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Posts from the ‘Clinton Hill’ Category


Is it fair to be suspicious of a poorly named, industrial-chic Cuban restaurant abutting the desolate Navy Yard, on the same block as one of the city’s scariest bars (don’t just take my word for it)? My initial concern was mediocre food but I later became more consumed with trying to interpret the vaguely sketchy shenanigans taking place around me.

The food was surprisingly un-bad, reasonably priced (most entrees were under $12) and the $8 mojitos were generous in size and potency. I felt tipsy after two, which is a rarity (I’m not a cheap date) and totally messed up the photos I’d taken.

It was difficult to not plow through the complimentary plate of squished and toasted garlic bread with three dips but I was pretending to be healthy and ordered a salad instead of something weighted down with rice and beans. A giant pile of lettuce covered with avocados, mango, grilled dark meat chicken, white cheese and fried onions is hardly austere, though I was unusually careful about only eating half (though I couldn’t bear to just leave half even though salads are pretty soggy and foul after a few hours. The thrifty gene in me still asked our sweet but spacey waitress to wrap up the remainders. Just the day before at Yemen Café, as frequently happens without warrant, James got all freaked out that our leftover louyabia and fateh we’d requested to go had been tossed in the trash. This has never happened in my life, though I shouldn’t have said that aloud on Thursday because Friday at Mojito I was to never see the rest of my salad again. Jinxed.) I also split an order of two empanadas, one chicken, one cheese, both more than edible.

Being in proximity to Pratt, projects and luxury lofts (Mojito is on the ground floor of the Chocolate Factory, which sounds vaguely dirty to me), the clientele is a total mixed bag. The tables were filled with a wonderful melting pot of African-American families, scruffy college kids and the mandatory white guy/Asian girl couple.

I noticed a tiny white guy in moccasin boots, who looked like a scrawny version of George on Grey’s Anatomy (I had to look that name up—that show is painful to watch) had been propping up the bar for most of our meal. He had a messy haired, white studded leather belt friend with him. At some point George left and came back in a bathrobe like he was the Howard Hughes of Wallabout (the revitalization-hyped neighborhood name that I just learned last week). Ok, and then I was like that’s cool that the two 300-pound black men who ordered take out, then ate out of round aluminum containers at the bar while staring down fellow diners were palling around with the artsy gay guys. Ah, sweet diversity. “Is that a housecoat?” was my favorite exclamation (it reminded me of a girl who used to call shorts short pants). At some point they all skulked into a back room, which I suspect leads into the condo complex.

In high school, whenever you’d see rockers (I attended an extremely hesher-heavy institution) hanging out with popular kids you knew something was up. Only drugs (and perhaps, consequently, sex) could bring the two worlds together. Clearly, Mojito is totally the place to be if you want to expand your social circle.

Mojito * 82 Washington Ave., Brooklyn, NY


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