Tag Archives: Downtown Brooklyn

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

There was a lot of buzz around Dekalb Market when the giant trendy food court opened earlier this summer in downtown Brooklyn. My father in Florida even texted me asking if I had heard about it.
Understandably the biggest press went to the announcement of a new location of Katz’s and the expansion of the heralded Arepa Lady from Queens. Every article mentioned these and other exciting food vendors got attention, like Pierogi Bros, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, and Wilma Jean. But I didn’t read a single word about Guss’ Pickles.
So when I finally made it to the giant market, I was shocked to see a legendary pickle company hiding in the back corner.

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Category: Pickles

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2015…

ChickenShack at SHAKE SHACKThis was the year of the fried chicken sandwich. People waited in line for David Chang’s version at Fuku, barbecue restaurants started frying up fowl, and Shake Shack introduced a brand new non-burger item. The ChickenShack is only available at their Brooklyn locations and is a golden fried breast that is juicy and seasoned perfectly. It’s served on a buttered Martin potato bun and topped with buttermilk herb mayo. It’s an excellent alternative to the chain’s overly popular burgers. Price: $6.29

SHAKE SHACK
409 Fulton Street (between Willoughby and Adams Street),
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn
(718) 307-7590
1 Old Fulton Street (at Water Street),
Dumbo, Brooklyn
(347) 435-2676
170 Flatbush Avenue (between 5th and 4th Avenue),
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
(347) 442-7721
shakeshack.com

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

JUNIOR'S, 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension (at Dekalb Avenue), Downtown Brooklyn

I could have chosen many NY-centric dishes for my next food journey, but I quickly decided on the classic cheesecake. And it’s not because I wanted to put on some weight for the summer. No, it’s really because I had never been to Junior’s and if I didn’t go soon, I might never have the chance.

News broke earlier this year that the downtown Brooklyn building that houses the 64-year old institution has been sold. That means in the coming months, Junior’s will close (or move elsewhere) and some high-end clothing store or fast food chain will probably take its place.

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Category: Cheesecake

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 10: AREPA DE QUESO at THE AREPA LADY

Up until now, there has not really been a rhyme or reason as to why one dish got ranked as a specific number on this list. I can’t say with any certainty that something was the 73rd best dish I’ve eaten this year. So I stuck with categories to help me organize my food thoughts. However, now we’re at the top ten and these dishes were definitely my favorite this year. So here goes…

It had been a long while since I got a taste of the sainted Arepa Lady’s Colombian treats. It’s difficult for me since she doesn’t appear with her cart until after 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Now that I’m well into my 30’s, I’m not usually roaming the streets of Queens at that hour. Thanks to my friend Jeff Orlick, I got to try her food at a reasonable hour. He got Maria Piedad Cano to emerge for the Viva La Comida festival, where she grilled up her two varieties of corn patties. I prefer the Arepa de Queso, a soft, buttery white disc filled with melted mozzarella and topped with some salty queso blanco. These arepas are certainly among the best street food in the entire city. Price: $3

THE AREPA LADY
Roosevelt Avenue and 79th Street,
Jackson Heights, Queens
Twitter:@ArepaLady

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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 90: BABY JESUS CAKE at VESTA

Sweet baby Jesus, this cake is good! Vesta is a modern pizza trattoria on the outskirts of Astoria. It’s not close enough to my apartment to warrant regular visits, but I had been hearing about their thin crust pizzas and thought they were close enough to take the chance.

While the pizzas were good, it was the grand finale that I’ve been thinking about since. This slice of ridiculously moist date cake is drowned in a sweet, rich caramel sauce. The side of creme fraiche cuts the dark sweetness, giving it balance.  It’s truly a holy experience!

VESTA
21-02 30th Avenue (at 21st Street)
(718) 545-5550
Astoria, Queens
vestavino.com

NUMBER 89: FROZEN BANANA from NANA’S

The Brooklyn Flea has become so popular with food eater and entrepreneurs, that Smorgasburg was born to host an entire market just for eating and selling foodstuffs.

One of the food vendors who’ve gotten the most press and compliments are Nana’s. This little stand is the brainchild of Cecile Dyer from the gluttonous and delicious Pies n Thighs. It’s very simple, but mighty tasty. She takes a whole frozen banana on a stick and dips it into quickly hardening chocolate, then rolls it in any number of rotating toppings.

I chose a very satisfying mix of textures and flavors – coconut and almonds. It was salty, sweet, chocolatey, and refreshing. Lots of flavors, without complicating the simplicity of a perfect banana. Smorgasburg will be around for three more weeks, but Nana’s is finished for the season. Keep an eye out once the weather gets warmer again. Price: $5 (with one topping)

NANA’S
Twitter: @Yummy_Nanas

NUMBER 88: TIRAMISU at OSTERIA MORINI

I have a weakness for tiramisu. Whenever I finish a red sauce pasta meal, my body begins to crave that boozy, creamy coffee flavor. In my years of eating at Italian restaurants, I’ve had many different versions of this layered dessert – some good, some not so good. But the best I’ve ever tasted happened this year at Michael White’s pasta empire, Osteria Morini.

The version of the dessert here didn’t look like any I had been served before. It was presented beautifully, but frankly, it looked as if it was going to be dry or overly bready. Somehow the layer of espresso cream (or mousse), the moist ladyfingers, the decadent mascarpone, and the hint of cognac worked like magic. I’ve now officially been ruined with tiramisu. I can’t imagine it getting better anywhere else. Price: $11

OSTERIA MORINI
218 Lafayette Street (between Kenmare Street and Spring Street)
(212) 965-8777
Soho
osteriamorini.com/

NUMBER 87: CUPCAKES from ROBICELLI’S

It’s amazing that the cupcake phenomenon is still sweeping the nation. I think may New Yorkers are sort of over it and are trying to look for some new dessert item (pie? macarons?) to replace cupcake fever. But if all the cupcake shops in the city were making specimens as innovative and delicious as Robicelli’s, I think then the cupcake revolution would be justified.

Robicelli’s has a permanent spot at the Dekalb Market, but husband and wife team Matt and Allison also sell their cupcakes at many other locations (including some holiday pop-up’s) throughout the city. I finally purchased some at the now-closed Madison Square Eats. The flavors (which constantly change based on season) were so tempting that I couldn’t leave without purchasing three cupcakes.

These were a perfect, modest size and I was relieved that the cake was super moist and the frosting was the right balance of sweetness. I got to sample the Bea Arthur (black coffee cake, cheesecake buttercream, espresso ganache), the Pumpkin Spice Latte (pumpkin cake, espresso mascarpone frosting, spiced chocolate covered espresso beans), and the Sweet Potato Pie (sweet potato cake, vanilla buttercream, bourbon glazed pecans).

They announce their flavors daily on their Twitter page and I drool just reading them every morning. There’s a list of all their flavors on their website and I seriously want to try every last one of them, but especially the provocative Chicken ‘n’ Waffles (yes, with a real chicken garnish). Price: $3-$5

ROBICELLI’S CUPCAKES
Dekalb Market,
332 Flatbush Avenue (at Willoughby Street)
(917)509-6048
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn
robicellis.tumblr.com

NUMBER 86: ECLAIR COOKIE at CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT CLUB

I have sung the praises of Chikalicious before on this site. The Dessert Bar might be my favorite place in the entire city, as it gives a unique, delicious culinary experience. I love sending visitors to the city here for a three course dessert.

But across the street, they offer more affordable pastries and cookies to go at the Dessert Club. It’s hard for me to go into the shop and not order their Espresso Ice Shot (which made my 100 Best list last year), but this year I brought a tour group in to taste their much more shareable eclair cookies. And I fell in love myself.

These are a hybrid between cream puff and eclair. The pastry shell is a little crunchier than most and it gives way to a rich vanilla pudding (chocolate if you choose the chocolate variety). The entire thing is dusted with powdered sugar which gives it a sweet aromatic quality. If I could, I’d breathe in sugar all day long. Price: $4.95

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR
204 East 10th Street (between 2nd and 1st Avenue)
East Village
(212) 475-0929
dessertclubnyc.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.

Time Out’s not the only food publication I devour each week. I also read Eater, NY Magazine, and the Village Voice’s blog on a regular basis. Thanks to them and other food bloggers I follow on twitter, I’m always up to date on the latest restaurant openings and closings. And if I hadn’t gotten my daily intake of Eater, I may have not known that one of our list item venues would be closing at the end of January.

It was announced that because his food truck was stolen and finances aren’t great, Forrest Cole must close his very cool, very Brooklyn art gallery that also serves Southern California influenced Mexican food. It’s one of the few food options (apart from McDonald’s and the sort) in the Downtown Brooklyn area and the home to the fish tacos on the Time Out list.

Aside from a sign beckoning you for tacos, you’d probably miss this taqueria/gallery space off of Tillary Street because it looks sort of like a hidden garage (or loading dock). The vibe inside is warm and looks like a warehouse with some seats, until you push open a back door and discover another unlikely dining room: a gallery space with avant garde artwork on the walls and grade school tables and chairs. I don’t know about you, but they never served fish tacos in my grade school.

In addition to the fish tacos, we also ordered a carne asada burrito. We had plenty of food, but spent about double what we would have at any taco shack in San Diego. And aside from the food, nothing about this place feels like Southern California. It has a very urban and industrial feel, although the interior could bring to mind visions of Maine or Vermont.

The tacos were tasty. Mahi mahi was the star of both versions. We ordered one grilled and the other beer battered and fried. Both were topped with crunchy cabbage, chopped cilantro, and a yogurt based crema sauce. The grilled fish had a smoky char and the fried version was buttery and light. The fish on both was fresh, tender and enlivened with the addition of some lime.

A thin red salsa and a green tomatillo sauce were included on the side and did bring out some of the light, spicy flavors of the dish. Without those, there wasn’t a ton of depth, but the tacos were light and fresh enough to be a real find in Brooklyn. And while the Mexican food was overpriced, it’s a real loss that this sleepy little destination is coming to an end.

The restaurant shutters on January 30 (there will be a closing party announced on their website), but the tacos and burritos will continue to be sold at the Brooklyn Flea under the name Choncho’s Tacos. And the owners are actively looking for another space. So I suppose, worse case scenario, we could have waited and tried these elsewhere. But it wouldn’t have been the same, especially considering that the unusual and alternative atmosphere really completed the experience. And I would have felt like a failure and it would have been written in Time Out and Eater for all the world to see.

Would The Loading Dock’s Fish Tacos make my Top 100 of the year? While overpriced and not too complex, these are fresh, light and a rarity in Brooklyn, so they get a 7 out of 10.

THE LOADING DOCK
170 Tillary Street (between Flatbush Avenue and Gold Street)
(646) 355-7518
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn
loadingdock.tumblr.com

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