Favorite Brooklyn Restaurants
- DeeDee Jan 5, 2002 06:28 PM
If you had to devise a list of your top 10 Brooklyn restaurants what would they be?
Wow, this is a tough one, but I'll give it a shot:
(order does not reflect how much I like the restaurant)
1. Rosewater (Park Slope)
2. Ali's Roti (Bedford Stuyvesant)
3. Dumont (Williamsburg)
4. Osaka (Carroll Gardens)
5. ??? (a lunch counter on Lawrence Street, off Fulton
Mall; the name escapes me, but they have a dynamite
6. Grimaldi's (Brooklyn Heights)
7. Mo Bay (Fort Greene)
8. Milan's (Park Slope)
9. Marek's (Greenpoint)
10. White Castle (various locations; can't beat those
fish and cheese sandwiches)
There you have it. If you ask me the same question six months from now, I'm sure the list will be very different.
I lived in the Soviet Union and in Russia for a total of 6 years. I've eaten enough of the food to last me a lifetime.
I'll just say that while I'm sure some people love it, most of it is not really to my taste. But some of my friends in NYC seem to think I'm dying to race back to Brighton Beach and gorge on cabbage, and its been hard to convince them that I'd rather eat anything else.
I don't know what you were doing/eating in Russia for a total of 6 years, but if after that time you can still say that Russian cuisine is "cabbage" and in general is nothing good, than you have been wasting your time in Russia.
BTW when you post stuff like this people who have never tried Russian food will probably pass on the experience and that would be too bad.
re: Tatyana Gourov
I think that maybe there is a misunderstanding here, and that if you re-read my post, you'll see what it was.
I said that while I was sure that some people loved it, Russian food was not to my taste. What I meant was that I don't really like it, but many others do -- like my friends who keep trying to get me out to Brighton Beach.
That is, to my mind, a perfectly reasonable statement. If you pick any country, I'm sure you can find someone who doesn't like the local food.
Its my opinion, about what I like to eat, and was mostly a response the person who posted before I did.
And I'm not sure that anyone interested in Russian cuisisne would be put off by someone saying: "I don't like it, but other people do."
All the best,
I understand when people say that don't like certain dishes within a cuisine. What you are saying is that you don't like Russian cuisine in its entirety. I have never understood why anyone would make such a sweeping generalization. After all, I may not enjoy sushi but I wouldn't say I don't like Japanese cuisine. The variety within each country's cuisine is endless. It's hard to believe that you've tried everything and nothing was to your taste. Hope this clears up my argument.
re: Tatyana Gourov
I think it's perfectly appropriate to say that one doesn't like a cuisine in general. For example, while once in a while I don't mind a pierogie or two, in general, I'm not the biggest fan of Polish cuisine -- or Russian cuisine or Swedish cuisine for that matter. People will tend to have an affinity for certain types of tastes. While there may be a couple of dishes that one may like of a certain cuisine, I think it's fair to make generalizations in this instance. For example, intestines aren't generally my thing. True, I haven't tried every single intestine dish out there. There may be one that's prepared in such a way that will turn me the other way. But I can safely say that I really don't like intestines.
I really don't see how a comparison with a single ingredient is appropriate in this case. A cuisine, as I said before, will have thousands of dishes that differ vastly in ingredients, preparation, origin. Anyhow, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, so let's agree to disagree.
re: Tatyana Gourov
It strikes me that there is a problem here in defining "russian cooking." It is very nearly impossible not to find several items to like in the HUGE repertoire of Russian foods. And we must also note that there are many ethnic Russian foods as well as Central Asian dishes (among others) that have made their way into the body of foods one would find in Russia proper. Kharcho is of Georgian origin but it is easy to find in Moscow.
Now, it is dangerous to make a generalization but I wager, from my conversations, that most people in the US think of heavy stuffed dumplings and beets and dill when thinking of Russian food. This is fair as far as it goes-- and that is not far--because there ARE lots of dill and beet dishes. And the variety of dumplings is a varied as the number of cooks. People who go ga-ga over Italian ravioli seem to balk at a virtually idential Russian dumpling. Even though people often associate russian foods with heavy, direct roundhouse punch sort of thing (akin to "cuisine bourgeoise" in that respect) there are hundreds of lighter and more delicate items, e.g. smoked fishes, caviar of course, and lightly pickled items that are to die for. You can get a shashlyk in russia that will knock the block off of a shish-ke-bab you get at a really good Turkish/Greek &c restaurant here.
Long, long before Specialty Food Shoppes were opening in TriBeCa offering various exotic fungi, the Russians and slavs in general were celebrating mushrooms. They are the best in the world at using these delicacies. Mushroom julienne, Mushroom Tokana, Fried potatoes with wild mushrooms..the list goes on and on and on. And, if one could get Russian quality sour cream, it would be easy to see why so many recipes call for this ingredient.
A cornerstone of any civilized cooking (to me) is the repetoire of soups. There are scores of excellent Russian/Georgian/Ukrainian/Latvian (etc) soups, more than one for every taste. The range is from rough to refined. I fell in love with meat selianka at the first sip but I had the advantage of growing up in an age when I was encouraged to try strong flavors and so I am not put-off by pickles and olives in a soup. (try it! it is superb.)
I am somehow reminded of European travellers in this nation years ago who lamented the lack of serious cooking outside New Orleans, San Fransisco and certain N.E. enclaves. A good burger is great but I'd not want someone to judge the state of North American cooking on that alone.
BYW, I had a nice zakuski set up at Pyramide a couple of years ago. It was as close as we could get to the Real Thing. (But my ears are still ringing from the music.)
re: Tatyana Gourov
Well, 2 points. I'm enjoying the conversation, and appreciate very much that we've kept it polite.
1) I don't think Russian food and Georgian food are the same thing at all. If you mean mean by "Russian" every type of food that was ever in the Soviet Union, which was large-ish. then I'm sure I would be able to find something to eat, pretty darn easily.
Because in that case we can go nearly as far south as Turkey and as far east as the Chinese border. Which covers a lof of ground, and is CHEATING!!!! ;-)
It would be as if you said British cuisine included Indian food as well because India was once part of the Empire.
The Uzbeks, the Azerbaijanis, the Georgians and a lot of other folks would balk at being called Russians. Hell, a lot of them balked at being called Soviet, too.
When I ate at Mama Zoias in Moscow -- its a Georgian place -- there wasn't a lot of crossover on the menu with the traditional "Russian places". Thats why I went and liked it so much.
So I have personal gastronomic evidence that I'm plenty "adventurous" enough to try all kinds of food. I'm just not going to try to pass Uzbek or Georgian food off as Russian.
2. I appreciate your suggestion that we agree to disagree, but I have to respecfully note that you made an polite arguement that my opinon was perhaps badly informed and perhaps you suggested that I wasn't adventurous as well.
In my opinion, I'd rather not eat (what I consider to be) Russian food, which includes (as far as I am concerned) some of the dishes Hazelhurst mentioned in that excellent post.
And I'm especially keen to avoid Russian food in the context of the New York restaurants under discussion in this thread -- where you go for the night club experience and the food (salat stolichniy, pirozhki, golubtsy, pozharskie kutlety) is not the main attraction. There's going to be a pretty short list of things on the menu that I'm going to like -- if anything.
As far as not liking some food or preferring one type of cuisine over another, it seems perfectly reasonable. I've read that in some cooking schools they teach about "flavor profiles" that is - basic ingredients with which many of the dishes in a particular cuisine start with.
For example, If you hate cumin, cayenne and oregano, and some people do, I'd say that Mexican is probably not the best choice for you. I'm not advocating an overly dogmatic, cookie-cutter approach to cuisine, but if we're going to start deliniating, thats one approach...
So as far as Russian food goes, as I said: I lived there for nearly 6 years, I got hungry, I tried it, I didn't like most of it very much, and given the choice, I'd rather go nearly anywhere else.
If you'll permit a rather risque observation -- kazhdiy drochit, tak i hochet.
All the best,
ps. I do like pickles. I really love cheremsha, but can't find it in NYC, and I don't think they make an ajika here that is as good as what I got in Krasnodar.
pps. Shashlik is from the Caucasus.
re: Tatyana Gourov
Not sure how he was insulting ? The crossover of cuisines is complictaed as well as the the reformatioon of that huge country the former Soviet Union. Lingo is hard to get straight. Its complicated and I think rather than shutting down dialogue you shoould keep it open. If you read his post again it was respectful.
Been "off the reservation" for a few days and return to find a flap when all I wished to do was post some good news.
For those who are confused (including me) by recent events, I suggest that we learn a little more Russian. Seems evident to me that the reaction is to the Russian comment at the end of the posting. We Americans often unwittingly upset europeans by looser standards of behavior and language.
I had meant to re-inforce the notion that foods one can eat in Russia (proper) may not be "Russian" but have come from areas under Russian influence. Sure, shashlyk is Caucasian but one can readily find it in Russia. But we need not revisit this point to get to the good news. The pickles, we know, are excellent and I agree with the remark about cherymsha--I adore the stuff and have my friends carry it in when they return from Russia (I have about twenty stalks in my refrigerator right now--I am hoarding them.)
Lo! what should happen today? A friend delivers a bottle of cherymsha! Bought right here in the USA! I have scoured Brighton Beach and other outposts and failed to find the stuff and yet the little bottle sits by my side right now. It is sweeter than the stuff I get from the Moscow markets but it is still better than nothing. The bottle presents the e-mail address of: email@example.com
Call it a peace offering
It has to do with the Russian comment at the end of his post which I will not translate (but I'm sure you can ask Terence and he'll gladly oblige). If after living in a country for 6 years he still doesn't know which comments are appropriate and when, then I am not here to teach him. Too little, too late.
Only been twice - and can't even tell you which ones they were, but the food was unbeliveably atrocious. Felt like I was living the Soviet experience down to each rancid mouthful of deep fried meat. The vodka was free-flowing however, the music and dancing like a tripped out bar mitzvah - definitely an experience, though I'm too much of an eater not to resent the platters of dreck that are heaped upon you.
Higher Priced/High Quality favorites:
1- Henry's End (hands down)
2- Noodle Pudding (although there are some weaknesses)
3- Copper (try it: they know how to cook!)
4- Sur(my only Smith St. choice)
5- A Table/Al di la/Vini e Olie (take your pick: all worth it)
Other Notes: Cucina's gone south; havent been to Convivium or Grappa yet; Queen isnt friendly (excellent food though); Acadia Parish & Rustic are long gone & now so's Mignon; I just dont think most of Smith Street is worth the price, although some (Saul, Grocery, Smith St. Kitchen)are quality operations.
Very good food/Great value for "anytime" dinners:
1- Cafe on Clinton (from burgers to steak: comfortable)
2- Fountain or Waterfall (great for the $$ Middle East)
3- DiFara (I grew up there & we love Dominick)
4- Vinny's of Carroll Gardens (stick to the eggplant, lasagne, & ziti and take it home)
5- Jake's/Aunt Martha's (delivery is best)
6/7- Teddy's/Waterfront Ale House (burgers, beer and more)
8- Joya (better than Plan Eat Thailand)
10- Sahara (may be getting too big)
Clearly, this isnt a list for all of Bklyn, but only for the neighborhoods I know and frequent. I'm helpless in Bay Ridge and am sure there are many more places/neighborhoods I'll never get to. But I'll try! (and look at everyone else's list for ideas). Happy eating.
ok, i have to say that 'henry's end' is completely off our list. when i lived in the heights years ago it was great. a while back we decided to go back -- and, worse, took friends telling them of our wonderful little rest. - it was awful. lights turned up high, no ambiance, a waiter who thought that *he* was the main course and in a completely obnoxious way, the food was oversauced and all-in-all it stunk.
on the other hand, cucina, which *had* been going south, seems to have a new chef. we went there for dinner a few weeks ago and i had a simple pasta with clams and it was done perfectly with pancetta and some well-placed 'heat' and my dh had a braised lamb shank on garlicky mashed potatoes. the shank was perfect. that said, the service was fast and we had our food shoved in front of us and then we were ignored. i was impressed by that shank tho!
Vini e Olie is certainly worth any trip. for food and for the space. i love love love it.
1. Al Di La in park slope(for their beet ravioli)
2. Rice (Thai place on 7th ave in P.S.)
3. Geja (on Flatbush, good, fresh sushi)
4. A Table in Ft. Greene (depending on whether you go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it's like 3 different restaurants!)
5. Harvest in Cobble Hill for breakfast
I can only think of those... and sorry it's so Park Slope-centric! I really need a car.
I live in Fort Greene and am always looking for new ideas. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with their picks. I noticed that not many people listed restaurants in Williamsburg. I have two favorites in that neighborhood - La Brunette and DuMont. I used to be a fan of Oznot's Dish but I feel that the service and food quality has REALLY deteriorated.
Smith Street Kitchen
Al Di La
The Roti/Patty shops on Fulton and St. James
Patois (on occassion)
Jade Palace (Dim Sum Sunday Morning)
The Mexican Place on 5th in the 30's. (sorry I know it by the outside - not my hood)
The Kebab joints on avenue T/U
And of course Luther's Fried Chicken.
The Mad Chowhound.
Brooklyn...you know how we do.
How could Bob Brooklyn not reply, especially with many responses being off base...
In no particular order, a fast list where delicious meals have indeed been eaten:
Lundy's (Seafood, Sheepshead Bay)
Vegas Diner (Bensonhurst)
Kar (Chinese, Mill Basin)
La Villa (Italian, Mill Basin)
Brooklyn Marriott restaurant (Varied, Heights)
Amin (Indian, Brooklyn Heights)
Ocean Palace (Chinese, Sheepshead Bay)
Circle's (eclectic, Prospect Park)
Carolina Kitchen (Southern, Bed-Stuy)
Weiss Dairy (Kosher, Midwood)
re: "Bob Brooklyn"
Just had to say that Lundy's must be one of the most overrated, overpriced, unimaginative restaurants in the city. The food is abundant, yet dull and tasteless. The service is okay, but the prices are insane. This place rests on a very very old reputation, which may or may not have been deserved 20 years ago - but certainly not now.