The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

field trip to De Lorenzo's

On the way to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving 2.0, we made a detour and stopped in Trenton for some pizza, I mean tomato pies. DMR and I had been hearing about the greatness of De Lorenzo's for years now. Research led to me find two separate branches run by cousins and both called De Lorenzo's. We opted for the Hamilton restaurant mainly because the one on Hudson doesn't have a bathroom!

After a short wait, we were seated at a corner booth where DMR soaked in the decor: wood paneled walls, animatronic Santa and Mrs. Claus, servers in bow ties, a table of 5 dudes who had ordered so many pies that one had to be set on a chair. Good stuff.

Our large half sausage, half pepperoni, cut into 10 slices. To drink, two frosty birch beers served over ice in those red plastic cups. These pies are heavy on the tomato sauce and light on the cheese. The pepperoni pieces were normal sized circles, as opposed to the thicker sliced mini rounds that I generally prefer. The fennel studded sausage was distributed in good sized chunks. Total damage: $23 - $18 for the food and a $5 tip.

Close up of the crust, which was very, very crisp. It was also shiny and glazed from a brushing of oil to give it more of a crackling flatbread effect, which I enjoyed. We both agreed that this wasn't the best "pizza" we've ever had. I guess I'm a fan of less sauce. However, once you add in the ambiance and super nice service, the overall experience would easily rank very high on our lists.

Happy New Year, see you in 2009!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

christmas snack pack

I didn't do much Christmas shopping this year due to a lack of focus brought on by baby brains. I have been baking a lot, so the Christmas snack pack filled in. Clockwise from the left: chocolate chip banana bread, chocolate chip cherry cookies, chocolate gingerbread cookies. I also attempted raspberry thumbprint cookies for a little chocolate diversion, but the dough came out very dry and crumbly and had to be scrapped. I'm not a good enough baker to know how to remedy a problem like that. The gingerbread cookies came out the best. Thanks, Martha (and Amie P for hipping me to the recipe).

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

First Taste: No. 7

No. 7 recently opened on Greene Street, its entrance tucked behind the stairwell to one of the Lafayette C stops. DMR and I met up with Kristy O for dinner the other week. It's a really handsome space that the owners make very good use of. The front area has a bar, along with some loungey seating. There are some mini u-shaped counters in the middle for more casual dining, or main dining overflow. Then there's the main dining area in the back - maybe a dozen tables, although don't quote me on that because I have baby brains and absolutely no ability to remember things that like properly these days. Might I add that the scented candles in the bathrooms smelled really good?

Upon being seated, the table was presented with a ramekins of house made pickles, and this white bean garlic spread. The pickles were thinly sliced cucumbers that tasted like they had a brief affair with vinegar. The not overwhelming acidity of the pickles was a great complement to the richness of the addictive garlic dip, which had the consistency and taste of the most delicious potato soup you could imagine. I could have called it a night after those two tastes and been happy!

To begin, DMR and I opted for the cold pork and Kristy the shrimp cocktail (off the bar menu). The latter came with a really delicious, spicy cocktail sauce, almost like a bloody mary. The very thinly sliced pork was a little dry and certainly overshadowed by the tempura'ed egg, which was halved on the plate to show off its gorgeous orange yellow, perfectly set yolk.

If you squint, the picture of my plate still doesn't look like much. DMR and I shared the shell steak special, 16 ounces of deliciousness served with mini latkes, a fennel salad and bleu cheese on the side. We ordered our steak medium and it was perfectly cooked and the portion was super generous. Above is my plate after I had given Dan half my food. The latkes were like homemade fancy schmancy tater tots and the fennel provided bites of lightness in an otherwise heavy meal.
Kristy ordered the roast chicken which arrived with flourish. It comes with a mini stainless stein (like the containers of cream at a diner) filled with truffled jus that you pour over the chicken. And continue to pour over the chicken, because why would you want to waste any jus?

For dessert, the butterscotch pudding (I am a huge pudding fan) was of course tempting, but DMR and I decided to share the warm chocolate gingerbread pudding which was studded with cherries and sprinkled with bits of minty crunchy things. So yummy. Oh and I spilled my decaf during dessert. I blame the cockamamie saucer the cup was resting on 60%, pregnancy induced clumsiness 40%.

Writing about this meal is making me crazy hungry. Even with a couple of wines and beers (and a club soda for me), the bill was totally reasonable. And the restaurant is a 10 minute walk from our house (well maybe more like 15 minutes these days as a Slowpoke Sally)! I
'm looking forward to the follow-up meal. Also I hear they started serving brunch, including chicken and waffles!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

The General Greene First and 2nd and 3rd and 4th tastes...

Whoops, I started this post months and months ago and never finished it. The General Greene opened in Fort Greene to much fanfare in the cursed corner spot on Dekalb and Clermont. This finally might be the restaurant to not only stick around but also offer up some decent grub. DMR and I had a first taste dinner on a late summer evening. At this point the General Greene was only using the front space. There's also a very long hallway that runs past the kitchen and opens into a second dining room. I had read a lot about the rushed nature of the service and felt it throughout the evening. Also, this is a small plates place and I can never figure out how much to order at such establishments. On the first visit at least, it's difficult to gauge because portion sizes are different things to every restaurant. We over-ordered and our table didn't have enough room for all the plates.

The three bean salad - very basic, but very fresh and delicious.

The roasted beets in a yogurt chive sauce. Super good and a very nice portion.

Nasty nasty "crispy chicken" that was anything but. The meat was stringy and chewy and the skin rubbery.

The pork meatballs were a disappointment as well. They were on the dry side and overwhelmed by a too sweet tomato based sauce that was reminiscent of the sort of vodka sauce you'd get at a pizzeria. We also tried the candied bacon (yum, but nothing I'd need to order again) as well as the cheeseburger. The cheeseburger here is an interesting beast. The kitchen uses a crazy meat to fat ratio so even if your burger is overcooked, as it was in our case, it remains somewhat moist. It will also drip non stop with grease. No fries on the side, instead you get a handful of store-bought potato chips.

Ok, now fast forward to present day. The General Greene starts serving brunch and we head out one weekend morning to give it a shot and guess what, it's delicious! We've subsequently been back a number of times (I think we went three Sundays in a row) and have been very pleased overall. Dan really likes the steak and potato skillet eggs, where all the ingredients are heated up and served in a cast iron pan. The potatoes form a deliciously, crisp crust and the skillet lends itself to nice crispy bits at the bottom which I like to scrape off. Dan does not have the patience. He's also had the surprisingly not overly sweet sticky bun french toast with fruit and some sort of sweet cream, which was also declared a winner. The portion is not big enough to stand alone as a meal so he sticks with the skillet eggs.

I had the frittata once in an attempt to diversify, but it's the egg and gruyere sandwich that makes me happiest. It's got a whole grain mustard aioli and I get bacon added for a buck. On the side are some very lightly dressed greens and overall the dish makes a really delicious and economically prudent ($6, including the added bacon) meal. We always supplement with a baked good, twice the moist, exploding with banana goodness banana bread, which is served warm. Once when the kitchen was out, we opted for an apple turnover which was ok, but no banana bread. We're also fans of the fruit salad and yogurt parfait. It's been a trio of blueberries, apples and bananas the couple times we've ordered it. I'm just happy to see a side of fruit that doesn't contain melon. The coffee can be a little hit or miss, but when it hits, it's out of the park.

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