The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Park Slope Gastronome #3 - A Field Trip

ok, so i was only going to write about restaurants in my neighborhood, but decided that might be a bit too limiting. last night, i took my girl heidi to chikalicious as a belated birthday present. chikalicious is a newish restaurant in the east village that only serves desserts. they offer a 3 course prix fixe, which consists of an amuse, dessert entree and petit fours. the space is a stark box of white and metal - heidi likened it to a muji store.

we both began with a small bulb of lemon ice cream set upon a mound of lemongrass jelly. the jelly was so incredibly delicate, i was amazed at how it was able to keep its solid shape. it melted in your mouth, releasing a crisp, clean and tangy burst. the lemon ice cream was smooth and tart - why don't more people make it? you see lemon ice and sorbets all the time, but lemon ice cream is so rare! for my main course, i chose the warm chocolate tart with pink peppercorn ice cream and red wine sauce. i splurged for the wine pairing and was presented with a glass of mas amiel maury cuvee special 10 yr. i have no idea what that means, but the mas amiel was a delicious accompaniment. not overly sweet and very smooth. the warm chocolate tart was essentially one of those chocolate volcano, molten lava cakes. the crust was made out of a butterly tuile batter and its crunch contrasted nicely with the smoothness of the warm chocolate batter. i enjoyed the red wine sauce, but probably would have preferred it to have been reduced down a bit more. the ice cream was a mound of blushing vanilla. heidi opted for a seared plum half that was served with a ginger vanilla anglaise and something else i couldn't remember. i had eyed that dish too, but i've developed an allergy to stone fruits in the last five years which means i can't eat plums, peaches and cherries. it's a total bummer because i love all three! i think it's ok when the fruit is cooked or pastuerized, like in cherry garcia ice cream. that doesn't affect me.

our petit fours course had a coconut marshmallow, black peppercorn biscotti with hazelnut and a green tea chocolate truffle. i tried the marshamallow first, and upon first touch was swept to the clouds. no, really, i was! the texture was so amazing. it was like squeezing a mogu pillow, only daintier. the biscotti was interesting and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that a half hazelnut gets placed in each one by hand, rather than being mixed in with the dough. the truffle disappeared into my mouth with a puff of cocoa powder. it was the perfect size, slightly bigger than a marble. it was a delicious capper to a delicious meal of sweets.

Food: A
Service: A

Coda: we went across the street to rai rai ken for noodles afterwards. how i love that place!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Park Slope Gastronome #2

Well I suppose I should have posted this review first since we ate here on Saturday, but I needed to get my disappointment over Cocotte out first. As previously mentioned on the Bibimbop, Amy was in town. She had just turned 21, so we decided to take her out to dinner. We went to Star of India, on 5th Avenue. Dan and I had discussed eating there before but we never made the plunge. The last Indian place we blindly tried was Joy on Flatbush. Someone stuck a delivery menu on the screen door at 375 Cumberland and delivery choices were pretty slim pickings over there. It was decent enough to order from a couple times, but it was soon determined we always got the same bloated burning sensation after our meal. So back to Star of India, Dan was hesitant to try because he never sees anyone in there. While that could be a bad sign, there's hardly ever anyone in Thai Sky further down 5th Avenue and their food is pretty good. We've also had Thai Sky at least a dozen times since moving to Park Slope but we've yet to actually eat *in.* So here we are at Star of India and as we sit down, we're presented with a basket of papadum and the usual condiment triptych of onion relish, cilantro relish and a sweet tamarind sauce. We ordered the Tandoor Feast for two, to be split 3 ways. It included: naan, a double order of chicken tikka masala, two gigantic vegetable samosa, 4 banana fritters, a bowl of coconut soup, a bowl of muligatawny and two deserts. It was more than enough food, but for some reason, we reinforced the meal with an order of paratha, extra rice and two large bottles of Taj Mahal beer. The two least successful dishes were also the sweetest (not counting the desserts). While the fiery red lentil soup was tangy with a lovely textured consistency, the coconut soup that dan ordered was more like a handful of shredded coconut stewed in coconut juice mixed with a bit of milk. The banana fritters, while crisp and not too greasy, were too doughy for me. The dough to banana combination was about 4-1. The paratha and naan on the other hand, was some of the best I'd ever had. Both, but especially the naan was served piping hot and was chewy and crisp at the same time. The chicken tikka masala was tasty, but the sauce was lacking depth. I will compliment the quality of the chicken - nice chunks of white meat, rather than sinewy mystery parts. For dessert, we chose a dish of pistachio ice cream and a serving of rice pudding. The pudding was fair and the ice cream infected with freezer burn so I didn't have more than 2 bites of either.
Food: B+
Service: B+

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Monday, September 20, 2004

Park Slope Gastronome #1

It was gorgeous weather on Sunday and what better way to start off the day than with a delicious brunch. Dan, his little sister Amy who was visiting for the weekend and I, decided to try Cocotte, a Frenchy place across the street that shares the same owners as Dan's beloved LouLou in Fort Greene. We decided it was a tad too breezy to eat outside, so we waited for a table inside. There was no one taking names, which should have tipped me off immediately. I have big problems with places that won't let you leave your name and number in your party and doesn't provide space for waiting. So basically, a bunch of people were huddled by the front door and you had to keep a mental track of where your place in line was.

The inside decor is a near carbon copy of LouLou, down to the vintage silverware and turbinado sugar cubes in a ceramic bowl. The food is pretty much the same as well. Our drink orders were taken soon after we sat down. Strong but not very hot coffee cost $3 a cup. I wasn't very happy about this. A bland, but overall fair Bloody Mary cost $6. It came with a long stalk of celery, top intact, so that was a nice, classic touch. The celery garnish in a Bloody Mary is just too underused these days. So we get our drinks and wait for our waiter to come by to take our food order. We wait and wait and wait some more. Nowhere to be seen. We see tables who were seated after us get their food orders in. Of course I get incensed. We finally see our server; he walks past our table no less than 4 times but not once does he pause to say he'll be right with us. When he finally shows up at tableside, he doesn't apologize for making us wait and that puts me over the top. Listen, I know servers are not paid an hourly wage and rely on tips, but it's not just about taking food orders and bringing the food to your table. I want someone to want their 15-20% tip and not just simply expect it. Amy, the one with wait experience at our table agreed. A simple gesture to acknowledge our presence would have done wonders. Oh well.

I got a ham, mushroom and cheese omelette, Dan got the french toast and Amy got the l'ocean omelette - an egg white omelette with smoked salmon and cream cheese. My food was good but nothing spectacular. A bit of dressed greens would have been a nice addition to the egg dishes. Amy's eggs were quite underdone and looked like a plate of grits.

Of course our waiter never showed up to give us the check. Once again we waited and waited and finally just figured out the bill in our heads and left. Don't think we'll be going back there any time soon.

Food: B
Service: D-
(It would have been an F if another waiter hadn't brought out food and actually came back to check in and see if everything was ok)

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