Blue Hill

Fantastic

In a rare act of fanciness, I agreed to spend more than $30 at a restaurant and went to Blue Hill.  I could taste the difference.  Though very expensive ($75 for the “farmers feast” price fix), they served easily the best breadsticks I’ve ever had, and a variety of pre-meal treats, as well as a palette cleanser in the middle.  My favorite of these were 2 “cheese burgers” that were the size of those gummy cheeseburgers you find at the convenience store- I’m still laughing at them being called cheeseburgers.  We shared the farmers feast and the Grilled Cobia (fish) which was just about the right amount of food for two.  I think my favorite had to be the “This morning’s farm egg” appetizer, each bite tasted differently and equally delicious.  I cannot actually say anything negative about any of the plates, they continually blew my mind.  Well, maybe except for the desserts; we finished off with the chocolate bread pudding and honey crisp apples, that were both delicious but only about the size of my thumb.  I usually need a little more dessert on my plate than Blue Hill has to offer.  All of the plates were on the small side, so I would suggest using this to try as many different dishes as you can.  It was really worth it, even if I can only afford to do it once a year.   On a side note, I’m no win connoisseur, but we did the thing that no one does and ordered the cheapest wine on the list (which is still $48) and it was completely amazing.  I strongly recommend the Domaine Grand 2009 from Cotes du Jura, France.  And yes, I’m only writing this so I can have it written down somewhere for the next time I go to a wine store.

75 Washington Place, between 6th Ave and Washington Square W

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Back Forty

picture from serious eats

Fantastic

I was impressed with everything they had at this place. Even the cocktails were completely amazing- I don’t normally order cocktails with a meal, but they looked so delicious I had to try them.   I was interested in them because they’re known for using local farms so their menu changes seasonally, which I generally think makes the food taste fresher. The result was a fantastic feast.   I would recommend ordering a side, all three entrees ordered were massive amounts of one item- for me it was the chicken.  Mind you the chicken was perfectly cooked and so delicious I have day dreams about it and sure there was a spoonful of potatoes hidden underneath, but I think that next time I’ll plan on sharing the entree family style and ordering sides.

190 Avenue B at 12th street, New York

Char No. 4

photo from nymag.com

OK

This was a kind of disappointing experience for me.  Mostly because it is a charming restaurant and all of the dishes seemed original and made with care.  It’s just nothing we ordered was that good.  The cornbread which the waitress highly recommended was dry (and made me yearn for Brooklyn Star to return) and my “crispy sweet potato gnocchi” was about 8 tater tots (sweet potato flavored) on a plate.  I wasn’t even that into the butter pecan ice cream dessert.   The best entrée at our table was the half chicken, and though it was perfectly tender and moist, the flavor was just not great. The waitress also recommended brunch, which might be worth trying.  I’ve also read that they more specialize in barbecue, so maybe we just ordered all of the wrong food.  We’ll see, I may give them the benefit of the doubt.

196 Smith St. btwn Warren and Baltic, Brooklyn

Roberta’s

picture from serious eats

Fantastic

My pizza quest has let me to Roberta’s in Bushwick.  Roberta’s didn’t just have good pizza because it tastes good, but because they grow all their fresh ingredients themselves in the gardens that surround the outdoor eating area.  I’m pretty sure they even have their own chicken coop.  Their dishes are pretty creative, mixing vegetables not normally found on a pizza.  They’re original, fresh and seasonal, all of which I love.  I definitely would go back; it’s worth the trip out there.

261 Moore St. at Bogart, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Label

I was a kind of disappointed with this (completely adorable) brunch place. It really was just too cute, and their menu sounded amazing but everything that came out of their kitchen was consistently, meh. They had a cardamom cappuccino, and being a lover of both cardamom and cappuccinos, I thought it sounded interesting. It tasted really good for about the first third of a cup, then I just was over it really quickly and didn’t want anymore. The waffles and hash browns were ok. The biscuits and gravy somehow had a slight fishy taste to them, that just really made them hard to finish. It does seem to be a neighborhood favorite and was recommended to me by a friend, so who knows, maybe they were having an off day and spilled fish sauce in the gravy.

108 Franklin Street, Brooklyn

No. 28 Pizza from Naples

I visited Numero 28 in the West Village this week, and I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.  Mostly because on my pizza quest I’ve come to accept that the only places worth visiting have at least an hour wait if you get there past 6:30.  This place, maybe because there’s more than one location, seated us immediately.  I’ll admit it, I was pleasantly surprised.  We tried the Margherita Reginella Pizza, and it was definitely comparable to the other pizza quest contenders (Keste still being my favorite).   We also had pesto spaghetti, and also delicious, was just a plate of spaghetti in a thin coat of pesto, so I’m glad we ordered the pizza to share for some variety.

28 Carmine Street, btwn Bleeker and Bedford

Calexico

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Red Hook has no more to offer than Ikea and Fairway. Though the majority of my trips there do involve one of these two places, this time I visited the permanent home to one of New York’s favorite food carts, Calexico. Their carne asada taco was absolutely fantastic, and at the restaurant there’s the added benefit of a salsa bar and a chipotle hot sauce that really made my black bean taco something special. The prices are pretty similar to their cart, so you won’t be spending too much on food, and it was also very quick. I’d definitely recommend it.

122 Union, at Columbia St, Red Hook

Great Jones Cafe

I can’t get enough of this place. I have a problem when I go there- I always try to order something different every time, but inevitably order the Jambalaya, because it was so good every other time I’ve gotten it. Also the cornbread is comparable to Brooklyn Star’s (my highest honor): just a little bit of jalapeno, and topped with honey. The other night I ordered pecan pie, which I have to admit I’m normally not so huge a fan of pecans (probably from a childhood of gorging myself on pecans off the playground trees during recesses), but the pie was pecans at their best. I highly recommend it. I’m actually not as big of a fan of their brunch menu as I am of their dinner menu, so I recommend trying it for lunch or dinner.

Great Jones at Bowery

A-Roma Bakery

So recently I’ve moved to a strange new land. Granted, it’s only about a 5 minute bike ride from my old place and I get off at the same subway station, but still I find myself on the other side of the BQE, and with very little knowledge of my surrounding restaurants.  A-Roma Bakery was my first new venture, and a very pleasing treat for a full day of moving.  The panini’s were good (not mind-blowing, but good) but the pastries were delicious.  My sister and I had chocolate macaroons and some kind of almond croissant treat, and they were just as good as they look (which is something I’ve found to not always be true since working close to china-town bakeries). If you’re in the neighborhood and in the mood for something sweet, I would definitely recommend it.

Grand at Borinquen, Williamsburg Brooklyn

Cariño

From the owners of the fallen restaurant Bonita, comes Cariño. Unlike the rest of Williamsburg, I was never particularly impressed with Bonita and I also wasn’t especially impressed with Carino. Everything was ok, but (I guess it’s the Mexican food snob in me) I’ve had better for cheaper. I have to admit, there was a really nice spiciness to everything they make and the guacamole, though over priced (7 dollars for about a tablespoons worth) was pretty good as well. Overall though, I probably won’t be visiting again, however, this place has received a lot of good reviews, so if you’re not accustomed to good Mexican food (i.e., not from Texas, the southwest, California or Mexico) please, visit and make up your own mind about it – you might love it.

84 S 4th Street, at Berry, Brooklyn