Tag Archives: Bedford-Stuyvesant

I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

NUMBER 65: BLACK TRUFFLE AND SEA SALT CHOCOLATE from MAST BROTHERS

The black truffles in the chocolate bars from Mast Brothers, which is a bean-to-bar chocolatier based in Williamsburg, are not the French candy variety. Rather these are real black truffles. The kind you may get with your fancy pasta. Mushrooms. That’s right. This is mushroom chocolate.

And it is incredible. The black truffles give this chocolate a deep, rich earthy flavor that plays in to the bittersweet frutiness of the dark chocolate. The salt rounds it out and not only works on the sweet salty front, but also plays up the sea and earth flavors. This seasonal bar is available at the storefront in Brooklyn and many grocers around the city. Unless you have a mushroom or chocolate allergy (God forbid), you must give this a taste. Price Varies

MAST BROTHERS
105A North 3rd Street (between Wythe Avenue and berry Street)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(718) 388-2625
mastbrothers.com

NUMBER 64: ROBIOLA WITH EGGPLANT CROSTATA at DEL POSTO

Hopefully I already convinced you on the wonders of chocolate and mushrooms. But chocolate and eggplant? And cheese? This might be the wackiest savory sweet combination of all. Yet it’s one of the most delicious.

This was served to us as a cheese course during a spectacular lunch this year at Del Posto. The expertly fried fritter was stuffed with tender eggplant, served with sweet, melty robiola cheese and drizzled with just the right amount of rich, decadent dark chocolate. This was heavenly. The flavors worked so well together. The eggplant contributed sweet, soft textures and if I hadn’t known any better, I might have mistaken it for banana. Oh, now you’re on board!?!

DEL POSTO
85 Tenth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Street)
Meatpacking District
(212) 497-8090
delposto.com

NUMBER 63: COLD SMOKED CORN SOUP at DO OR DINE

Even if I didn’t know the owners of Do or Dine, it would have been high on my destination list. Justin, George, and Luke were friends of mine from when we worked at The Modern together. They have wacky ideas and fun personalities with an eye for flavor and hospitality. And the fact that none of them are trained chefs was not a reason to deter them from creating some of the most exciting and creative food I’ve tasted the entire year.

We didn’t try the now infamous Foie Gras Doughnut (it will be ordered on a future visit), but I fell in love with their seasonal soup that is now sadly no longer on the menu. What a crazy concoction that delighted my tastebuds and played with my mind! A roasted corn and chipotle puree took care of the sweet and spicy balance. But then more layers were added with sweet honeydew cubes and surprisingly subtle Crunch and Munch (the poor man’s Cracker Jacks) croutons. The soup is smoked with a hand smoker and the hickory aromas are released at the presentation, making this a full-sensory experience. And I’m not just being biased, believe me.

DO OR DINE
1108 Bedford Avenue (between Gates and Lexington Avenue)
Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
(718) 684-2290

NUMBER 62: BACON POPCORN at SALT & FAT

To some it might not seem so strange, but I can assure you to all naysayers that bacon popcorn is delicious. Especially the way they serve it at Salt & Fat, a newish neighborhood spot in Sunnyside, Queens with Korean and Southern influences. I loved the entire meal at my recent visit, but the one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was the complimentary bag of bacon popcorn.

The popcorn is popped in bacon fat, which could make for a very greasy and heavy flavor. But these are surprisingly light and addicting. The bacon flavors are fully present, but not overpowering. It adds smoky, umami notes to the already buttery and salty popcorn. This bag disappeared in a matter of minutes and it was to my delight (and detriment) that the server was only too willing to bring us a re-fill. It’s a perfect way to open up a meal of salt and fat (which is much more pleasant and refined than it sounds). Price: Complimentary with Meal

SALT & FAT
41-16 Queens Boulevard (between 41st and 42nd Street)
Sunnyside, Queens
(718) 433-3702
saltandfatny.com

NUMBER 61: KATZ’S PASTRAMI EGG ROLL at REDFARM

Chinese and Jewish culture have been intertwined since the early days of the Lower East Side. And there are still some great Cantonese restaurants down there serving up egg rolls and the like. And of course, so is Katz’s Deli, which makes some of, if not the, best pastrami in the entire city. So you’d think it would be a natural fit to combine the two flavors. Yet nobody in this city has tried something as outlandish (and obvious) as the egg roll at the new high end Chinese gastropub RedFarm.

This classic Chinese American appetizer is given the kosher treatment with the addition of some generous slices of Katz’s tender, smoky pastrami. Along with the meat, Chef Joe Ng fills the fried egg roll with cabbage and hot chilis. A tangy honey mustard sauce on the side cuts all that delectable fat. They make for a great starter to a consistently creative and delicious meal at RedFarm. Price: $7

REDFARM
529 Hudson Street (between 10th Street and Charles Street)
West Village
(212) 792-9700
redfarmnyc.com

Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

I visited Nashville last summer on a road trip between New York and Memphis. And I guess I didn’t do my research thoroughly enough because we didn’t try any hot chicken while in town. I always try to find a city’s most iconic dishes and try the best version of it. That was part of my inspiration for the webseries.

And while we did sample a meat and three (Arnold’s) and some Mexican popsicles (Las Paletas), we somehow spared our stomachs from the hot spicy fried chicken that Nashville is known for. It’s sort of funny that it took coming back to New York and starting the new Time Out journey to get an authentic taste of Nashville.

Everything Southern seems to be taking over the city (Brooklyn in particular). I’m convinced the entire borough will have a heart attack in the next few years. Peaches HotHouse is from the same owners as The Smoke Joint, which is an old-time barbecue shop in Fort Greene that I finally tried earlier this year. It was decent, but not as good as some other BBQ spots in Brooklyn (namely Fette Sau).

And while we tried their pulled pork sandwich at Peaches (which was better than the one at Smoke Joint) and the BBQ shrimp appetizer (which was quite flavorful with awesome fried grit cakes), it was the Hot Chicken that made TONY’s 100 best list and the thing we were most focused on.

You get an option of Mild, Hot, or Extra Hot for their famous chicken and there’s an addendum to the menu warning that the extra hot is extremely spicy. I guess they take no responsibility for spontaneous combustions. We decided to play it safe and go with the more modest hot chicken. I didn’t want to put out any fires tonight.

I got nervous when the chicken arrived and I could see miniuscule red flecks (from peppers) covering the golden skin. I overcame my fear and picked the thigh up and took a bite. It was actually sweet at first. It took a while for the heat to become apparent and even when it did, it never hit the atomic levels I was expecting. But it gave the skin a flavor balance and imparted an intense flavor throughout the meat. Most of the heat came from the skin, but the flesh certainly did not suffer in the process.

The plate consisted of three generous pieces of chicken, pickles, and a side (we ordered collard greens although got delivered kale, which also had some serious heat). The first piece of chicken I had was succulent, moist, and as flavorful as possible. The second piece scared me a bit because the meat was bright pink. I’m all for cooking things as little as possible, but I’m not into chicken tartare. And this was sort of borderline. The texture was mostly firm, which lead me to believe it was safe, but the pink color gave off a warning to not eat too much. I might not have worried if there was a written warning on the menu: “Chicken is Extremely Spicy and Slightly Undercooked.”

Would Peaches HotHouse’s Hot Chicken make my Top 100 of the year? Aside from the disconcerting cooking inconsistency, the flavors were good and the chicken unbelievably tender. And happily, Bed-Stuy is a lot closer than Nashville. 7 out of 10.

PEACHES HOTHOUSE
415 Tompkins Avenue (between Jefferson Avenue and Hancock Street)
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
(718) 483-9111
peacheshothouse.com

There’s a very interesting phenomenon in this country concerning deli meats. It’s a slowly dwindling cuisine across America. You’d be amazed at how many kids in middle America don’t even know what a pastrami is. When I filmed the last episode of my webseries, Adam interviewed a high schooler who had never had pastrami before and when Adam asked him what he expected, he responded, “Italian?” The clip never made it onto the episode, but it’s telling. I wonder how many other kids confuse pastrami with prosciutto.

But one group that seems to appreciate the stuff is the African American community. David Sax mentions this in his book Save the Deli as surviving delicatessens in places like Detroit, New Jersey, or Chicago notice that their clientele is changing from older Jewish eaters to African American diners.

So I guess it’s not surprising that an almost 40 year old Jewish deli is surviving on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a predominantly African American neighborhood. David’s Brisket House has been a religious venture from the beginning. It is now owned by a Muslim family (who bought it from a Jewish family) so instead of closing completely on Saturdays (for the Sabbath) they now only close for a few hours on Friday for prayer. And they tend to close early so we found the perfect time on a Saturday afternoon.

The huge sign out front made me think this would be a Katz’s size restaurant with bus boys and matzoh ball soups flying everywhere. Not the case. This place is tiny with maybe two small tables in the back and one long narrow deli counter. The employees were happy to hear we were dining in (I’m sure it is mainly take-out here) and they delivered our food to us.

We ordered the brisket sandwich (since it was on my Time Out list) and the corned beef/pastrami combo. At $13, this combo sandwich is the most affordable in the city. And it comes with a free drink! It might not be as comically massive as Carnegie’s, but it’s still enough for at least two meals.

The rye bread was fresh and soft. And the meat was really good. I don’t know why my expectations were low for a place so far away from the tourists, but I really loved their meat. The pastrami was smoky and just fatty enough to melt in your mouth but not overwhelm my arteries (who am I kidding?). The corned beef was a lot leaner but still had a lot of garlicky, salty brine flavor. The only major downfall was the limp and overly sour pickle that accompanied the sandwich.

I’m pretty sure visiting kids from middle America won’t make it out to David’s Brisket House. That’s probably best for us locals to keep this little gem to ourselves. But if deli meat this fresh and flavorful existed across the country (maybe replacing all those McDonald’s), I think we might be able to save a dying cuisine.

Is David’s Brisket House the best corned beef/pastrami in NY? It’s a great little gem in the heart of Brooklyn. And even though I give it an 8 out of 10, I’m hesitant to tell anybody because it’s one of those places you want to keep to yourself.

DAVID’S BRISKET HOUSE
533 Nostrand Avenue (between Harkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue),
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
(718) 789-1155
davidsbriskethouse.com

The blurb in Time Out about the Brisket Sandwich at David’s Brisket House ends with a warning: “Don’t forget the gravy.” Guess what? I forgot the f-ing gravy!!!

I knew the sandwich tasted a little dry. I got up at one point to ask for more mustard. I don’t know why one of the friendly deli guys didn’t offer the gravy with my brisket sandwich. It would have made it that much better, I can only imagine.

Well, gravy or not, the sandwich was pretty good. David’s is an anomaly in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant which does not seem to have a big Jewish community. But once inside the doors of this very small deli and you’re tasting these sandwiches, you’re transported back to the Lower East Side.

This is one of those true hidden gems that’s been there forever that never seems to get any press. Truth is, the deli is now owned by Muslims (they close every Friday afternoon to pray at a local mosque) who uphold the kosher style preparations for corned beef, pastrami, brisket, and the like.

Since I never made it here on my official corned beef/pastrami search, I wrote a separate review on their combo sandwich. But I also tackled my list item, the titular brisket sandwich. It comes in three different sizes priced at $5, $8, or $13. Either way, you’re getting a deal.

Besides being a bit dry (I know, I know, the gravy!), the brisket was very flavorful, warm, and tasted like leftovers from Passover dinner. The rye bread was also fresh and gave way to some tender, fatty brown meat. I haven’t had a brisket sandwich in many years and this is exactly how I happily remember them. Too bad I couldn’t remember to ask for the gravy!!

Would David’s Brisket House’s Brisket Sandwich make my Top 100 of the year? Sure, I forgot the gravy, but the guys behind the counter should know what to offer to make their sandwich perfect. Besides the slight dryness (not to be confused with toughness), this sandwich is close to perfection so it gets an 8 out of 10.

DAVID’S BRISKET HOUSE
533 Nostrand Avenue (between Harkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue),
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
(718) 789-1155
davidsbriskethouse.com

There are words, such as fish, furniture, and moose, that are both the singular and plural form of the root noun. You observe a school of fish, move all the furniture, and run from a stampede of moose.

Why has this turned into a grammar blog all of a sudden? Because my next list item is another one of these interesting words, although not as well-known. In fact, it’s so easy to misspeak the singular version of doubles that Time Out even did it by saying I should taste a “double”.

The food here are doubles, whether you eat one or two. I’m glad I did my research before ordering one so as not to embarrass myself. Doubles are a very traditional Trinidadian street food that are often eaten for breakfast or as a late night snack. The sandwich consists of two (why do you think they’re called doubles?) fried flat breads spread with curried chick peas (called channa), hot chili sauce, and a sweet tamarind sauce. They’re wrapped in a sheet of paper (presumably to soak up all the grease) and handed to you for less than a subway ride.

A & A Bake and Doubles call themselves the Doubles King (which sounds like a card shark) and I imagine the title is fitting. The storefront sits on Nostrand Avenue in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesant and it’s smaller than you can even imagine. There are two folding chairs in the store and what looks like a set of stairs leading to another room. But the main attraction happens up front where you order your doubles through a plexiglass window. We came a little later than breakfast on a Friday and were lucky enough to encounter no line. I’ve heard the wait for these little snacks in the mornings can be interminable.

The doubles is (are?) not much to look at. It looked like a rolled up, messy wad of dough. But the presentation is beside the point. This little guy was delicious. There was a world of flavors from the richness of  the chickpeas to the sweet tartness of the tamarind to the spicy chili sauce to the buttery softness of the flatbread. They worked so well together to create a fantastic afternoon snack.

It’s not something I would immediately think of as a breakfast food, but I could see why they are popular in the morning. You need something bold, yet not overwhelmingly spicy, to awaken your tastebuds and prepare you for the day to come. And the flatbread are reminiscent of pancakes. The more I tasted it, the more I understood and yearned to be a part of the culture that knows when ordering one, you still call it a doubles. Although why would you want to order only one?

Would A & A Bake and Doubles’ Doubles make my Top 100 of the Year? Looks aren’t everything and these unattractive Trinidadian veggie friendly snacks prove that by getting an 8 of 10. They taste a million times better than they look with warm, balanced flavors and a very modest price tag.


Saraghina is one of those well-respected new pizza restaurants that I just didn’t get to during my intense pizza search.  So I’m very thankful that it happened to find its way onto TONY’s list.  Partly because it helped make my pizza search more comprehensive, but also because it was quite delicious.

Michele Iuliano, the chef and owner of Luzzo’s in the East Village gave his secret dough recipe to the owners of Saraghina.  I am a big fan of Luzzo’s and find their wood and coal oven pizzas to be fluffy, crisp, and delicious. It’s true Neapolitan style combined with a little taste of NY coal oven pizza.

And Saraghina is just as good.  It’s in the middle of Bedford-Stuyvesant, not quite the NY destination spot yet.  The exterior made me think of a dive bar on a residental street. But inside, as we were led further into this maze of a restaurant, I felt like I was at summer camp.  The tables, chairs, open rooms, and vintage signs gave the place a comfy, laid-back, rustic vibe.  It was reminiscent of the ski-lodge feel of Roberta’s, but less stuffy.

There are two separate menus: one for pizza and one for other (daily) offerings.  We chose a tagliatelle with squid and pesto dish. And the pizza was chosen for us by Time Out (thank you!) It was the Capocollo Pie.

The pasta dish was a bit disappointing.  The pesto tasted a little off and the squid was sliced strangely so that it resembled a chewy vegetable rather than a cephalopod.  The tagliatelle was also slightly overcooked and soft.  Their wine selection was underwhelming. By the glass, they really only had white or red.  And neither option was good enough to stand up to their pizzas. We tried them both.

But we didn’t come here for the wine or the pasta. The wood oven that welcomed us in reminded me that it was all about the pizza.

The capocollo pizza is basically a margherita (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil) with the addition of capocollo ham.  When the pizza arrived, the ham emitted the aroma of cooked bologna (was I the only kid who did that?)

But the salty spicy flavors from the earthy ham was a great complement to the sweet sauce, rich cheese, and smoky crust.  And oh, the crust.  Delicious. It had a stiff, crispy char that fell softly away as you pulled it apart. It was maybe a bit doughier than Luzzo’s pie, and just as delicious.

Each time another dish (or glass of wine) appeared on the table, the mustachioed waiter delivered it with a “Voilá!” It was definitely more creative than saying “Enjoy” or “Bon Appetit!” but I felt like I was at a magic show. Which I guess wouldn’t be too far off.  When I was at summer camp (before heating up the bologna in the microwave), I’d expect a pizza meal with maybe a rabbit being pulled out of a hat. Anything to keep me entertained. And Saraghina does just that.

Is Saraghina the best pizza in NY? Would their Capocollo Pizza make my Top 100 of the year?  The flavors work very well together and although it may not be the best pizza in the city it’s still an out of 10 because it’s a great take on a Neapolitan pie in a rustic setting that you could only find in Brooklyn (or maybe up in the mountains somewhere).


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