zbs's Profile

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Tamales

Yeah, before 10:30, and only some days. As far as I can tell, doesn't seem to be consistent, but usually at least 3-4 days out of the week.

Sep 15, 2014
zbs in Manhattan

Tamales

The 1st Ave stop tamale vendor is still there and still pretty great! $1.50 per. Green, red, cheese, as I recall. Lighter than your average restaurant tamale but a bit dense compared to the very best ...

Sep 12, 2014
zbs in Manhattan

Weakest cuisines

Yeah, the "wrap" is freshly made, thin lavash then? That's the durum bit as I understand it.

Aug 26, 2014
zbs in Manhattan

Weakest cuisines

Is there anywhere in NY you can get a dürüm doner?

Aug 26, 2014
zbs in Manhattan

Best Fried Clams In Brooklyn?

Dunno Kittery but the other three are all good. In order of bang for buck: Sea Witch, Littleneck, Extra Fancy. Littleneck is a little more haute, very good specials. Sea Witch is great and a great deal. Extra Fancy is solid, convenient for N. Brooklyn, open late but a little pricey for what it is.

Jun 20, 2014
zbs in Outer Boroughs

looking for fully loaded poutine

Protip: go to Mile End Brooklyn and get the poutine special request hot dog topping instd of smoked meat.

Nov 18, 2013
zbs in Manhattan

Homemade vs Canned Refried Beans

It makes a noticeable difference, so if you're eating them as a dip or if you're feeling particularly particular about them I recommend making them from scratch. I have one trick that I think is essential, that I will hereby give away on the grounds that, from the sound of it, no one will ever actually do this.

1. Cook dry pinto beans (I do it no-soak, 90m style)
2. Fry adding more and more lard until you reach the right consistency
3. Add stock, ground chili, salt, pepper (they will be too thin now but when they cool it will be better)
4. Mash together
5. Add Mexican canned refried beans (e.g., La Costena) to approximately 1/6–1/5 of total volume

The last step gives them the funky restaurant flavor that seems otherwise unachievable, the rest gives them depth and flavor that the canned beans don't have on their own. Oh, and 6: Fart.

Jun 22, 2012
zbs in General Topics

Puerto Rican restaurant?

Taza de Oro is the real deal, and the cutest place in the world probably.

Feb 08, 2011
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Where to drink before dinner at Roberta's?

In terms of drinks, there are a few options: Roberta's has a bar-ish seating area outside, which may be just as well as anything else. The absolute closest bar to Roberta's is King's County, a block to the north, but it's a very dark divey place— not really what I think of for predinner drinks. Slightly farther are two more welcoming options: Duckduck, on Montrose near Graham, which has crafty taps and heavy pours, and Tandem, on Troutman to the Southeast, which has more refined speciality cocktails and a slightly fussier atmosphere.

There are also two pleasant cafes with beer and wine, Cafe Orwell a block south of R's on Varet, and Boulevard Cafe on Bushwick.

Aug 16, 2010
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Sour cherries — fresh or frozen ?

Trying to get one last pie in this summer; but Union Square Greenmarket proved cherry-less (if only I were making a tomato pie). Anyone know where I can get sour cherries, frozen or otherwise ? (Whole Foods Union Square proved fruitless as well.)

Aug 29, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

sashimi quality fish in park slope area

Land & Sea market on Flatbush near the 7th Avenue subway station often has very good fish, and fairly helpful guys, go take a look at it and be sure to ask to see it up close.

Jun 17, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Best Bet for Swedish Meatballs?

Was open as of last week.

Superb Swe. meatballs.

The rest of the menu is a little inconsistent but usually at least fun.

Jun 12, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Best value tasting + wine pairing

Fleur de Sel at lunch.

May 14, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Root Hill Cafe

I haven't yet. Intelligentsia, though, right? Promising.

May 07, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Root Hill Cafe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Br...

But I wouldn't hesitate to expand this estimation to include Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Ft Greene, Brooklyn Heights, and Clinton Hill. But certainly there is better to be had in the north—Gimme, El Beit and Grumpy to start.

May 06, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Thinking of moving from Brooklyn, NY to Austin--what would I be in for, foodwise?

I recently moved in the opposite direction, so I'd say —

Cheese? Nothing better than Whole Foods, though there are alternatives. (And WF is pretty solid, I'd say, unless this is a political rather than gastronomical preference.)

French Bakery? Not really.

Pizza— This is an interesting point. Unless you're a pizza connoisseur, or you're moving from next door to Nick's, etc., your experience may well be better in Texas. Most of Brooklyn has delivery pizza that's considerably worse than the average Austin pizza (those endlessly multiplied Sal's and Antonio's that might as well be Domino's and Pizza Hut). Naturally it also has the very greatest parlors and specialists — though they are almost all vastly more expensive. But I find it tragic that I live in Brooklyn and am unable to sit on my couch, drink beer, watch a hockey game, and eat a good pizza (unless I wait in line, deliver it to myself via train, etc). In this respect Austin has plenty of OK-to-good options that have wide delivery radii and will happily satisfy that particular urge. And you can stop by Enoteca when you want the fancy version, which, while not DiFara, is no slouch.

Takeout & delivery— Not by comparison but I always found it fine, and since places deliver much farther than the do in New York, you may be trading up on many counts (and will definitely getting away from the limitless, identical, completely hollow General Tso—Fresco Tortillas—Vindaloo takeaways).

Dim sum? No. And no Chinatown, though an interesting concentration in the north. The Vietnamese food in Texas is hugely superior to that in New York, as is basic Thai fare (if we ignore traveling to Queens). Chinese itself is hopeless, though, except for comfortable Americanized stuff, which you will consequently find to be overpriced in Texas.

You will find every variety of European food to be inferior, especially French, so get comfortable spending a lot of time with all gradations of Mexican to Tex-Mex, Vietnamese and SE Asian, and BBQ. And annoying your Austinite friends by forcing them to shell out for Uchi or Vespaio or wherever when you need an haute cuisine fix.

May 05, 2008
zbs in Austin

Late Night Eats in Park Slope

My hope is that this "fool's errand" may prove useful for someone in dire need of overcooked eggs and potatoes (fried relatively recently) after the bars close. I grew up in the southwest, where this routine, conducted closer to 2 am and generally with more geographical leniency, was reliably satisfying but still essentially a matter of bad food. My analogous experiences in this city, when I can remember them, have on occasion been sufficient to offend even my heavily addled taste buds (for the record, this includes Kellog's, Anytime, and 7th Ave Donuts).

There is bad food and there is inedible food, and the distinction is not irrelevant.

May 05, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Root Hill Cafe

Seems like they're still figuring out the workflow, but the capuccino I had was very good— I'd say best in South Brooklyn. Also tried regular drip, which was strong and had a pleasant roundness, but nothing great. Haven't had the Clover there, as I tend to save that rare treat for when I'm in the vincinty of a Cafe Grumpy (and their superlative beans).

May 05, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Late Night Eats in Park Slope

Maybe it was an extremely off day at 7th Ave Donuts. But this level of off is, for me anyway, inexusable. We didn't ask for anything outside of a reasonable diner repertoire: eggs, liver, and standard sides—home fries, etc. Several in my party were experiencing erm 'munchies'. So the cards were heavily in favor of the diner. And yet we ate maybe 10% of what was on the table. That's a pretty bad showing.

Of diners in PS and environs, the only ones I've been comfortable saying were even worth bothering with are Daisy's and Fifth Avenue, which are pretty much right next to each other, on Fifth down near 9th Street. Both are open 24 hours.

I've heard enough about Purity to never step foot in it. Tom's has its charm and a pretty good kitchen, but limited hours. The Dominican versions (Los Viejos, Gran Castillo) are generally superior in their own way, but none to my knowledge stay up past midnight.

May 05, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Late Night Eats in Park Slope

Seventh Avenue Donuts is picturesque but the food is miserable, by any diner standard.

For the record, Rico's Tacos in Sunset Park is supposedly open twenty-four hours on weekends, and real late on weekdays. If you can make the trip, hoo boy, that's some real fine late night food.

Apr 28, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Best thai (lunch)

Zabb City makes very fine salads. Curries are boring & typical though.

Apr 25, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Damn you Artichoke!

Unless you're into, like, waiting.

Apr 23, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Damn you Artichoke!

Agree entirely. Been there twice. Didn't have to wait much, so may be more generous than others here, but the first time I sampled square and round: found the first spongy but pretty good and the latter a little crackery but also good. Second trip had the artichoke, which was spongy and creamy and over-rich, good if you're drunk no doubt, but still pretty indulgent; and another slice of the "Neapolitan", which this time was better and I would describe verbatim as "somewhat reminiscent of Dom's"—very, very good but ultimately second-tier. If the wait is longer than twenty minutes, go up the street to Posto.

Apr 23, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Moto Cafe – Williamsburg – Review

I decided on having dinner at Moto yesterday on the influence of a thread in which it appeared numerous times as one of the "top 3 restaurants in Williamsburg" (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/322640). It isn't that; but I did like it well enough, despite the inflated expectations. A friend had just picked up a pound of Gimme! Coffee and we walked down Hooper at around seven on Tuesday evening to give it a try. Very nifty approach, with a large metal door with a round window pointed outward from the vertex of an intersection underneath the JMZ train (rather like an aboveground, slightly less subtle cousin to Little Branch). The only very noticeable signs on the exterior are a chalk "Moto" on the brick and a bicycle hanging from a signpost on the side of the building.

The interior is verging on cloying: dark, pointedly mismatched, and heavily bric-a-brac: some garage-sale oil paintings left to accrue distinction by an extended stay in construction site, a wobbly wooden post somewhat uncertainly supporting a pointless, dilapidated Polaroid Rangefinder, some mysterious presumably farming tools. This is by now a dismally familiar Brooklyn restaurant trope, blending a precious attitude towards vintage style with either an imaginary-nostalgia for the turn-of-the-century or barnyard prop closet, or both. There is no absence of clichés and the overall effect is either charming or costumey, depending on your disposition. But many of the details are well-done, and trawling the visual chaos of the place is as often rewarded by peeks of dingy subway tile or a partially hidden tin lunch-box style first aid kit as disappointed by the lawn-ornament gargoyle glowering in one corner. The air of a talented amateur hung about the place: which we found reflected in the kitchen as well.

Service was prompt and neat, and beers were cheap: $6 for an 8-oz. Corsendonk brown and $4 for a pint of Brooklyn Lager. (Wines seemed favorably priced as well, if a little scattershot in selection.) We shared three courses:

1. Spicy tomato soup with goat cheese crouton
2. Beet salad with herring, egg, and sour cream
3. Pork ribs in "herbes de provence" [their quotes] with mashed potatoes and green salad

I will just mince these up. The soup was comfortable and I think grew a little in complexity through the duration of its consumption. The faint tinniness was not really unpleasant, and the spiciness was moderate and kept up a neat progression throughout, a gentle warming. The soup on the whole had a mellow, aged quality to it that made it homey, and was punctuated a little frugally by an occasional shred of sharply aromatic parsley. The crouton signaled the first in a series of choices by the kitchen I found bizarre and a little inconvenient but not ruinously distracting. It was a large, thick slice of hard bread, perhaps an inch-and-a-half round of two-day baguette, piled with a mound of soft, creamy and I think cheap goat cheese: it tasted to me like the kind that comes in a little plastic cup at the supermarket. This crouton, about five bites of it, was floating in the middle of the soup, and could not be portioned, even with a knife, despite dunking and some vigorous sawing. Finally we ate it off the edge of the spoon. The mild neutrality of the cheese was a pleasant accompaniment to the homeliness of the soup. Despite its sort of underpowered simplicity, we found it satisfying.

The beet salad did not fare so well, and its presentation—a circle of the beets around the edge of the plate with a halved boiled egg in the middle and two herrings on top—further advanced my growing impression that this was truly “home cooking”, with the unvarnished pleasantness and range of occasionally upsetting imperfections that it can come with. The salad was roundly a failure: the beets were cut very large and were in great supply, while there were two tiny slices of herring and a single egg, which, despite being dyed unappetizingly with beet juice, was clearly overboiled to the point of having a very visible rim around the yolk. If the egg was avoided, the herring-beet combination was nice, but the sour cream was (surprisingly to me) not at all harmonious.

Finally the pork ribs, which covered the plate with their accompaniments, and seemed to me the sort of dish you'd expect to be presented with at a cafeteria or a diner. Everything was characterized by being utterly predictable but also calmly, satisfyingly realized as such. The meaty, well-crusted and attractively browned ribs were flavorful, though there was an absence of porkiness (that disappointed me but didn't seem to bother her) and a lot of charred herb flavor, which was fine. The mashed potatoes were smooth but not pureed, skinless, perfectly salted and buttery: a tidily-executed version of your average fried chicken side dish. The green salad was also very typical — green salad meaning in this case just field greens with a basic vinaigrette — but surprisingly tart and well-seasoned for how dry the leaves managed to stay, which is just the way I like it.

I would return, especially if I happened to be in the area (which I don't know too well, but find myself in more than I'd expect). But it would be more for the environment and the air of comfort than the food (and preferably when there's a little more activity: it was empty when we arrived, but it was early for the borough and an off-night). A gripe that stands out is the carriage of the menu, which is phrased (like most similar restaurants) to condition one's expectation for a balanced, deliberate performance rather than simply a procession of familiar renditions: I don't favor the former, necessarily, but I think the experience might benefit from being more explicitly one rather than the other. A lovely date spot, especially if you're young and on a budget, and your date isn't an FCI student. But I am a bit mystified anyone would put it next to Marlow & Sons, Dressler, Diner, or half a dozen other restaurants in North Brooklyn. But then it is decidedly more affordable, and I expect has enough style to entertain me for a future visit, at least for the duration of a Corsendonk and (probably, I now think) a panini.

Apr 23, 2008
zbs in Outer Boroughs

Pegu Club

On off-nights the drinks can be in the top-tier in the city, alongside M&H and Little Branch at quieter times. On weekends or busy nights the quality plummets but the price stays the same.

Mar 28, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Where to buy ancho chilis?

Kalustyan's has them for sure, but way too expensive. I'm a little put out by meager 2oz. packages that cost $3 at the supermarkets in Brooklyn, but that's likely only because I grew up in Texas. I would bet any sizable grocery in Murray Hill would have them. I remember Gracefully on First Ave nr 20th St does; I bet also the Associated (?) up the street at 23rd.

Feb 29, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Best Burger in NYC?

Molly's, though it's further north and depending on when you get there 8 may be difficult.

Feb 29, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

A 'hidden gem' for a birthday dinner...

Punch is really really awful.

Feb 27, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Restaurants with Coolest Atmospheres?

Steering a slightly different course:

Mei Lai Wah, solo on a weekday afternoon;
Florent, at the end of a boozy Friday;
Apizz, with a date in the winter.

Feb 26, 2008
zbs in Manhattan

Can you help me narrow my list down?

Lunch is a neat snack if you're in the area and a little reckless, but dinner is what earns the raves. Go for the full-scale entrees and sample the tastings.

Feb 26, 2008
zbs in Manhattan