Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Diner, Dive In and Drive Away Happy

So it’s been a while, but I’m backkk!!! I sure hope you missed me, because I missed you!…and that you are wondering what food is bringing me back to the blog.…what restaurant could have been so noteworthy that the writer in me is ready to, well, write again? Ohh hold on tight cause this is a good one…

I was almost tempted to bury this information because, let’s be honest, I’m just not sure if I want this restaurant blowing up.  Sure, it might be selfish, but it also might be brilliant.  Keep this to myself and avoid having a hard time getting in when you all flock like seagulls to this place, sounds like the smart thing to do.   But, I wouldn’t be the Bite-Sized Blonde if I kept information this meaningful from you, now would I?

Is the suspense killing you? Okay okay, here it is…drumroll please…the restaurant so good I had to start writing immediately is…DinerDiner is well, an old diner from almost a century ago – resurrected and brought way above it’s former glory to become a superstar restaurant.   Of course, the food is the star here, but it seems rather silly not to mention the décor, because in this case, it’s what makes the atmosphere so freaking awesome.  Diner looks like a diner you would see on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives if the wrong person bought this place.  You totally could have found chicken fried gravy on this menu or something equally as “comforting” and by comforting I mean just kind of ineffectual.  But, this place is so much more that a triple D joint.  It’s seriously cool, and not just in a BK hipster too cool for school kind of a way.  It’s like cool, man.  The diner is illuminated by votives that take the usual space and make it into something so unusual people are clambering to come in.   The space might be small, but nothing else here is.

Okay, so there’s one more thing that’s small, and that’s the menu.  But remember what I’ve taught you, good things come in small packages.  Or Bite-Sized packages really. But you get the point.   If you take after your favorite Bite-Sized Blonde, then you probably want to see the menu right now.  But you can’t, because it changes daily.  Pain in the ass to reprint the menu everyday, right? Wrong! The waitress sits down at your table to write the menu on the paper tablecloth.  So casual, so cool.

We shared several dishes, because how could we not.  So, I sampled about half of the menu.  We started with the Fried Green Tomatoes.  OMG, these FGTs were SG – so good, so so good.  Green tomatoes are different than your run-of-the-mill red tomatoes.  They are denser and a little sour almost.  Which is why they are great to fry.  They maintain their integrity even under high heat.  These FGTs were something special though.  Lightly breaded and fried to a golden perfection, they were served with a side salad of watercress and mint and moisturized in aioli.  Yes, moisturized – because they had a thin layer of creamy goodness on them to keep them moist.

We also shared the Romaine Salad, which kind of sounds boring, but it was anything but.  The crispy leaves were left in rather big pieces and combined with roasted beets and finely shaved red onion and then showered in love, otherwise known as creamy basil vinaigrette.   A simple salad elevated to awesomeness is a salad you could find me eating everyday.

As a treat, the kitchen sent us a plate of crostini.  Thin slices of sourdough bread, toasted on the grill, and covered in a garlicky spread and marinated green tomatoes is anything but your ordinary crostini, and man, was this good.  Of course, it only had me begging for more…

You know how I feel about burgers – so I couldn’t resist the Special House Burger at Diner since it is the one thing that is always on their menu.  And after eating it, I know why.  This burger is so good, I’m sure the Diner regulars would be up in arms if it disappeared from the menu.  A thick juicy patty of blended meat rests comfortably on a doughy brioche bun and is then adorned with lettuce and pickled onions and served with homemade ketchup.  The pickled onions take on a cabbage-like flavor that elevates the burger so subtly.  And the ketchup is thick and sweet with a hint of cinnamon; it is truly unlike any ketchup you have ever had.  Which is why it’s the only choice in condiments for the fries.

Fries are important to a burger like a bikini top is to the bottom.  Sure, they are separate entities, but if you have one without the other, you are just half naked.   The fries are thick cut and double fried in flavorful and greasy oil and then dusted with salt to create a crunchy, salty snack that is impossible to resist.  Even after I had finished my meal, and all of my fries, I still wanted more.  Not because I didn’t have enough, but because every time a plate of fries was brought near my table, and that incredible scent perfumed the air, I found myself salivating.

Diner is more than burgers though.   We also shared a Sirloin.  It was grilled, so it had beautiful char marks, and then was sliced and plated with grilled spinach and an heirloom tomato salad.  I’m not sure who the genius is that decided to grill spinach but I need to meet this person ASAP.  Spinach takes on a whole new level of deliciousness when it is grilled.  It was so intensely flavorful but light, which made it the perfect addition to one buttery soft piece of meat.

We also shared the Pork Chop, which was grilled and served on top of a garlicy sauce.  It was juicy and hearty and so insanely delicious, I was surprised no one at the table picked up the bone to salvage the last, impossibly small pieces of meat left.

Diner’s food is comforting, but it’s not comfort food.  I would eat here when I’m sad, when I’m celebrating, when I’m starving, or when I’m totally full.  This is the food you cannot pass up.  This place is so cool, that if someone took me here on a date and I didn’t know about this place beforehand, I might just be getting undressed at the table.  Clearly the way to my heart is through my stomach, but you already know that…

Diner
85 Broadway
Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY
718.486.3077

Beware of the Two Door Tavern

Beware of the Two Door Tavern

You know that place? You know the one I’m talking about.  Known for their awesome brunch so the line is out the door at all hours, and although you know the wait is going to be tremendous, you walk over there, just to see how long the line really is and maybe put your name down.  Yes, that’s the one.  Almost every neighborhood has one.  And in Williamsburg, this place is called Egg.  Unfortunately, this isn’t a story about Egg, and the awesomeness that unravels there.  No, this story is about another place.  You should know this one well too.  This is the place that catches all the starving passersby that leave that popular and oh so busy place undoubtedly disappointed when they can’t get a table.  In this case, the Two Door Tavern.   On a warm Sunday afternoon, I fell victim to the Two Door Tavern.  So close to Egg, yet so far away.  But, in the midst of my hunger pains, it would have to suffice…or would it.

Well, the long and the short of it, really, is that this place was an epic disappointment.  Of course, it was disappointing because we didn’t get to eat at Egg, but really the most egregious indignity was caused by the Two Door Tavern itself.   By bypassing Egg, we thought we were avoiding the wait.  Yes, we realized the food wouldn’t be what we had wanted, but we would get to eat soon.  In this game of compromise, that would have to do.  But, what we didn’t know was that the wait to eat at Two Door Tavern would be equally as long.  No, we didn’t wait to sit down.  We were seated right away.  But we did wait to order and then we waited even longer for our food to arrive.  Not because the restaurant was busy, because it wasn’t.  We waited because the restaurant was painfully slow.  In fact, we waited almost 2 hours for food and dare I say, mediocre food.  I ordered a BLT with a fried egg that was offensively overcooked and bacon that was medium rare.  The rest of the food was equally as thrilling.   So, the next time you find yourself caught in a pickle, deciding between delicious and a wait, and someplace else, just remember how un-delicious that someplace else might really be.

Another one bites the dust…

Two Door Tavern
116 N.5th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718.599.0222

My Not So Strange Addition

Hi, I am the Bite-Sized Blonde and I am addicted to Crack. Well, I’m addicted to Crack Pie, which just so happens to get its name from the addiction it is sure to bring on.  If you are not intrigued, you should be.  Crack Pie is what can only be referred to as the ingenious love child of Christina Tosi, the unbelievably talented and deliciously inclined Pastry Chef at Momofuku Milk Bar.  So, back to the crack.  This is the pie that all pies aspire to be.  The crust is unlike any you have tried before, it is crunchy enough to balance out the gooey center but it maintains an element of chewiness that will pleasantly surprise your textural taste buds.  This crust won’t fall apart either – so say goodbye to your pie anxiety – which will forever be known as anxpiety, because you don’t have to worry about a messy pie, which I think we can all agree is a major buzz kill.

Not only does this pie come equipped with the most serious crust in town, it is filled with pure heaven.  The filling is made of butter, cream and sugar and resembles the inside of a pecan pie, minus the pecans.  It is sweet and creamy with a subtle hint of saltiness that will have you screaming.  Think Harry met Sally, but less acting.

As if the pie wasn’t reason enough to visit Momofuku Milk Bar, they make some of the best cookies in Manhattan.  Take it from a Cookie Connoisseur.  The cookies are out of this world.  I have three favorites; I know you aren’t surprised I couldn’t pick just one.  The Corn Cookie is totally unexpected, but that’s not what makes it so good.  It’s the perfect combination of a corn muffin and a sugar cookie.  It’s light and airy but oh so substantial, and needless to say, it’s chew-chew-chewy.  This cookie might be unexpected, but after one bite, you won’t have any idea why.

Another unexpectedly awesome cookie is the Cornflake Marshmallow Cookie.  The cornflakes add an unanticipated element of crunchiness to the cookie and the marshmallows melt into the cookie batter so beautifully.  The cookie is flecked with chocolate chips to round out the flavors.  This cookie is unparalleled, even up against the Compost Cookie.

The Compost Cookie, which is trademarked obviously, is an addictive combination of all things delicious, including coffee beans and chocolate chips, and lots of butter and sugar.  Of course, if cookies aren’t your thing – well, you should go see a doctor.  But, in the meantime you can still enjoy some of Christina Tosi’s delicacies, including Cereal Milk Ice Cream and Cake Truffles.

Christina Tosi is the Queen of Chewy.  Chewy pies, chewy cookies.  Chew Chew!! All Aboard.  First stop Chewy-Ville, next stop…well probably rehab? Someone is going to have to pry that Crack Pie right out of my hands.

Momofuku Milk Bar
milk bar east village
251 E 13th St.
New York, NY

milk bar midtown
15 W 56th St.
New York, NY

milk bar upper west side
561 Columbus Ave.
New York, NY

milk bar brooklyn
382 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY

St. Anselm

St. Anselm, sounds like a name with power, and meaning I suppose.   I’m not sure who this St. Anselm guy is, but if I had to guess, I’d say he was the patron saint of all things delicious.  I mean, why else would they name a gem of a restaurant after him?

St. Anselm is a restaurant in my new favorite neighborhood, Billyburg – or Williamsburg to the newbies.   Williamsburg is loaded with great restaurants, so to stand out there you really have to bring something spectacular to the table.  And St. Anselm brings something spectacular, really spectacular.

This tiny restaurant is not boastful.  In fact, it’s the opposite, which leads me to believe this St. Anselm dude was also pretty modest.  The restaurant is unpretentious.  But not in the Manhattan way that can actually be pretentious masquerading as low key.  This is BK unpretentious, which equals a literal translation.  The restaurant is dark, but surrounded by a glowing light force from the open kitchen.   You know I’m all about an open kitchen, see here, here and here.  Its fun to watch the chefs at work, but it’s also fun to check out their equipment.  This open kitchen isn’t exactly the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but the food that comes out of there can be considered a work of art.

We started with the Clams.  They were fresh and salty.  Flavored with garlic and parsley, these tiny, little suckers were a bright way to start the meal.

We also ordered the Bibb Salad.  A pretty typical starter of crisp lettuce, plump tomatoes, crispy fried shallots and sweet shallot vinaigrette.  Simple but delicious or delicious but simple? Either way, you get the idea.

So you know that feeling you get when you hear music and you feel compelled to dance? Well that’s the feeling I get when I see a burger on the menu.  But think less dancing, more eating.  So, of course I ordered the Patty Melt.  The tender patty of meat was perfectly juicy and topped with Swiss cheese and caramelized onions.    The onions give the burger a subtle sweetness while the mild Swiss cheese makes it slightly salty.   Complete with toasted white bread and spicy pickles, this patty melt was one for the books.

But, if you go to St. Anselm and don’t have the appetite to order everything (weird), the one thing you cannot, and I repeat, cannot pass up is the Butcher’s Steak with Garlic Butter.  This is one of the best steaks I have ever had in my entire life. The butcher’s steak is also known as a hanger steak.  The reason behind the name? This cut of meat is known for its flavor, so butchers used to keep it for themselves rather than sell it! After eating this steak, you’ll understand why.  The meat is incredibly tender and flavorful.  The grill gives it a deep flavor.  With a hint of saltiness, and a touch of butter, this steak is melt in your mouth magnificent.  Besides the fact that this is one outrageous piece of meat, it’s also $15. Yes, you read the correctly.  This is the best $15 I’ve ever spent in my life.

What’s a steak without a side? Similar to chips without dip, which is something this Bite-Sized Blonde is totally against.  So, for sides we ordered the Shishito Peppers, Pan Fried Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil, and Grilled Berkshire Bacon.  The peppers were smoky from the grill, but maintained their spicy flavor.  Not every shishito pepper you eat is spicy.  But eater beware, the spicy ones can hurt a little.

The Pan Fried Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil came highly recommended, and for good reason.  The exterior was crusty and the insides were soft and buttery.  But there are two things this Bite-Sized Blonde can never get enough of, and that’s shoes and truffles.  And these potatoes could have used a little more truffle oil.  Plus, it would just  be weird to get new shoes at dinner.

The Grilled Berkshire Bacon was thick cut and meaty.  It was good, but after the Patty Melt and Butcher’s Steak, I was unquestionably full.  Which is why it was a miracle, or insane, that we also ordered dessert.  We sampled each dessert on the menu.  Not sure my belly or brain registered them, since I was already at the point of no return.

One last thing you should probably know, St. Anselm is owned by the same, culinary inclined duo that own Fette Sau, Joe and Kim Carroll.  That carries a lot of weight, because their food will make you carry a lot of weight, for good reason.    When you win the Zagat Award for Best BBQ in NYC three years in a row, you know you are doing something right.  And that something they are doing right, is the same something they are bringing to St. Anselm.

Whether you’re a Manhattan Man or Borough Babe, St. Anselm is the perfect place for you.  So, go, eat the Butcher’s Steak, and tell me all about it!

St. Anselm
355 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn NY
718.384.5054

Not Your Average Joe

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t start my morning with a cup of coffee, my morning doesn’t really start at all.   It’s like my brain protests proper thoughts when I’m without caffeine.  Some may call it an addiction; I just call it a delicious routine.

If you are a coffee drinker, then you know not every cup is the same, or even similar.  And the power of a great cup of coffee is like the power of a great kiss.  It has the ability to change an entire day for the better.  That’s the way it goes, and don’t forget it goes the other way too.  A bad cup of coffee, almost worse than no cup at all, is enough to turn me into a Bite-Sized B*tch.

Fear not because I have found the place where good moods are born and it’s called Blue Bottle.   This coffee shop is not your average Starbucks coffee shop.  Coffee at Blue Bottle is prepared meticulously.  They have several methods of preparing coffee, including siphon, drip, French press and espresso, but no matter the preparation, the end result is liquid happiness.

A siphon coffee maker, which is also called a vacuum coffee maker uses two chambers to brew coffee. Not only do they look seriously impressive, they brew a mean cup coffee.

If you are looking for something a little more low key, but still dramatic, you can order a drip.  Each cup of coffee is individually made to order, so it’s kind of like  a present.  Of course, I love presents, and I love coffee, so I had to have a drip.

The coffee was strong and complex with earthy notes.  With a little raw sugar and whole milk, it was a rich and creamy delight.

At a place with so many options, it’s hard to just pick one thing.  So naturally, I didn’t.  I also had a latte, which was smooth as silk.

The only downside to Blue Bottle? The line is out the door.  I went at 5:00 pm on a Friday and I waited about 15 minutes for my coffee.  Totally worth the wait, but totally annoying.   Also, you’ll have to go to San Francisco or Brooklyn to get this tasty treat, so I chose Brooklyn.  A trip to Brooklyn wouldn’t be complete without a hipster spotting, and this spot was worth mentioning.  A hipster who kind of looked like Robinhood, hat and all, ordered a cup of coffee after I did.  He had the good sense to order a drip as well.  But, this sneaky son of a gun took my coffee instead of his.  Robinhood lives up to his name, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, if by rich I mean well dress and poor I mean wears a funny looking hat.

Oh yea, can’t forget to mention that Coolhaus sells Blue Bottle iced coffee, and you know how much I love Coolhaus.

Blue Bottle Coffee
160 Berry Street
Brooklyn, NY
718.387.4160

Sombreros…So Smart

They say the best things happen when you least expect it, like a relationship when it’s the last thing of your mind.  Come to think of it, I think that’s the only thing they say it about.  Because what else does it really happen with?  But, I’m not talking about relationships here.  Remember this is the Bite-Sized Blonde talking, which can only mean one thing.

The last thing I wanted to eat on Friday was Mexican.  After the rather adequate meal I had at Cascabel earlier that week, I had no interest in looking at another taco so soon.  But once I heard about the amazing margaritas at Rosarito, I was in.   Oh, the sweet, sweet power of tequila.  Rosarito is a new Mexican Fish Shack in Williamsburg.  NY Mag so cleverly said “This Mexican spot wears many hats (sombreros?), moonlighting as a pescaderia, tacqueria, and a “mezcal tequila bar.”   Damn I wish I thought of that first.  Sombreros…so smart.

Since it’s not PC to be shallow, we all pretend to not judge a book by its cover.  But, let’s be real…we all do it.  And I am guilty of it too.  I walked into Rosarito and was instantly attracted to it.  Bleached wood for that beachy feeling, antique lamps and dim lighting for a little romance, and a bar full of tequila.   Let me reiterate instant attraction.  Not what I was expecting to feel after Cascabel.   But like I said, the best things happen when you least expect it.

I started with a special margarita -  reposado tequila with guava, cilantro and lime.  Refreshing and delicious.  Reposado is aged anywhere between 2 months and a year in oak barrels, giving off a richer and more complex flavor.

What’s a Mexican meal without guacamole? No, this isn’t a riddle.  I’m not really a riddle kind of girl.  Let me tell you what it is.   It’s weird, kind of like those glasses without lenses.  The guacamole was great, but the chips were unapologetically crunchy, just the way I like them.

I’ve never heard of a pescadilla before, but I knew immediately I had to try it.  I mean, how could a crispy corn quesadilla filled with red snapper, cheese and salsa verde be bad?  It was awesome.  The tortilla was crispy but the inside was delicate.  The creamy cheese made this seriously sinful.

I always thought good things come in small packages was about me until I had the Taquitos De Cangrejo.  These mini tacos were filled with crabmeat, mango and salsa and garnished with a little pickled ginger.   The light crabmeat was a perfect filling for the salty taco shells and sweet mango.

While ceviche might seem simple, a great ceviche is anything but, and I had two great ceviches at Rosarito.  The first was the sea scallop ceviche.  The scallops were thinly sliced and drizzled with yuzu and garlic oil.  Yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit with a unique twang.  Mixed with the garlic oil, it was the perfect dressing for the scallops, which were accompanied by ripe avocado, onions and scallions, and topped with toasted buttery quinoa.  The dish was smooth and tangy and crunchy all in one bite.

I didn’t think another ceviche could exist as stimulating as the scallops but then came the lobster ceviche.  The lobster was cut into thin disks and served with equal size slices of sweet strawberries.  It was dressed with yuzu and covered in scallions and the same toasted buttery quinoa as the scallops, but with one awesome addition.  This ceviche was drizzled in truffle oil.  It sounds complicated, but the dish was an oasis of flavors.  This wild dish took me for a ride and I liked it.

It was finally time for the tacos, and by then I had already forgotten my previous taco experience this week.  Cascabel who? The lobster taco was absolutely seductive.  The meat was so sweet and supple.  It was simply garnished with scallions and a little avocado cream. You know something is good when you don’t have to disguise it…like a pretty girl who doesn’t need to wear make up, which is exactly who this taco would be if it was a girl.

The taco shells need to be mentioned.  They were delicate and delicious and totally homemade.  Ingredient number 1 – love.  Yup, I could taste it.  Ingredient number 2 – steak and ingredient number 3 – beer.  Sounds like the makings of a pretty good Friday night if you ask me.

As if we didn’t order enough, there was just one more thing to finish off our meal, a steak.  The steak was marinated in adobe and served with sweet plantains.  I’ve never had a plantain before, because you know how much I HATE bananas and anything resembling them.  But these plantains were out of control.  They tasted like sweet potato candies.

Whoopsies, can’t forget about dessert, a classic tres leches cake.  Tres leches means three milks, usually evaporate milk, condensed milk and heavy cream, or otherwise known as a Lactose Intolerant person’s worse nightmare.  Because of the milk, the cake is extremely moist and sweet.  And what a sweet way it was to end a sweet meal.

Rosarito is now the third awesome BK dining experience I’ve had.  First came Brooklyn Fare, then TASTE and now Rosarito.  I never thought I would be declaring my love for another borough, but here I am saying I love you Brooklyn.

Rosarito
168 Wythe Ave.
Williamsburg, NY
718.388.8833

A TASTE of Brooklyn

If you should know one thing about Brooklyn, it’s this:  the food rocks.  And you know, coming from a Manhattan food snob that means something.  There’s so much eating to do in Brooklyn.  So much food, so little time.

One major advantage Brooklyn has over Manhattan is the space.  There’s so much of it.  And guess what the community likes to do with their open space? Host food festivals and flea markets revolved around food.  Now, this is my kind of borough.   It makes seeking out the great places to eat a piece of cake! Yesterday, I experienced a little taste of Brooklyn in a very big way, at TASTE Williamsburg and Greenpoint.  This all day food, drink and music festival was a Bite-Sized Blast.

TASTE Williamsburg and Greenpoint was exactly what the name implies, a little taste of the towns.  Some of the best local restaurants set up shop so food fanatics alike could rejoice in the glory that is delicious cuisine.  With fifty food booths and eight drink booths, a girl can get really overwhelmed.  Good thing I am seriously organized.

My first order of business, after purchasing a ticket, was to get a map of the festival and a pen. Oh yea, and have a pickleback.  A pickleback is one of those things you just have to try in order to understand its beauty, because it’s a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle juice.  Sounds gross, but it’s anything but.  The pickle juice cuts the harsh taste of the whisky and leaves you with a sweet and salty aftertaste.

So, with a shot under my belt, and my plans laid out, I walked into the festival and here’s where I went.  My first food stop was Fette Sau, obviously.   Fette Sau is known for having some of the best barbeque in New York City.  They were serving brisket sandwiches on soft potato rolls with sweet barbeque sauce.  The brisket was tender as can be and so smoky.  I could have eaten the entire booth worth of brisket.  Fette Sau – I will be back.

Next stop, BETTO, for market toast and little meatballs.  The market toast was smeared with creamy ricotta and drizzled with lemony syrup.  It was a satisfyingly simple accompaniment to the meatball.

Lodge and Urban Rustic offered wild boar ribs with a blueberry barbeque sauce.   The only thing this Bite-Sized Blonde used to know about boars was from the best show ever created, LOST.  I now understand why John Locke used to eat them; they are delicious.

I also sampled a Vietnamese sandwich from An Nhau, chicharones from Calyer, arepas from Caracas Arepa Bar and an ice cream sandwich from the Nitehawk Cinema.  This awesome movie theater has a full menu, which takes the concept of dinner and a movie to a whole new level.  Add a few glasses of Rose and beer  to the mix and my Sunday was in full swing.  On a gorgeous day, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Don’t worry if you missed TASTE, there is always the Brooklyn Flea market every weekend and Smorgasburg too!!  It’s a seriously delicious way to spend the day.  And take it from me, this won’t be your last trip to Brooklyn.