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Posts from the ‘Greenpoint’ Category

Eaten, Barely Blogged: French Schmaltz, Thai Soup, Mexican Sandwiches

sauvage quad

Sauvage is one of those curiosities where you remember looks more than taste even if your photos don’t convey it. And by you, it’s quite possible I mean just me. Light and airy. Windows open to the street. (My first thought was just because everyone speaks French and Spanish on Bedford Avenue, doesn’t mean we’re in Europe. Some of us enjoy A/C.) Where high-waisted jeans in pale washes and Keds look pretty. (Or maybe that’s just how everyone under 30 looks now–the young women working at Pye Boat Noodle, below, had a similar aesthetic plus straw hats encircled by a fat black ribbon). Service was gracious (even though I was given a time-limit on my table for arriving early but reservation-less). How could this pretty (and those coasters) crushed ice cocktail topped with purple petals not be delicious? Ok, with Macvin du Jura, Aveze gentian, and pear, it was, and hard spirit-free refreshing. This delicate quality was also present in the food to lesser effect. Sunchokes with green garlic, sunflower sprouts, and ‘nduja vinaigrette managed to make something with an oily, spicy component neither luscious nor hot and more like the crunchy tubers they were. Pike with so-called mountain vegetables (morels, asparagus, mystery green), and sour beer sabayon was chosen because it was described as the heartier of the two seafood dishes (oh, there was also a fish special that our server seemed very disappointed we didn’t go for), a word I would use more for the pot au feu chicken with skin schmaltz toast, despite chicken fat on bread translating as, yes, delicate. Maybe I’m just losing interest in full meals. I would totally return for cocktails and snacks at the bar if anyone suggested it (though I’m not sure they would).

cemitas el tigre tinga

Cemitas el Tigre I’m kind of jealous that Sunnyside and Woodside gets modern restaurants like Dawa’s and this former Smorgasburg sanwichery now with seats, subway tiles, wood arranged into chevron patterns, and a bar with bottles of Negro Modelo and gose on tap. Jackson Heights never changes no matter how much people who don’t live here seem to think it’s gentrifying. Rent and co-op prices continue creeping-up, and it’s still impenetrably pollo a la brasa, momos, and sports bars. What’s the difference between a Mexican cemita and one meant for a broader clientele? About $1, papalo, and a seeded roll. The thing is, I didn’t really miss that traditional herb’s almost menthol obtrusiveness on this chicken tinga sandwich, hollowed-out roll stuffed with avocado, saucey chipotles, and Oaxacan string cheese. I’m half-ashamed to admit that I pulled 60% of the herb off the last cemita I had a few months ago from El Rico Tinto Bakery. (This might all be moot because Cemitas El Tigre’s menu claims to use papalo and sesame seed rolls. Maybe sometimes they do?)

pye boat noodles

Pye Boat Noodle Ok, it might seem lame to bemoan the loss of nam tok soup a.k.a. boat noodles when there’s a restaurant with the dish in its name a few neighborhoods over. I’m not intrepid as I used to be. Luckily, I had an afternoon to take advantage of the quiet backyard and happy hour beer special in that murky zone between lunch and dinner. (I’ll have to double-check and see if I was charged lunch or dinner prices on the soup–there’s a dollar difference.) A condiment caddy is always a good sign, the cracklings were a nice touch, and the soup itself was rich, complex, just a little livery, yet still buoyant enough for the steamy weather. Astoria, which I’m slowly getting to know, is a small town because the same loud millennial who was making fun of his 40something aunt for getting breast implants the first time I went to Mar’s, also showed up here and I recognized his attention-getting voice before even looking up from my bowl of noodles. Eerily, while typing this District Saigon liked a bunch of my Instagram photos (maybe you should follow me–I’m friendly) which reminded me that’s where I had intended to go this particular afternoon, but it’s one of those closed between lunch and dinner places.

olive garden spaghetti pie

Olive Garden You might think you want pasta formed into a pie (and there are plenty of reputable examples online that I’m not going to link to) but you probably don’t need Olive Garden’s new spaghetti novelty, either Alfredo’d-up with chicken or with tomato sauce and meatballs. No one needs that level of pasta density, unless we’re discussing kugel. Then again, the ramen burger was a runaway hit. I wouldn’t eat that either.

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Labor Day Weekend Edition

sake bar by zabb full spread

Sake Bar by Zabb. A basement izakaya/sushi den popping up in many neighborhoods might be no big thing, but Japanese food is scarce in Jackson Heights and a drinking (and snacking) place open until 4am that isn’t geared toward carousing Latino men is huge. I was excited. There’s nothing wildly esoteric being served in the slight space, but you’ll do just fine with grilled mackerel, fried baby octopus and chicken gizzards, takoyaki, as well as some of those cross-cultural pastas that are practically Italian if it weren’t for flourishes like seaweed or roe, plus a sushi bar and specialty rolls like the one I’m just noticing now that combines shrimp tempura with pineapple and mozzarella that should’ve been calling my name if I’d been paying attention to the other side of the menu. Sake Bar is affiliated with upstairs Zabb Elee (and the naming convention couldn’t be more Thai) the restaurant with the distinction of being the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Jackson Heights. Next door Playground Thai, which I’d never heard of, was completely packed on a Sunday night and made me wonder who goes to Playground when Zabb is right there? If it hasn’t already been done, this is crying out for an article. Who goes to the lesser restaurant when competitors are in close proximity?

smorgasburg bacon jam sticky bun

Smorgasburg Queens. The very definition of barely blogged is stopping by a food fair and only trying one thing. I was hot and uninspired (eating and sweating outdoors isn’t really my thing unless I’m in Southeast Asia) sorry.  RAR Bar is perhaps better known for its Elvis croissant, but I wanted something more, er, delicate and less sweet, you know, like a bacon jam sticky bun. The less sweet thing was too true. In fact, the dense and lardy pastry was fully savory despite what looked like candied bits of bacon and what they’d call pork floss if sold at one of those Singaporean or Malaysian hawker stalls. I love pork floss and I’m still not sure if I liked this or not.

lobster joint lobster roll

Lobster Joint. And once again being a hypocrite, I made a big production about wanting whole lobster only this weekend, no rolls, and then went and ate a roll on a whim (after walking from Smorgasburg in a daze and pit-stopping at Transmitter Brewing for a tasting). This was a satisfying New England-style roll, light-handed with the mayonnaise (which I’m pretty sure contained tarragon) and extraneous crunchy additions i.e. celery. I also ate fries, this time waffle, for unexpected late-night dinner at The Randolph. That might be embarrassing under any other circumstances than a three-day weekend.

fritz's lunchbox burger

Fritzl’s Lunch Box. Ok, technically I ate this delicious mess of a cheeseburger before Labor Day weekend. It’s notable enough, though, to not let it get lost in the wilds of Instagram. The use of strong cheddar instead of American cheese (my disgusting preference) tells you it’s not haute junk food, as does the aioli and super mustardy relish, which probably made me seem like a maniac when I asked for mustard before tasting. It’s not precious either. Why there was never more than one other table occupied during my 8-9pm solo stint in the back garden is a mystery.

El Born

twoshovelBrooklyn has never been strong for tapas, and North Brooklyn has never done much to help matters. Mercat Negre was kind of odd, so was Cadaques to a degree and now it’s shifted French,  and Bar Celona had that hard-to-get-past name and died a slow death. El Born, joining the new Greenpoint restaurant brigade,  has potential.  At least it’s trying something new.

Keeping with the original tapas spirit, the narrow room is taken up mostly by a long bar with a few small tables and stools against the opposite buff brick wall (there are a few larger tables in the back). Good for a drink or two and a few small plates of food. With that said, it’s still one of those mysterious math places where a majority of menu items are under $15 and yet you still end up spending $100 when all is said and done.

el born gin & tonics

The restaurant also taps into the Spanish fondness for gin and tonics, a.k.a. gintonic, with four variations including #2 (Bulldog gin, Fever Tree tonic, lemon peel, licorice) and #4 (Hendricks gin, Schweppes tonic, cucumber, black pepper, lime) pictured here.  And yes, there’s a kalimotxo.

el born pa amb tomaquet

Many of the ingredients are Spanish, but the preparations aren’t totally classic. Pa amb tomaquet, which was brought out like an amuse, was one exception.

el born croquettes

Croquettes are a tapas staple, but  less common are ones filled with mint, goat cheese and pine nuts propped on a base of apple sauce (not applesauce).

el born fried rabbit and citrus aioli

I was going to say that Greenpoint is having a rabbit moment, but the fate of Glasserie’s much lauded shareable hare is undetermined and I don’t see the  conill amb allioli on El Born’s current online menu. The bony chunks are coated in chestnut flour, fried, presented in a paper bag (I could’ve sworn there was rosemary in there too) and served with a citrusy aioli. Definitely order this chicken nugget alternative if it’s available.

el born steak toast & pig foot broth

Picaña’ amb brou  is the Catalan answer to roast beef au jus. Slices of rare steak on toast with a rosemary-perfumed pig foot broth is high on presentation, though not necessarily the easiest to share or decipher. Sipping makes more sense.

The only dud was the cauliflower gratin, which apparently wasn’t  impressive enough to merit a iPhone shot (this was not intentional). Instead of a browned casserole thick with manchego and bechamel, the reality was a dish of steamy florets sitting in a pool of  thin white sauce. Who needs a gratin anyway? Eat a salad if you’re feeling vegetable deprived.

El Born * 651 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY


There was that Ocean Spray brainstorming scene in
the last season of Mad Men where the descriptor "sour" was ditched
for the more pleasing "tart." Sour isn't necessarily a bad thing, of
course, and it had better not be for you if dining at Luksus is in your future.
The opening menu and beer pairings really play with the puckery end  of the flavor spectrum.

Luksus menus

The menu was $75, beer inclusive ($45 for pairings
after hard opening) which was a good deal, if not a little confusing because
with so much palate/palette misuse, I couldn't be sure if
"complementary" used in the reservation email meant well-matched or
free. It was both, as it turned out.

Luksus ham & vinegar

You begin with three snacks brought in succession,
no utensils; the first to appear is a ham chip (definitely more accessible than
Aska's blood cracker) coated in powdered vinegar. Salty and tangy, yes? And
wow, with a Berliner Weisse to really make a point. (I really want to Torst to
get on the homemade woodruff syrup.)

Luksus mussel & dulse

Dulse is an algae, if you didn't know. I would've
pegged the flaky squares to have been made with a mung bean or green pea flour
since they tasted more terrestrial. Marine-based crackers made sense paired with
the mussel fluff, though. Chopped pickled vegetables added more texture (and

Luksus carrot & beet

The roasted beets and carrots with an egg cream were
more straightforward and had a bitter finish.

Luksus bread

Warm sourdough bread came sort of as its own course,
tucked into what looked like a denim pant leg while the Outback Steakhouse song
played (well, the original Of Montreal version).

Luksus radish, razor clam, cucumber, bone marrow

Radishes sitting in a cucumber broth were the focus
(my very unhelpful notes say "sour not tart"). I'll admit that I
wasn't sure what role the bone marrow played. Initially, I thought the pinkish
translucent nubs were the marrow, but I suspect those was the razor clams.

Luksus little gem, salad puree, pea broth, egg

The leafiest course was meatless–at least
overtly–but robust. The little gem lettuce was charred (I do like all the
sooty burnt flavors that seems to be a Nordic hallmark) creating a presence
that didn't get overpowered by the maitake and slow-cooked yolk.

Luksus lamb, sunchoke, burnt hay, tongue salad

Lamb breast, rosy and fatty, was a solid main with a
lot of intrigue. Sometimes this style of food can be overly austere for my
taste, and that really wasn't the case at Luksus. Thinly sliced sunchokes and
ribbons of lamb tongue formed a little salad in the middle that had a mustardy
flavor hit with mint. I knew that hay was going to have to appear somewhere,
and I suspect that was the source of the black splotches.

When I posted a horrible Instagram pic of this on
Facebook because I'm a horrible person, the burnt hay threw an acquaintance for
a loop, reminding me that these ingredients and preparations aren't immediately
accessible. I mean, people still use arugula as a punchline. I had to explain
that, yes, it was hay not "hay." I do wonder how this style will
trickle down to the mainstream. Maybe more wild leaves and herbs tossed into
salads? More vegetable-based broths? Less reliance on meat for impact? Seaweeds,
lichen and barks have a ways to go.

Luksus spruce, blueberry, yogurt

The palate cleanser was the only thing I hated, and
I did not write than on my comment card because that's crazy subjective like
weirdos who don't like cilantro, coconut or blue cheese. I really can't deal
with pine flavors (maybe too much Northwest upbringing) so spruce sorbet was
not for me (and spruce isn't even native to the region, so it's not exactly
making a case for local-ism). The menu says yogurt, but the third component was
a sorrel broth. Guess what sorrel tastes like? Oh, it's tart,  all right. Even the blueberry gel was sour,
not sweet. My first thought, after the first bite was that Spain would never do
this to me. It certainly succeeded as a palate cleanser, however.

Luksus rhubarb, pea, beet, anise hyssop

Pea ice cream is fine by me, though. The cool
sweetness worked with the beets, rhubarb and licorice flavors. It was paired
with a sharp apple-like lambic (technically a gueuze) topped with  beet juice.

Luksus flodebolle

Ah, chocolate. This was a play on a traditional
Danish flodeballer and contained a brown butter cookie and a marshmallowy center flavored with strawberry cider, I think.

I liked Luksus, though I'm marginally biased since
I’m only one month post-Copenhagen and the food eaten there hasn't slipped my
mind yet. The cooking was strong for opening week with no real misfires (sorry,
spruce sorbet) despite the sour obsession; I'm sure it'll be refined with time.
I think it comes down to more of a matter of whether or not you dig this type
of thing–I'm more curious than fanatical–which will be important long-term
after the initial hype dies down.

Initially, I was thinking that the options for New
Yorkers to explore this trend seemed limited, but even three four  (Luksus, Acme, and Aska–oh, and Aamanns will be introducing a New Nordic dinner menu next Wednesday) restaurants in this style tops
the number we have showcasing avant-garde Spanish cuisine, despite its longer
lifespan. Something about the rough-hewn, pared-down aesthetic (maybe we simply
like stark white walls, blonde wood, and bearded men?) just seems to mesh with urban-naturalist
NYC at the moment.

Luksus * 615 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY




All of a sudden there are an awful lot of places in
Greenpoint to find nice cocktail and small plates of food. Want a Hemingway
daiquiri and seasonal bar snacks? No problem.

 Glasserie, like much of new Brooklyn, is whitewashed, woody, hodge-podge. Less common,  the restaurant at the very tippy-top of the borough (it's practically Queens) is sprawling with multiple rooms;
nothing feels cramped, early 1900s old-timey (the vibe is almost macrame and ferns) or overly precious, style-wise or on the plate. Staff is very friendly. You might hear The Smiths.

Glasserie lamb tartare, olives & bulghur crackers

The menu is not boring. There's no burger or overt
kale usage. It leans more Middle Eastern than some of the other area
tahini and labneh are all sides–with hints of Spain. The minted lamb tartare, cut with waxy green olives, is paired
with bulghur crisps, a flavor pairing echoing Turkish cig kofte, but brinier
(Lamb and bulghur also come together in croquettes.)

Glasserie clams, harissa & couscous

Clams are said to be flavored with harissa, but aren't
particularly spicy. The couscous, which acted like bread crumbs, was the more prominent

Glasserie red potatoes, spanish cheese & egg

Roast potatoes were more grounding, heartier, and creamy from
Spanish cheese (maybe Tetilla?) and a poached egg seasoned with za'atar. 

Glasserie old pal

Maybe it was just the Copenhagen comedown, but $9 cocktails
seemed more than fair (less gentrified parts of Brooklyn are price-creeping past the $10 mark). I've seen people refer to the Old Pal (rye, both vermouths, Campari) as a cold weather cocktail, but I think the spicy brown spirit given the aperitif's bite suits this wet, transitional season just fine.

Glasserie * 95 Commercial St., Brooklyn, NY


River Styx

Wednesday, day two for River Styx, the new
project from Roebling Tea House people,  it
was no problem getting seats for three on the early side of dinner time. Other
newcomers in the area were under siege (more later). We only tried small
plates on this first visit.

River styx buttered tortilla

River styx chicken liver

The buttered tortilla concept seemed sort of weird
in the abstract, but really it was not much different than a less flaky roti. Plus,
they were blue. Served as the starch with a balsamic and olive oil dressed
mound of chicken liver, it was a lot of richness, and reminded me of something
I would make if drunk and/or too lazy to go to the grocery store, which is

River styx squid suave

Squid suave is buffalo squid, super crispy with a
light batter. One is not enough. Any leftover tortilla is particularly good
dragged through the hot sauce.

River styx scallops, leeks, roe

Scallop "ceviche" was a more composed
plate  (not sure why ceviche gets
quotes–it seemed raw?) with frizzled leeks and caviar. Oddly, I'd eaten
homemade scallop ceviche, no quotes, for lunch. Something I'd make if sober and
had planned a supermarket visit.

River styx nachos

There were also nachos with "pump cheese,"
a.k.a. artisanal queso. These were minus the stewed chicken.

River styx cocktails

A sip of another’s tequila-based serrano cocktail, Discipline, was crazy hot. When I ordered my
own later, the heat had been toned down, what I swear was vanilla upped and an
attempt (forgotten and apologized for with the initial round) to light the
strip of hot pepper, apparently soaked in oil of some sort, failed to ignite.
A+ for effort, though. I also had a whiskey sour-ish drink made with Rye
and Applejack. Both were iced, warmer weather cocktails. I would not describe
them as tiki, however, despite reading that elsewhere.

This is not my neighborhood, but if it were I might
be excited for the sudden growth spurt along the western fringes. Or maybe annoyed if I just wanted
something to eat or drink on a week night. A Sunset Park friend who joined for
the second round, was thrown by the 45-minute wait at nearby Alameda
and the clumps of kids on the sidewalks spilling out of
Achilles Heel and taking up the sidewalk. For mellowness, $5 prosecco on
tap and sandwiches, the backyard at non-hotspot Troost (not to be confused with
Torst also in Greenpoint) was more than sufficient.

River Styx * 21 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn, NY


Selamat Pagi

Selamat pagi trio

You could take issue with white people better known
for their artisanal ice cream cooking Balinese food (I withhold judgment) or
that what they're calling Balinese is more generally Indonesian (ok, that’s
sort of an issue) but where else are you going to find rendang in North (or
South, for that matter) Brooklyn?

And the beef rendang was good, rich and stewed
tender in coconut milk, lightly spicy with cinnamon and star anise undertones.
The only weirdness were the pickles, which were, uh, pickles. I was expecting
crisper shallots and matchstick-cut carrots and cucumbers (yes, pickles are cucumbers).
You just never know in Brooklyn because at Three Letters it was the complete
opposite: fried pickles turned out to be fried pickled vegetables. For further
confusion there was a $4 seasonal pickle plate (as well as that old Balinese
specialty, deviled eggs) listed in the snack section—who knows what it

The last of the three snacks was shrimp chips with
three sambals—two very lemongrassy, one more tomatoey, all hot. It’s a nice shared
starter. Sambals, nam priks and their ilk are fussy to make, so I’m always
happy to eat someone else’s selection.

The non-small plates are served as entrées, not
family style, so my bite of mahi mahi coconut curry was inconclusive. I did not
try the tamarind tempeh that was also present.

Everything is organic; the beef is grass-fed.
Descriptors like wild, biodynamic and heritage make appearances. Items are
priced accordingly, which isn’t to say outrageous (the rendang was $17)
especially when you consider that there is now a food truck selling beef
rendang to go for $13.

If you come from Tørst like I did, you can continue drinking
Evil Twin beer. Hipster Ale, of course.

Selamat Pagi * 152 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Cold-Fighting

Taste good malaysian trio

Taste Good Malaysian There are many directions you
can go if you're a spicy soup to ward off a cold type: soondubu jjigae, hotpot,
menudo (for some reason tom yum doesn't appeal) or Singapore laksa, a.k.a.
laksa lemak, the rich coconutty style. Somehow the combination of heat and
creaminess just makes sense for a sore throat. Elmhurst's Taste Good Malaysian
is as good as anywhere to get a fix. Their version filled with bean curd puffs,
half a hardboiled egg, chicken shreds, a few small shrimp, fish cakes, bean
sprouts and fat, round translucent noodles is a meal in itself (always a
problem because it's too filling to allow for any rendang, nasi lemak or sambal
shrimp) though a shared roti canai and popiah won't hurt. I only regret having waved off the scrappy gentleman trying to sell a
bottle of Robitussin in front of the Queens Adult Care Center on the walk to
the restaurant because I'm still sick (the laksa didn't work, but it was tasty)
and too beat to walk the eight blocks to the nearest drug store.

Die kolner bierhalle bratwurstDie Koelner Bierhalle The Park Slope beer hall with
a surprising amount of seating (communal, of course) is more for drinking and
sporting, though a simple bratwurst and big plate of spaetzle and speck (not
pictured) are fitting winter accompaniments. Just don't try to order the bauernwurst
or you'll be steered away with "Nobody orders it. We're removing it from
the menu." What's wrong with the bauernwurst?

Blaue Gans You could also get a bratwurst here (no
bauernwurst, sorry) but it will be $7 more than in Park Slope. While relatively
casual, Blaue Gans is still more of a sit-down affair. If you order the blood
sausage, you might be asked if you've had it before. (Do you see a trend
forming? During three recent meals–including Qi Grill, not mentioned here–I
was essentially told that I didn't really want what I said I wanted, which
makes me testy.) Or maybe the server just meant it's not presented in cased
sausage form, but loose and molded into a circle. No one warned me away from
the calves liver with apples and bacon, thankfully.

Cafecito bogota cartegena arepaCafecito Bogota If you find yourself in upper
Greenpoint on Sunday during dreaded brunch time, you could do worse than an a
la carte arepa (though feel free to order the $16.99 three-drink with food special
if you're into mucho mimosas, sangria or refajo, an unseemly blend of Colombian
beer and cream soda–they weren't able to make a bloody mary). The Cartegena
comes with a big mound of scrambled eggs, shrimp and cilantro.

Hudson Yards Cafe This might be the most inoffensive lunch place closest
to the Javits Center. Never mind that all the
other badge-wearers (you've taken yours off, of course) are drinking iced tea
and Diet Coke. Stick to your guns and down two pints of Stella with your
fontina (spelled fontana) and prosciutto panini; it'll endear the older bartender who's also midday tippling to you. If you're a certain age being referred to as a "good girl" isn't offensive.

Taco chulo rajas hashTaco Chulo I don't normally eat restaurant
breakfasts (despite contrary evidence above) especially not on weekdays, but I
had time to kill before looking at a nearby apartment (I didn't realize how
many area restaurants are dinner-only) and rajas hash with chorizo was right on,
greasy and yolky with a bit of heat. Of course when I showed up to the
apartment on time, a twentysomething couple was also waiting even though their
appointment was a half-hour after mine and so I was forced to look at their
out-of-my-budget apartments with them (and vice versa). Why kill time, waiting
your turn when you can just be a twentysomething in Williamsburg?




Pa is My Co-Pilot

I have a particular fondness for Michael Landon’s touching portrayal of Charles Ingalls, a.k.a. Pa on Little House on the Prairie (I swear more than once I caught my own dad’s eyes welling up with tears during an episode. He was full of paternal pioneer spirit, too) as well as smoked comestibles, so a friend’s impromptu birthday celebration at Diamond in Greenpoint served me well. By the way, have you ever seen the real Charles Ingalls? He sported some seriously au courant facial hair. 

Smoke beer

Never a beer aficionado, I just discovered rauchbier, a German smoked beverage that tastes like a campfire. A little goes a long way as I’ve been discovering with the newish smoker in my household. (I will soon be experimenting with different flavors—cherry, hickory, alder—since last night I gave a wood pellet assortment to James as one of his birthday gifts. He shares the same date of birth as Jane, who was the guest of honor at Diamond, but missed out since he was out of town.) If they can mentholate beer, why not add smoky overtones?

I need to stop complaining about the state of dining in my neighborhood because Greenpoint seems unusually bereft of choice. I have plenty of options in Carroll Gardens and environs; I just don’t happen to like many of them. If you don’t want mediocre Japanese, Thai or even exemplary Polish what do you do?

Lokal pork ragu

I ended up at "Mediterranean Bistro" Lokal, primarily because it was close the subway, en route to drinks afterwards and inoffensive enough (probably a little too inoffensive). Pork ragu with handmade pasta was actually pretty good and soft enough that I could justify eschewing the mush-only wisdom tooth extraction regimen I’d been following. It's not the most attractive plate of food but it was very satisfying.

The birthday season has begun and the first of my fellow 1972ers has turned 37. The greatness of that number shocks me. Thankfully, I still have four months to spend staving it off.

Everyone's pa

On the upside, I was able to convince a few guests to pose with Pa. My favorite bar decor so far this year. 

Krolewskie Jadlo

I’m not biased against Eastern European food; it just never occurs to me to seek it out. I lived in a Polish/Bosnian/Croatian/Romanian neighborhood for three years and didn’t sample the local fare even once. (That had more to do with not being able to afford going out to eat in the late ‘90s-early ‘00s, though. I think that’s why I originally started a dining diary. Restaurants were more of a rare treat and I liked to keep track of where I had been even if it meant no more than typing a short awkward paragraph. New Green Bo was my initial entry back in 2000, and no, it’s hardly illuminating (and I'm still not much for illumination but now I have photos to lean on) but the librarian in me likes documenting and archiving. These oldies have actually been helpful, if for nothing more than jogging my own memory.)

Krolewskie jadlo exterior
 But while looking for something quick and cheap before attending an Oscar party in Greenpoint (that had food—I’m just spazzy about squeezing in a choice meal because I never know what might be served at a party and I don’t like taking chances. It’s kind of like how many years ago a friend, a recovered alcoholic who thought I drank too much, asked me if I drank before going to parties, as if that were a serious warning sign. Uh yeah, I did and still do and my liver is fine.) I was moved by the Krolewskie Jadlo’s regal kitsch. I’d always wondered what went on inside the restaurant with two suits of armor standing guard at the entrance.

In this case my pre-party drink was a $5 glass of cheap Shiraz (which I followed with some nice fizzy Lambrusco at the party). Maybe I do have a problem because I’m not terribly bothered by plonk; it’s what it is. Beer might’ve been a better choice than wine but at least I didn’t succumb to one of their chocolate martinis.

Krolewskie jadlo bread

I will admit that I'm not sure what this spread was, though I suspect that chicken fat played a major role.

Krolewskie jadlo pork cutlet

I really wanted the Polish plate (potato pancake, stuffed cabbage, pierogis and kielbasa). It was only $9 but still being the most expensive item on the entrée list, I knew it would be a gut buster. That’s not what I was looking for on this particular evening. Instead, I tried the $7.50 pork cutlet. Ok, pounded, breaded flaps of meat aren’t exactly light either but it felt like a concession. There’s never anything revelatory about a cutlet but the crust was appropriately crisp and the meat wasn’t dried out. And who hates mashed potatoes?

Krolewskie jadlo beets & cabbage

You can specify the starch and vegetable you want but I made no requests wanting to see what the default accompaniments might be. It looks like a beet puree and a cabbage salad. I love root vegetables and pickled things so both of these sweetly vinegared slaws worked for me.

Krolewskie jadlo interior

Krolewskie Jadlo means king’s feast, which in turn means portraits of men in crowns gracing the walls. If these were actual members of royalty, I’ll never know. I liked this touch, as well as the Polish language music sampler that seemed to be a pastiche of ’90s styles. There was an alt-country ditty and a Liz Phair-like number, yet no Macarena, unfortunately.

Krolewskie Jadlo * 694 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY