I love Vietnamese food, but there can be a lot of pitfalls for vegetarians. Even innocuous-sounding dishes may have a healthy sprinkle of fish sauce in them. At Bricolage in Park Slope, though, Chef Lien Lin has a number of great (fish sauce-free) vegetarian options like banh xeo (a crepe made with rice flour) and a veggie banh mi. Even better is the dish she made for us in the newest episode of Lost Vegetarian: banh canh noodles with tofu. The dish, which is meant to be eaten at room temperature, features a great mix of textures and flavors. The noodles, made with a mix of tapioca and rice flours, are dense and chewy, while the vegetables are crisp and light. The coconut-based sauce adds just the right amount of seasoning, offset by the bright acidity of the pickles.
Camera – Donny Tsang (http://www.donnytsang.com/)
Camera – Scott Lindrup (http://www.scottlindrup.com/)
Music – Bayard Russell (https://bayardrussell.wordpress.com/)
This piece was written on 4/25/2013. On 4/27 we visited Beer Table on their last night, where a patron made an impromptu toast to the owners and I drank a beer called Gypsy Tears.
On April 27th, 2013, Beer Table in Park Slope will serve its last beer after five years. The small bar and restaurant was well-known for its incredible beer selection; in addition to a few drafts and casks, the bottled beer menu contained hundreds of options from brewers all over the world, with bottles that cost anywhere from $8 to a select few over $100. This was not the kind of place to chug pitchers of beer; Beer Table was a place to actually drink beer, and to discover new ones. The sign on the door says they need a bigger space – and a bigger kitchen. Justin Philips, one of the owners, says that serving food was always his first priority.
Maitake mushrooms are supposedly extremely good for you. Some people say they help promote brain growth, others say they help fight cancer. In any case they are delicious, with an almost meaty flavor. I even like using the stems when I cook; they have a springy, crunchy texture when cooked. Madura Farms at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket always has great looking mushrooms, and even though they’re a bit on the expensive side they are some of the best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten.
Many businesses are still affected by Hurricane Sandy and aren’t able to reopen. While some businesses are finding other ways to keep their restaurants/shops open as they try and bring some sort of normalcy back.
The Good Fork in Red Hook is still closed and the owners think that it’ll be another few months before they’re back. Though in the mean time they had started serving food at Skylark on 5th Ave and 11th St in Park Slope. I had heard about this partnership awhile back. The Good Fork wasn’t scheduled to take over the kitchen till much later but due to Hurricane Sandy, they were forced to start early. So if you were missing their famous pork and chives dumplings, head over to Skylark.
Howard: Even though Giovanni’s has only been open for a few weeks, we here at Eat to Blog already have a complicated relationship with the restaurant. Giovanni’s was opened by the people who ran the recently closed Sette; in fact, the website says that Sette has “re-opened as Giovanni’s”. So why is it a complicated relationship? Because Sette is the place where Eat to Blog was conceived, four years ago. And the meal we had there wasn’t very good. So when our friends Matt and Phaedra suggested meeting at Giovanni’s for brunch, I agreed, but with some trepidation.
So after eating at six restaurants in five days, I thought I had finished my own personal restaurant week. The next day I was hanging out with friends and we decided we were going out to dinner, and somehow we decided on Kiwiana. Kiwiana had just opened days before, by Top Chef alumnus Mark Simmons, who wanted to bring a taste of New Zealand to Park Slope. Unfortunately I didn’t really enjoy my meal, though my friends enjoyed their meat-centric dishes very much. After we ate our server asked if we wanted to meet Mark, and of course we said we did. He came over and was very gracious, and then invited Donny and me back to see the kitchen. Given that they had just opened, I’m willing to give Kiwiana another shot. As it stands now, it was the only dud out of the seven restaurants I visited in six days.
So I’d been hearing a lot of great things about Culture, the new yogurt place on 5th Avenue here in Park Slope. They make all of their yogurt in-house, and serve both fresh and frozen yogurt. On a recent late spring day I stopped in to check it out for myself. I got the frozen yogurt, plain, with what they call Vermont Maple topping. The topping is maple syrup, cooked down with chopped nuts so that it’s thick and sweet, and you get your choice of fruit (I chose banana). And I was blown away by how good it all was. The frozen yogurt actually tastes like yogurt, which I think is an incredible feat. At Culture they offer the plain frozen yogurt as well as a daily special flavor. On a subsequent visit I got the special flavor, which that day was mango. I didn’t get a topping that time, so I was able to enjoy the wonderful flavor all on its own. I haven’t tried the fresh yogurt yet, but I’m looking forward to it. They’ve got tons of interesting toppings and mix-ins for that fresh yogurt as well.
About a week after my second visit, my mom called me to ask me if I’d heard of this new yogurt shop in my neighborhood. It turns out that the owner of Culture is the daughter of my mom’s neighbor. Small world!