"" What's She Eating Now?: December 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

No Eats 'Til Brooklyn

I often feel conflicted about sharing my favorite sleeper places because I want them to be successful and popular but also always want to be able to go without having to wait until midnight 30 days in advance and hitting refresh a million times in a hopeful attempt at getting a table. That said, I have two spots that deserve some real props, both in.... Brooklyn.

So why Brooklyn, there are literally thousands of restaurants in Manhattan. The answer is a few fold. First, value. With dining costs continuing to increase driven by all sorts of external forces, there is still good value to be found in Brooklyn. Also, as a Manhattan dweller, there is something about going to Brooklyn that feels a little bit like a field trip which adds a touch of excitement and if I want to exaggerate a tad, it is like taking a 4-hour vacation. Despite actually being from Brooklyn myself, it is rare I go there these days without consulting a map and if I am consulting a map I am by definition going somewhere unfamiliar. A lot of this has to do with gentrification and great spots being located places that I associate as body-dumping sites from my short-pants days. And lastly, there are some really good places there and the Brooklynites are selfishly keeping them under wraps like a younger sibling who has a really cool toy they are worried their older sibling will steal if he knows about it... not that I ever had that feeling or anything.

So here goes my reveals. First is Bricolage in Park Slope. I note the block it is located on would not have been considered Park Slope when I was a tyke but it is now and I am glad this restaurant is there. The owners, both Slanted Door alums from the Left Coast, bill their restaurants as a Vietnamese gastropub but since that might not be exactly clear to all I'll try to expound. Imagine going somewhere warm, inviting and homey and having some of your favorite most comforting dishes -- now imagine them with fish sauce. The place is an exceptional value given the high ingredient quality and culinary sophistication with no menu item over $34 and the rest of the entrees averaging $23 with two right now under $20. Apps sides and snacks present similar value. For readers outside of NYC this may seem expensive, but trust me, this is a bargain in these parts for what you get. Some don't miss items: Vietnamese Crepe, Sriracha Butter Wings, Grilled Pork Chop, Unshaking Beef, Nom Nom Beef Chips and the chocolate dessert with blue cheese is surprisingly delightful. Cocktails are also on point at $13.

Spot number two, Bistro Petit in Williamsburg. If you look down to the map on your phone to see if you're close you may miss it. This place literally has 12 seats and those are packed in pretty close together. That is to leave room for the open kitchen where Chef Sung Park cooks every single dish himself with the help of only one cook. I should mention also, they do a healthy delivery business on top of their dining room and these guys don't miss a beat. The food is French with a distinct Korean influence. Scratch your head if you want but it totally works. When you're starting to feel like a lead weight from eating rich cassoulet imagine cutting that with a little bit of kimchi. Portions are generous and somehow no dish even hits the $30 mark. Some don't miss items: Anchovy Frites, (pan-seared) Foie Gras, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Cassoulet, Kimchi Bouillabaisse. Oh, and in all my excitement I almost forgot a great feature, this joint is BYOB playas so to add value on top of value you don't have to pay a huge restaurant mark up on your wine, just a modest $10 corkage fee. And if you forget to BYO two nearby wine shops will deliver to the restaurant in minutes with a courtesy 10% discount for Bistro Petit guests.

I should also mention the service at both these places is solid. Warm and casual but exact. So load up your metro card and go explore. No mustache or ironic T-shirts required.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Too Far, Whey Too Far

Dear Hipsters,

I am often amused by your creative facial hair and fashion sense which can sometimes look like a strange mash-up of Mad Men and LL Bean with a small hat on top but seriously, WHAT IS THIS? I have no issues with you invading the beverage aisle with your small batch gluten free fair trade craft beer made by employing rescue animals from the outer boroughs but this is really an absurd and unnecessary product. 

Brines are super easy and inexpensive to make yourself and they definitely should not be radioactive in color. And why just for turkeys? This makes me concerned hat they have a separate SKU for every type of poultry in development. And why is this liquid? I doubt this was on anyone's shopping agenda and am not sure who makes a heavy 1 gallon impulse purchase of whey turkey brine as they check OJ off the list. Why not sell a small packet of dry ingredients you add water to that doesn't require refrigeration, a giant in-store footprint, high distribution costs, and lots of plastic packaging? I know whey comes in powder form, all those infomercials with greased-up body builders wouldn't lie to me, though I can't say I am sure why whey is the way forward with brine in any event. I have never met the Wholefoods buyer for this category but if I had to guess she wears a wool beenie indoors in the summer and is getting her boyfriend new suspenders to add to his collection for Christmas. 

Despite my snark, I actually love supporting local food entrepreneurs. I am just not sure brine was an area begging for disruption.

Grouchy McGrouchersen
WSEN Gen-X Curmudgeon-In-Chief