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Park Slope faves

You are right.
We wanted to test Bussaco again and dined there last weekend. Chef Sparks was definitely there and even came to the dining room for a while. The info we have now is that she definitely will be in the kitchen in the future, too.
There still is some unevenness as it comes to the food, but we will go back in a few weeks. So far we still prefer the cooking at James, they have served some pretty sublime dishes lately.

Dec 09, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Info on new restaurant in Snooky's/Elementi location in park slope?

I agree with you, to a point, Elecsheep.
Except, I do not think that Elementi ever was fine dining.

As I wrote when Elementi was new, we really appreciated the effort by the Elementi owners. They invested in creating a clean space and comfortable seating and they clearly did try.
Unfortunately, it was also clear that Elementi was hit by the harsh realities of the brutal economics of running a restaurant / overhead quite early on, including the lack of support - and in my opinion, also the disproportionately high rents of 7th Avenue (compared to cheaper rents on 5th, for example).

Also, I do not think their cuisine was exciting enough. Still, for a while, we wanted to support them because of the effort.
We did have a couple of surprisingly good lunches and brunches at Elementi and one surprisingly good dinner. That was encouraging. The owner seemed passionate and somewhat knowledgeable about wine, too (or a certain area of wine) and had a few nice wines on the list. It was not a big list, but it was pretty OK and could have gotten better if the restaurant had taken off. Maybe the food would have had a chance to improve, too, who knows,

So, we went back for a few dinners and even more lunches. Was the dinner there ever as good as the food is in good 5th Avenue restaurants? That one time it was, but only that one time.
Unfortunately the subsequent dinners were not nearly as good as the first one was. They could be maddeningly uneven. One of us would have a pretty tasty dish and the other one had a mediocre one. We stopped going for dinner.
After a while even the lunches got worse in quality. (I do not require much to be happy with my lunch: just make sure that my salad is fresh and that the chicken on top of it is not bone-dry. Or if a special says strip steak sandwich, the sandwich better have more than a few super tiny, super thin pieces of steak on it. )

When the cost-cutting starts, even the people who would like to support a certain restaurant, will abandon it.

Just in general, a response to several posts in this thread:

I disagree with the idea that we do not need a good restaurants on 7th Avenue only because there are good ones on 5th and Smith. Even though we do not have a problem with walking from PH to 5th Avenue (which we do and sometimes did both on Friday and Saturday - also on windy, freezing cold nights or pouring rain -when Tempo was there) we would really love to have a great neighborhood restaurant on 7th Avenue.
Why not?

Dec 08, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Park Slope faves

I think I had misunderstood a very ambiguous sentence in the restaurant's own news letter. Sorry about that.
I think it is actually Kevin Adey who is Chef de Cuisine and Sparks is the consulting chef in the kitchen. I know she HAS been in the kitchen and that she has created a new menu.
Now it just remains to be seen how much Sparks really will be there, in the restaurant, in the future.

Dec 04, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Park Slope faves

The new chef (de cuisine) at Bussaco is Katy Sparks. Chef Adey is also still there. We actually ate at Quilty's when she was there. We have enjoyed Bussaco a lot lately (especially since Chef Sparks arrived) except for last weekend, when the food did not seem to be of the same quality it has been. Our guess is that Sparks was on Thanksgiving weekend vacation, because the food seemed so different, not really good. We were quite disappointed.

For example, two weeks ago we loved their 30 second squid salad. Squid, chick peas, greens. I did not make notes of all the greens in it, but the squid was just perfect and a nice touch was brought by celery leaves. There was a really nice, delicate balance and freshness in the dish. We also loved their market fish, cooked on a bed of salt, served with nicely spiced and cooked carrots. So fresh, so tasty. We felt it was all very inspired, in a nicely subtle way. This was all Sparks.

But the following weekend, as one of us ordered the same dish, it was nothing like the week before. The salad was too oily. There was nothing of the delicate play of the ingredients and their freshness in it. Same goes for the fish dish. (When will we learn not to eat in restaurants on holiday weekends?)

But based on all of our other dinner experiences there, we will definitely go back, hoping that this one weekend was just a fluke.

Dec 04, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Cuisine of Finland [split from the Outer Boroughs board]

Time flies. Time for a little update about Scandinavian food in New York.

Now my favorite casual Scandinavian restaurant in New York is Smörgås Chef at Scandinavia house. Notably, the whole Smörgås Chef operation is led by a Finn, the Corporate Executive Chef Ari Nieminen. The food at Scandinavia House is really good now and is quite popular. The service has been friendly and the food is delicious.
My husband has had a couple of "business" lunches there and all the people in his group were happy with the place.

http://www.smorgaschef.com/index_scan...

http://www.smorgaschef.com/

Nov 28, 2009
FoodWine in General Topics

Cafe Regular in the North Slope

Yes. Their espressos and cappucinos are delicious. The service is friendly, but has been maddeningly slow, too many times. (not due to a long line, but there have always been something causing a delay).
They only sell sweet bites, no sandwiches or other non sugary / sweet things.
Also, their selection of those baked goods looks very small and pretty sad, as if they already have trouble with affording a better selection. (this has been between 1PM & 2.30 PM.
The place looks pretty and I'm all for getting a decent cup of coffee in the neighborhood, but since they do not offer anything healthier than sweets to eat with that coffee, most of the times, there is no reason for me to go there. - At Milk bar I can have a sandwich with their delicious cappuchino.

Nov 22, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Poll: What restaurants do you eat in most often in Queens or Brooklyn?

JAMES http://www.jamesrestaurantny.com/
- Brian Calvert can seriously cook. Super friendly hostess and super friendly staff. We would like James even more if they took reservations and if they expanded their wine list.

BUSSACO http://www.bussacobklyn.com/
- This was a happy surprise. We love their fish & seafood dishes, which are super fresh and quite delicious. They have some very nice wines on their wine list. No wonder, the place is owned and run by a master sommelier & his artist wife. Friendly place. The fact that they take reservations might turn it into our favorite area restaurant, if the food stays consistently good. (Which, we have good reason to believe, it will.

)

TEMPO was our all time favorite in Brooklyn. We still miss it. Their wine list was superior to any other neigborhood restaurant in the area. In addition, the food was mostly delicious, the seating was very comfortable (which I appreciated a lot), and they took reservations, a huge plus. ( http://www.tempobrooklyn.com/home.htm )

Nov 22, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Flatbush Farms

We enjoyed Bistro St. Marks, too and ate there often. We felt bad for Dominique.

Flatbush Farm we do not care for. In the very beginning we had friendly service a couple of times and the food was pretty good, but soon all that changed. The nice waiter was gone and both the attitude and the quality of the food went downhill.

Also, we thought it was pretty bad that they used those tiny water glasses as wine glasses. That really did not make us want to use any money on their wines. Not that their wine selection was that good anyway.

Nov 18, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Has anyone tried the Vanderbilt yet?

One really annoying thing about Chowhound: I immediately tried to edit all the annoying typos in this (previous) post of mine, but the edits did not "stick", no matter how much I tried.

Nov 17, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Moving to Prospect Heights

Hey Ginsbera,
I now have a more detailed post of what we had, on the thread that I mentioned earlier, at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/662063#

Like I said, I am happy for you if you had a good experience. Trust me, we really want to like this restaurant.

Nov 16, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Has anyone tried the Vanderbilt yet?

Steve R, between you and me, we sampled quite a large part of the menu at Vanderbilt. It is pretty shocking that we did not find menu things we liked.

Here is what we had (including the bad bacalao & lackluster salad):

- Mixed olives (lemon, thyme - $4) I love olives but these just fine.

- Brussel sprouts (sirachia, lime, honey - $4) (the only dish that actually was good. But would not, on its own, bring us back).

- Warm Fall Salad (Anson Mills faro, pumpkin squash, hazelnuts, goat cheese, poached egg - $12!!!) (I described this one in the previous post). Now, when this plate was served, I paused: because this plate was serioysly over priced for its size. The portion was very small (it was a salad, mostly healthy greens, for crying out loud!). The price seemed obnoxious. $6 would have been proper. I had really felt for a good salad and on paper it looked delicious. But, at the end it did not matter that it was so tiny, because, as I mentioned before, in dismay of its rubbery textures and an odd nothingness in taste, I pushed it away.

- Duck Rillets (mission fig jam - $9) Like you, I did not think much of this dish. Blah! I did not hate this, but it was pretty boring. Like liver pate you can buy in stores. (I like duck Rillets, I especially loved one that I had at Bouchon in Yountville, which looked like this one, but tasted and felt much better.) I liked the oven crisped little breads here, and the fig jam at first seemed good, but after the second bite the jam was just cloyingly sweet.

- "Brandade du Morue" (roasted peppers, olives, parsley - $10) Essentially a bacalao / mashed potato blend. As I described earlier, it was quite unpleasant (fishy in a bad way). The
roasted bread that came with it, was so drowned in (not so tasty) oil, that neither one of us could eat them.
-Believe me, we wanted to. The Vanderbilt is so cheap that they do not give you any bread or other little bites on the table. We had bought a bottle of wine and needed something to eat with it.

- Spanish Mackerel $14. Merely passable and a bit dry, which, for this fish, is pretty stunning. My husband loves mackerel and usually gulps it up, but this one he did not finish. We see it is not on the menu anymore, mabe for good reason.

Also, noted by the annoyed pescaterian/vegetarian - why is this item under the grouping “vegetables”: “Polenta Soup confit duck gizzard, duck cracklings $9”

The drink list looked intriguing and the beer list looked good, but the wine “list” was abysmal. And again, I cannot help it, I find it insulting that the Bolton team does not want to invest in Prospect
Heights more than that, as if he did not think that there are any oenophiles in Prospect Heights. I do not drink beer and I do not drink drinks. I drink wine. Good wine, if I can help it.

After all the pre-hyping on web sites and in magazines, we walked out shaking our heads, thinking: “Much ado about nothing” … or: “Empreror’s new clothes” (albeit, peasant clothes, but still…). We regretted not going to James, or at least to Aliseo, or that we had not stayed home. For a moment there, we actually considered going to James, just to get some pleasant tastes on our palates, but instead walked home and brushed our teeth.

I want to like this place! I frustrated that I cannot! I hope I will, one day.

Nov 16, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Moving to Prospect Heights

No, it was not only us and not only one night. Before you, I have not heard a good word about the Vanderbildt: not here and and not in person, from neighbors and friends.

Here is a chhowhound link, specifically talking (not happily) about the Vanderbilt: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/662063

But I am happy for you, that you did not have to feel the stunned disappointment we did.

Nov 16, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Moving to Prospect Heights

We dined at the Vanderbilt once (went there ready to love it, since we used to love Saul), but were stunned over how mediocre (to bad) everything was. If it does not get better, there is no reason to go there at all.

Nov 14, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Has anyone tried the Vanderbilt yet?

This place is so uninspiring that I have had a hard time motivating myself to even write anything about it, but here is a part of the story:

We dined here on Halloween night, too, but earlier in the evening. Our experience was very similar to yours, except the service was a bit better earlier in the evening. It was very, very impersonal, though. Also, I found even the salad very lacklustre. It looked good on paper - all those ingredients on their own usually are very tasty to me- but was oddly tasteless in reality. Maybe the tasteless egg made everything else tasteless, too. And rubbery. This was the first time in ages that I did not finish a salad.

The bacalao mixed in with buttered mashed potato = yikes! I used to eat a lot of bacalao (in Brooklyn) after it became a 'hip" (haha) food and everybody was offering it. The Bacalao at the Vanderbilt was the worst example of this peasant food that I have ever tasted. This one had a very unpleasant kind of a fishy taste.

Altogether we had six dishes, and none of them made us think we would ever come back.

Also, a patron at the next table (way too close to each other) got his pork partly rare. oops.

I know it is not so, but somehow it feels insulting that Saul Bolton dumps a second rate restaurant like this in Prospect Heights, as if he thinks there are no good palates residing here. I know, I know, it is not about that, he just happened to find a location here, but still - what a letdown. And what a waste of a nice restaurant space on Vanderbilt Avenue. I truly hope that these are just kinks that need to be worked out. Maybe, maybe we will give it another try in a few months... although, I almost feel like, why should I bother, since there are better restaurants close by. James, for instance, where the chef can seriously cook and does not underestimate his patrons.

Nov 14, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

lefferts/flatbush updates

Thanks again, bolletje. We will try Ram's next time we go there. I heard that my friend is also happy with her loca fish store, I do not know the name of it. Which one do you like?

Nov 02, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

lefferts/flatbush updates

Thank you, bolletje, I will forward this to my friend.
She has lived there since late March and loves it. She and her boyfriend also love jerk chicken and like both Peppa's and Exquisite.
She and I both like the Mexican restaurant, Café Enduro, on Lincoln. She and her boyfriend have eaten there many times, and she often takes guests there. We, my husband and I, tried it for the first time just a few weeks ago. The food was good, the service was friendly and the atmosphere & the space is fun.
We have joined them a couple of times for a quick lunch at Ali's Roti on Flatbush (589 Flatbush Ave). Not food for a girl who is trying to shed some pounds, but I like the boneless curry chicken Roti and also their vegetebale Roti.
We have yet to try King of Tandoor.

Oct 21, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Recs for lunch spot near Brooklyn Botanical Gardens?

Actually, Brooklyn Milk Bar on Vanderbilt Avenue and Sterling Place is lots of fun (although not as close as the above mentioned two restaurants.)
Here is their menu: http://www.milkbarbrooklyn.com/

Yes, it is very casual, but it is also a very popular / buzzing spot, even during weekday lunch hours. They truly hit the spot. Lots of "hip" youngish adults seem to gravitate to this place. The first times I had lunch there, I was thinking: " Who ARE all these people, I have never seen them in Prospect Heights -or Park Slope- before!"

Milk bar has a casual menu, with a slight Australian twist, and they serve some of the best coffees in the area. (Yes, I know it is a matter of taste, but I love their cappuccino). They also serve wine and beer and they have a nice little patio.
We love their salads and sandwiches, including the avocado toast, sprinkled with hot pepper, which is a great accompaniment to one of their salad or egg dishes.

Last but not least: both the owners and the staff are very friendly and now that they have added some staff, the service flows much faster, even during very busy hours (like today's lunch for the large Labor Day crowd

)

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brookly...

Sep 07, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Aliseo, Prospect Heights

I agree with Steve R:s (2007) description of the pasta dishes: " Not big bold flavors (not what they're going for) but well balanced".

Also, even if food is "ordinary", it can be very tasty if it is made out of fresh ingredinets and is skillfully prepared.

Sep 07, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Recs for lunch spot near Brooklyn Botanical Gardens?

I think those are a pretty long walk from the Botanic Gardens. And James (which we like a lot) is not open for lunch. Except for dinner service it is open only for Sunday brunch.

Tavern on Dean http://www.tavernondean.net/ is fun, but I think they also only serve brunch, not lunch?

A lot closer is CHERYL'S GLOBAL SOUL ,at 236 Underhill Avenue
btw. Lincoln Place & Eastern Parkway, http://cherylsglobalsoul.com/

or Tom's (classic -or historic by now- diner):
TOM'S RESTAURANT BROOKLYN, 782 Washington Avenue, corner of Sterling Pl.
http://tomsrestaurant.wordpress.com/

But, maybe for a special day, those two are way too casual. Personally, I am not impressed by Cheryl's lunch. (very dry chicken on my chicken sandwich, slow service).

Tom's definitely is more fun and more interesting. Very friendly. Actually, depending on your tastes and/or style that could be a great place to experience.

Sep 07, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Buying lobsters to cook on Sunday?

We bought from them in early June and in early July. We had ordered two pound lobsters, which were more expensive, about 10.50 per pound. Worth every dime.
We have not bought any lobsters since then, but have had their lobster rolls at Brooklyn Flea. Too much butter for our tastes, but the lobsters are delicious. (This is totally a matter of taste: any butter is too much butter for my husband, and I'm getting there, too.)

Anyway,
You can call them or email them to ask about current prices. See their web site for instructions. http://redhooklobsterpound.com/

I think you have to place the order before 9 PM on Wednesday to get lobsters the same weekend. However, they have plenty of lobsters, so if you go there as a "walk-in" on Friday, they will surely have more than enough - and probably on Saturday, too.

Sep 04, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Buying lobsters to cook on Sunday?

We have bought from (the above mentioned) Red Hook Lobster Pound and love their fresh Maine lobsters.

Sep 03, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

NYC Foodie Vacation (anything missing? Chowhound approved?)

RGR, my mouth is watering when I look at your fine list a few posts above!
We have to get back to EMP, it has been too long. It probably is our favorite restaurant in NYC also.

Aug 31, 2009
FoodWine in Manhattan

What the hell happened to Bouley?

They moved closer to their original location (where we once had one of the best meals in our lives), to 163 Duane Street (corner of Hudson, by Duane Park).
http://www.davidbouley.com/

We have tried the new location a couple of times and like the restaurant much more again. We never really liked Bouley so much during the "West Broadway -years"; we felt something got seriousl lost when Bouley moved there.
But now, with this new location, it seems like chef Bouley got his groove back.

Aug 31, 2009
FoodWine in Manhattan

Lucali is a Tourist Trap.

There is a big difference between our personal tastes (what we happen to like or not like) and bad food (cheap, non-fresh ingredients and unskilled preparation, etc).

So, if your definition of great pizza is a thick crust and lots of cheese and other stuff on top of it, then you definitely will not like the style of pizza that Lucali and so many other NY pizza places prepare. That does not mean that Lucali's pizza is bad; you just do not like the style.

As it comes to Katz's deli, what did you expect? If you had done your research, you would have known exactly what to expect and why so many people, especially New Yorkers, love the place. It is pretty much a place like no other in New York. If you do not like the place, fine, but that is because of your personal taste, not because the place is not good.

I am expecting overseas guests in a about a month and Katz's will be one of the first places where they will have to go - armed with knowledge about the place; its history, the food and what goes into the preparation of that food.

Who knows, maybe I will take them to Lucali, too. They love thin crust pizza -and I want them to see something else than Manhattan or just the usual, easy tourist sights in Brooklyn. So if you see us there and hear us yapping in a weird sounding language, you can say: "See, what did I say - this is a total tourist trap!" :-D

Aug 31, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Lucali is a Tourist Trap.

Yes, we have been to the "new" 2nd Avenue Deli, too. It was last year and I made no notes, so I cannot give you a detailed report, but all 3 of us liked it. The matzo ball soup was excellent, according to the matzo ball soup enthusiast in our group (although "not as good as auntie Ruth's").

Aug 31, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Lucali is a Tourist Trap.

Well said, Fleur. I was just going to post something along the same lines, including being surprised at the thougt that tourists would be able (or willing) to even find Lucali.

Aug 31, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Best French (Traditional) Restaurant in Brooklyn?

Canaille is hit or miss. The owner can be stunningly rude toward customers, for no apparent reason.

Aug 30, 2009
FoodWine in Outer Boroughs

Yasuda Sushi~reservations essential?

Thanks, cmui.

I was pretty stunned when I noticed the relation between that menu and omasake the first time. The first time I thought it was a fluke and I forgot it. Then, when it happened again, I was really surprised, but realized that there might be a pattern. Maybe it is important to note that this has happened during lunch hours, I do not know if the same applies during dinner.

If you do check this out, I would be happy to hear if you had the same experience.

Aug 25, 2009
FoodWine in Manhattan

Yasuda Sushi~reservations essential?

Kobetobiko, my post was mostly a response to cmui (re: cmui), to several of cmui's posts, including where he /she asks your opinion about people ordering a fixed price menu while sitting at the bar.

But my comment about experience was indeed a reaction to your post, when you said:

"If he thinks you are familiar with Japanese food or sushi or a regular customer, by nature he is going to be more cautious about what he picks for you for your omakase. I don't think I need to explain what happens if you act like a novice in eating sushi."
-That part of my response was for you - and then, in connection to that I was just pondering, in general , why this kind of a thing (inexperience, etc.) is referred to so often on different food posts.

I know you were responding to cmui, but on the other hand, cmui had been posting about this before you came along, so in my mind, it was a part of the general discussion. And the whole board, thread, is public and general and people respond to all posts here, regardless of if some posters seem more familiar with each other or not. I did, however, mean no harm either.

By the way, it makes me sad to think that a sushi chef would choose less exciting pieces for someone they deem a novice... I understand if / when a chef asks the patron what they do not like, but deciding, based on someone's perceived novelty... that is not really right, if you ask me. Actually it is disrespectful toward a patron. I mean: that person ("novice") might miss a wonderful, transporting experience, only based on what a chef has decided, based on his prejudices...?

Kobetobiko, I felt you were quite diplomatic about what you wrote about ordering a set menu at the bar. That part of my post was directed at cmui, who seemed to indicate that it is not ok to do it.

I got a bit frustrated because I felt that cmui seemed to dismiss or ignore my many experiences in front of Yasuda (and other sushi chefs), an experience that has shown that ordering certain menus in front of the chef can be (at least) as rewarding as ordering omakase. I had tried to explain, twice, that we have been served pieces that you definitely never get when you order the same menu sitting at a table (and that the sushi is not as good at a table anyway), and that I have compared the pieces we got with someone who did order omakase -and paid for omakase.
Actually, years ago, when I still thought that the bar is for a la carte or omakase eaters only, I was the one that got the short end of the stick when I sometimes ordered omakase. I got the same pieces as the fixed pirce menu eaters, in two different sushi restaurants, so after the second time winding up paying double compared to my fellow diners, I wised up.

As it comes to eating sushi, I am sure that I am nowhere near as sophisticated as you, Kobetobiko, and I actually "heard" what you said about Yasuda. So I came back to Chow today thinking that, if you don not mind, I would ask which other sushi restaurants you like in New York? Which sushi restaurants would you send family members and friends to in New York?
Best regards F/W

Aug 25, 2009
FoodWine in Manhattan

Yasuda Sushi~reservations essential?

Kobetobiko, I did not refer to you.

Aug 25, 2009
FoodWine in Manhattan