Tag Archives: Brooklyn Heights

Come back every Wednesday for another funny, informative video documenting my inept food adventures. NYC Food Cart Tour is my exploration of the hard-working vendors feeding NYC’s population every day.

The greatest day in mobile food vending is back. On September 12, the Vendy Awards will take place on Governor’s Island honoring the greatest in New York’s food vending community. Tickets are still available for purchase here. For the next few weeks, I’ll be documenting all of the nominees in three categories.

Rookie of the Year: Lil Zeus Lunch Box

Greek street vendors used to be the norm in Midtown, but today there are only a handful left. Newcomers Lil Zeus Lunch Box are bringing the classic gyros and souvlakis back to the streets and the long lunch lines every day prove that people have been missing it.

Lil Zeus Lunch Box

Dessert of the Year: Booqoo Beignets

With Booqoo Beignets, Matt Pace is showcasing a special treat he grew up with in his hometown of New Orleans. Beignets, of course, are the greatest type of doughnuts – light, fluffy, and fresh. He pairs them with some creative sauces, like Chicory Coffee and Creole Vanilla that link back to his home cuisine.

Booqoo Beignets

Market Vendor of the Year: Home Frite

Another classic fried food to dip in sauces are french fried potatoes. Popular Smorgasburg vendor Home Frite hand cuts their spuds and fries them to order. Tossed with an array of seasoning options (salt and vinegar, truffle oil, etc) and served with gourmet dipping sauces (lemon garlic aioli, chipotle ranch, etc), they are an addicting snack that disappears a little too quickly.

Home Frite


Category: Video

My search for the best pizza in New York continues….

TABLE 87, 87 Atlantic Avenue (between Henry and Hicks Street), Brooklyn Heights, BrooklynWe have just about every style of pizza in New York, but the two that are most often associated with the city are coal oven and the cheap corner slice. When people want to try “New York pizza” they usually mean one of these styles.

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Category: Pizza

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

RED GRAVY, 151 Atlantic Avenue (between Clinton and Henry Street), Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn

I was rather surprised that one of Chef Saul Bolton’s pastas wasn’t the highlight of my recent visit to his newest Brooklyn restaurant. In fairness, we only ordered one pasta dish. But it sounded so good and with a name like Red Gravy, you’d expect the noodles (and the gravy) to be the highlight.

The pasta was the Chestnut Reginetti with Rabbit Ragú and it was surprisingly dry and bland. Perhaps one of the other pastas might have showcased the Italian cuisine here better, but this one was a bit of a disappointment.  But let’s not focus on the negative because the positive was really really good.

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Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.

NUMBER 25: BABA GHANOUSH from DAMASCUS BAKERY

New York is loaded with great restaurants and cafés, but that’s hardly the end of the food resources in this city. In addition to ongoing food markets like Smorgasburg and the New Amsterdam Market, there are plenty of speciality shops that sell local food products that are so much more exciting than anything you could possibly find at your national grocery store.

Damascus Bakery is noted for introducing pita bread to this country in 1920. While the business is now mostly wholesale (they bake most of the pita bread sold in the U.S.), they still run an iconic storefront in Brooklyn Heights where you can purchase their Middle Eastern breads and pastries. The containers of baba ghanoush don’t get nearly as much attention, but the rich, smoky eggplant dip is full of complex flavors and spices and is the perfect accompaniment to those classic Syrian bread. Price: $3.50/$7

DAMASCUS BAKERY
195 Atlantic Avenue (between Court and Clinton Street),
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
(718) 625-7070

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My search for the best bagels in New York continues….

I understand that bagels are not going to always be hot out of the oven. Especially when I come later in the day. But a cold bagel is never something I’ll get excited about. It sounds about as appetizing as hot sushi. I’m pleased to say that the bagels at Montague Street Bagels were not exactly cold, but that’s how one of the workers described them to me. Seriously.

I almost came to Montague Street Bagels a few weeks back when I was in Brooklyn Heights. Their name pops up once in a while and a friend of mine who resides in Brooklyn urged me to check them out. When I arrived that day, I just got a bad feeling. It was late in the day and the bagel shop was rather empty. I noticed they were open 24 Hours, so I assume the bagels are baked throughout the day and night. However, nothing looked terribly fresh or inviting. Also, the name Montague Street Bagels was nowhere to be found, but instead the sign outside generically advertised “Hot Bagels & Deli.” I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place.

Well, I did some more research on Montague Street Bagels and it seems they’ve recently changed owners and, of course, many regulars feel the place has gone downhill. I also spoke to a friend who used to go there in high school and back then it was also known as simply “Hot Bagels.” So maybe that’s the way it’s always been.

The first thing I noticed was there was quite a crowd outside – a good sign. The second thing I saw was not a good sign – literally. It was a big fat “C” grade from the DOH on their window. I know the DOH often gives tough and unfair inspections, but this place is really only making bagels. How did they score so poorly?

I braved the grade (and the crowd) and looked at the large bin of bagels. The smell of fresh yeast was in the air, which made me hopeful. I wasn’t quite sure where to order. Nobody was paying attention to me (typical of poor bagel service in this city), but after walking back and forth between the cashier and the bagel counter, I followed somebody else’s lead.

The first thing I ask any bagel shop is if anything is hot. I had arrived shortly after 10am, which is about as early as it gets for me, so I was expecting something to be hot. And that’s when I got that most ludicrous of answers. “No, everything’s cold.” I almost walked out right then and there.

But I stayed the course, ordered my Plain (and Whole Wheat Everything), and worked my way down to the cashier. I watched her ignore me and count change for a few minutes, before I made a plea to pay. I got a silent attitude, but finally handed over my $2.50.

The “cold” bagels were indeed not hot, but I was relieved to find they were far from cold. But they were still fresh. The Plain one had a very slight crunch, but a nice soft chewiness. It was a bit sweet and overall quite pleasing.

With the Whole Wheat Everything, I was happy to discover that they seasoned both sides of the bagel (a practice that rarely happens in this city). It was as dry as whole wheat ever is and the salt overwhelmed the rest of the flavors and added to the dryness. It was a bit reminiscent of a dark pretzel, but again didn’t have much outer crunch.

Whoever runs Montague Street Bagels now needs to train the staff a little better. I can handle a rude cashier from time to time (if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to go out in this city), but a low DOH grade in conjunction with the promise of “cold bagels”, tends to turn me off. Fortunately for this place, the bagels are better than they think.

Does Montague Street Bagels have the best bagels in NY? Even without being hot, these get a 7 out of 10 because they were fresh and exhibited the proper textures and flavors of a decent NY bagel.

MONTAGUE STREET BAGELS
108 Montague Street (between Hicks Street and Henry Street)
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn
(718) 237-2512
montaguestreetbagels.com

Category: Bagels

My search for the best bagels in New York continues….

Living and eating in New York, I purposefully try to avoid chain restaurants. Aside from stopping in to use their restroom, I haven’t been to a McDonald’s in close to a decade. The local mini-chains are somewhat of an exception, which start off as a small business and blossom into a multi-store enterprise. I’d be lying if I say I never step foot inside Shake Shack, Luke’s Lobster, or Amy’s Bread. So I thought La Bagel Delight might be worth it as well.

The strangely named La Bagel Delight (I like to pronounced it with a French accent) opened its first store in Park Slope in 1986 and has since expanded to seemingly every family based neighborhood of western Brooklyn (Park Slope, Dumbo, Prospect Heights, etc.). I was a bit on the outskirts of the yuppi-fi-cation when I located a La Bagel Delight storefront in the more commercial area of Brooklyn Heights on Court Street. This was probably not the most quaint of their locations, but it was hot out, I was hungry, and I wanted a bagel.

I’ve walked by some of their more fancy locations and was surprised when I walked into the hot and table-less joint in Brooklyn Heights. It was quite a large store, but it was sloppily spread out and it didn’t look overly pristine inside. I did notice further in the back there was some bagel making equipment, so I imagine each location hand rolls and bakes the bagels on site. However when I asked the lady if any bagels were hot, she answered unenthusiastically, “No.” Despite the “Hot Bagel” sign outside, I understood 2:00 was a slightly off-hour, although I would have thought the bagels would have been cooked more often on Saturdays.

So I settled on a Plain and an Everything bagel. Many orders were taken at once and a few people in line got confused. I think the cashier got confused herself because it took some people a while to get what they ordered and she gave me my two bagels in separate bags. That made no sense. Maybe I got lost in the shuffle a bit because I hadn’t read their website, which advises customers to move quickly and respond to the call, “Who’s Next?”

This makes me think they’re more focused on quick, fast food than anything else. And that might explain why I was the only crazy person who decided to eat their bagel in the store at a perch that could barely be called a counter.

But I did. I started with the plain bagel which was hard on the outside. It could have been used as a door knocker. The color was quite brown and it was tough to tear apart. Inside, the dough fared a bit better with a little chewy interior but it was dense and slightly stale. The flavor verged on grassy and almost moldy. I can’t imagine these bagels were that much better earlier in the day.

The everything bagel looked as if it was naked. One side barely had any seeds or toppings on it. Flipping it over, I noticed they were more generous than I thought, but not by much. The texture here was also off although the exterior was not as jaw breaking. The inside was chewy, but too dense and this time any off flavors were masked by the sourness of the cream cheese.

I left the shop with a grassy, metallic taste in my mouth. The bagels were less than mediocre and quite hard on the outside. The lackluster customer service and ratty appearance in the shop didn’t help my experience. My guess is this is the beginning of what happens when a business becomes a chain. I imagine some of the other locations deeper into the family-oriented neighborhoods fare better, but the more stores they acquire, the less likely I’ll be to stop in for a nosh.

Does La Bagel Delight have the best bagels in NY? The Brooklyn Heights location certainly doesn’t. It gets a 5 out of 10 for some practically stale bagels with an off-putting flavor.

LA BAGEL DELIGHT
90 Court Street (between Livingston and Schermerhorn Street)
Brooklyn Heights
(718) 522-0520
labageldelight.com

Category: Bagels

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