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Oct 5, 2008 03:01 PM

lefferts/flatbush updates

I just moved pretty close to Church Ave and some people say where I am is Lefferts Garden but maybe it's just plain old Flatbush. We should just use the old Dutch name "Vlakkebos" and call it a day...Anyhow, been finding it very interesting foodwise.

I really don't like Sushi Tatsu which is one of the main delivery options--the sushi is really bottom of the barrel in terms of the skill with which it is prepared and the quality level of the ingredients. They are also slow as molasses in January and even though it is cheap it feels like a waste of money. Fail.

A new vegetarian Chinese called Zen Vegetarian house just opened at 773 Flatbush and they deliver. Haven't tried it yet so will report back when I do.

I have mostly been walking over to get various patties on coco bread at the Jamaican Pride Bakery on Flatbush between Clarkson and Parkside. These are really good patties with very flaky crust and spicy yummy fillings. The coco bread is good too, soft and toothsome and for $2 this is a great meal/snack.

I live with the constant smell of Peppa's Jerk across the street but it is often too busy to even get in there. On weekend nights thick barbecue smoke completely envelops the entire block but luckily it smells amazingly good.

My favorite place so far is Ram's Roti Shop at 1919 Church Ave, where the fillings are delicious and flavorful. You can get the dishes in a roti skin which seems to never be more than $6 for however many items you want them to put in there, or over rice. I always go for the roti skin option. They have several amazing vegetarian fillings including curried potatoes and chickpeas which are obviously fresh not canned, several kinds of greens, incredible pumpkin, CURRIED MANGO which I don't know how I lived without. There's also goat, really awesome curried chicken and more meats that I have yet to try. Really fresh and wonderful food at this place.

Across from the Church Ave Q/B train station there is a guy selling tamales, they are just okay but for $1 not worth bitching about. The cornmeal part is yum but the fillings are kind of icky and fatty and skimpy so I just get the plain ones when he has them. He also has tacos I haven't tried.

There are a lot of good produce stands around with interesting surprising offerings--chayote, many varieties of bananas, sweet potatoes and more. Cheap fish shops can be found by Church Ave in the number streets and there are many butchers offering cheap and fresh-looking meat but I am a bit intimidated by the intensity of meat-love that is on display in these places.

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  1. Good post which definitely deserves a bump for some replies. Have you made it into Peppa's yet? It's worth it! I heard a bad story about it recently, but it was still amazing in my experience.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Thanks for the reply! I was hoping more people would weigh in on this neighborhood as there are so many options and it's a little difficult to figure out what is good. Many of the Caribbean restaurants look so similar that it's hard to know which ones are good. Ram's Roti is awesome though--I want to eat there every day.

      1. re: bolletje

        i'm a huge fan of ram's roti. i agree, great roti. the fillings and sides (love that curried mango!) are amazing and the roti skins themselves are better than i've had other places. have you tried their jerk chicken yet? i actually prefer it to peppa's--it's not as sweet.

        1. re: missmasala

          Haven't actually tried the jerk at Peppa's, I had some curry chicken there that was not great. Kind of rubbery, actually. They seem to run out of the jerk chicken fast. I will definitely try ram's, I bet that it's great.

          I would really like to know what the good places are for West Indian breakfast. I see a lot of signs for interesting-sounding porridges like peanut-oatmeal or corn-banana porridge and I wonder where they make this stuff especially well.

    2. For jerk chicken, I most highly recommend Exquisite, 2847 Church Ave. just west of Nostrand.

      3 Replies
      1. re: guide boy

        Excuisite is hands down my favorite spot in that neighbourhood. I could eat there everyday. All of their dishes are great. Try to get the cornbread on Thursdays before they run out. It's unbelievable. The other Excuisite location has a huge selection of great food as well. It's across from Parkside Station on the south side of Parkside just East of Ocean Ave. They always seem to have great candied yams. The tacos at the Tamale stand are good. They do a chicken taco that's got the consistency of pulled pork in a sweet sauce. I also like the Lengua taco there as well as the goat. Can't argue with the price. Wash it down with a Sidral and you're good to go.

        I used to frequent Veggie Castle but I guess it's gone now which is bummertown.

        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

          Huh, I always thought the food at Veggie Castle was foul (though not the arquitecture), while we agree on Exquisite.

          Do you know if the Exquisite on Parkside from the same people, with the same menu as the one on Church? There's another Exquisite at Nostrand and St. John, but the offerings look pretty different, and it lacks the massive, high volume grill of jerk chicken as at the Church Ave location.

          1. re: guide boy

            I'm a big fan of Ital food so I really loved Veggie Castle. Not for everyone though.

            Yeah, all of the Excuisites are part of a three restaurant chain. They each have different offerings on different days. Their selection may vary depending on what they have that day and what sells out. The cornbread is tough to get at the one on East 18th between Church Ave and Tennis Crt. If you're not there before 5pm then forget about it. I think things sell out quicker at the one on Parkside so maybe that's what accounts for the lack of jerk/bbq chicken.

            I think the soups seem to change up from location to location, East 18th location has the fish soup on Tuesdays but the other one's don't seem to.

      2. re: "Vlakkebos"

        FYI it's "Vlaadt bos"

        1. Thanks bolletje. A close friend of mine is about to move to Prospect-Lefferts Garden, close to Parkside Avenue. She loves PLG and Flatbush and will be happy to try the places on your list.

          5 Replies
          1. re: FoodWine

            Further updates:
            I tried Zen Vegetarian house and it's pretty good for veggie chinese--a little sweet though. The appetizers are great, especially the fried wontons and the mock fried chicken. They have nice fresh squeezed juices too. I would recommend this for casual take-out dinner.

            There's a recently opened Indian restaurant called King of Tandoor that is great to have in the neighborhood. Not high end or fancy but definitely filling a neighborhood need as it seems to be quite busy. It's of the plenty of cream and butter school of Indian cooking you'll find a lot in this city but I have been happy with my food from there--usually I get Saag paneer and they have very good garlic naan.

            Another good restaurant is a friendly Jamaican restaurant 3 doors down from the Post Office on Church between Bedford and Flatbush. I think it's called Remarkable Flavors. They are really cool in there with fresh and affordable daily specials. I have had jerk pork from there that was delicious, the rice is fluffy and there are some tables you can sit at. It's cozy in there with a funny old fashioned dark red linoleum kind of vibe. Again, nothing fancy.

            And now that it's getting to be cooler outside, the Jamaican Pride Bakery has their soup pot out! Most days it's this vegetarian veggie soup with dumplings, corn and sweet potatoes with an underlying heat but sometimes they have other kinds. The veggie soup is a little bit oily but it's very flavorful and I recommend it.

            I do eat jerk chicken from Peppa's pretty often and it's usually satisfying. Mostly I eat there because if the convenience and it can be difficult to walk by, smelling the chicken and not get some. Still, I like Jerk-A-Rama and Exquisite better, they are more...I dunno, complex or something. But I am glad the Peppa's is close by.

            1. re: bolletje

              Thank you, bolletje, I will forward this to my friend.
              She has lived there since late March and loves it. She and her boyfriend also love jerk chicken and like both Peppa's and Exquisite.
              She and I both like the Mexican restaurant, Café Enduro, on Lincoln. She and her boyfriend have eaten there many times, and she often takes guests there. We, my husband and I, tried it for the first time just a few weeks ago. The food was good, the service was friendly and the atmosphere & the space is fun.
              We have joined them a couple of times for a quick lunch at Ali's Roti on Flatbush (589 Flatbush Ave). Not food for a girl who is trying to shed some pounds, but I like the boneless curry chicken Roti and also their vegetebale Roti.
              We have yet to try King of Tandoor.

              1. re: FoodWine

                Great! This is a very rewarding neighborhood for food I think. If you like Ali's Roti then you should try the food at Ram's Roti on Church Ave, it's awesome! You can get the fillings in containers separate from the roti skins and assemble them yourself later at home. For not a lot of money you can take away the makings of a roti feast for dinner. They also have doubles and phoulourie there.

                For grocery shopping (fruits and veggies) I would recommend going up to church ave as it is cheaper and while you do have to pick and choose you can find seriously awesome stuff for very low prices. I've bought haas avocados priced 3 for $2 and you can find different tropical and latino type produce such as nopales, poblanos, fresh coconuts, sugar cane, tomatillos, epazote, literally dozens of types of root vegetables and sweet potatoes. And I'll mention the amazing fish stores again where you can see and choose whole fish of any size and have it cleaned or filleted in front of you (it's nice to tip the guys who do this if they have a tip jar out).

                1. re: bolletje

                  Thanks again, bolletje. We will try Ram's next time we go there. I heard that my friend is also happy with her loca fish store, I do not know the name of it. Which one do you like?

                  1. re: FoodWine

                    I don't have a favorite one, I have gone to one on Church by Flatbush ave and there's one on flatbush close to Lenox--both have been good. The only thing is that I'm pretty sure none of them stock any sustainably caught fish which is a bummer. I see reef fish for sale at these places and it makes me feel guilty although I never buy it.

          2. I love this neighborhood. painful to ride down on an empty stomach. Today I went to Immaculee - found out about it from porkchop express:

            Had swordfish and beef patty. Wow. so buttery and delicious. and 80 cents. damn.