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Elaine Snutteplutten's Profile

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Pok Pok NY...good, not great

Late to the party -- never up for a 2 hour wait, so I waited. Yesterday, Monday, we could have been seated at 6:30 if we were all there, but we weren't. By the time our party was complete (7:15), there was a quoted 25 to 45 minute wait, we were seated in 20. All that is fine. At least while the weather's nice. I live near-ish by (10 -15 minute walk), and used to live on that side of the BQE, so I'm not going to whine about it being the back of the beyond either. And yes, La Vara was our back up plan, not that they haven't been known to quote me a 2 hour wait, also. So, in short, the logistics just aren't really that much of an issue for brownstone BK , especially compared to a long long subway ride to Queens. But but but...

The food is just good, certainly not great, if you do frequent Queens, or Thailand. I can't say I'm the Thai food expert or anything, but I do love Thailand, and travel there regularly. And I also love Queens, and likewise. And this food just left me flat. I probably would have been more impressed, absent the hype, but I certainly wasn't dazzled and it actually compared significantly unfavorably on freshness of flavor, complexity and originality (to say nothing of comfort and service) to my most recent meal at Kin Shop, a restaurant I've previously not thought highly of (let's face it-white boy Thai is oddly more exciting for critics than Thai-boy or girl Thai).

Specifics: the best thing I had was the salted plum vodka collins that kicked off my meal. It was super salty, but I have a salty palate, and I enjoyed the strong flavors a lot.

We were told that the dishes would be "naturally staggered" but everything came out at once.

The catfish "La Vong" was quite tasty, although not mind-blowing, just good clean plain flavors without the gloppiness that can plague run off the mill New York Vietnamese.

The mushroom salad packed a great heat, but that was its main element. Not a lot of subtlety. Our watiress had steered us to that over the eggplant salad -- would probably do it differently the next time.

The white prawns in the clay pot with pork belly was the highpoint -- different flavors, richness, unusual dish, textural variety with the crispiness of the rice. Really enjoyed it.

Definite misses: the pork ribs were simply fatty, no grilled or smoky or other flavors, just chewy maybe not quite done slabs of pink pork with two forgettable hot sauces that slipped off, not clung to the meat. Most of these got left behind as we each ate just one. That NEVER happens with ribs. Should we have had the pork neck or the chicken? Of course we should have, but we were told that the tantalizing smell wafting over our outdoor table was the grilling ribs, and were seduced. Blergh.

The "red fire" water spinach tasted just like that obligatory dish of pea shoot leaves in swimmy brown sauce that you (me) always end up ordering in Chinatown because you think you should have a green vegetable. Boring boring boring, and more than a bit limp.

So, good, not great. We could have ordered better, and I will next time. I live a stroll away, so will be back for sure. If I had to trek, I'd choose Queens (or Chiang Mai :)). And if I want to drop some $$ on farang-cooked Thai-inspired lovingly-sourced grub, I've got more of hankering right now for Kin Shop's Harold's sour-yellow eggplant curry, fried broccoli with sausage, and grilled corn. The Pok Pok hype is kind of mystifying -- don't radically inconvenience yourself for this food, but enjoy it on a beer-y weekday evening in the neighborhood with friends.

London...after 10 years

Speaking of unaccommodating to solo diners... I woke myself up on Saturday night to see about Dinner by Heston (as UK 9:00 am is my 4:00 am). After going through several screens, Open Table told me that I did not meet the minimum party size for an online reservation at Dinner by Heston (I was actually trying for lunch at Dinner by Heston, but anyway)....

I suppose I could have called them, but I was too annoyed and went back to bed.

London...after 10 years

I love the idea of an actual single table. I hate all that show of "just you?" and removing the glasses and napkins etc. I think rules might be it. Great Queen Street also sounds very interesting, as I'll be staying near Covent Garden.

Of course the idea of Dinner by Heston with all these antique recipes is super tempting to a former English lit major -- eat like Shakespeare or Austen! - but I suspect it will be tough to get a table.

London...after 10 years

Shockingly, I haven't been to London to stay...and to eat, since 2002. I'm going to remedy that over Memorial Day weekend.

I'll have four nights. One of those will definitely be dining at a friend's house.

Two nights I have pretty firmly in mind: Roganic and the Ledbury.

That leaves one night, and several lunches for which I'd love to hear your suggestions.

General guidelines are that I'm leaning Best of British, not cuisines that are equally great in New York, although I'm open to be convinced otherwise and that I (sadly) can only eat one major meal a day and barely that, so lunches that are lighter, small plates or snack-like are much appreciated.

Final thought is I'm not sure how many of these I'll be joined by friends for and how many solo (Ledbury group, Roganic solo, I think), so if it's a spot you can't enjoy without sharing a whole cow family-style it probably doesn't work. I haven't done St. John's because I love offal in doses but can sometimes get oddly squeamish, so that's an intentional omission.


Hopeland on Atlantic Avenue

Ate there with my folks last night. I think this place has promise. We had a baked sardine appetizer (topped with breadcrumbs on a bed of al dente sliced potatos) and a fennel and orange salad both of which tasted fresh and authentic.

My mom had the fusilli with lemon and parmagiano, which I teased her about, as that's a dish we each make frequently at home. Nonetheless, Hopeland's version was with homemade pasta, and had a nice balance of flavors, so she enjoyed it. My dad likewise very much enjoyed his tagliatelle with mushrooms, although I didn't taste it. I had the rigatoni with tomato sauce -- I wrestled with that choice as it seemed lame to get something that I frequently make at home, but it's what I was in the mood for. It was fine, maybe a little light on the salt, but didn't blow me away.

For dessert, we had a "special" of tiny struffoli (fried dough balls topped with honey more typically served at Christmas). These were a very small version and as a result quite hard. The honey taste was nice, but I prefer my struffoli a little doughier.

Anyway, I wasn't floored, but I was pleased and satisfied, and will go back again.

Service was very straightforward and pleasant, if a bit anxious, which is typical for a new restaurant

One night only -- would like something "Dallas" in flavor and north is good

Thank you both. Smoke looks very good -- seems like the right kind of atmosphere and the menu is what we are looking for, I think, something that's more regional than some other highly rated Dallas restaurants. I think we are good with getting out of Frisco on Saturday night.

Of course, I love places like Babes, and want to eat there too. And I'm planning on Mexican on Sunday. I can see that this visit will not be good for the waistline!

One night only -- would like something "Dallas" in flavor and north is good

Hi, I'll be staying in Frisco for a weekend and will have one (Saturday) night free. Would like something with a with a "Dallas" orientation (whatever that is -- can be ethnic if you feel it's a great experience I won't get in New York, e.g., Mexican), price not a worry, preferably a convivial atmosphere -- and if it's more convenient to Frisco than not, that would be a HUGE plus.

Also, would love a recommendation for post-dinner drinks -- for a couple of women who want something fun (but not a pick-up scene).


Lunch at Le Bristol and La Grande Cascade (and L'Astrance)?

Souphie -- you are not making my choices easier -- just making me wish I had more days and a bigger stomach. I'm leaning to le bristol and ALC -- will let you know how it turns out.

Feb 18, 2011
Elaine Snutteplutten in France

Lunch at Le Bristol and La Grande Cascade (and L'Astrance)?

Souphie, I've read a lot of your posts lately and enjoyed them. I'll be in Paris for a few days in April, and although I lived for years in Paris and was at one time a frequent CH poster on its restaurants, it is shocking (to me) that it is now nearly 4 years since I last had a meal there and I feel a bit at sea.

Anyway, one of my nights is a Sunday, and I have never been to the Bristol, and yet have aways wanted to try Frechon's food -- price is not really an object given my limited time in Paris. But while I want to try Frechon's food, I also want every meal to be great.

So -- if you could spend 500E pp, and you were hesitating between Le Bristol and Le Cinq (as you posit above), which way would you jump? Or would you jump for La Grande Cascade, which I've seen you praise considerably on these boards? Or some other Sunday thing! Thanks!

Feb 16, 2011
Elaine Snutteplutten in France

Lunetta - telling it like it is

I've had a lot of bad things to say lately about neighborhood dining, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to give a pleasantly surprised vote of reasonable approval to Lunetta. Stopped in last night after work, no issues whatsoever with the service -- attention was prompt, and servers were friendly.

Had a spaghetti carbonara made with some really quite tasty pancetta, just the right amount of cheese, and no cream (which of course doesn't belong but sometimes finds it way into carbonara). Good peppery kick, too. The portion was huge -- old school Italian-American red sauce joint size portion rather than locavore Smith Streety type portion -- which pleases me b/c I can never have too much pasta. Washed it all down with an enjoyable Montepulciano.

The pasta was $15, the glasses of wine $9 each -- so, not dirt cheap, but not expensive either.

I was too stuffed to try other things, but will definitely add it to my list of places to stop in and have a quick bite when I get off the F too late or too tired to cook.

Cafe luluc -- fresh Smith Street horrors

Ordered fish and chips because it was a special of the day, and the gentleman at the next table said it was wonderful. Chacun a son gout....

Cafe luluc -- fresh Smith Street horrors

It's funny that you mention Robin du Bois. That's the other restaurant in a 100 yard radius of my house that I've never set foot in, despite almost doing so, many times.

Cafe luluc -- fresh Smith Street horrors

Good theory.

Cafe luluc -- fresh Smith Street horrors

Yeah, I can't tell you why I went in there, I don't know anyone who eats there either. But it's less than 100 yards from my house... Interesting that C.L. may survive on their daytime business -- I am not around the 'hood much during the day.

I've never had anything but the pizza from Enoteca -- thanks for the heads up -- will not vary.

Cafe luluc -- fresh Smith Street horrors

Well, in between stints in CH/CG, I lived in Park Slope, and there's actually more I like to eat on this side of the Gowanus, and before moving to CG in '03, I lived on the UWS at 100th Street, and before that 2nd Avenue/75th Street, before that the wasteland that was/is Brooklyn Heights -- i.e., a lot of dire restaurant nabes. What's different about Smith Street is that there's so many really bad restaurants that stay in business for a long time and are even popular. Don't get it.

To be clear, I never characterized Char No. 4 or Enoteca as "standouts", but they each do things well that I like -- Char for after-work bar dining w/ drinks, and Enoteca for pizza delivery.

Char No. 4
196 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Cafe luluc -- fresh Smith Street horrors

I don't want it to seem like I hate all the restaurants in my neighborhood -- I have a schoolgirl crush on Brucie, Hibino is almost always delightful, ditto Bocca Lupo, Char No. 4 hits the spot when fat and meat are called for, the pizzas at Enoteca on Court are good etc. etc. But we have some real duds and perhaps futilely I feel an ongoing duty to warn.

Despite having in lived in the area on and off since '03, I'd never set foot inside Cafe Laluc, which strikes me as being one of the older survivors on Smith Street, until the other night. Don't know what made me go in, but I was curious. Had a special of fish and chips with chipotle tartar sauce. The fish was ok, if tasteless, but the frying oil was anything but fresh, and tasted it. The chipotle tartar sauce was neither -- just a soupy tasteless green mayo thing -- I asked for some vinegar, but it didn't really improve matters. A glass of chardonnay reminded me of the wine they used to give away for free in an all you can drink special at a Chinese restaurant on the UWS beloved in my youth because they didn't card. Weirdly, despite being grossed out by my main course, and feeling vaguely ill from the nasty tasting oil, I decided I wanted dessert. Wanting something hard to screw up, I got an affogato -- but the espresso lacked all body and richness and the vanilla ice cream was ridden with crunchy ice crystals. Finally fed up with the utter terribleness of the food and the cynicism that seems to be at the heart of such places that are utterly indifferent to the product they serve, I mentioned the ice crystals to the waiter (who'd been of an indifference and carelessness of a piece with the cooking throughout the meal) and his response was "Are you sure?"

How does such a place possibly stay in business, and what's more thrive -- for years?

333 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Bocca Lupo
391 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Char No. 4
196 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Enoteca on Court
347 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Dear Scarpetta

Funny, I recently dropped Scarpetta from my life after the 4th or 5th occasion of having a 9:30 reservation and not being seated until well after 10:15, with no hint of apology from the hostess. Contrast Marea where a recent delay in an 8:30 reservation of about 25 minutes got us a plate of appetizers and glasses of prosecco at the bar and profuse apologies from the maitre d'. I'm used to delays in seating at NY restaurants, but habitual delays that lead to not getting seated until close to 10:30 (which is too late for me on a work night) piss me off.

The only time I've been seated on time at Scarpetta was Super Bowl Sunday when we were one of three tables in the house.

I've also become convinced over time that the food is good but not that good. Certain standouts -- the truffle polenta, the tomato/basil sauce, the fritto misto -- shine in a menu filled with some fairly forgettable dishes. Anyway, the last heaping of Scarpetta attitude as my party of 5 spent most of a Thursday night hunched together n the bar trying to stay out of foot traffic and waiting waiting waiting for our 9:30 table...I too vowed that I won't be back.

I have the tomato sauce recipe, and that's enough.

355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

New Brooklyn restaurant roundup

Here's my take on Court Street's newest of the new: Brucie, opened last Thursday in the Cube 63 space:

Brucie -- Court Street

Checked out the newest of the many new Cobble Hill-ish restaurants tonight. At the moment, Brucie is mostly a take out operation -- they seem to want to be a market too, and there are a few good looking products, but that part is very patchy at this point. They also want to serve meals in house as well, and you could certainly eat at the broad bar (no liquor yet) but as they readily admitted, the lighting and the set up is not quite ready for dining in.

Anyway, I had a very tasty panelle sandwich on a Caputo's sesame seed roll with delicious fresh ricotta. Vinegar pickles were added as a twist -- which worked, and brought some welcome acidity, honey was also added, and this I could have lived without. I added some salt at home, and with that it was awesome. I'll be back in Palermo on Friday morning, and I don't think Brucie's panelle is going to spoil me for the real thing, but this was a very tasty neighborhood option (and it's been a while since I got to Ferdinando's...). Also, quite refreshing if a little overly dressed was a salad of razor thin sliced green tomatos and radishes.

The young chef and her staff are super nice and enthusiastic, and they really seem to be trying to do something serious -- the most obvious analogy is Torrisi Bros. -- classic Italian and Italian American fare a little updated, with good local ingredients (spaghetti and meatballs were on offer, but so was goat cheese lasagna with cherry tomatos). Unlike a lot of what opens in this neighborhood, these are people who actually have an interesting idea and are trying to execute it with some originality.

I'll be very curious to see how this one develops -- it could become a go to if the food lives up to the enthusiasm (and I'm a sucker for a panelle time I'll ask them to hold the honey).

Perry St. = JG downhill cycle

Oh my god. I could not agree with you more re: Perry Street. We had one of the worst meals of my life (category: fine dining, reasonably high expectations) there in August. The fried chicken featured prominently in our complaints -- also recommended, also left largely uneaten (by two of us). Way too much of that insane pickled onion.

Nothing else was very good -- and the service was a combination of remarkably inattentive (literally had to flag someone down like a taxi to get more wine) and foolishly fussy (carefully timed 3 waiter strong simultaneous presentations of dishes in a style that is really only called for in much finer restaurants). The servers were constantly clatching off in a corner, getting what looked like some sort of lecture (maybe on how to sell more fried chicken), which seemed like a weird thing to do at 7:30 (As opposed to pre-service).

I wish it was closer to the time so I could remember more of the horrid details, but we were literally laughing about how bad it was.

Perry Street
176 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014

any high quality sushi in brooklyn/queens??

Brownstone Brooklyn certainly has the population to support a first-rate sushi restaurant -- whether it's Japanese or affluent non-Japanese -- but sadly, like many other kinds of food in many areas of New York, there's an awful lot of mediocrity.

Hibino is not just or mainly sushi -- but it is excellent and unique -- and I often see Japanese people dining there. Have also ran into Japanese regulars at the sushi bar at Taro, which is not "Sushi Yasuda" quality (or cost!) but on a quality/price ratio is in my mind an excellent deal (sit at the bar and order omakase...the "regular" stuff is only eh).

That said, ethnicity is not always a reliable guide (if it were, my neighborhood, Carroll Gardens wouldn't have so many bad Italian restaurants!).

Athena Smith Street

They list both other restaurants (Park Slope and Bay Ridge) on their take out menu. Could be a case of stolen identity, but I agree it was sadly not what I was hoping.

New Brooklyn restaurant roundup

State -- sorry I didn't catch this soonner -- here's my first impression of Athena:

I'd add to your list Broken English on Bergen.

Is Breuckelen open yet?

It's not even that new anymore, but I remain curious abott Verde (on Smith).

Broken English
68 Bergen St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

268 Clinton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Athena Smith Street

I was pretty excited to have Greek in the neighborhood, rather than ANOTHER Locavore American or so-so Italian or terrible Thai, and even more so when I read good reviews of this place's affiliates in Bay Ridge and the Slope.

However... the decor is bizarre but in an over the top way I can deal with (I guess) -- greek busts and friezes looming from the walls, competing with 2 huge flat screen tv's showing CNBC, purply lighting, a velvet rope outside, pounding pop music and a swirling light projection on the sidewalk of the restaurant's name and you guessed it... the Acropolis.

Stopped in after work tonight for a quick bite.

They didn't have the octopus (waitress seemed suprised I ordered it), so I switched to a tried and true standby -- horiatiki aka Greek tomato salad. The tomatos were waxen mealy mush -- which is pretty unforgivable this time of year, ditto the cucumbers, the cubes of feta were rubbery and lacked flavor, and the whole thing was covered in a slimy sweet balsamic dressing, which is not what you look for in a Greek salad.

Somewhat discouraged, I moved on to the spanakopita -- this was a big flavorless mushy square and pretty much seemed like the diner standard, which I have always assumed is bought frozen from some central food supply warehouse.

Service was friendly, and I'd like them to suceed -- so I'll probably try it again when they've been open more than a week, but based on tonight there's a LONG way to go.

Curious to know if others have tried it, and if they have found better menu items to order -- my choices were very boring -- but I thought I'd try the basics before branching out to fish specialties...Now, not so sure I'd dare.

Eataly NYC

Nice little essay on the romanticized vision of Italy many of us do hold dear (often too dear but that's another conversation!), bu I would say that the Eataly in Torino is thoroughly delightful and worth a visit if you are in Torino for work or play. Let's face it -- many if not most Italian towns now are entirely dependent on their local hypermart, and it can be difficult to find and support the range of artisanal producers that Eataly supports. A Slow Food supermarket may seem a contradiction in terms, until you realize that actual Slow Food and the way of live that gave birth to it is practically an endangered species "even" in Italy and France. YOu've got to find a way to link the urban ,consumer, with a two job family and no time to cook, to those old foodways -- or it becomes somethnig that gets dusted off every summer for the tourist herds. Eataly Torino does that, quite well. It's a destination that Torinese families enjoy together, as well as a source of ingredients and quick meals. Whether Eataly New YOrk can do that remains to be seen.

Did pick up some rocking olive oils -- great regional diversity--got a Sicilian and a LIgurian oil, some pasta, including some in shapes I haven't had since I moved home, lovely Campanian canned tomatos, some cheeses today. It was only half as crowded as last Saturday, which means it is only twice as crowded as it needs to be.

200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Eataly NYC

Don't know what role he played -- press reports had Farinetti there during the press openers -- including improbably claiming in one article I read that the cacio e pepe was better than that to be had in Roma (see my underwhelmed review of the pasta bar above...).

The signage, graphics, layout and set up are very very similar to Eataly Torino -- so that is not B&B. The Slow Food ideal does seem honored in the sourcing of what's being sold -- if not in what's being cooked, at the moment.

200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Restaurant Walking Distance from Pier 6 Brooklyn--and Gov. Island Nightmare!

Enoteca on Court pizza is very good. Favorite in the neighborhood at the moment.

When I was in the park on Sunday, I saw that there were tables and chairs set up, not in the playground but by the water, along the path, and people were picnicking. Looked like fun -- although the tables and chairs were pretty ugly bright plastic and we noted that we wished they'd gone with a more traditional picnic table!

Enoteca on Court
347 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Restaurant Walking Distance from Pier 6 Brooklyn--and Gov. Island Nightmare!

Layla Jones is good with kids -- and they have a backyard, and also booth seating in the dining room. Sadly, their pizza is flavorless and has a very strange crust that reminds me of something over than pizza that I can't quite place. However, the toddlers of my acquaintance are not as picky as I am.

Layla Jones
214 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

thailand's center point - delicious

Hi Jeff, we were there for a late lunch around 3:00 -- the only diners there at that odd hour, so we missed your group. I'll ask my friend what the pork salad was called -- and let you know. Appreciate you and others in this thread bringing this delicious and charming restaurant to my attention.

thailand's center point - delicious

Tried this place today for the first time. Super super delicious and the family ho runs the place is too cute.

The crispy papaya salad was a home run -- very much reminded me of flavors enjoyed in BKK. We also had a fantastic hoy tod (mussel pancake served over crispy bean sprouts), which is a favorite first eaten at Lotus of Siam in LV -- we didn't see it on the menu but my friend asked, and they said they had it, so... yum. Green curry hit all the right notes -- kaffir lime leaves, thai eggplants, lots of lovely red thai chiles and no gloppy sweet taste (the curse of all Thai in brownstone Brooklyn). We made a small mistake in ordering our pork salad -- we meant to order larb, but messed up on the ordering and got slices of pork, dressed like larb with red onions, spicy lime sauce, and mint, but somehow not as tasty as having the pork minced. This grew on us though,especially as the mint was truly fresh and delicious.

Total damage including tax and tip was $44 (4 dishes total + 2 diet pepsis) -- the kind of wonderful meal that really makes you question: a) why you regularly pay 3-4 times the price for mediocre food a bit (but not that much) closer to home and b) why you don't live in Jackson Heights or Woodside!!!

I don't eat at Srip often enough to do a valid comparison of the food -- but I loved the simple unhassled atmosphere of this place and the warmth of the service. Highly recommended.