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Posts from the ‘Clinton Hill’ Category

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


twoshovelSomething about Clinton Hill attracts upstart pizza makers who modernize anachronistic ingredients, and I’m all for it. The Provel cheese used at Speedy Romeo  taps into some part of my soul, despite having zero roots in St. Louis. Processed cheese is one thing. Bell peppers are quite another.

emily camp randall pizza

The ground pork sausage and still crunchy green peppers (mushrooms are ok) on The Camp Randall at Emily dredges up the unsavory past. At least there were no canned black olives and the cheese curds were unexpected. Even though the combo made me want to cry, I do appreciate the presence of a midwestern “supreme” pizza among the taleggio, prosciutto and honey.

emily 'nduja, uni, pistachio spaghetti

I kept quiet, though, because I’d picked the pasta and didn’t want to be a ordering control freak while dining with a semi-ex-boyfriend. The spaghetti was al dente and crazy rich as you’d expect from ‘nduja, uni and pistachios. It was the crushed nuts, oddly, that stood out the most. The sea urchin and spreadable spicy sausage lost their distinctiveness and instead lent an overall creaminess. It looks to be a work in progress; the current iteration keeps the ‘nduja and adds curry leaves and a poached egg instead.

emily pig ear salad

The kale hegemony is finally complete. I was warned about a change in the kale salad even though I wasn’t ordering the kale salad. It’s now just assumed that all diners will order the kale salad (our neighbors did). No, break free and get the hearty greens in a mustardy vinaigrette with crispy ribbons of fried pig ears that act as a bacony crouton. Interestingly, 1 Knickerbocker has a similar salad that contains curry leaves. Curry leaves and pig ears are already hot in 2014.

emily pizza oven

The service is as nice as can be, the neighborhood could use new restaurants and the pizzas have great potential–do not take my personal food aversions to be a condemnation.

Emily * 919 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Chinchulines, Cue, Cavatelli

Boca juniors parrillada

Boca Juniors You'll hear about La Fusta or El Gauchito, if you hear about Queens Argentine restaurants at all. Boca Juniors, not so much, possibly because it's a theme restaurant. What kind of self-respecting food-loving Buenos Aires resident would eat at a Jets-themed steakhouse catering to American expats? No matter, it's fun, and the food is respectable enough. Have a few empanadas, order some grilled meat (if you look out of place–I did–you may get cautioned against the parrillada for two, pictured in its sweetbread, intestine and blood sausage-filled glory, but it takes little to convince that you know what you're getting into) or pasta. I have no idea staff still breaks into song and does a dance routine with blue and yellow umbrellas; on this early mid-week evening, the room was half full with most tables for two seated side-by-side at four-seaters, positioned to watch the live Boca Juniors game on the two wall-mounted flatscreens. The elderly couple in Boca jerseys splitting a bottle of wine were my heroes. Or maybe it's the Argentine house wine pours, always to the rim, that are my heroes. Inexpensive Malbec and a jumble of organ meat are made for each other.

Fatty cue green chili lamb bao

Fatty 'Cue I only went once in its former guise and
that was three years ago so I'm hazy, but Fatty 'Cue 2.0 doesn't seem radically
different to me. The layout's more or less the same. There are cocktails, smoked
meats, funky dips, pig's ears and heads. Maybe the baos are new? There could be
more vegetables than previously. The one notable difference is that the pork
ribs, still great and salty-sweet from fish sauce and sugar, were $14 for three
last time and $12 now (the online menu says $11, but I don't think that's
correct). So, maybe lower prices? The green chili lamb bao was done more Indian
than Southeast Asian, with a tamarind sauce, yogurt and cucumber. Winsome. The
whole steamed fish, the only non-meaty large plate, seems an odd choice in
retrospect. The components were straightforward, turmeric and lime rubbed onto
the fish itself, with chile sauce and ketchup manis for dipping. No complaints,
but I would stick with the meat.

Aita trio

Aita I think I said I would never go here, not out
of malice, but because I eat Italian food so rarely. After 10pm on a weeknight,
though, the dining choices in an immediate two-block radius after a few
Manhattans at Mayflower, are slim. The fried rabbit in the style of fried
chicken with a lot more sage, was fun, if not bony. Something possessed me to
order wheat pasta, cavatelli, with a lamb ragu and favas, not completely out of
whack with this still-cool-at-night spring (that's not a complaint, and no,
it's still not summer, Memorial Day over or not). If you want to continue with
the rye-drinking, the cocktail list isn't bad.

Three Letters

When I heard “70’s French Truck Stop,” my first
thought was Restaurant Madrid, a ramshackle diner along the route between Quebec City and Montreal with monster trucks and
dinosaurs in the parking lot, even though that's French-Canadian, not French French. My second thought was "that's
likely bullshit," though to be fair they did temper their vision with "vaguely." (I had similar thoughts when The Third Man
was described endlessly as inspired by the Loos Bar, a description I
wouldn't have questioned if I hadn't just been in Vienna and knew better. I
also see I'm not alone in my grumbling.)

I still wanted to see what Three Letters was about,
if only because Clinton Hill is a little new restaurant-deprived. I was not
alone in my curiosity. At 7pm on a Saturday there was already a half-hour wait
and by the time I was seated it was getting a little traumatic (many of the same people
were still waiting for tables by the time we vacated). Buzz, they have it.

Meanwhile, The Wallace, just a ways down Fulton is
always empty and now a daily deal staple (couples on both sides of my table,
British, deeper-middle-aged and not impressed with Three Letters, and the two younger men who liked
things fine, mentioned this dichotomy, one to me intentionally, the other overheard) which makes me feel bad because the food at the Wallace is
solid and the newlyweds who run it seem earnest. It's just not a cool place.

Perhaps its the bar with a good number of seats and lots
of inexpensive snacks, including everyone's must-have: pickles, as we're now
all living in a "fried pickle environment." (About those pickles–I
got into an elevator conversation with coworker I've never really spoken with
before and it turns out she lives nearby, had gone on opening night and took issue
with what was described as fried pickles on the menu being fried pickled
vegetables, not pickled cucumbers, i.e. how the average American thinks of
pickles, and got condescended to by the bartender when asking about it.) The
prices don't hurt; the most expensive thing on the menu is $18 and bottles of
wine topped out at $45.

Three letters venison rissoles

Rissoles are like savory turnovers, and stuffed with
venison are not wildly dissimilar in concept to Do or Dine's fawntons. Served
with a smoked cherry jam, the $4 hors d'œuvre is one of those aforementioned
bites that could be fun to nibble at the bar.

The smaller dishes had more appeal on paper, though
I didn't get to fully test out this theory. Moules poutine, mussels, fries and
gravy, came from the kitchen in a steady stream, landing on what appeared to be
every table but ours (yet still made it onto the check–we were scolded for not
saying anything about not receiving it sooner). So, not all French French,
after all.

Three letters chicken st. james

I never order the roast chicken, but thought I'd
test out a basic, here called Chicken St. James and accompanied by grilled
broccoli and a potato gratin, described as pommes alene. I got nervous when
warned that it was "cooked to order" and would take 20 minutes, since
I would expect everything to be cooked to order. I remembered why I don't order
roast chicken unless it's pollo a la brasa: it's really boring.

The food, overall, is just ok. I'd rather eat at a
French truck stop in France, but I wouldn't discourage anyone in the vicinity
from stopping by (it's really a neighborhood restaurant, not the destination it
was being treated as). I would go back if someone suggested it. I don't know that they will. The service
could use a little softening around the edges, despite the allowances I can
make for a super-slammed opening weekend.

Three Letters * 930 Fulton St., Brookyn, NY


Eaten, Barely Blogged: Shrimp Heads, Downtown Ramen, Bitters-Free Manhattans

Allswell trio

Allswell. Being open till 11pm is not late night dining, not
in NYC anyway, and it's always bothered me, especially on weeknights when maybe
you want to go out to eat at 10:45pm and the pickings are beyond slim.  Allswell serves real food until 3am, not
whole menu, but it's something.  These
hyper-crispy head-on shrimp in a Meyer lemon sauce and duck rillettes were
pre-midnight, normal menu items. The burger, fat and meaty (with cheddar and
bacon, both add-ons) and perfectly pink inside, can be had any time. The fries
were an abomination, though, if you hate wet and oily thick-cut fries like I
do. Steak fries are the bane of my existence. That's the worst part about pub
burgers, which this appears to be emulating.  Bring a friend who likes fat, mushy fries (they
exist!) and let them go wild.

Ganso trio

Ganso. With ramen I often give the same disclaimer I use
with barbecue: I'm neither a fanatic or expert. Obviously, I like both and have
opinions, but I can't speak to what a broth's correct flavor should be or the
specific pH of mineral water needed to produce the ultimate noodles. Frankly, I
just like that there is a ramen shop in that odd pocket of downtown Brooklyn
near the IHOP. The short rib buns weren't anything remarkable, and a little
mesclun-y (I did not try the short rib ramen pictured, but love the idea that
each broth receives a different noodle, subtle and thoughtful) but the spicy
miso ramen with thinly sliced pork belly, Chinese broccoli and a soft-boiled,
soy-infused egg was winsome, if not a little gut-busting (I always find that
Asian noodle soups of this size put me into a coma). I will be even more happy
about Ganso being there when it becomes cold enough to better appreciate the
ramen's warming and filling properties.

Mayflower. A miniscule moderately new bar affiliated with neighboring
Aita, a corner Italian restaurant I may never visit because I rarely eat
Italian food (unless you count pizza). Some might call it a speakeasy (signage
was recently added). Jonathan Ames was there on a date, at least I think so, I
don't like staring at people. The bartenders (who can get overwhelmed when at
capacity) are weird about bitters: on one visit none were used in a Manhattan,
on the other I was asked whether or not I wanted them used. Would it
be too hyperbolic to say that a Manhattan without bitters is not a Manhattan? Still like the place.

Along with Prospect, it's one of two new upscale restaurants to open
on Fulton Street. I figured I should try one of them, and the main reason The
Wallace won out because it was slightly less expensive (entrees in the low $20s
vs. high $20s–now that I live in new shiny condo, no complaints, I'm going
broke buying things like shades for ten-foot-high windows). There's nothing
radical going on, food-wise or with the decor (one might get the impression
this was another tin ceilings, Edison bulb joint, but the interior is oddly
generic like it could've been a suburban Italian restaurant in a previous
life–ok, it was Caribbean) just solid, well-seasoned New American dishes with French
foundations like crispy pork belly on a bed of lentils with braised greens, the
latter an unexpected slight Southern twist, and tilefish with a potato gratin and
beurre blanc tinged with saffron. Manhattans are on the cocktail list and bitters are used, no question.

Il Porto. When I was assigned to review this Italian/pizza
place for
after it opened a few years ago, I thought it was in the
middle of nowhere. I guess it still is, though now that I live down the street and
that the scary-seeming (not just to me) Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge has been
gutted and looks like any generic storefront for sale, the block seems less
isolated and off-putting. With that said, it's not a destination unless you're
already in Fort Greene or Clinton Hill. The wood-fired pizza is pretty good
(arugula, prosciutto and parmesan is popular) though the floury, barely charred
and nearly flaky crust that I happen to like probably isn't the pinnacle of
Neapolitan pie-making.

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Hello, Myrtle Avenue

I took so many photos at Sapolo that I decided to
give it its own post.

Chinantla. I'm excited to have what feels like a
secret taqueria (there is a full-on restaurant in the back of this bodega, not
just a counter with a seat or two) only six blocks away. Mini-chains Calexico
and Oaxaca have their fans, but they just weren't cutting it for me. The pork
enchilada (as in chile sauced, not the dish with the name) probably wasn't the
wisest pick. The meat was pounded to schnitzel thinness and sauteed till lifeless
and tough enough to start bending the flimsy metal knife I was given. With a big
scoop of refried beans, mountain range of Mexican rice and slices of avocado
and nopales, it was a lot of food for $9, though. I'll definitely return for
something simpler and more fool-proof because I want this place to be good.

Tepango trio

Tepango. is four blocks closer to me and courts a
broader audience with things like hard shell tacos and what they call a Super
Taco, a $5 fat rolled corn tortilla filled with meat and enrobed melted cheese
like a taco-burrito-quesadilla hybrid. These are just regular $2 tacos, the al
pastor sweet with lots of pineapple chunks and grilled onions. They deliver,
but it's worth stopping by in person to see the hand-drawn anime and fantasy
Aztec art that decorates the walls.

Zaytoons pitza

Zaytoons. The only Carroll Gardens/Clinton Hill
crossover, I think, and not the only neighborhood Middle Eastern choice (Damas
Falafel House still needs to assessed). It's byob, five mezzes are only $8.50
(I'm always impressed with how good the boring sounding lentils and rice,
moujadarra, is–it must be all the oily fried onions mixed in) and while maybe
melted cheese and lamb weren't meant to go together, I often end up with a shawarma

Maggie Brown. There's nothing really notable about
this solidly neighborhood restaurant/bar (there is nearly an equal amount of
small space devoted to eating as drinking). The burger is pretty solid
(medium-rare is honored) and there's a nice backyard. My only knowledge of
Maggie Brown up until now was when it got the Under $25 treatment eight years
, and I was surprised to see a Clinton Hill restaurant making The Times. It
still feels a little 2004, which is to say good enough for a transitional area
but not in line with the current crop of new nearish restaurants (Lulu &
Po, The Wallace, Prospect). And that's ok.

Clinton hill white castle

White Castle. For the second time in my NYC
existence, I live a block from a White Castle. This time it's directly across
the street and the view I'm treated to when peeking over the terrace. I don't
think I will ever be tempted by the sign advertising their new parfaits, but
the also-new jalapeno and cheese sliders (I have not been wild enough to try
the version with crispy fried onions yet) are not a bad 94-cent snack for those
who dig gooey processed cheese and chiles as much as I do. I hope this doesn't
become a habit.



Unlike Lulu and Po or Do or Dine, which I can't
technically claim as part of my new neighborhood (they're three and two blocks
outside the Clinton Hill borders, respectively) Sapolo firmly counts. In fact, it's
one of the first restaurants I noticed because it's kind of hard to miss. A
late night favorite with the patrons of Myrtle Avenue doormen clubs, Bamboo and
SoCo (ostensibly a restaurant) and mulleted Pratt students sipping cocktails
the color of  jordan almonds, Sapolo also
represents a dying NYC breed, the sit-down Chinese-American restaurant.

Sapalo interior

And then they also serve "Spanish" food,
oh, and piña coladas in to-go cups. It's a lot to take in.

Sapolo wontons

And to digest, portion-wise. Of course, you're first
brought wontons and duck sauce to nibble on while pondering the list of
cocktails ranging from the classic Singapore Sling to the notorious Nutcracker while
checking out your zodiac on the paper placemat.

Saplo general tso chicken combo

Combos are designed for value with a big butte of
fried rice (with substantial chunks of chicken or roast pork) and classics like
the General Tso chicken pictured. This is not a poor representation of the genre
and easily a notch above corner takeout style. The brown sauce was not overly
corn-starched and gloppy and while it was sweet as one would expect, there was
actual spice. I was tempted to eat more than half the serving, which any sane
person would get wrapped up to go.

Sapolo egg roll

The eggroll comes on its own plate with a steak

Sapolo signage

Honestly, I'm not sure what you're supposed to order
at a restaurant like Sapolo. The clientele isn't Caribbean, the staff is all
Chinese, so it would seem safer to stick with lo mein and beef with broccoli than
fried plantains, paella and bistec empanizado. The window sign does tout pollo
a la brasa, though. And it just might be the biggest restaurant in the area, so I wouldn't call them liars.

Sapolo * 501 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Clinton Hill Times Three

Soco red velvet waffle and chickenSoCo I’ve been spending time in Clinton Hill recently, trying to assess the livability of the neighborhood (I would say the prognosis is good; we put an offer on a condo yesterday). I’m not a total stranger to the area since I did work at Pratt briefly in the late ’90s (my first-ever, full-time salaried job [$22,000] which I left to work at a food website–yes, they existed 13 years ago–for $3,000 more. Everyone got laid off six months later…) but Myrtle Avenue has ten million more bars and restaurants than in my day. SoCo was the craziest (well, the booming sit-down Chino-Latino place with the name I always forget technically was) in that there was a huge crowd spilling out onto the sidewalk. More club than restaurant. But the next afternoon, the post-brunch crowd seemed mellower so I joined in, lured by the promise of fried chicken and red velvet waffles on the window menu. It’s the most popular dish, too, I was told. I would estimate that at least half of the tables had at least one plate of red waffles on it. The mash-up was far less breakfast/dinner than dinner/dessert hybrid. The sweetness was there, and pumped up by the maple syrup, but the cocoa flavor almost grounded it. You really didn’t feel like you were eating chicken and cake, just a tasty new form of fat and carbs. Lovers of unnaturally colored food and nonsensical flavor combinations will be pleased.

Speedy romeo dick dale pizza-001Speedy Romeo I love processed cheese, not just Velveeta and Cheez Whiz, but thickly sliced deli cheese, too, all extra creamy and salty. I also love Hawaiian pizza, so it’s almost as if Speedy Romeo’s Dick Dale was custom made for me. Using popular-in-St. Louis Provel cheese (a melty, processed cheese that combines cheddar, swiss and provolone) plus pineapple and smoky speck ham on a wood-fired pizza is pure genius. Adding a spoonful of pickled chiles, the restaurant’s condiment of record, provides a sharp contrast against the smoother, sweet flavors, and makes this pizza one of my all-time favorites. That is not say, all will love it, especially considering ham and pineapple is a scourge to purists, never mind the utterly un-artisanal cheese. Oh, Slice covered this very pizza this week with a nice slide show and everything–I had no idea it contained béchamel.

Putnam’s Pub It’s a gastropub, nothing out of the ordinary, but good to know about if a late night roasted bone marrow or devils on horseback (not bacon-wrapped dates here, which is the usual interpretation, but fried oyster topped deviled eggs) craving strikes.

Sunset park diner & donuts grilled cheese sandwichSunset Park Diner & Donuts I never ate here once when I lived down the street, though that’s not really a judgment of the restaurant but more about my rarely eating at diners. It’s slim pickings for post-2am dining in the area, and they do a grilled cheese with bacon deluxe, i.e. with fries, as good as anyone. The restaurant is even on Seamless, which is surprising. It almost makes me wish I still lived over there just so I could have french toast and jalapeño poppers delivered to my door at 3am.


This time of year in 2007 I was writing ten restaurant reviews a month for Latina, and it didn’t take long before I felt like crying tio if faced with one more plate of beans, yellow rice, plantains or yuca. The gig didn’t even last into the second half of the year, but I still burnt out on nearly everything Latino (Peruvian and Mexican, excepted). I wondered if I’d ever have a craving again.

It took three years. Saturday night and all I could think about was Nuevo Latino fare. And being provincial like most Brooklynites, I didn’t feel like heading into Manhattan (it’s not as if the MTA has been making it easy lately) where Yerba Buena would make a fine choice. Brooklyn has Luz or Bogota Latin Bistro. Both are acceptable not remarkable. Sometimes average is good enough, though.

I chose Luz because I have only been once when it was new (and because the last time I was at Bogota Latin Bistro, I threw up on the sidewalk out front, no fault of the food, maybe the fault of cahaça). Scaffolding nearly obscuring its entire façade, the busy restaurant is a bright spot in a barren patch of Clinton Hill. And it was hopping, only one table open and every bar stool occupied, primarily with date night couples.

Luz baron rojo

Based on casual observation, cocktails outnumber wine orders two to one. I had a Baron Rojo, the blackcurrant, rum, pisco, cranberry juice and aguardiente garnished with star anise was potent yet still sweeter than what I'd typically drink.

Luz crab ceviche

Crab ceviche was light and limey and served traditionally with toasted corn kernels.

Luz ribs

The pork ribs were an odd choice to start with since I had beef ribs for my main. Once again, a bit sweet, and from a cranberry bbq sauce. Cranberries don't strike me as particularly Latino, but here they were again.

Luz short ribs, shrimp pastelito, pickled okra

I chose the short ribs because the description seemed so cold weather appropriate: rijoa chestnut jus, butternut squash and shrimp pastelon and pickled okra. The okra seemed like the oddball component but the rich, fatty meat and shrimp-filled pastry covered in melted cheese desperately needed something crispy and tart. Okra was smart.

Luz isn't really a destination restaurant. It's not really even a travel from Carroll Gardens restaurant. But if it were in my neighborhood, I would pay a visit every now and then.

Previously on Luz.

Luz * 177 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, NY


  Vowing not to write off all West African food after my Ghanaian mishap at Meytex Cafe,  I was happy to attend a group dinner (Pete from Word of Mouth, Dave from Eating in Translation and a few message board regulars were also present) at Clinton Hill’s Mariam, not to be confused with South Brooklyn’s Israeli cuisine chainlet, Miriam.

The owners are from Guinea, and the menu reflects that country’s offerings as well as nearby Senegal’s. Frankly, I know little about either so sampling a wide variety was a must. Hopefully, I won’t misidentify too wildly. I’ll start with the high points.

Mariam fish

Poisson frit with achecke in mustard sauce was a hit and more complex than simple fried fish on a plate. I’m guessing the fish was tilapia because it’s common and it had that not unpleasant soil taste that you often get from the bottom-feeding species. The mild white flesh was encased in rightly crispy skin. Acheke is a fluffy fermented cassava-derived starch that only had the slightest tang, and it paired well with the sharp mustard-flavored onions.

Mariam oxtail

I really liked the stewed oxtails but how can oxtails be bad? The bones had a nice amount of meat attached as well as bits of gelatin.

Mariam potato leaves

Sauce feuille patate. Our first choice was cassava leaves, but they only had potato leaves. Not that I would be able to detect the difference. I didn’t even know potatoes had leaves—I do wonder if they meant sweet potato? This dish is described as containing meat, but I’m not certain what meat as I didn’t sample any brown hunks. Interestingly, a welcome fishy shrimp paste flavor colored this dish.

Mariam fowl

The guinea fowl was a bit dry and tough, not the most successful dish. We chose the same accompaniments that the fish came with. I did appreciate the half-cube of Maggi bullion even though I didn't understand its purpose. Were they attempting to display quality? A table across form us had an enormous jug of Maggi sauce sitting on it–this was clearly an MSG-friendly zone.

Mariam callaloo

We ordered callaloo but I swear this isn’t predominantly the leafy green, which is akin to chard. There was some serious mucilaginous action occurring that could only be attributed to okra.

Mariam couscous

They don’t only employ couscous look-alikes acheke-style, but the mini grains, themselves. The sauteed onions, hard-boiled egg half and green olive were a nice addition. There's something almost Moorish about this.


Ok, I wouldn't say that sweets were Mariam's strength. I wasn’t sure what to make of one described as being served with tomato sauce. That couldn’t have been a typo, right? We ordered one, which was essentially yogurt mixed with canned fruit cocktail. This was thaikry, couscous tossed with sour cream and vanilla extract. I wouldn’t say that it’s wildly cravable, but was slightly more satisfying and sweeter than I'd expected. I might occasionally eat it for breakfast instead of Trader Joe’s instant oatmeal or Greek yogurt if given the option but it’s not the most stellar dessert.

Unrelated to food, this restaurant happens to be a mere two blocks from that fancy condo complex that I'm mildly obsessed with. I strolled by and took at look since I had 20 minutes to kill before dinner. The building isn't shabby,  but it might be hard to justify a $1 million price tag with little more than car washes, storage units, 24-hour adult video store, check cashing joints, McDonald's, Golden Krust, and yes, a pretty nice Guinean restaurant, in the immediate vicinity. Well, I have always complained at the lack of 99-cent stores in Carroll Gardens…

Mariam * Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY