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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Corn-Blueberry Muffin Bliss at Tempo Presto

Look for moist, flavorful corn and wild blueberry muffins behind the takeout counter at Park Slope sandwich shop Tempo Presto. “Slammin,’” raves redgirl–and a deal at $1.85.


Tempo Presto [Park Slope]
256 5th Ave., between Carroll St. and Garfield Pl., Brooklyn
718-636-8899
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Any great muffins in Brooklyn?

Ariana – Glorious Grilled Lamb in Hell’s Kitchen

Lamb, beautifully seasoned and broiled over charcoal, is a smart order at Ariana, the best of the Afghan places in Hell’s Kitchen. Lamb tikka kebab (marinated chunks of thigh meat) is a standout–and even better with a squeeze of lemon, says Pan. You can order it with good Kabuli palow (rice with vegetables and nuts). Lamb also comes in chops or ground in kofta kebabs. Beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp round out the kebab lineup.

Off the broiler, hounds recommend pumpkin or eggplant curries, aushak (boiled leek dumplings), bolanee qandana (fried meat-and-leek turnovers), and kadoo bolanee (fried pumpkin turnovers with yogurt sauce), among other things.

Ariana also bakes good, crusty flatbread, sprinkled with nigella seeds, and serves it warm. Entrees come with a salad; order it without dressing (which the kitchen tends to apply with a heavy hand) and instead use the bright, fresh green hot sauce on the tables. For dessert, try firnee, a rice pudding with cardamom and crumbled pistachios and almonds.


Ariana Afghan Kabab Restaurant [Clinton]
787 9th Ave., between W. 52nd and 53rd Sts., Manhattan
212-262-2323
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Wanna try Afghan….
Best of 9th Avenue

Stellar Coconut Cake at Fort Greene’s Five Spot

They bake unbeatable coconut cake at Fort Greene’s Five Spot Supper Club, says BGRose. Red velvet cake is also worth saving room for. We’ve heard little about the rest of the somewhat upscale Southern menu, but mrs. jones endorses the fried chicken and lemonade.


Five Spot [Fort Greene]
459 Myrtle Ave., between Washington and Waverly, Brooklyn
718-852-0202
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fabulous red velvet and coconut cake
Clinton Hill/Wallabout: Where’s It Good?

Cafe Grumpy – Java Mastery in Chelsea

They pour seriously great coffee at Cafe Grumpy, the tiny new Manhattan outpost of a hound-endorsed java joint in Brooklyn.

iraform reports faultlessly pulled espresso, rich and strong, “with that heavy mouthfeel you get only from good espresso.” Drip coffee is made with equal care, precisely extracted from a daily-changing selection of beans (recent choices have included Red Mountain from Papua New Guinea and Yirgacheffe Ambessa from Ethiopia).

Coffee geeks inclined to peek under the hood will appreciate the state-of-the-art hardware, which includes Clover machines for drip coffee and a Synesso for espresso.


Cafe Grumpy [Chelsea]
224 W. 20th St., between 7th and 8th Aves., Manhattan
212-255-5511
Map

Cafe Grumpy [Greenpoint]
193 Meserole Ave., at Diamond St., Brooklyn
718-349-7623
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Coffee to go around 10th Ave. & 23rd St.

Cubano Find at Long Island City’s New Thompson Diner

jaw2 clues us in to an excellent Cuban sandwich in Long Island City. At New Thompson Diner, they carve a heap of fresh-roasted pork before your eyes after you order. Along with the customary ham and pickle–and a Tampa-style slice of salami–it’s tucked into a long roll and pressed to perfect crispness.


New Thompson Diner [Long Island City]
32-44 Queens Blvd., between 32nd and 33rd Sts., Long Island City, Queens
718-392-0692
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Best Cuban sandwich in NYC?

In the East Village, Zabb Thai Hits Its Stride

Zabb City, the newish Manhattan outpost of a Thai favorite in Queens, has been on probation. When it opened last summer, hounds looked forward to more of the robust Isaan chow they’d swooned over at the Jackson Heights original. They were often disappointed. The menu offered few Isaan dishes, and the restaurant seemed little changed from the run-of-the-mill Thai eatery it replaced.

Happily, things are looking up. A recent meal was excellent, reports veteran Thai hand Simon. Highlights: superior laab moo (ground pork salad) and som tam (papaya salad) with admirable texture and just the right amount of sweetness. “I’m delighted,” Simon adds. “The quality of life in my neighborhood just got a lot better.”


Zabb City [East Village]
formerly Chaa Chaa Teahouse
244 E. 13th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves., Manhattan
212-529-8770
Locater

Zabb Queens Restaurant [Jackson Heights]
71-28 Roosevelt Ave., between 70th and 72nd Sts., Jackson Heights, Queens
718-426-7992
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Zabb City
Excellent Thai in LES —Ama ya

Catch of the Day: Scallops Fresh from the Bay at Cor-J

Peconic Bay scallops are back in season, and there’s no better place to score some than Cor-J out in Hampton Bays. Fresh from local baymen, they’re sweet and scrumptious and don’t even have to be cooked, swears skeetereats. Cor-J, right near the Ponquogue Bridge, also offers the area’s best selection of local fish and shellfish, plus a boatload of small-town charm.

So far it’s shaping up as another lean season for Peconic Bays, so call ahead. If Cor-J’s is out, skeetereats suggests trying Stuart’s in Amagansett, which works with different baymen.


Cor-J Seafood Corp. [Suffolk County]
36 Lighthouse Rd., Hampton Bays, NY
631-728-5186
Locater

Stuart’s Seafood Market [Suffolk County]
41 Oak Ln., between Schellinger Rd. and Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, NY
631-267-6700
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Bay Scallops?

Ouest Revisited: Eggy Ecstasy, for Starters

Hounds can’t stop talking about two delicious, comforting appetizers at Ouest. One is crispy poached egg with smoked duck breast and bitter greens. The other is a rich truffled “omelet souffle” with mousseline sauce.

This kind of hearty, well-conceived chow has won a devoted neighborhood following for Ouest, a five-year-old American bistro. Smart orders include roasted and braised meats and poultry, including roast chicken, grilled pork chop or rib eye, braised short ribs, and crispy pan-roasted squab. Also recommended: prosciutto-wrapped halibut, roast sturgeon with mushrooms and truffled rice, and a knockout appetizer of cauliflower custard with poached lobster, mushrooms, and leeks. Some find the dessert choices lackluster and dated.


Ouest [Upper West Side]
2315 Broadway, between W. 83rd and 84th Sts., Manhattan
212-580-3481
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Ouest

Big W’s Bar-B-Que Finds a Place to Park

Big W’s, which once dished up first-class barbecue from a truck, is now paying less for gas but more for rent. In a former deli around five miles up Route 22 from its old parking spot, it’s serving the same deeply smoky ribs, chicken, and pulled pork, among other things. Standout sides include slow-roasted potatoes and sweet, tangy, porky beans. “I drove 35 miles for the ribs–and I will do it again,” testifies steelydad.


Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Que [Dutchess County]
formerly Village Deli and Market
1475 Rte. 22, Wingdale, NY
845-832-6200
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big w’s (wingdale/dover plains) is open!
big w bbq

Sweet Stone Crabs at the Lobster Place

Stone crabs are here, and the Lobster Place has landed some champs. “Oh, man, was it good!” sighs skeetereats, who favors the tender knuckle meat over the prized claws.

The store sells mustard to serve alongside. Don’t bother. The crabs are sweet and delicious without embellishment. The season runs through March, but the supply is unpredictable, so call ahead.


The Lobster Place [Chelsea]
75 9th Ave., at W. 15th St., in Chelsea Market, Manhattan
212-255-5672
Locater

The Lobster Place [Greenwich Village]
252 Bleecker St., at Leroy, Manhattan
212-352-8063
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If you’re craving STONE CRAB CLAWS…