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Dine In Brooklyn restaurant's menus

I went to Blue Ribbon last night for the first night of DIB. The choices were: Starter-Beet Salad or Butternut Squash soup. (My wife and I both went for the soup. Very light and creamy with toasted butternut seeds). The entree was: Lamb shank with haricort verte, mashed potatoes or roasted salmon with asparagus, mashed potatoes and shoe-string potato. The lamb shank was excellent. Not too fatty and the demi-glace was so good you could drink it with a straw. The salmon was good but not out of this world. The shoe-string "crisps" were a little too much coupled with the mashed potato but they were highly addictive. The desert was a crunchy, chewy chocolate bread pudding with a scoop of ice-cream.

The manager came over and asked how we were, the staff were very friendly (but you can tell they want a quick turnaround since our soup came before our wine). All in all, not a bad way to start the event.

Where else have people gone?

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  1. Just went to Stan's Place tonight for the first time because I saw it for the first time next to Bacchus.

    - Piquante Salad - greens, sweet corn, tomato, onion, and some other ingredients. My friend liked it, but didn't finish it... not a big greens eater, I guess.
    - BBQ Shrimp with Grits - ONE (1) shrimp, sliced in half over a cup of grits drowned in BBQ sauce. Good sauce, ample grits, but the dish felt like it was lacking something... like shrimp.
    - Crab Stuffed Zucchini - They ran out of that for the day... so I didn't get to try it...

    - Gumbo - TWO (2) shrimps (because it's an entree), some other seafood... and dirty rice. The gumbo itself was good. But why combine it with dirty rice? White would have made the dish.
    - BBQ Braised Short Ribs - Very well made, fork tender boneless ribs that kind of lacked a bit of beefy umph, but still good.
    - Southern Fried Chicken - No one at my table had it, but from the looks of it from the other table, might have been a good choice. The lady finished it all.

    - Banana Bread Pudding - Kinda dry... not sure if this place is known for its desserts anyway.
    - Fresh Market Beignets - Although highly and enthusiastically recommended by our server, I thought it sucked. Very chewy, not fluffy enough... little tough squares with a thick coating of powdered sugar.

    Had the Turbo Dog (beer) and enjoyed it to the last sip.

    The server wasn't too attentive and too slow with serving, but had a terrific attitude and made us laugh a few times.

    All in all, a good time for a good price, but only because it's restaurant week.

    1. Applewood - overall very pleasant, although nothing made me keen with ecstasy - and I *did* try some pork belly
      the DIB menu is on their website - I'd recommend sticking to the Prix Fixe
      soup or salad starter - the rock shrimp "extra menu" was pretty unremarkable
      all the entrees are tasty - gorgeously mushroomy risotto, a fine bit of duck breast, or fish (some will find the fish portion ungenerous)

      It's all very rich, but I'm afraid nothing *popped*, with the exception of the vanilla-infused bread pudding that was wildly popular at our table.

      And of course their regular menu cocktails are great...Applewood makes some very interesting and flavorful cocktails - a super salty savory martini that pairs rather nicely with the lovely comp spreads they start you with, some infused syrup delights . . .

      The service was very sharp - they are prepared for restaurant week!

      1 Reply
      1. re: pitu

        I totally agree with pitu. Nothing mindblowing, but it was a very nice meal. I really recommend paying a little extra for the lemon curd. It was quite creamy but refreshing after all of the rich entrees.

      2. Pastoralia, I'm trying to choose a restaurant for a trek out to Brooklyn for the DIB. I'd love to go to Blue Ribbon, but they won't give reservations to small parties. I'm curious: did you have much of a wait, and does one wait indoors, or outside?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Lady Grey

          Don't trek without reservations! Many DIB restaurants are packed during the promotion and are fully booked for the duration of the promotion. Without reservations, you might have some luck with seats at the bar at one of several places.

          1. re: Lady Grey

            Lady Grey,

            We went on Monday night around 8:30 and even though the place was packed and the bar was full we were seated right away. My thinking at the time was. "If Blue Ribbon is packed we'll go somewhere else like Cocotte or Belleville which are very close." I'd recommend either of those places (people may disagree) but I think Belleville is like stepping into a Paris bistro (really beautiful space) and Cocotte (also French)...I don't know why Cocotte isn't loved more. Everyone is very sweet and the food is pretty good (the burger is amazing). They also have a cute bar in the back.

            I guess what I'm saying is...since it's not freakin' sub zero out anymore c'mon over, bring your DIB list and wander around. 5th Avenue has lots to offer. Even if your dinner isn't Babbo-quality good (for that in Park Slope- go to Al di La, Applewood, or Comvivium) you can wash away your sorrows at Great Lakes, Loki, The Royale, Bar Reis, Commonwealth, or Buttermilk just to name a few cool places for booze.

            1. re: pastoralia

              Cocotte is loved! Search this board and I think you'll find generally favorable remarks (a couple of grumbles about changes in personnel a few months back). Why isn't Cocotte more popular? I think precisely because it's un-Babbo-like, as you justly put it.
              Al di La, Tempo, Blue Ribbon,Stone Park, Convivium? All considered "chic" by Park Slope standards. Cocotte? Just consistently good, well-presented bistro fare.
              Their prix fixe, BYOB and two-for-one nights are just icing on the gateau.

              As for Belleville, this place hasn't been authentic French since the original owners sold it. You can buy a zinc bar, posters, labels from French bottles and coat hooks from Paris, but the food is barely passable. Stick with Cocotte.

              1. re: famdoc

                All I know is everytime I walk by or eat at Cocotte it's half full or empty. I want it to succeed too. People...go to Cocotte! And I like Belleville. The food isn't amazing but I still think it feels pretty French (and it's more than distressed mirrors and coat hooks). The next time you're there- really look around. Some real love went into decoarating that place.

                1. re: famdoc

                  I had a good brunch at Cocotte with my wife and sister in law. We were (for "some odd reason") seated in the dark corner all the way in the back even though there were two other well lit four-tops open... but lets not get into restaurant prejudices and practices ;)

                  Anyway, the hangar steak was well cooked and tasty. Mimosa was bubbly. Prices were fair. The only other place I've had a better brunch was at Le Petit Cafe out on Court St & Luquer (?). They just built a beautiful backroom and, by the looks of it, are expanding it further. Great prices as well! Worth a try if anyone's out and about in that area.

                2. re: pastoralia

                  Thanks for your reply - and all the related replies from others. I figured we'd show up at Blue Ribbon very early. Around 6:30, maybe. They were very nice when I telephoned, and although naturally they can't predict, they figured it shouldn't be so very bad on a Monday. Under normal circumstances, I will not wait in line for much of anything, but I thought, well, it's a special case, a great place, and decent weather.

                  Thanks also for the mentions of nearby places in case we have problems (since I don't know the neighborhood). One difficulty is that very few of the Brooklyn places seem to have their menus on-line, in contrast with Manhattan - because I'm trying to focus on the high-end places that make DIB a bargain. But I'm particularly interested in Cocotte's two-for-one, so I'll have to try and find out about that.

              2. I went to Five Front last night and was disappointed. I've had good meals there before (both from previous DIB menus and from the regular menu), but this was just...lacking in flavor. I had the lamb meatballs with lemon sauce, which were decent but lacking in nice meaty flavor, almost like turkey meatballs. Followed it up with the pan-sauteed perch over peas and yellow and green beans. The beans weren't bad -- crispy and tasty. But the fish itself was bland, so was the potato cake it came with.

                Got to the hazelnut chocolate cake with caramel sauce for dessert and thought, "Okay, my meal wasn't so great, but the dessert will be good, it's always good here." It wasn't. Again, it was just eh for me. I was really hoping for more rich chocolaty flavor out of the cake.

                So, I wasn't thrilled. I had a much better DIB meal the day before at Waterfront Ale House -- very tasty house-made smoked salmon, a big ol' burger, and their excellent bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Not good for the waistline, but very good on the taste buds!

                1. We went to Magnolias last night for DIB and we had a very pleasant dinner, the place was very cozy and the staff was very friendly. I was surprised to see the portions were pretty decent. It was a great experience. Tonight we will try Cocotte I have read a lot of good reviews from this website.

                  1. I went ICI in fort Greene, love the neigbourhood, and Id like to give it another chance as it was swamped with people for DIB. The appetizer was either a soup or blood orange salad which sounded exciting but wasnt at all, the entree I had was a brasied pork dish which was exactly it, no sides(??), my husband the vege having a bland pasta. The desert however was amazing, a yoghurt panacotta with pommegranite sauce. Looks like they have a beautiful private space upstairs, great service, food wasnt amazing, too packed to really enjoy.
                    Anybody know the DIB menus for Alma??

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fei fei

                      I hit up ici last night for DIB and had a great experience. First off, I had last-minute guests from out of town, so chose it because I was looking for a DIB spot that we could get into--I was able to get an 8:30 reservation for 4 by calling yesterday afternoon, and the restaurant wasn't packed at all (a few empty tables all night). I had the soup appetizer, a pureed carrot-based veggie soup that was quite tasty. I agree that the salad didn't look that exciting, but the folks at my table who ordered it said it was well-prepared. I also found the pasta bland, but my friend loved the combination of flavors (walnuts, braised greens, parmesan). I ordered the sauteed skate with lemon, brown butter and collard greens which, as has been mentioned elsewhere on this site, is an outstanding dish. I'll also second that the desserts were knockouts--in addition to the panna cotta with pomegranate, they offer a brioche bread pudding that was rich and delicious. Service was attentive and friendly, and we weren't rushed at all. Also, the bottle of cava was a bargain at under $40--very tasty. Highly recommended, especially if you're looking for a last-minute DIB location (and, quite honestly, worth it for the dessert alone--they were that good).

                    2. Three friends and I went to Luz, the Nuevo Latino place on Vanderbilt Ave., near Myrtle, for DIB. I'd been there once before and liked it. The DIB had two choices for each course--a salmon/tostada type appetizer or skirt steak lettuce wrap, a tilapia with spicy mussel sauce or filet mignon with tomato-onion tart and cheese fondue, and a guava tart or tres leches cake. We got two orders of each, and everything was very good, perfectly cooked with strong yet balanced flavors, but be forewarned, the portions were very small, especially in comparison to what I've had at Luz before. Still, the food was rich enough that I wasn't particularly hungry afterwards, and the cocktails are wonderful, especially the capirinha. Very warm, friendly staff.

                      1. Sadly, I had a frustrating experience with the DIB tonight. My parents wanted to come out at the last minute, and I settled on 2 options: Made a reservation at Bar Tabac, but decided to check out the Bocca Lupo menu on the way, since they didn't take res's. The BL menu sounded nice, but just wasn't wowed by anything - entrees were veal meatballs and some roasted veg with goat cheese dish.

                        So we went on to Bar Tabac, and were only given the normal menu, which of course is lovely, and asked the waitress for the other menu. "I don't think we're doing that anymore. It's over," she said. She asked the manager, and he just simply said they're not doing it anymore. Weird, but the place was crowded and we were all able to find something else, so we stayed.

                        We actually all decided to have 2 apps each, which turned out to be more than enough food. .I even took half my salad home! 3 of us had the french onion soup, which was delicious if a little bready, and I complimented with the Duck Salad. The salad had some really nice flavors.. greens, walnuts, duck (sausage, i think) and bacon, with a surprise of grapes and a herby but not overly salty dressing. It could easily been an entree option with the addition of lentils.

                        I don't know if we set the waitress off on a bad tone by being sad about the DIB thing, or what, but she seemed a little flaky. Service was fine, just weird.

                        So, not a true DIB experience, but thought I'd share. I'd go back, but anyone thinking about going for the promotion, forget it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cheflaura

                          I also had a disappointing experience tonight. We tried to go to applewood and they were closed for a "Meet the farmer" dinner. I thought it was in bad form to schedule a special dinner if they were participating in DIB. The worst thing though was that the special event was not promininently displayed on the website, but it did say "applewood will be participating in this year's dine-in-brooklyn. although we are no longer accepting reservations, we will have tables set aside for walkins." So since they were no longer accepting reservations there was no reason to call.

                          After that we ended up going to cocotte. It was a charming little place and i really wanted to like it. I didn't expect too much since the menu is so cheap, but unfortunately it was still disappointing. I should have known when we walked in and there were quite a few empty tables but we still had to wait for them to set one up for us. It was only 9:30. Why weren't the tables set? Anyway, the table was wobbly and crooked, so much so that my water glass actually slid off the table! Ok, still kind of funny and charming. But then we finished our appetizers before we could find someone to flag down to try to find our wine. I know sometimes it takes a lot of time to find and open wine, but communicate with the kitchen to let them know to hold the food at least until you get the drinks to the table. apps were mixed greens with beets and a foie gras toast, fine but way too much salt and pepper; and roasted veg and chickpea soup, also fine but very tomatoey and boring.

                          Both of us ordered the steak au poivre. mine was ok. the haricot vert served with it i really liked and the mashed potatoes were fine, but my friend's steak was a very thin, overcooked, strange cut that looked like two circles stuck together. and the au poivre sauce was soo sweet too. i think there was honey in it.

                          dessert was cheesecake for us both. his was good. nice, light, creamy with a little citrus flavor. it was served with a really nice fruit compote. mine was dense with lumps the size of jelly beans in it. so bad i couldn't eat it.

                          i understand that this is a really cheap price and it's very hard to make money on it, but many participating restaurants have, at some time or another during the week, a $25 prix fixe, so this shouldn't be so far off. it just seems that if a restaurants put out a bad meal, no matter what the cost, it will make people more than hesitant to come back. so maybe if they are not capable of pulling it off it would be better if they don't participate.

                          any thoughts? is this a major departure from what cocotte usually is? i really wanted to like it.

                          1. re: fuzzneko

                            Although I haven't been thee for DIB...my experience is usually the same. I WANT to like Cocotte but end up underwhelmed. Please give it a try with their burger---they do that really well. And the bar around back is nice too. Someday they'll get it together.

                        2. Thank God DIB TWO WEEKS is almost over so we can return to previously excellent menus and service. Two weeks is at least a week too long. I don't blame restaurants for scheduling other events during that time - like Applewoods "Meet The Farmer" and Stone Park's "Pacific Northwest Wine Dinner." And, I admire al di la for refusing to give in to the pressure exerted by the Borough President's office to participate. DIB is like shopping at a discount store - you get what you pay for. Do you think restaurants are going to take huge loses just to participate?

                          I don't dine out in fine establishments during DIB (except for special events mentioned above), just like I don't dine out on Sat, Sun and Mondays - it's just too chaotic and not at all representative of the best that fine restaurants can produce.

                          1. My experience with DIB this year and last have left the following impressions:

                            Restaurants that put their whole heart into it and go all out to create a wonderful experience for new diners and regular customers succeed. Others that have a very small Prix Fixe Menu in addition to their regular Menu are skimping, and IMO, trying to get the publicity from DIB, but not living upp to their end of the bargain. In many cases, the portions are tiny, and the diners are not treated as they would be at "full price".

                            Those, like CHESTNUT and TEMPO, that serve only the DIB Menu offer the best value, and a great experience.

                            No publicity is certainly better than bad publicity. I know for certain that restaurants read CH for the feedback, and are thrilled when people are happy, and in the case of some, like TEMPO, quickly change things if people are not.

                            As in all things, Caveat Emptor, and for DIB, we will stick to the restaurants we know are good, and avoid the rest. If restaurants can't come through with a great meal , they shouldn't participate.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Fleur

                              Just came back from DIB at Chestnut, which also happened to be my first meal at the place. I walked in right after they opened at 5:30 expecting to eat at the bar, but they were able to seat me at a table. BTW, when I left at 7:00 pm most of their tables were still empty. I ordered a glass of the Pinot Blanco after deciding on a fish entree. Started w/the baby beet salad with micro greens of some sort and a very mild dressing (which included a very light goat cheese, I think). Nice portion for a salad, good amount of beets, which surprised me. I wanted a little more zing in the dressing, but was still happy. The bread was delivered between courses, which I thought was odd, but then realized it came late because I got there early. Other parties that sat after me received their bread almost immediately. I really liked the homemade rosemary focaccia. I asked the waiter what it was because there was a hint of banana in the flavor (a strangely good subtle flavor). When I told the waiter I tasted banana he was shocked, but I assured him it was a good thing. Next up was the Fluke with some kind of white bean and a Meyers lemon reduction.The fish was excellent, well prepared, crispy on top, flaky and very fresh. I LOVED the lemon reduction and wanted more. I actually think I enjoyed the beans more than the fish, but it was all good. Instead of licking the plate clean (which I was tempted to do) I sopped up all the lemony goodness with the bread. For dessert I asked about the budino (never heard that word used to describe a flourless chocolate cake), and the homemade ice cream, choice of 3 of 5 flavors (orange, pistachio, mango? and two others I can't recall). Settled on the cheese plate (still craving a bit of bulk after a fairly light meal). 4 small pieces of cheese, two blue, one a more mild and creamy than the other, something akin to cheddar, and the fourth I have no idea. I asked the waiter what they were, but he couldn't tell me. Common! They know what hedgehogs are but can't tell me the cheese? I would have asked the other waitress (VERY pregnant and seemed to be more involved in the operation compared to everyone else) but she was getting busy as the place started filling up.

                              I've recently read some mixed reviews about the restaurant, so my expectations weren't incredibly high. I'm glad to say I was very happy with my meal and glad that DIB afforded me the opportunity to check it out! I will go back as soon as I can get my broke friends to join me!

                            2. Went to Applewood tonight and had a lovely dinner. Walked in early around 6. Service was very cordial, prompt, attentive.

                              Got the cauliflower soup which was creamy but a bit bland. Bread was delicious, and the mushroom risotto was divine. The vanilla bread pudding was also yummy. The risotto was the best part for me. The walnut brittle and truffle 'compliments from the chef' were a nice way to end the meal. I'd go back....it was delicious overall, and service/price was great.