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Friday Foodporn: Comida

Even though it only opened last Thursday, Comida Mercado Fresco (at Fifth and President) is already filling the tables every night and generating huge buzz. Co-owners Susan Thomas and chef Margaritte Malfy (of Manhattan's La Palapa) spent several years looking for the perfect location to re-open their highly popular restaurant, which was on Columbus Avenue and 82nd Street in Manhattan for a couple years before closing after a suspicious fire. Last night they were kind enough to open the doors to the neighborhood for an opening party with free drinks and appetizers. 

If you're thinking, "Why do we need another Mexican restaurant? Mezcal's is right across the street!", you haven't been inside this place yet. It's sophisticated and dark, and specialties range from crispy calamares fritos with chile de arbol and tomatillo dipping sauces (above) to duck breast in ancho chile- almond mole, to slow braised lamb shank in a guajillo barbecue sauce. 

The back room, formerly home to Playa's Cabana Bar, has been remodeled and now seats spillover crowds from the main dining room (almost every night), and will also be used as a private party space. 

The main reason why so many restaurants that occupied this space closed was because the food just wasn't very good. I can tell you already that Comida won't suffer from this problem.

Comida Mercado Fresco, 230 5th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-857-3600.


Update on the Fire on Fifth Avenue, With Photos

At 12:15 this afternoon a boiler exploded in the basement of the Associated Supermarket at 617 5th Avenue, on 17th Street, sending flames into all units in the building and smoke high into the sky. 

Only minor smoke-related injuries were reported from the three-alarm fire, but the building is completely gutted and about 130 firefighters are still struggling to contain the flames. Smoke can be seen (and smelled) for blocks in either direction.

The view down 17th Street, from Sixth Ave

Here are some photos of the inferno from Corey Rabinowitz's Picasa page: 

And a Google Streetview picture of the building in better days:

UPDATE: A message from the Red Cross: If you or someone you know has suffered damage due to the fire, the Red Cross may be able to provide assistance and information. Please call our 24-hour number at 1-877-REDCROSS (733-2767). For more details on our response to the fire as it happens, please follow us on twitter at Thank you.


Breaking: Big Fire in South Slope

Thanks to jesswis for sending these photos along: a big, smoky fire in the South Slope, possibly near the Grand Prospect Hall. I'll update as soon as more info is known. 


Know Your Bartender: Kristin Lees, Loki Lounge

Loki Lounge, on Fifth Avenue and Second Street, has two identities. During the week, it's known for its long bar, 12 rotating taps, good happy hour, and loyal regulars. At night on the weekends, though, it's a completely different place, filling up all the way to the couch-filled back room. Named for the Norse god of mischief (and conveniently pronounced "low key"), it was opened in December 1999 by German Montana, who's still the owner. Kristin Lees can be found there Thursdays during the afternoon as well as Friday and Saturday nights. 

HPS: How long have you been bartending here for?

Kristin: About two years. I was at a bar in Brooklyn Heights called Heights Cafe before that.

HPS: What's your favorite thing about this bar?

Kristin: Its diversity. I think it's one of the few bars in Park Slope that gets people from all walks of life. And it's been around for a while, so we have a lot of regulars that have been coming in for a long time. 

HPS: Can you talk a little bit about the Happy Hour?

Kristin: Happy Hour's from 3-7, and we have $2 Bud and Miller products, most other bottles are $3, most of our drafts are $3, and it's a dollar off everything else. We just started doing a $6 beer-and-a-shot special as well. 

HPS: What's the strangest drink order you've ever received?

Kristin: I really can't remember off the top of my head the last one I got. I mean, we definitely get them, but I can't remember the names of them because I never know how to make them. So no, sorry!

HPS: That's okay. If you could have a drink with one person from history, who would it be? 

Kristin: I guess because I've recently been reading her, but there's a sociologist named Jane Jacobs, and she wrote a lot about the city. I would like to have a drink with her and talk about Park Slope and what's gone on here. I'd like to hear her opinion. [Ed: If you haven't read The Death and Life of Great American Cities, I'd recommend it.]

HPS: Are there any cocktails that you make that you pride yourself on?

Kristin: I've been told I make a really good margarita. 

HPS: What mixed drink is made the most frequently here?

Kristin: I'd say vodka martinis. 

HPS: What bottle is poured from the most frequently? 

Kristin: Jameson. 

HPS: How about least frequently?

Kristin: There are some we hardly ever touch. I guess probably the Chivas. Alize, although we recently started making a cocktail with that and Champagne and people are loving it, so suddenly we're selling Alize. Also the Fernet, we've never even opened that one. 

HPS: If you weren't tending bar, what other career would you be interested in?

Kristin: Well right now I'm getting my Masters in Human Development at NYU. Not sure what I'm going to do with it, so right now I'm a career student. 

Loki Lounge, 304 5th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. (718) 965-9600.


A Peek Inside the Construction Site at 79-81 7th Avenue, Between Union and Berkeley

We haven't seen much work underway at the site of the demolished one-story buildings at 79 and 81 Seventh Avenue since... well, since they were demolished. Today the gates were opened up and a look inside reveals that this is an enormous area, stretching much further back than the surrounding buildings. Very interested in seeing what gets built here. There were some plans released a couple years back, but there's no word if this is the actual building design they're following through with:

For nostalgia's sake, here's a shot of the previous structures on the site, which had been vacant since a 2004 fire: an old fruit market and the original Olive Vine Cafe.

And if you want to take a look even further back...

Update: Special thanks to a commenter for pointing me towards the most recent rendering of the building to come, a one-story, 5,000 square foot Petco: