Category Archives: Dining Out

neighborhood Japanese

Last weekend, we (shamefully) ordered pizza.  A while back, my brother had tipped us off on some Papa John’s contest/giveaway/something-or-other, and, long after we had forgotten entering, we received an email awarding us one free pizza.  So last Saturday night, while I was stuck at home for work and neither of us felt like cooking, we cashed in our pizza.  The delivery was backed up, and we live near the Papa John’s, so we walked to pick it up.

On the way, we stumbled across Ganso, this new, trendy-looking Japanese place.  Our neighborhood, while rapidly changing in character (hello there, new Armani Exchange store), is still not much of a scene.  The restaurants near Ganso are the aforementioned Papa John’s, IHOP, and a nameless hot dog place.  We were eager to try it, and so we returned this past Saturday night.

We split an order of hijiki (if I had to choose a favorite sea vegetable, I would choose hijiki every time), and then each had a bowl of ramen: he had the short rib ramen, and I had spicy miso ramen with pork.  The bowls of ramen came out topped with attractive little piles of garnish – if I was the type of person who takes photos of her food, I would have taken a picture for you.  As it was, I just ate my garnish.

here, I found a picture of the ramen on the Ganso’s Yelp page for you

We were pretty excited to find this place not far from our home, particularly as the weather gets colder and it becomes soup season.  Less pizza, more ramen!


pizza at Sottocasa

Sometimes you just have to have pizza.  That’s how we felt on Saturday evening after we bicycled home from Brooklyn Bridge Park, where we had spent the afternoon hanging out with our friends and their adorable (and energetic!) baby. (Are one-year-olds “babies”?)  It would have felt like defeat to order Domino’s, and I would have been sad that we didn’t have any veggies to supplement the meal, so we Yelped a nearby pizza place (that was not the Luv-N-Oven) and headed out.

After a short detour to Trader Joe’s to replenish our coffee supply (because Sunday mornings aren’t particularly bearable without coffee), we arrived at Sottocasa.  We sat in the backyard, which had picnic tables and herbs growing on the perimeter, and, to my delight, a guy came around offering us a tasting of a sparkling wine and a rosé.  (Rosé is not really my thing, but I’m never one to turn down free wine.)


remnants of the Verdure pizza

We got a tasty (and plentiful) arugula salad to split, and also a Diavola pizza (tomatoes, mozzarella, hot soppressata, black olives, and basil) and a Verdure pizza (tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant, radichio, mushroom, carmelized onions, and basil).  It was pretty fantastic.

And someone was happy to have leftover pizza for breakfast the next morning.

Dine In Brooklyn 2012

We had some fantastic dinners last weekend.  Dine In Brooklyn was going on (and still is! it ends Thursday, March 29), and we took advantage of the deals at a couple of awesome restaurants.

On Friday, visited Luz.  Luz had been recommended to me a couple of times, but we had never gotten around to dining there.  We were starving by the time we got there, so we demolished the plantain chips (and delicious red sauce) they offered us to start and got started on our drinks (beer for him, a “Vampirta” — blood orange juice, cointreau, ginger-infused tequila, and lime — for me).

Luz - image source: Luz's website

We then proceeded to order one of everything from the Dine In Brooklyn menu.  (How often do you get to say?)  They were offering mixed ceviche or tamales with duck confit and fig-balsamic glaze for appetizers, seared fluke with a coconut sauce and black rice or steak with gnocchi for entrees, and vanilla panna cotta with passionfruit sauce or chocolate bread pudding with raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

On Saturday, we went to Applewood, which is a locavore type of place located in a brownstone in Park Slope.  They served us fresh bread with three spreads — one of which was a green lentil spread that tasted like split pea soup in spread form.

Applewood - image source: Madhav T. on Yelp

 The Dine In Brooklyn menu was expanded beyond the traditional two choices for each course with a couple of items that you could choose for an additional charge.  For the appetizer, I had sweet potato soup with smoked maple syrup, and Marc upgraded to scallops with sunchoke puree and a citrus salad, which was a fantastic idea both because it was delicious and because the other appetizer was a beet (ew, beets!) salad.  We ordered the rest of our meals from the set menu: sauteed hake with carrot puree and candied kumquats or duck breast with cannellini bean cassoulet for the entrees, grilled parsnip cake with cinnamon ice cream or caramelized apple bread pudding with buttermilk ice cream for dessert, and a white wine specially priced for Dine In Brooklyn.

If you haven’t made it to Dine In Brooklyn yet, there’s still time!  Try somewhere and let me know how it is!

☆ Extra Credit: Last year during Dine In Brooklyn, we visited Bacchus.

celebratory weekend in restaurants

Things fell dark over here in part because last weekend totally wore me out.  Not only was it a three-day weekend, but it was Marc’s birthday weekend!  We celebrated pretty much all weekend (except for, of course, the parts where we cleaned our apartment, which was less celebratory).

On Friday night, we took ourselves out to dinner at iCi.  It’s down the street from us, but we had never seen it before (most likely because we always get distracted by our old favorite Black Iris on the previous block when hunting for a dinner location).

source: iCi's yelp page

It boasts “fresh, seasonal, and local,” and, man, was it good.  Marc had shortribs with farro and this little pea shoot salad, and I had swordfish with chard and parsnip-green apple puree.  Have I told you how much I love parsnips?  I wanted to lick the plate clean.  (I might have used some of the amazing complimentary bread to swipe it up.)  We shared a pear tatin with cinnamon whipped cream for dessert (our first of many desserts last weekend).

On Saturday, we used a Gilt voucher to have dinner at No. 7.  Our voucher gave us two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts, and a bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine.  Our first choice was easy: sparkling wine!  We were celebrating, after all.

source: No. 7's website

We chose the grilled romaine and a mushroom salad with fried quinoa for our appetizers, and skirt steak with chimichurri (and broccoli!) and turkey-goose meatloaf for our entrees.  So good.  We celebrated Marc’s birthday at No. 7 two years ago, and I’ve been back once since with my mom (hi, Mom!), but we were left wondering why we don’t eat here more often.  Our dessert choices were easy.  There were only two items on the menu, after all: a vanilla pudding with miso bananas and vanilla wafers, and a chocolate ganache tart with dulce de leche ice cream.  Even though it wasn’t quite his birthday yet when the desserts arrived, they arrived bearing the first of his birthday candles.

On Sunday, Marc’s actual birthday, we joined a few friends for dinner at Olea, a pan-Mediterranean tapas place.

source: Raven L. on Yelp

We shared tons of different tapas: fried green olives, falafel-crusted artichoke hearts, fried chickpeas, patatas bravas, pitas with dips, cheese, salad, and some sort of pizza on a pita.  Patatas bravas is always my favorite tapas item, but the fried chickpeas gave it a run for its money.  We all shared a slice of warm almond tart for dessert – which, of course, had another candle for the birthday boy.

I promise we did something other last weekend than eat, but we went out to so many wonderful restaurants that I had to share them!

Friday night Ethiopian

After meeting a friend for a post-work cocktail on Friday, we headed out into the drizzly rain looking for dinner. We ended up getting Ethiopian at Awash.  I’ve been a delinquent Yelper (and blogger, and tweeter, and social media-er in general …), but I assigned it four stars and wrote it up. Check it out on Yelp, or, you know, below:

We came across Awash on a drizzling, gloomy night when we were planning on Indian food because it sounded warm and comforting. Injera sounded better to us that night than naan, so we changed our plans and had Ethiopian.

We ordered the meat combination, with collard greens, ground chickpeas, and yellow lentils. The yellow lentils were the weak link – and I think that might have only been because they had a milder flavor than everything else. It was the best Ethiopian we had had in a quite a while.

As I see others have mentioned, the waitstaff wasn’t the most attentive, but, at least in our case, I could understand why: the restaurant was busy (including a large party with possibly the loudest, shrillest girl in Manhattan).

Four solid stars.

I think the last time we had Ethiopian was with Johanna and CJ in DC, and it was a welcome change.

lazy August weekend

After last weekend’s craziness and the boyfriend just returning from a business trip abroad, a lazy weekend was definitely what we needed! We spent our Friday night dining al fresco on wood-fired pizza at Enoteca on Court, which is a perfectly lovely way to relax on a warm Friday night.

We tackled our messy apartment on Saturday, and then headed out to run some errands (like cash in my Groupon to The Nutbox! hello, delicious dried kiwis and dark chocolate covered almonds!) and lounge about in Argo playing word games. We found whole fish on sale at Whole Foods, and so we decided to try our hand at roasting a whole fish. (I think that’s the most time I’ve ever used the word “whole” in one sentence!)

On Sunday, we did more cleaning (how is it possible that our apartment is never clean? it isn’t that big!) and errand-running, taking a lunch break for some delicious banh mi at Hanco’s. They make a fantastic faux chicken banh mi, and their sandwiches are always double-spicy with both jalapenos and Sriarcha. In the early evening, we had the highlight of the weekend: visiting our friends’ new baby! He was only a week old and such a little doll. I’m smiling just thinking about him.

It’s amazing, but I was so tired from our lazy weekend, that I slept for ten hours last night! I was too tired to write this blog post last night (even though I tried), and I slept right through my alarm this morning, preventing me from writing it this morning! I hope everyone else had fun weekends!

the weekend: shopping, dancing, and sangria

I’m exhausted and my feet are sore. It’s been a great weekend.

My best friend Cate was in town this weekend, and I got to spend virtually all day Saturday with her! She lives in California, and I don’t get to see her nearly enough. We met for breakfast at Friend of a Farmer, and then stopped for a mimosa (that magically turned into two – thanks, friendly bartender!) at Brasserie Les Halles. Cate was actually in town with her boyfriend to see his brother and some friends, so she and her boyfriend met up with some of his friends while I got a much-needed mani-pedi. Cate and I then rejoined and met up with her boyfriend’s brother, who works in fashion, to do some shopping. We both had shopping success!

That evening, I met up with Cate, her boyfriend, and some other people for drinks in the garden at the Hudson Hotel. Our plan was to go dancing after that, but, the longer we sat there, the less interested we were in finding a new location. Then we realized that the lounge had opened up, and we could see people dancing there – so we moved over there and danced for a couple of hours. I hadn’t been dancing in ages. It was so much fun!


taking a dancing break

We started our day with blueberry pancakes, turkey bacon, and iced coffee in bed, which is really how all Sundays should start.


yum, pancakes

Then we met some friends at the Bastille Day party on Smith Street, which is always a good time. Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of us in the guillotine this year – it was pretty warm, and we were actively trying to stay in the shade. We had a couple of cups of sangria and ate some of the grilled sandwiches with fries from Bar Tabac (chicken for me, merguez for the rest of them), and then we called it a day. There was grocery shopping to be done and a home that needed to be cleaned!

now I am in the guillotine

Bastille Day 2009

smiling in the guillotine

Bastille Day 2010

Happy (observed) Bastille Day! I hope everyone else had a great weekend!