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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Jimbo’s Bar: Greek Bites for Astoria Nighthawks

Neighborhood bar, live Greek music, broiled octopus with lemon and oregano. What’s not to like about Jimbo’s? OK, maybe the boring white bread–though it’s slightly improved by a run under the broiler. The short menu ranges from nibbles like feta with olive oil to more substantial Greek standards like lamb chops and that broiled octopus. “It may not cut the mustard as fine dining,” allows fotaq, “but as bar food it may be the best I’ve ever had. And it was 2 a.m. On a weeknight. I’ll be back.”

Jimbo’s Bar [Astoria]
30-05 Astoria Blvd., between 29th and 31st Sts., Astoria, Queens

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late night octopus bar food in Astoria

Inwood Update: Fresh, Cheap, Hearty Dominican

Inwood’s International Food House lays out an unusually fresh buffet of hearty Dominican chow, reports JackS. Highlights include roast pork with crispy, sticky skin and decent rotisserie chicken, good but perhaps a step below other neighborhood favorites like Malecon. Staples–soupy beans and fluffy yellow rice–are reassuringly solid. The ever-changing spread might also feature stews, fish and shrimp dishes, fried plantains, and mofongo. (International Food House is connected with Albert’s Mofongo House, around the corner on Broadway.)

susiec80 recommends roast chicken at La Galeria, which also rolls out a cheap steam table spread of stews, roasts, steaks, seafood, asopao (rice soups), and more. Budget-priced family combos (e.g., four pork chops, rice, beans, salad, two-liter soft drink) are $11 to $20.

International Food House Restaurant and Buffet [Inwood]
217 Dyckman St., just east of Broadway, Manhattan

Albert’s Mofongo House [Inwood]
4762 Broadway, at Dyckman St., Manhattan

La Galeria Restaurant [Inwood]
575 W. 207th St., at Vermilyea Ave., Manhattan

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Decent Dominican buffet in Inwood

Fried Pies

The deep-fried peach pies at Memphis Minnie’s are a flaky package of hot, peachy heaven, says mercuryflyin. The crust is light, crisp, and not too greasy, and the peaches inside are tender and delicately sweet. It’s a lovely indulgence if you haven’t obscenely stuffed yourself with barbecue.

Fried pie has also been noticed on the menu at Looney’s, says chocolatetartguy.

Memphis Minnie’s BBQ [Haight]
576 Haight St., San Francisco

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Fried pies?

Sausage Gravies of Our Lives

and one order is enough for two people.

Finally, if you’re near Alameda on a weekend with a sausage gravy craving, go to Jim’s Coffee Shop, says rtmonty. Country Benedict is served on Saturdays and Sundays only. Two big, fluffy biscuits, two big sausage patties, and two poached eggs are slathered with a wonderful sausage cream gravy. This dish is a great choice for the folks for whom English muffins with eggs, spinach, and a pint of hollandaise is “rabbit food.”

Sunny Side Cafe [East Bay]
1499 Solano Ave., Albany

Garden Court Cafe [Sonoma County]
13647 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen

Jim’s Coffee Shop [East Bay]
2333 Lincoln Ave., Alameda

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sausage gravy

“The Right to Be Stupid”

As the debate continues over New York City’s proposal to ban trans fats, one restaurateur gets downright patriotic in expressing his outrage.

Over the weekend, the New York Times op-ed pages were filled with opinions on the proposed ban: John Tierney (TimesSelect registration required) critiqued the prohibition as an overreaction and a case of hubris on the part of the city’s health commissioner; public health expert and author Marion Nestle argued that the focus on trans fats is a “calorie distraction”; and Dining section writer Kim Severson provided some useful context for how the food industry came to adopt trans fats so readily.

But whether you are for or against the proposal, you have to appreciate the sheer eloquence of Kenny Shopsin, proprietor of the famously quirky Shopsin’s, who expresses his opposition to the ban on grounds that are almost constitutional: “They’re taking away our right to be stupid, which is our primary American right.”

Pizza from Silver Lake to Echo Park

Masa makes a great Chicago style pizza, says dgonzale80. For something lighter, Pizza Buona is a respectable NY-style slice spot.

For her NY-style fix, Suebee leaves the nabe and heads for Village Pizza, owned by a Brooklyn transplant who knows how to make some seriously good pies, she raves, possibly the best pizza in town.

Nicky D’s is a cozy spot that bakes delicious wood-fired pies, and there’s a nice patio outside too. Delicious red sauce clam pie, says dgonzale80.

Michelangelo’s excellent crust is appropriately thin and crispy. Their pies come both in personal and larger family-sized portions.

Louisa’s is a good delivery option, even for a chain, Silverlaker remarks; check out their veggie pizza.

Masa-Echo Park Bakery & Cafe [Echo Park]
1800 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Pizza Buona [Echo Park]
2100 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Village Pizzeria [Larchmont Village]
131 N Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles

Nicky D’s Wood-Fired Pizza [Silver Lake]
2764 Rowena Ave., Los Angeles

Michelangelo Pizzeria [Silverlake]
1637 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

Louise’s Trattoria [Los Feliz]
4500 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles

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Echo Park/Silver Lake pizza spots

Life is Sweet in Laguna Niguel

Dolce Vita is a multiple threat, with good-quality gelato, cupcakes and cookies, plus Italian olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Their gelato has a sensationally smooth texture and comes in a variety of flavors

Pumpkin Cookies

Fall is pumpkin season–time for jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cookies. Most pumpkin cookies are like little pumpkin cakes in texture, and somehow not as satifying as you think they’d be. Not these two: one is a chocolate chip cookie, but, you know, pumpkin! The other’s a chewy, toothsome oatmeal dealie.

pamd shares her recipe for chocolate chip-pumpkin cookies:

1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup shortening
1 Tbsp. grated orange peel
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together sugar, pumpkin, shortening and orange peel. Stir in flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until light brown, and remove right away from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

wowimadog offers this recipe for pumpkin oatmeal cookies, saying they’re especially great made with dried cherries:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/3 organic rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
scant 2/3 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup raisins or chopped dried Bing cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil, molasses, vanilla, and flax seeds until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. fold in walnuts and raisins or dried cherries. Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets about an inch apart, and flatten the tops with a fork your fingers. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back on the oven racks halfway through for even baking. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

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Pumpkin Cookie Recipe?

Fried Coke!

Fried coke is a quirky fried treat that may displace funnel cakes at state and county fairs. It’s deep-fried balls of batter that have been flavored with coke. Fried coke showed up at a state fair in Texas, and won a prize!

The dough balls are presented in glasses, topped with Coke syrup, whipped cream, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and, of course, topped with a cherry.

Read a little more about it.

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Anyone Heard of “Fried Coke”?

Transforming Takeout Tidbits

Some hounds can’t wait to dive into the dregs of last night’s takeout meal straight from the carton, standing in front of the fridge. But others don’t want another meal of goulash, or can’t can’t quite imagine what they might do with a half cup of massaman curry or a lonely carton of plain rice. Hounds piccola and Adrienne have perfected the art of using up every tidbit of takeout, maximizing their investments in deliciousness.

Here are some great ways to use up takeout, beyond reheating:

Plain rice: make congee or fried rice (you can use other leftover meats or veggies in either, if the flavors will work).

Rice or pasta/noodle dishes: use as the base of a frittata (add eggs and cheese or whatever else you like).

Curries, patties, meats: use to top salads or fill sandwiches, slicing or chopping meat as necessary.

Tofu and/or grains can be made into veggie burgers or patties and sauteed, with the addition of a binder.

Finely chopped leftovers of all kinds make great omelette fillings.

Most leftovers can become the basis for or an ingredient in a soup; Adrienne even admits she occasionally rinses the sauce off leftovers so she can start fresh and flavor the soup however she wants!

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Takeout leftover magic