Restaurants »Gwynnett St

312 Graham Ave, Brooklyn

A cozy but stylish interior with blue on blue wallpaper and an impressive fire place greet you at the fairly new and highly praised Gwynnett St.

Friends and I were drawn in by the whiskey bread and it didn’t disappoint. Be sure to get a couple for the table to start your yummy meal off right.

Cheese dumplings and a rapini salad were also excellent but we pretty much died over the amazing mushroom with rosemary, cream and lardo. I can’t express how good this was.

Jim and I split some artful main courses of smoked sturgeon with leeks, pumpernickel and buttermilk and steak with brussel sprouts and mushrooms.

Both had flavors larger than the sum of its parts. But, not to sound too much like a fat American, they were a little skimpy for the price.

Still, we only get a date night maybe once a month and the splurge here was very worth it.

Oh and drinks! How could I forget? The cocktails are great and reasonably priced. I loved my juicy Martinez. The beer selection is also note worthy with a great double white from Southampton.

Not too many customers when we went but assume that will change with inevitable word of mouth.

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Posted on December 7, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »Natural History at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

20111012-121811.jpgby Patrick Dougherty

Sometimes we forget what great, beautiful resources we have for outdoor fun in the city. I hadn’t been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in some time but enjoyed the surprisingly gorgeous weather introducing Van to koi, grass (which he’s still skeptical of) and roses.

I also really loved the Natural History sculptures by Patrick Dougherty. They feel both natural and otherworldly. Wish we had one of these stick huts to hang out in all the time.

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Posted on October 14, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »Norman Dental Center

98 Norman Avenue, Greenpoint Brooklyn

Weary of local dentists (and with good reason it would seem based on the yelp reviews of Manhattan Ave Dental Associates and especially Greenpoint Dental Center, yikes!) I was thrilled to get a glowing recommendation from a trusted friend for Norman Dental Center.

After a clean, courteous, informative visit there myself after a filling mishap, I am passing the recommendation on to you!

Rarely do you leave a dentist excited to tell people about it, but Dr. Teague was fantastic and the nurse and receptionist were incredibly polite (something I find strangely lacking in most Doctor’s offices).

If you’re in the area and in need of nearby dental care, look no further.

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Posted on August 26, 2011

Restaurants »Tabare

221 South 1st St, Williamsburg

Tabare is cozy, intimate, and friendly – perfect choice for a date night! We weren’t sure exactly what Uruguayan cuisine would be, but it turned out to be flavorful, filling and delicious.

We started with killer empanadas and a glass of wonderful rose. I made my meal of an incredible gazpacho (nothing better during the summer) and a spiced fava bean and octopus casserole that was larger than I expected (a good thing). Jim couldn’t help himself and went for it with the gut busting chivito completo – a steak sandwich with bacon, mozzarella, onions, olives, lettuce, tomato and fried egg. He almost ate it all.

Barely able to eat another bite, we almost forwent desserts, but couldn’t say no to a fluffy creamy flan.

They boast a cute outdoor patio in back and the space actually reminded me of a secret spot we found in Barcelona with it’s planked wooden walls. They serve brunch, which I am sure if delectable and have seasonal specials.

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Posted on July 21, 2011

Drinks,Spend a Couple Hours »Sherry Tasting at Brooklyn Kitchen

100 Frost St, Brooklyn

All you know about Sherry is wrong.

Or, scratch that, all you know about Sherry is right, it is syrupy, weird and usually can be found sitting for decades in a grandmother’s cabinet, BUT there’s so much more to Sherry than that as I found out at a recent Brooklyn Kitchen Sherry Tasting and Class.

Because of age old laws, only over turned in the 1990’s, Sherry makers didn’t have the right to bottle their own goods. Not shockingly these laws were written by distributors who would bottle all the Sherry, adding sugar and other junk and export it to England under names like Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

There’s a new crop of Sherries out there though, the ones we sampled coming from Gutierrez Colosia (and all available at Vine Wine on Lorimer) and they are complex and delicious. My favorite was Oloroso Sangre y Trabajedero (Blood and the Worker). It was the farthest of the bunch from the taste of wine and actually tasted more like a brandy, but not quite.

The room hushed and all were blissing out on the Bodega Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial, a sweet sherry that was heavenly with the gorgonzola dulce they offered.

Also passed around were spiced green olives, dates, more cheese, and buttery jamon from the shop. Mmmmmmmmm.

Most tastings I have been to try to make it a laid back experience, but Brooklyn Kitchen probably does it with the most ease. Black Sabbath was blasting downstairs and everyone in our small class was having a fun time.

I had originally used my generous gift card for a Breakfast Making Class (I was so super excited to learn how to make amazing eggs of all kinds) but it was canceled. I picked this Sherry class because it was something I knew nothing about. I’m glad I did.

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Posted on July 18, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »East River Ferry

Now Running

I can officially say that the East River Ferry is awesome.

Aside from schedule hiccups (it might not be on time but if you give it 15-20 minutes one will show up) it was smooth sailing for Van and I. It’s stroller friendly, super quick and free until the 24th of this month.

After that, it’s $4 a ride, but I can see it being worth it in many situations (especially with a baby) compared to the hot sweaty, elevatorless subways.

Plus, the piers offer great sweeping Manhattan views.

I hope to utilize it all summer long (anyone up for getting ice cream in Dumbo?) Particularly looking forward to the Summer Friday loop that goes to Governors Island.

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Posted on June 14, 2011

Restaurants »Lobster Joint

1073 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint

North Greenpoint is home to all sorts of new goodness including the recently opened Lobster Joint that has taken over the previous Lamb and Jaffy space (which really went down hill).

Airy and casual, it seemed like the perfect place to pop in during the hot weather.

After a sweaty walk, I honestly was just not in the mood to fork over $17 for a sandwich, so I opted for the slightly cheaper crab roll because I really do love me some crab.

It was creamy but not over powered by the mayonnaise and was filled with good lumps of crab, not filler. Super yummy.

It came with a bag of chips and slaw, which was eh, but I am not a slaw lover so I couldn’t really say how it fares in comparison to others.

The menu features all sorts of stuff I’d like to try eventually: lobster bisque, fish and chips, and a raw bar.

Inevitably with lobster rolls and the like, the question of cost comes up – and I don’t know yet how to answer it. I can’t expect the incredible value of the Connecticut shore in NYC (a foot long lobster roll for about $13) but is the price we pay really reasonable?

Well, I’ll let that arguement sit for now and not let it cloud judgement on this particular restaurant since the price of lobster is what it is. At the same time, I can’t afford to come here as often as I’d like and get my usual overdose of Summer lobster.

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Posted on June 8, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »Eastern District

1053 Manhattan Ave

I’ve been meaning to make it up to the new cheese and beer shop, Eastern District in the northern part of the neighborhood for some time now. A recent “au revoir” party gave us the prefect excuse to head up there and buy some fancy cheeses.

The friendly staff helped me pick some greats: an aged gouda, a raclette, and a lovely goat button called Sweet Emotions. Jim and I also indulged in pricey bottles of Hitachino White Ale, a favorite I haven’t had since getting knocked up (it still tastes delicious!) and were intrigued by their entire selection of canned and bottled beers (including a whole shelf of Saisons and Six Point–now in cans!).

The brightly lit, easily maneuverable shop also offers a rotating assortment of beers available in growlers sans snarky drunk beer snobs (unlike Brouwerij Lane) as well as a wall of local and otherwise tasty treats. Can’t wait to come again for lunch–their sandwich list was making me drool (turkey with bacon marmalade mmmmmm).

A great addition to the neighborhood when you need some specialty foods.

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Posted on June 5, 2011

Desserts »Coolhaus

70 North 7th Street, Brooklyn

An ice cream sandwich is a delicious concept but I often find them disappointing. Usually either the cookie or the ice cream (or both) are sub par.

Not so with the Coolhaus truck that simply combines delicious Ovenly cookies with creamy, exotic flavored ice creams.

You pick and choose your sandwich combo, a feature that drew us in, but the fact that our rosemary butterscotch on chocolate chip was so overstuffed, sloppy, and scrumptious is what will have me coming back for more.

After all, wouldn’t you be curious about pistachio with black truffles and olive oil gelato?

If you live in LA or Austin you can indulge your curiosity at one of their trucks. Locally, it hangs out in front of the Artists and Fleas market on North 7th every other Saturday this Summer.

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Posted on June 4, 2011

Restaurants »Osteria Il Paiolo

106 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

During Jim’s first summer Friday, the usual disorganized long line met us at Egg, so we ventured nearby to the relatively new Italian spot, Osteria Il Paiolo. It drew us in with an airy space, a baby friendly environment, and one incredible lunch deal.

For 12.50 you get a salad, a soda, and a plate of pasta. Large portions and fresh ingredients elevated this from a mere “good deal” though to something worth telling friends about.

I opted for a peppery arugula salad topped with thick shavings of sharp Parmesan and a flavorful penne dish with sun-dried tomatoes and peas. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the cream sauce clung to it with enough substance to coat every bite but still remain light. (While this may not seem like a big deal, if you’ve ever tried to whip up a cream based sauce at home, you know it’s not so easy.)

The menu feels refreshingly out of step with the neighborhood. You’ll find no home cured pork cheeks from near by farms here. It’s simple food done really, really well.

With it’s open space, white table cloths, exposed brick, European vibe, and uncomplicated menu, it almost feels like a long standing neighborhood favorite from Manhattan that hopped over to the other side.

Fully sated, we left without dessert, but almost immediately regretted not trying one when we eyed the creamy white panna cotta at another table. Must try it during our next visit.

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Posted on June 1, 2011

Restaurants »1 or 8

66 S 2nd St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

With Bozu and Zenkichi, I am happy to say that we have some of the very best Japanese restaurants in the city in our area. Well, now you can add 1 or 8 to the list. Each have their purposes and 1 or 8 fits in as a bright, modern spot that’s prefect for a date night.

You enter into a kind of impersonal, quiet bar area that belies the bubbly, inviting, brightly lit dining area around the corner.

Since we only go out for a date night every month of so, we decided to live it up a little and started with an oyster sampler special. My goodness do oysters go well with ponzu! The small, plump and briny ones from Washington State were outstanding.

Next we ordered the Omakase Sushi, a chef selection of the best they have to offer. The fatty tuna and yellowtail belly were buttery. The salmon tasted smoked but was naturally so. The tuna was marinated Tokyo style and was Jim’s very favorite. The catfish from Montauk, while on the chewy side offered the most amazing and surprising spicy after taste.

Next on the plate were my two favorites: a house mackerel chopped with spices and scallions and a bold sardine that glistened beautifully on the plate. The following shrimp – served raw with a creamy texture and a subtly sweetened eel rounded out an incredible sushi experience.

They offer cocktails, wine and beer but I couldn’t have such a meal without some great sake, which they offer quite an assortment of. Many are offered by the bottle, but a nice list is also offered by sample size, glass, and carafe. The sample size is great for finding the one that suits your taste the most. We were fond of the unfiltered Kamoizumi but I wasn’t totally in love with the Chikurin. To finish the meal off, we tried the White Sesame Tart with black sesame ice cream, a none too sweet dessert that grows on you with each bite.

The staff is very friendly and informative, seeming just as excited about serving the food as we were about eating it. Plus, while we spent more than we might usually this time, the menu is varied and you could easily go a la carte and spend more or less depending on your mood and budget and still walk away with a special dining experience.

Now just over a year old (though I’ve been so out of the loop, I only just read about it) it seems to have quite a following. The place was packed Friday night, so I recommend reservations which can be made easily on Opentable. If you’re a sushi lover and had your fill of the mediocre stuff you can find on any street in the country, you’ll want to make a date night out of it soon.

Click here for the rest of 1 or 8

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Posted on February 19, 2011

Web Sites »Scouting NY (and an Adler Hotel Update)

Film Scouting in NYC

Shaun turned my on the Scouting NY, a fascinating and beautiful blog described by it’s author thusly:

“For the past four years, I’ve worked as a New York City location scout finding locations for feature films. I’ve been pretty much everywhere, from the highest rooftops to the deepest subway tunnels, from abandoned ruins to zillion-dollar luxury penthouse apartments.

What always amazes me about New York is how much there is to see if you take the time to look. Every street has a hidden gem or two, and yet they go largely ignored by thousands of passersby daily who simply don’t have the time to pay attention.

As it happens, my entire job consists of paying attention, and I’ve started this blog to keep a record of what I see.”

The images are amazing and it’s great to learn about all the secret hidden gems in and around the city that we walk by every day. He’s even made a google map of all the places featured on the blog, if you care to no longer walk pass them without a second glance and really take in all the interesting and marvelous locations that are virtually around every corner.

As a bonus web entry this week, also in the vein of abandoned, beautiful buildings.. here’s a great flickr series sent to me from that amazing Adler Hotel Jim and I visited a while back.

Click here for the rest of Scouting NY (and an Adler Hotel Update)

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Posted on July 18, 2010