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Entries in Foodporn (99)

Friday
Aug192011

Friday Foodporn: M&S Prime Meats, Prosciutto and Smoked Mozzarella

In the pantheon of great Park Slope sandwiches, the offerings at the neighborhood's only butcher shop (for now) can't be overlooked. From homemade roast beef to piping hot chicken and eggplant parm, there's no other Italian deli making sandwiches like these in the area (again, for now).

Aside from top-notch pork, beef, and homemade sausage, the claim to fame of M&S Prime Meats, on Fifth Avenue between Second and Third Streets, is its fresh mozzarella. It's a major player in my personal favorite sandwich of theirs, which combines house-smoked homemade fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. On a semolina hero topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, it doesn't get much better than this.

M&S Prime Meats, 312 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-768-2728.

Friday
Aug122011

Friday Foodporn: Kiwiana, Opening Next Week

One of the neighborhood's more hotly-anticipated restaurants, chef Mark Simmons' New Zealand-inspired eatery Kiwiana, will be opening next week in the space last occupied by Lucas Fine Foods, on Union Street just west of Seventh Avenue. I had the opportunity to drop by last night and chat with the chef/owner, who appeared on Season 4 of Top Chef and also honed his chops at neighborhood restaurants Get Fresh (now Juventino) and Melt.

"My friend and I built this whole restaurant, from scratch," he told me as I entered. "We wanted the space to look like it's from the 1950s or 60s, and have a real homey, comfortable feel."

There are 40 seats in the smallish restaurant, along with 5 at the bar (the liquor license should come in within two weeks, and when it does they will serve several specialty cocktails, along with a predominantly Australian and New Zealand wine list and beers imported from New Zealand, like Steinlager and Boag's). The restaurant will be BYOB until then.

Back near the kitchen, you'll encounter a china cabinet that's an exact replica of Simmons' grandmother's. "Kiwiana means 'kitch,' similar to 'Americana'," said Mark. "We've got some china in here, along with my mother's teaspoon collection. Pickling and jarring is huge in my family, so we'll keep some jars up here along with a few ingredients we use."

With that he removed a curious container from the shelf, containing horopito, an herb from New Zealand that has a spicy, pepperlike kick. "We use this in our fried chicken," he said.

"We wanted to showcase what we're all about with our menu," the  Invercargill, New Zealand native said. "Everything on it is close to my heart. These are the staples of New Zealand cuisine."

 

Signature dishes will include the above-mentioned horopito and buttermilk fried chicken with bitter greens and truffled honey (top), smoked and pickled Green Lip mussels with house-churned butter (above), floral and oaky manuka and marmite braised baby back ribs with kobocha squash puree (below), seafood chowder pies, and the lamb burger, which comes topped with a sunnyside up egg and pickled beets ("It's the only way to have a burger in New Zealand'" said the chef. "It's like our Philly cheesesteak."). Daily specials will also include a rack of lamb.

A featured dessert is the raspberry lamington, below, sponge cake doused in raspberry liqueur and topped with cherries and a dollup of coconut cream.

"It's been my dream to open a reataurant since coming from New Zealand seven years ago," he told me. "Top Chef was a great stepping stone for me. It was an incredibly humbling experience, but it cemented the belief in myself that I could open a restaurant of my own."

With the ahead-of-schedule opening of Kiwiana, Chef Simmons has come full-circle, and has chosen the neighborhood he calls home to do it in. "I love this neighborhood. I've lived here for three years; why would I move away when I have it all here?"

Kiwiana, 847 Union Street Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-230-3682.

Friday
Aug052011

Friday Foodporn: The Biggest Steak in the Slope

Park Slope may not have any decent steakhouses (I tried to like Benchmark, trust me), but we certainly have a very decent steak.

It can be found at one of the neighborhood's best restaurants, Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, a part of the Bromberg Brothers' empire, which also includes Blue Ribbon Sushi next door. A word of warning, though: it's not for the faint of heart. At a whopping 40 ounces, this bone-in rib-eye also happens to be the biggest damn steak in Park Slope.

Aged for two weeks, the massive, Prime steak is sliced in the kitchen and served alongside a bowl of port wine-shallot reduction and (basically unnecessary) fries and spinach. It costs $74 (still far less expensive than the steak for two at Luger), and is best shared between a few (very happy) people.

Blue Ribbon Brooklyn, 280 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-840-0408.

Tuesday
Aug022011

Open for Business: Purbird, 82 Sixth Avenue

Purbird, the restaurant that can best be described as "chicken-centric," opened last night on the highly visible corner of Sixth Avenue and St. Marks Avenue, just off Flatbush.

Run by the husband and wife duo of Peter and Christina Lekkas, who also run Greek restaurant Elia in Bay Ridge, the restaurant, which was eight years in the making, was insipired by Christina's inability to find a decent grilled chicken.

"With rotisserie chicken, the breast is usually dried out, and you need to eat it at exactly the right time," she said. "We brine it so it stays juicy, de-bone it, and then flame-grill it flat so it cooks evenly."

The all-natural, free-range chicken ($8.95 for half) comes from Wellington Farms, and as the centerpiece of the menu, it's juicy and flavorful, and finished with a little olive oil, lemon, and oregano.

Joining the chicken on the brief menu are a chicken thigh wrap ($6.25), chicken burger (which goes very well with the zucchini raita), $5.50, chicken sausage ($5.75), and an empanada-style "chicken pie" ($4), filled with creamy chicken pot pie filling.

There's also a large variety of creative homemade sauces like chipotle, roasted lemon and parsley, and quince chutney, a few salads, sides including jalapeno mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, and (very good) fries. Ice cream comes from Blue Marble, and bread is from Staten Island-based Royal Crown Bakery.

It's not a waiter-service restaurant; you order at the counter, and if you're dining in you can grab a seat at one of the 30 indoor or 20 outdoor seats. It's a casual place, the owners are friendly and willing to chat, and you can tell that they're very excited about what they've created (and they understand what brought down the space's predecessor, Helios; Peter was involved when it opened but left after becoming unhappy with the way it was run).

With such a small, focused menu, it's clear that the Lekkas ascribe to the "do one thing and do it well" philosophy. When you realize that the closest competition was the now-closed, mediocre Chickadee Chick, it becomes apparent that food of this quality, while simple, is a major step up, and a continuation of the foodie-centric movement that's swept the neighborhood in the past year.

Hours: Mon-Thu: 12 PM - 9 PM, Fri-Sat: 12 PM - 10 PM, Sun 11 AM- 8 PM. Delivery will begin in two weeks.

Purbird Brooklyn, 82 Sixth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-857-2473.

Friday
Jul292011

Friday Foodporn: Sky Ice's Savory Options

It's been fairly well-established that Sky Ice, which opened in April on the corner of Fifth and St. Marks, sells some of the finest homemade, all-natural ice cream and sorbet in the neighborhood, in insanely creative flavors like basil, Thai tea, black sesame seaweed, durian, cucumber lime, guava mint, and mangosteen. What's lesser-known, though, is the fact that it's also one of the best places around for healthy, creative Thai-inspired savory options.

When I saw "Carb-free Pad Thai" on the specials board, I had to see what its deal was. It looks like Pad Thai, tastes exactly like Pad Thai, but there's one big difference: instead of noodles, strips of green papaya are used. Green papaya's long been known to aid in digestion, and here's very little oil used in the dish, making this arguably the healthiest plate of Pad Thai in the world.

Four-mushroom dumplings were light and flavorful, and came with a tangy black bean vinegar sauce.

I was seriously impressed by how much flavor Chef Nick was able to pack into the Thai Chicken Salad, popular in northern Thailand, where it's known as Larb gai. Chicken is ground, mixed with fish sauce, lime, onion, and spices, and served in a lettuce bowl alongside sticky rice. It's incredibly light (again, with little to no oil used in cooking), and is the perfect lunch for a warm summer day.

Chef Nick approves.

Sky Ice, 63 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-230-0910.

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