Category Archives: Brooklyn Places

Happy Christmas!

We made some Christmas treats yesterday…our salted caramels but with Espresso Salt from The Filling Station (that Alex so kindly brought us from Chelsea Market for Christmas – Danke!).  Here is a little picture to show what a sweet gift they will make! Happy Christmas!

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Filed under Brooklyn Places, Dessert, Kitchen Things, Recipes

Romans Review

Romans
243 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 622-5300

Photo from NYTimes.com

Change comes fast to restaurants, especially in New York.  New spots open all the time and close just as quickly.  Chefs leave and menus decline, or places become so popular you can’t even get a table any more.  In our neighborhood of Clinton Hill/Fort Greene, Brooklyn some of our favorite places have closed just when we were starting to frequent them regularly.  When I took my younger brother to Pratt four years ago to check out the neighborhood and see the campus we went out to dinner at June, on Dekalb Ave.  We ate street side and talked about how it would be our spot while he was at school and the food was excellent.  Two years later it was closed and reopened as The General Greene.  After discovering L’Epicere, (a French market by day, family style amazing bring your own wine by night cafe) we had planned every major celebration there for the next five years.  It closed that fall never to reopen.  We waited almost a year before finally trying LuLu’s on Dekalb.  After loving it and taking everyone we knew there…yup, it closed, (something else will replace it in the next few months).  But I digress.

I guess I am thinking about change and the inevitable passage of time.  Things you think will always be often last only a brief moment.  The spot you went to every year your whole life suddenly no longer exists.  Ok, maybe I am getting overly dramatic…I just turned 30 so give me a break. That brings us to this week’s review.  It was my 30th birthday and Jess and I wanted to go out locally to celebrate just the two of us.  We were headed to Chez Oskar, our old standby, when we detoured and decided to try something new.  We vacillated between the menu at Ici and a new spot, Romans.  Romans looked warm and inviting full of people and lively music while Ici was essentially empty.  We followed the crowd. (I should note that we have always wanted to eat at Ici and it has been highly recommended…it will probably close.)

Romans (same group as Marlow & Sons, Marlowe & Daughters and Diner) opened up on Dekalb maybe six months ago.  It replaced our favorite Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood, Bonita.  (See the theme here?)  We mourned the loss of Bonita because of their wonderful margaritas, fabulous guacamole, fish tacos and enchiladas.  Life goes on, of course, and when it comes to restaurants life goes on quickly with no remorse.  Romans has been packed every night since it opened, we had to give it a shot.  Romans boasts a unique blend of traditional northern Italian cuisine with local produce and seasonal menus. The meal was exceptional, I just hope its still there when we go back with friends.

The wait staff was very friendly and helpful.  They explained that the menu items were quite small and they suggested we indulge ourselves in the traditional three courses of entrée, pasta dish and meat dish.  We started with two entrées: grilled asparagus with olive oil, shaved Parmesan cheese and topped with a fried egg, and Crostini with nettles, pesto ricotta cheese, and pickled shallots.  The grilled asparagus was the absolute winner; tasty, perfectly cooked and the fried egg was such a surprisingly wonderful addition to the dish.  The Crostini was excellent in conception, but the toast was clearly burned and we ended up with an ash flavor and a very hard piece of bread.  It was unfortunate considering the pairings on top.  The pesto ricotta cheese was so subtle, it would have been a velvety hint of pesto, but it was drowned out by the flavor of burned bread.  The pickled shallots were amazing, sweet and tangy.

Our second course for Jess was lamb agnoletti (sort of like little ravioli dumplings) in homemade brotto (broth) with braised scallions.  I had a lasagna with a white béchamel sauce, prosciutto and spinach.  The lasagna was the winner here; creamy ricotta and spinach with sharp prosciutto and lasagna pasta was pure decadence.  Jess’s agnoletti was a little too al dente for my taste but the lamb was so rich and flavorful.  The brotto was a deliciously subtle hint of lamb jus and braised scallions added an almost Asian influence to the flavor.

On our waiter’s recommendation we had the special fish, which was, a whole Porgy locally caught off Long Island (this was a real treat as I knew Jess would never order this on her own but since it was my birthday, she conceded). The fish was so delicate and cooked to perfection.  The fish was prepared with nothing more than the flavor of the grill and some lemon and herbs.  We ate it to the bones like Heathcliff and picked at the blackened head of the thing until there was little left on the plate but an eye and the skull.  I have had whole fish in lots of places including Northern Italy, and this ranked as one of the best I have ever eaten.

Maybe it was because we waited a little too long for some of the courses (someone definitely got our fish first and we waited another ten minutes for ours), or because it was my birthday but the staff came out with a complimentary mixed salad and also topped off our wine after we had finished the glasses we had paid for.  We ended the evening with an olive oil cake with fresh strawberries and cream.  I can’t really describe this dessert other than to say it’s worth the visit JUST for this.  It was so good I don’t think we spoke or took a breath while eating it.  Imagine the best strawberry shortcake meets a unique olive oil flavored white cake that is slightly dense, just sweet and crumbly?  Very hard to describe, so very good.

I will critique Romans for having exceptionally loud music that did not fit the décor.  I may sound like an old (30) man but we were half screaming at each other when we were talking.  With low lights and candles with an Italian café feel, the blasting hits were out of place.  The wait between courses was a bit long but the staff made up for it with freebies and excellent service.  Jess would disagree but I also thought the wine list had few affordable bottles and the by the glass selections were very limited.  In the end the price was not bad for the quality and no, after three courses with dessert we were not stuffed at all.  The portions are just right and nothing is heavy or over sauced.

I hope Romans is here to stay, at least until my next birthday.

— JV

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Manhattan Clam Chowder

Music: What Would You do with a Drunken Sailor? – Pete Seeger

Hi…We took another break, as you likely noticed, but now we’re back. Let’s just say I lost some teeth…;)

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Filed under Brooklyn Places, Cheese, Fish, Soup

Lobster Rolls!

Music: Driftwood – Travis

This past weekend we threw a lovely soiree for my dear friends Trina and Ji Young.  We spent the weekend at Molly’s family beach house on Long Beach Island and celebrated the passing of 3 decades. And Brooklyn Plated catered it!  We served some old standby’s like crab cakes and polenta fries (pictures at bottom).  I also made a variation of a good old fashion New England lobster roll recipe and combined it with something from Thomas Keller.  What we got was magic. We served the lobster rolls along side some corn on the cob and cole slaw.

I grew up in CT.  In CT they serve lobster rolls hot and with butter (Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale in Madison is where we usually go for this – also if someone can find and send me a picture of one of their old school tee-shirts, I’ll make it worth you’re while…not quite sure how but I will).  Everywhere else in New England they serve lobster rolls cold and with mayo! Imagine the horror on my first trip to Maine way back in the summer of 1992 when I was served a cold, wet lobster roll…to be honest, I never grew to like it, not even after many trips north in the passing years.  It wasn’t until a recent trip to The Brooklyn Flea where I ate a Maine-style lobster roll from the Red Hook Lobster Pound that I was converted.

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Filed under Appetizer, Brooklyn Places, Fish, Food Anecdotes, How to..., Polenta, Recipes, Sides, Sunday Dinner, Travel Spot

Did you know?

The  General Greene, 229 dekalb ave. brooklyn, ny 11205  tel.(718) 222-1510

Hi all…did you know The General Greene has a grocery?? I went to the restaurant yesterday only to find the back of the space totally revamped. I spoke with Tina, the manager, and she let me know they will be converting the entire stock in this four month old space to feature – get this – only local items. It’s a small space but well stocked. There is a selection of cheeses and meats, local produce, a large selection of Asian ingredients, and some semi-prepared foods (made specifically for small spaces and few eaters – genius!) Stay tuned because it will soon be a CSF stop. It will also serve as a pre-order pick up space for a certain local/sustainable focused butcher shop. 😉

http://fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/the-generals-goodies-to-go/#more-27967

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Sushi D

Sushi D
207 Dekalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
718-858-0058

Jess and I love living in Brooklyn.  The list of reasons we love it would be long and in depth, but every once and a while we long for the life on the other side of the river.  When we lived on the Upper West Side one of the best things about our neighborhood was the endless array of food options, all of which delivered.  What does this have to do with a Tuesday review?  Well the truth is our neighborhood has very good restaurants; some of the best I have eaten in, but the choice is sometimes very limited.  Luckily we do have a great sushi restaurant and on Friday night we went out to Sushi D.

Sushi D is a blessing, because the only other sushi restaurant in walking distance to us (which will remain nameless) has made us both sick on multiple occasions.  Now you may be asking yourself, “Why would you get sick on multiple occasions?  That would mean you went BACK after getting sick!”  Yes, well sometimes you are lazy and you want to give people a second chance.  Sushi D on the other hand has never made us sick, rather it makes us full and very happy.

The menu at Sushi D is wonderful in that they change it seasonally and have wonderful specials.  The prices are very reasonable considering how good it is, and the sushi is always very fresh and tasty.  We have been enjoying the winter menu up until recently and we luckily caught it right before it changed.  Start with the Spicy Salmon Crisps, which consist of spicy salmon over rice crisps topped with roasted pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette.  We always split a few rolls and the following are the usual suspects:

  • Rainbow Roll: Colorful Assortment Of Sashimi Over California Roll
  • Sunshine Roll: Spicy Salmon with King Crab and crunchy tempura flakes.
  • Volcano Roll: Spicy Tuna, Tempura Flakes + Avocado With Sriracha On Top
  • Happy Crab: (a winter menu special!) King Crab in a deep fried tempura shell with a balsamic reduction dipping sauce.

Shrimp Tempura, the jade roll (all vegetable) and the “D” Roll: Eel, Tempura Flakes Topped With Masago + Avocado, are also very good.  The salmon teriyaki is excellent, if not a bit too saucy, and the beef negimaki is also a favorite with savory beef wrapped around scallions.  I have had this appetizer in some of the best sushi restaurants in the city and the beef can be chewy and tasteless.  Sushi D does right and I often go there thinking about the beef negimaki in advance! Pair your meal with a Nagori saki (unfiltered and cold is best).

Sushi D is also extremely accommodating, and will make almost anything you like.  Jess is a huge fan of a spicy scallop hand roll and they make a wonderful version for us whenever we go.  The service can be a little slow, but they finally take credit cards (it used to be cash only) so that makes up for it.   They have great outdoor seating in the spring and summer so head out on a arm night and enjoy!  Kampai!

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How to make Duck Confit

Music : Florence and the Machine – My Boy Builds Coffins

Hello and hope you had a happy weekend.  I didn’t post on Friday because I have been making duck confit for about a week – but we finally got to eat it last night and it was unbelievable.  Rosa, Matt and Scott partook in the Sunday Dinner event.  We paired it with a lovely sweet and tart blueberry sauce that matched perfectly. Seasonality, be damned!

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Filed under Brooklyn Places, cookbooks, Duck, How to..., Recipes, Sauces, Sunday Dinner