The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Park Slope Gastronome #15 - West Coast Baseball Trip Day 3

Calling this Day 3 of the WCBT may be a bit misleading. So let me offer this disclaimer. Team Brooklyn arrived in Hollywood very late in the evening on Thursday. This post is about what we ate on Saturday, which if you count Thursday as Day 1, makes this our third day.

Saturday morning we awoke to the delicious smell of donuts. While I was still sleeping (I can't vouch for anyone else), Dave had made the trip out to Westwood to Stan's Doughnuts. Stan's is this little corner shop that has been making amazing variations on the fried cake for nearly 40 years now. I had first heard of Stan's on where else but the Food Channel, and remembered telling myself, "I need to file this away for future use." But I should know by now that if I don't write something down, it's as good as lost. When I saw the pink boxes in Dave and Jen's kitchen though, I had a memory jog and immediately pictured Stan, showing off his cakey creations behind a glass case and couldn't wait to stuff my face.

Dave had brought us a true assortment. There were cake donuts and buttermilk donuts, twisted and covered ones, crumby and chocolatey types. It's not easy to admit negative things about yourself, but one problem I've had my entire life is that if presented with a dozen varieties that are all new to me, I need to try all 12 different types. I don't care if there are other people; I need a taste of every single one. So when there are two boxes of donuts in front of your greedy mug and there are only one or two repeating variations, it causes a big problem for you. Knowing that I could take a bite out of each one, I had to make the perfect choice or I would really regret it for the rest of my life. I chose a banana cake donut that was drizzled with chocolate. It was moist and chewy. The banana and chocolate created a beautiful harmony in my mouth. A perfect way to start the morning. Rumor has it that New York restauranteur Danny Meyer sent one of his sous chefs out to LA to apprentice with Stan to learn how to make these treats for his Shake Shack in Madison Park.

Later that day, we hit up a Lebanese chicken shack called Zankou. Apparently it's a mini-chain in LA, and even immortalized in a Beck song. Jen had been raving about this place, especially the white garlic sauce and I was ready to give it a try. I think she ate an entire chicken! I was in awe of her appetite the entire trip since I suffer from eyes bigger than stomach syndrome.

This branch of Zankou was located in a strip mall. The menu was posted above the counter and the space had exactly the ambiance of a restaurant located in a strip mall. I ordered a quarter white chicken plate, which came with a little plastic container of the infamous white garlic sauce, which actually looked more like the pastey stuff you got in kindergarten during art class. My chicken was served in an elegant white styrofoam container; it's brown crispy skin glistening under the artificial lights. Along with the garlic paste, you get a bunch of pita, some hummus and a salad consisting of tomatoes, pepperoncinis and bright fuschia pickled daikon. I would have preferred a crisper daikon (the strips were pretty limp, but that was probably the only downside to a fantastic fast and cheap meal. I couldn't get enough of the garlic paste - I would put it on anything and everything. Dan, being averse to eating anything that includes a bone*, opted for a shawarma wrap, but I gave him some of my food because he really would have regretted missing out on such tastiness.

That evening on the way to Barstow after a High Desert Mavericks game (where I think I had some nasty nachos after standing on line for way too long), we hit up the first In-N-Out on the trip. I don't think I was really hungry, but just seeing that red and yellow sign made my mouth water and I made a request for a stop. While the shakes were nice and thick and the burger topped with some really fresh produce, I was a bit disappointed in the hand-cut fries which were a bit undercooked. Still, I'd kill for an In-N-Out in New York.

*This doesn't apply to buffalo wings - he seems to have made an exception for anything drenched in Frank's hot sauce.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Park Slope Gastronome #14 - I'm Dining With Elsa

A new addition to our neighbhorhood is called Night and Day, named for the Cole Porter song. When the awning was first raised I imagined the place to be more of a noveau diner, judging by the font. Instead, it's a slightly upscale, but appealing to an entire family, kind of place. Meaning there won't be crayons on the table to entertain the kids for a couple minutes, but expect tons of Bugaboos blocking the path from your table to the bathroom. (By the way, I only saw one, that can't be right, can it?) A few weekends ago we tried out their brunch. We both opted for the prixe fix ($14.95), which included an entree, coffee, cocktail or orange juice and a muffin/mini-chocolate croissant to start. The bloody mary was nothing to get overly excited about but it was decent. Thankfully not too thin and not too vodka-ey, two things I hate in a bloody mary. You have to get the perfect balance between tomato and vodka and I've found in my research that bartenders more often than not can't do this. I'd be foolish to not mention the bloody cajun mary's of the Jones in any post that references this cocktail. They are simply the best in the city - teeming with bits of horseradish, flecked with black pepper and enough spice to wake up your tummy.

But I digress. Dan opted for the french toast for his entree, while I ordered the frittata with cheese, potato and spinach. What I got was a dried out, barely warm flattened disc of overcooked eggs. Any time I came across cheese (I think it was gruyere) in my frittata, it was already coagulated. There was no melty dairy joy, or even a bit of stringiness; the cheese was completely solidified. The accompanying roasted red potatoes suffered the same fate - dried out and tough. There were also maybe only 6 chunks on the entire plate. Dan's french toast was a joke - two limp square pieces of thin battered bread that looked so lonely on its plate. Oh wait, there were a couple pieces of honeydew to keep the french toast company.

The service, while pleasant, was very scattered. We had to ask twice for syrup to be brought to the table when it didn't show up with the food. Maybe we'll come back to Night and Day for dinner, but there's no sense in going back for brunch, when there are other options with more inspired food and at lower prices.

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