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Entries in Open For Business (215)

Monday
Mar032014

Calexico Launches Brunch on 5th Avenue


Calexico finally opened on 5th Avenue between First and Garfield last weekend after a nearly two-year buildout, and it's hard to deny that it looks great. The fourth brick-and-mortar outpost of the local mini-chain, which got its start serving Cal-Mex specialties like burritos, tacos, and rolled quesadillas from street carts, is stylishly minimalist, with a small waiting area/ take out counter/ juice bar inside the front door, with the main dining room to the left. There's a nice-looking bar taking up one side of the dining room (which has been tragically underused so far, as the beer and liquor license has yet to be approved), and a few booths up against the front windows. The rest of the room is dim and comfortable, with brick walls and exposed wood beams, and a booth for larger parties in the back.


The menu is similar to the ones at their other brick-and-mortar locations in Red Hook, the Lower East Side, and Greenpoint, with appetizers including chips and salsa or guacamole, wings, and 'Carne Fries' topped with braised brisket, caramelized onions, beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole (and I'm trying to pretend that doesn't exist). There are also tacos, burritos, bowls, enchiladas, and their famous rolled quesadillas with 'crack sauce,' a chipotle mayo.

They plan to launch delivery soon, and on Saturday they launched brunch. They're serving huevos rancheros; a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese, rice, beans, sour cream, avocado sauce, chorizo and crack sauce; brisket hash and eggs; chilaquiles; and a breakfast quesadilla with bacon, eggs, and cheese. They range from $10 - $12.

There have been waits for a table just about every night, but thankfully they're open from 11:30 am to 11 pm daily.

Wednesday
Feb052014

Open for Business: Parish Bar, 223 7th Avenue

The first new bar to open on Seventh Avenue north of Ninth Street in years opened late last month between 3rd and 4th Streets, nearly two years since news first broke that a bar was heading for the space and about three years since City Casuals, the clothing shop it's replacing, closed.

The new bar, called Parish, is run by the husband-and-wife duo of Lisanne Mackenzie and her husband Chris (Lisanne is actually the daughter of City Casuals owner Esther Levitt). It's clear that they've put a ton of work into this space, and it's quite attractive. There's a big window up front, revealing a 12-seat bar made from two pieces of Southern black walnut, a spacious back lounge area with a high-tech projector system, and a big back patio that's going to double in size come springtime. All the colors are muted earth tones, and there's more decorative walnut on the ceiling. And as a very nice touch, the bar underside has not only coat hooks, but plugs. There are also two flat-screen TVs above the bar.

You can certainly call it a cocktail lounge, but there's an impressive selection of beer and wine as well. Cocktails use all fresh-squeezed juices and are $11 (which is on the low end these days), and include the Parish Cocktail (Tanqueray, lemon juice, fresh apples, grapes, and mint); Brooklyn on the Bayou (Makers Mark, Hennessy, absinthe, sugar, and bitters); and the Violette Bramble (Beefeater gin, creme de violette, bramble jam, and lemon juice). All well drinks are made with good-quality booze (Tito's vodka, for example), and cost $8. Here's the beer list:

Also quite reasonable; there's also a nice selection of wines by the glass, and several available on tap.

There's a tiny kitchen area just beyond the bar, so any food that comes out of it will probably be quite simple. At the moment there's a nice-looking charcuterie plate that they've been giving away to customers free of charge, and sandwiches are in the works.

It'll open at noon on the weekends and stay open until 2 or 3, and during the week it'll open at 4 and close at 1.There are no current plans for a happy hour.

This bar is about as mature as it gets, but also knows that its audience might also want to drop in to watch a big game. You can stop in and pay $11 for a craft cocktail or you can pay $6 for a Lagunitas IPA from a rotating tap list. You can sit at the bar and watch the Knicks; you can sit in the back or the patio and have a romantic nightcap with a cheese plate and a glass of wine. It's not trying to be all things to all people, it just lets you decide what kind of bar you want it to be. And while it's not exactly cozy, it's classy, welcoming, and unpretentious.

Parish Bar, 223 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215.

Monday
Feb032014

Open for Business: Buttermilk Bakeshop, 339 7th Avenue

Park Slope's newest bakery, Buttermilk Bakeshop, opened up at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, and on both Saturday and Sunday they were entirely sold out by 4 p.m.

The owner, pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse, is a French Culinary Institute grad who was previously head pastry chef for the David Burke Restaurant Group, and there's clearly some real skill on display here. Everything from the baguettes to the croissants to the macarons, cookies, cupcakes, whoopie pies, linzer tortes, tarts, and cakes are baked on-premises throughout the day, many based on old family recipes, and they're all on display as well as several varieties of gelato (here's the menu).

Rosenhouse (above) can be spotted at all times at the workspace behind the counter, frosting cupcakes and replenishing the stock, which includes more than 30 individual items available at any time. Because it's such a small smace, the oven, workbench, mixer, and other equipment are at the center of the action and visible from the front window, giving it all a very transparent, hands-on vibe. The front counter area is also quite small, so don't be surprised if you see lines out the door. Everything I've tried from there has also been pretty damn tasty, another reason why there might be lines out the door.

The bakery is open Tuesday - Friday from 7:30-7:30, Saturday from 10-8, and Sunday from 10-6.

Buttermilk Bakeshop, 339 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 347-689-4376.

Monday
Dec162013

A'Putia, a Sicilian Pastry Shop, Opens in Caramello/ Cafe Sant Edesia Space

In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it turnover, Cafe Sant Edesia closed after less than a week in the space that was last occupied by Caramello (on Fifth between Union and Berkeley), and a new Sicilian bakery called A'Putia has opened in its place.

A'Putia is the brainchild of Sicilian entrepreneur Giacomo d'Alessandro, and the shop's two specialties are cannoli (made with sheep's milk ricotta flown in from Italy once a week) and cassata, which is sort of a layer cake made with sponge cake, cannoli filling, marzipan, and candied fruit. Both are available in a couple sizes, and though the menu is extremely limited for now (foccaccia and coffee are also available), these are very high-quality, authentically Sicilian offerings and will soon be joined by panini, quiche, croissants, and salads. There's another location in Hoboken, and they also sell wholesale.

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Whether or not A'Putia (which means a typical shop where you can find traditional products in Sicilian dialect) can find enough of a niche for itself in the neighborhood to turn a profit remains to be seen, but it looks like there's an actual business plan behind it and the one in Hoboken has been getting great reviews. And I tried the cannoli, and it's damn good.

It has some competition, but Cafe Sant Edesia just might win the prize for shortest-running Slope business in recent memory.

 

Monday
Nov112013

Sushi Katsuei Opens on Seventh Avenue

Sushi Katsuei opened earlier this month on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Third Street, in the space that was last home to Casa Ventura, and previously MIX and Barrio. It's an attractive, minimalist space, and early reviews have been nothing but fawning.

The restaurant has a 10-seat sushi bar and seating for 22 inside and about as many outside. The space has been completely remodeled, with a new floor and cream-colored walls and ceiling.

The menu features a few types of miso soups and salads, appetizers including shumai, gyoza, agedashi tofu, steamed monkfish liver, miso cod a la Nobu, tempura, and Japanese-style fried chicken, and a handful of kitchen entrees including teriyaki and tempura, but the real focus is on the sushi. There are 28 fish varieties and a handful of vegetable and special rolls; fish options include medium fatty tuna (no o toro unfortunately), hamachi, salmon, fluke, sea bass, two types of eel, uni, scallop, and oyster.

Individual pieces average $3, but for sashimi you need to order at least 2 pieces per fish. The way to go appears to be the omakase, where you leave your meal in the chef's hands. A sushi-only omakase costs $45 and a combo of sushi and sashimi costs $65, which is very reasonable for a meal that usually includes upwards of 20 pieces.

Early reviews are ncredibly glowing, with six of the seven Yelp reviews five out of five stars. Several say it's the best sushi in Brooklyn, and one calls it the best sushi she's had outside of Japan. While that might be a bit of hyperbole, it's still saying a lot: this sounds like some incredible sushi. Here's the menu; click on the photos for larger images.

Sushi Katsuei, 210 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-788-5338.

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