also didn’t know what fusion cuisine is, a style so dated in merited a comeback article in The Wall Street Journal, so perhaps these respondents were just hopeless. (Even my mom who lives in a trailer at the Oregon Coast texted me about cronuts over the summer.) The only category with a majority of first-hand experiencers was the vague chicken-only restaurant. I have no idea what that is–KFC? Zaxby’s?–or how it qualifies as a new trend. Do tell, if you know.

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Austin Edition

I am not at SXSW and have no intention of going to SXSW but I was just in Austin for the first time and I did eat some food. Barbecue, Tex-Mex and chili is all fine, but my goal was to eat as much queso as possible. Spoiler: I nearly succeeded.

kerby lane cafe migas
You can get migas at 4am at Kerbey Lane Cafe. The corn-speckled rice, beans, crumbled tortilla chips, plus foil-wrapped tortillas on the side is more starch than I’d normally recommend at this hour sober. I missed a queso opportunity here.

texas chili parlor enchilada

I suspect that Texas Chili Parlor is the Gumbo Shop of Austin. I never want to eat at the touristy restaurant in New Orleans but always acquiesce. Normally, I think chili is disgusting (I also just complained on Facebook about accidentally receiving free hotdogs so I’m a monster) but that’s just because I’m biased against the soupy ground beef and kidney bean style. The dense, stewed Texan all-beef version is right on. Really, it’s like a rendang, or to be more geographically correct, carne guisada. I also thought they were bullshitting on the XXX heat level, but it was no lie. XX was safer, though I just had mine slathered on top of cheese (processed, of course) enchiladas. And yes, that’s a small queso in the background.

true detective assemblage

Bloody marys seemed acceptable on an early Saturday, and for the record, the stubby $2.50 drinks were easily 75% vodka. Two, and you’ll think you’ve hallucinated what appear to be True Detective devil’s nests at the so-called botanical garden (as no plants were in bloom, I’m still not convinced).

nuevo mexico dinner

Enchiladas y Mas down the street seemed more promising, but all the clumps of people out front was foreboding and I needed melted cheese asap, so strip mall El Nuevo Mexico sufficed, despite mildly weird service and a slightly downtrodden atmosphere (I want my Tex-Mex to be uplifting). Queso was followed by an enchilada and tamale combo bathed in more orange cheese (and also included a hard shell taco).

louie mueller bbq facade

Barbecue must be eaten in Austin, obviously, even if it means forgetting cheese for a few hours. Barbecue could also merit its own post, but I prefer to just eat it rather than rhapsodizing at length about smoke rings and bark. Since I won’t wait in line for food in NYC, no exception could be made for Texas either. Franklin Barbecue wasn’t happening. A car means you can drive 30 minutes in two opposite directions for the smoked meat cluster in Lockhart or the singular attraction in Taylor.


louie mueller beef rib

I opted for the latter, Louie Mueller, if only because of the imposing beef rib I’d been tempted by online. While everyone eating on a Friday afternoon (standing inside in 10-minute line that in NYC would take 2 minutes) had accents to my ears, they were clearly not locals because I was asked/ma’amed by a few inquiring about the hunk of meat laying on my tray.

louie mueller bbq tray

Even if one beef rib is too much food for two, get some brisket (a mix of lean and moist here) anyway and don’t stress over the sides because they aren’t really anything special. Wheat bread seemed unorthodox, but they did offer it.

louie mueller christmas in february

Louie Mueller certainly wins on decor with a patina that’s hard to fake.  (The fresh plywood version, complete with gargantuan beef rib is available at Hometown in Red Hook fyi.) How long the Christmas tree stays up, I have no idea.

Stiles Switch, lacking the history but retaining a degree of dusty main street quaintness, is not a bad bet, especially if you want barbecue in Austin city limits on a Sunday evening, indoor seating and a beer or two. I will say that my dining companion preferred the brisket at Stiles Switch over Louie Mueller and leave it at that.

tacodeli breakfast tacos

So much trauma for a breakfast taco. I not only take being open on a Sunday for granted, but that in NYC you can brunch till practically sundown. Procuring a breakfast taco at 12:06 took three attempts and ultimately brought me to Tacodeli where I encountered the longest line of the entire long weekend. Whether due to the brilliance of Tacomix’s fare (organic, free-range, not greasy spoon) or because they are the only restaurant in the entire city that serves breakfast until 3pm on weekends, I’m not sure. I would take a regular cheese-less (yes, I know) corn tortilla taco over a breakfast taco, but if you say you didn’t try one there will be hell to pay. Once again, I shirked my duties by forgoing the queso.

lone star court day

Regrets: No kolaches (also a Sunday problem), not making it to Eddie V’s, Darden’s most unknown brand, or any of the chains at The Domain, an upscale-ish mall complex next to my hotel. I mean, there was a freaking Maggiano’s directly in the line of sight from my porch rocking chairs.

Qui? I will give it its own post.

Rotisserie Georgette

twoshovelBecause I didn’t see myself ever going uptown to eat expensive chicken, I never paid any mind to Rotisserie Georgette chatter–you can’t keep tabs on everything–but it turned out to be the ideal setting for a Valentine’s-ish (never on the 14th) dinner.

On a particularly brutal weeknight, the dining room was suffering from the half-empty cold-weather blight cited by Cuozzo, but still managed to feel buzzy. I stressed out irrationally over how to wear heels around unavoidable ice puddles (short of taking a cab, obviously) and figured out that you don’t. The five-inch heel crowd seemed excited for the chance to wear statement yeti boots with shaggy fur and jangling pom poms.

Simplicity really is the beauty of the restaurant, though. You barely have to think because you know you’re going to order chicken in some form, and that puts the focus on conversation rather than an attention-hogging parade of courses. The concept also addresses the FOMOOOD (fear of missing out on other dishes) factor that’s possible at other chicken-for-two notables like The NoMad.

rotisserie georgette chicken

With criss-crossed blocks of seared foie gras tucked into the back of the metal basket and mushrooms and panko crumbs smothering the breasts, poule de luxe arriving on raised platform, is where it’s at. The skin was just shy of burnished (of course the Instagram filter deceives–all my real photos turned out blurred, most likely the result of an extended stop at Subway Inn beforehand) still delicious but in need of slightly more crackle. The meat, though, was perfectly juicy–even oven-baked leftovers the next day were no worse for the wear. Coupled with a bottle of Chinon Cabernet Franc that cost less than the bird, it was a winning combo.

Sides are less important (though I still get bummed when you request remainders to go and they’ve been tossed). The red cabbage and apple was tart, traditional and contained very large nuggets of cured pork. And the sundae, advertised as a brown butter parfait, showed up with hot fudge in lieu of caramel, but before I could object, the waiter deflected, “Oh no, chocolate is wonderful” and started to pour the thick sauce in a way that couldn’t be argued with, smoothly, forcefully French.

Rotisserie Georgette * 14 E. 60th St., New York, NY


Staten Island Shutter Shocker

jose tejasOf limited interest to even residents of Staten Island and Woodbridge, New Jersey, but big news to me: the Staten Island Mall Bonefish Grill closed after little more than a year in business. Sad news (Carrabba’s, the previous tenant owned by the same company, fared no better–if a chain can’t even succeed on Staten Island) but the real story may be the poll conducted by the Staten Island Advance showing that 38% of locals wish Jose Tejas would replace the dead Bonefish.

I’ve never been able to understand the wild popularity of Jose Tejas (and I was just there a few weeks ago) a Tex-Mex-Cajun restaurant that has an un-suburban wait for tables even on a weeknight after 9pm. The rock bottom prices must have something to do with it, but I’ve also speculated that diners might think it’s not a chain because the other branches go by Border Cafe. The Chevy’s down Route 1 is never full, for instance. And my theory has now been supported; the Advance just reported that Jose Tejas is not a chain.

Say Goodbye to Casseroles and Jell-O

Photo: Lotteria

Photo: Lotteria

I’m pretty sure that The New York Times buried the lede in its whopping piece on the changing role of women in the Mormon church. Young ladies from Utah harassing Koreans on buses is kind of fascinating (especially since I just watched a similar scene–minus Mormons or Koreans–on House of Cards) but skip down to the fifth from last paragraph.

In South Korea, Ms. Farr, the former beauty pageant contestant and future businesswoman, was knocking on doors and setting a baptism date for her first convert, a teenage girl with whom she had formed a deep connection. But her mind had also been turning with new business ideas: a novel way to export and sell pearl jewelry, and restaurant chains that would sell some of the cheap Korean treats like rice burgers to students at Brigham Young. “I have to do the market research when I get back,” she said.

I am sensing a true calling here. Do you think she was inspired by Lotteria, Baburger or Mos Burger?