Sunday, November 22, 2009

Twice Baked Potatoes

A heavy workload= no time to go out to eat, which means I have been doing a lot of home cooking! This simple recipe is great for potlucks, and is incredibly easy to make ahead and freeze. Plus, it's super tasty if I do say so myself! Here it goes:

  • 4 russet baking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices bacon
  • salt+pepper to taste
  • 6 green onions
  • Bake potatoes in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 1 hour
  • While potatoes are baking, cook bacon and crumble. Set aside.
  • Allow potatoes to cool for 15 minutes, then slice potatoes in half and scoop the insides into a large bowl. Leave the skins intact.
  • Add milk, butter, 1/2 cup cheese, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy
  • Spoon mixture back into the skins. Top with bacon and remaining cheese and bake for 10 more minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Spicy Fried Chicken

Growing up in the south, you have no choice but to love fried chicken. It's served everywhere, from school lunches, to church events, to block parties,-anywhere you can possibly imagine. While I still love basic buttermilk fried chicken, I wanted a version that had a little more pep and spice to it. After some careful searching, I came across a recipe from The Neely's, who have a show on food network that I just love. Here it goes:

Spicy Chicken Seasoning Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper
  • 12 whole chicken wings, cut in 1/2 at the joint (I used 1 pound chicken breast instead)

Spicy Chicken Batter:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil, to fry
  • Dipping Sauce, recipe follows


In a small bowl whisk together seasoning salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cayenne pepper, poultry seasoning, and lemon pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons in a separate bowl.

Rinse chicken wings in cold water and place into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the wings evenly with the seasoning, and let them marinate, covered and chilled, for 1 hour.

Whisk eggs, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper into a medium size mixing bowl. Reserve. Put the flour into a shallow dish or pie plate.

In a large deep-fryer or large Dutch oven heat oil to 350 degrees F on a deep-fat thermometer.

Dredge chicken wings into the egg mixture then into the flour. Place wings 3 at a time into the hot oil and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through and golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Make sure oil returns to temperature before adding the next batch. Sprinkle the wings with the reserved seasoning for extra hot wings.

Serve with dipping sauce.

Now the Neely's recommend using a horseradish and sour cream based dipping sauce, but I decided to go with one of my personal favorites: lime-jalapeno mayonnaise. This stuff is so good that every time I make it I have to stop myself from practically eating it alone. Don't judge! It's really that amazing.
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbs chopped jalapeno (seeds included)
Directions: Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.

The sauce adds a light tang and zest to the chicken, and really lightens the dish up. It also works well in as a dressing for chicken tacos, or even as a salsa. Happy eating!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Republic (Union Square)

Even though I lived only minutes away from Republic last year, I never ventured in because I thought it looked too generic and hip to possibly have good food. Man was I wrong! As their website states, Republic boasts a menu that "combines various ingredients, spices, and cooking methods from Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Thailand, and Japan." The menu is divided into small plates,vegetarian dishes, broth noodles,noodles,rice dishes, and Vietnamese sandwiches. In each category there was a visible range in the flavors used and the country where the dish originated, which I really like seeing. Dishes that particularly stood out to me were the Seared Marinated Salmon with lemongrass,curried rice with raisin, pickled carrots, daikon, and cucumber and the Grilled Japanese Eggplant with lime juice, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and scallions. Both of these dishes looked a little too hearty for me to enjoy for lunch, so I decided to go with one of the Vietnamese sandwiches. The sandwich menu has both the classic Vietnamese style sandwich, as well some more unusual versions like the Asian Sausage (served with black bean sauce, pickled papaya and carrots, cucumber, cilantro, fried shallots, and jalapenos) and the Grilled Beef (marinated in peanut sauce with the same toppings as the sausage). During lunch hours, the sandwiches are $10 and come with a choice of soup or salad. I decided to order the Beef Vegetable soup and the Grilled Beef sandwich, which were ready in under 5 minutes.

I started with the Grilled Beef, and from the first bite was hooked. The vegetables were crispy, and the meat was super juicy and smothered in one of the sweetest tangy peanut sauces I have ever had. The bread wasn't the freshest, but the powerful flavors from the sauce made it so I barely noticed. I finished the whole thing before I even really looked at the soup; it was that good! After that, the Beef Vegetable soup was a pretty big disappointment. The beef tasted a little old, the vegetables were clearly canned, and the flavors in the broth were bland and not any different from your normal American vegetable broth. Next time I would try the Green Papaya Salad (papaya, mango, mint, bean sprouts, shallots, carrots, peanuts, and tamarind dressing) instead.
Address:37 Union Square West
Phone: 212 627 7172

Average Price: $11
Grade: B+

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Num Pang

Admittedly, I have a minor obsession with any asian dish that takes classic flavors and adds a unique and modern twist. When I heard a Cambodian sandwich shop had opened in the West Village last spring, I got over there in record time! Num Pang features banh mi style sandwiches with a Cambodian take.

(photo courtesy of NY Eater)

All are served on semolina bread from Parisi Bakery, and layered with sliced cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots, and chili mayo. The first time I visited, I ordered the Grilled Skirt Steak Sandwich, which was a little pricey at $8.50. The second I took my first bite though- I knew the steep price was worth it. The bread was garlicky, fresh, and super crispy, while the steak was perfectly crusted with coriander and peppercorn. The crispiness of the veg tables stopped the generously portion of meat from being too overpowering, while the chili mayo packed the perfect spicy punch. I might even go so far as to say that it was the best sandwich I have ever had. Unfortunately, Num Pang and I had to part ways when I left New York City for the summer, but I stopped in almost immediately after I got back this fall. I ordered the same sandwich, only to be hugely disappointed. The bread was soggy and stale, and the meat was so undercooked it was bleeding onto the bread. The side of corn that I ordered was amazing though- if not a bit messy. Rolled in spicy mayonnaise and covered in roasted coconut flakes, this corn was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet and was definitely the bright spot of the meal.

Disappointed as I was with the sanwich, I decided to give Num Pang another try a few weeks later. I ordered the Five Spice Glazed Pork Belly, and was pretty satisfied with everything about it except for the excessive fattiness of the meat. Since, then I have also tried the Pulled Durac Pork, which is my current favorite.

(Pulled Duroc Pork without top bun pictured)
The pork is sweet and tender, and lays flat enough on the bread for the flavors of the spicy mayo and vegetables to really shine through. While Num Pang may not be consistent, the occasions when they produce that perfect sandwich make you forgive every past blunder.
Address: 21 E 12th St, New York 10003
(212) 255-3271
Average Price: $8 per sandwich
Grade: B

Sunday, November 15, 2009


This weekend my roommate and I had a delightful guest in town, who happened to be gluten free. This posed a somewhat interesting eating challenge for us, as not many affordable restaurants in New York city have gotten on the gluten free bandwagon yet. After some heavy menupages perusing, we turned up Mozzarelli's, which claimed to have the best gluten free pizza in the city. The interior wasn't anything fancy, it looked just like any other quick cafeteria style pizza place. However, they had just as much gluten free pizza as regular pizza which is definitely unusual. Our gluten free friend Sarah ordered a slice of the gluten free cheese ($4), and a slice of the gluten free veggie($4), which had mushrooms and spinach on it.

I ordered the regular pizza with pumpernickle dough, spinach,mozzarella and ricotta on it($2.50). My slice was delicious, even though it was a bit underheated. It was absolutely loaded with mozarella, and heaped with ricotta and spinach, which I love! The dough was sweet and soft, definitely a welcomed change from typical pizza dough!

Now I usually hate gluten free bread, but I must admit that Mozarelli's gluten free pizza was almost as good as the real thing! The dough was slightly chewier, but the heavy toppings definitely eliminate any strange taste it may have had. If you're gluten free, or even if you're not, Mozarelli's is definitely a good go to for pizza!
Address: 38 E 23rd St, New York 10010
(212) 475-6777
Average Price: $2.50-$4

Saturday, November 14, 2009


In another addition of my brunch quest, I decided to try out Patios in Little Italy. Patois is a French cafe with a 12.95 brunch special that comes with unlimited coffee,soda, mimosas, and virgin bloody mary's. In short, it's an absolute steal! We arrived at 2:00pm, and were seated immediately in a table in the corner.

Our waiter brought us our water pretty quickly, but after we ordered our food and drinks it took well over 15 minutes for the drinks to come, which I'm sure is a not so sneaky tactic to limit how much people take advantage of the unlimited deal. I ordered the Grilled Hanger Steak sandwich, which came with a side salad and onion rings. One of my friends ordered the Gruyere Mac n' Cheese, while the other ordered the Potatoe Pancake with chive scrambled egg and smoked salmon. In the additional 30 minutes it took for our food to come, we were not approached once by our waiter. We actually had to wave him down (which I feel SO rude doing) to get water and drink refills. Our food finally came at the same time as the bread, and everything looked absolutely delicious.

My Grilled Hanger Steak sandwich was pretty good, but the meat was a little bit tough, and there wasn't enough of the steak sauce on the bread. I ended up adding some of my mixed greens, and the dressing on that made the sandwich taste tons better. The onion rings were good, but not as greasy as I like them (ha!).

The Gruyere Mac n' Cheese was awesome! The cheese was thick and super gooey, which I love.

The real star of the meal were the potato pancakes though. The pancake was savory and crisp, the salmon was fresh and smokey, and the eggs had the perfect amount of chives in them. A totally perfect meal!

We finished our meal, but were still not approached by our waiter. After about 15 minutes, I got up and found our waiter so that we could get our check, to find that there was an automatic 20% tip included, which was irritating because the service was so awful. We paid immediately though, and waited another 15 minutes before I got up again to find our waiter to ask about our change. His reply? " Oh it was only a couple of dollars." Only a couple of dollars? We had already given him a 20% tip for some of the worst service I have had yet in New York, and he thought it was ok to keep the $4 from our change? The meal was awesome, but bad service like this makes me not want to go back. And the search continues!
Address:177 Mulberry St, New York 10013
(212) 925-8157 Average Price: 12.95 for brunch
Grade: A for food, F for service.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Homemade Shrimp Po'boys

After a long day, nothing is as satisfying as biting into an awesome sandwich.Sandwich of choice for this week? Shrimp Po'boys, a personal favorite of mine. Lucky for me, I live right by Napoli Bakery, which has some of the most amazing bread I have ever had. No matter when you go, all of the bread is fresh and crusty with a super soft inside. I picked up a loaf of bread, a little bit over a pound of deveined shrimp, and headed back home to start cooking! After cleaning the shrimp and setting vegetable oil on the stove to heat up (for frying the shrimp), I mixed together my own recipe for a seasoning:
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs cajun seasoning, or cajun salt
1/2 tbs lemon pepper

Toss the shrimp in the seasoning until fully coated. It helps the mixture stick if the shrimp is still a little damp from the cleaning. When the oil starts to pop, slowly drop half of the shrimp in ( if you add the full batch, the temperature of the oil drops too much and the batter gets soggy before it fries).
While the first batch is cooking, prepare the sauce by mixing together:
3/4 cup mayo
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp cajun salt or seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp lemon pepper

The shrimp usually cooks in about four minutes, but if they are larger I would leave them in for 5-6. After you take out the first batch ( place on paper tower to remove excess oil) and put in the second, toast the bread, and put the sauce on one side and lettuce on the other. I like to squeeze the juice from the rest of the lemon on the side of the bread without the sauce, but I am slightly obsessed with tangy flavors. Serve the moment the second batch of shrimp comes out of the pan for a crispy, tangy, and all around delicious sandwich.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lovely Day

After reading about the reopening of NoLita Thai restaurant Lovely Day on Lunch Studio and Eater, I knew I had to get over there asap to try out their amazing looking lunch special. Lovely Day had been closed for over a year following a terrible fire that all but gutted the entire building, but reopened this October just in time to have it's annual Halloween bash. Today, there is absolutely no indicator of the fire damage at all. The decor was cozy, it reminded me of a French country side cafe with it's antique wallpapering and lush red booths and chairs. Interesting choice for a Thai restaurant, but it works!

With no waitress in site, I seated myself near the bar, where the bartender and a few locals were joking and gossiping. That's all fine with me, but I got a little irritated when I got up and asked her for the menu only to have her rudely point to them without saying a word. The menu was interesting, although not that diverse.The entrees leaned towards a Thai take on New American dishes, with dishes such as Flank Steak marinated in tamarind sauce, and the Ginger Fried Chicken. The rest of the menu was comprised of traditional Thai noodle dishes, no surprises there! Now, if you know me, you know there are two types of food that I love more than anything : fried and Asian. Ginger Fried Chicken? YES PLEASE! It was one two lunch options, the other being any of the noodle dishes served with 2 dumplings and edamame. I placed my order with the now present super sweet waitress,and was super excited when it emerged only 5 minutes after I placed my order still sizzling.

It came with two slices of lime, and a tangy chili aioli , another of my TWO FAVORITE THINGS! The first bites were absolutely amazing; the batter was seasoned with just the right amount of ginger, which balanced with the lime and chili mayo perfectly. It was a really refreshing tangy take on traditional fried chicken, but I just felt like it was missing something. It needed a vegetable, or something to tie the dish together and make it feel complete. That aside though,the meal was decently cheap at only $8, and I really enjoyed the Asian inspired flavors paired with the fried chicken.
Address:196 Elizabeth St, New York 10012
Phone:(212) 925-3310
Average Price: $9 for lunch, $13 for entree

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuck Shop

Like Dumpling Man, Tuck Shop is an East Village cheap eats staple. Nothing there is over $6, and people flock from all parts of town to try the savory Australian fare. The restaurant specializes in pies and sausage rolls, with fillings that lean more towards Australian flavors (such as the Pork and Sage Rolls or the Traditional Meat Pie) as well as more worldly combination (such as the Thai Green Chook Curry Pie or the Vegetable Pie with Pico de Gallo) The restaurant itself is nothing fancy; there is only one table facing the street while all other seating is at the bar, which faces the refrigerator, oven, and sink. I sat at the bar, and ordered the Thai Green Chook Curry Pie ($5) and the Pork and Sage Roll ($3) per the recommendation of the helpful counter man.

I was surprised to see him pull the dishes right off of a heating rack behind the bar, but I don't know what else I expected , the place is definitely too small to have a kitchen! I was a little apprehensive about how fresh the pie and roll would be, but this worry vanished the second I bit into the Thai Green Chook Curry Pie!

The crust was crispy, flaky, and thick, and the second I cut into it piping hot gravy poured out onto the plate. The filling was better than I could ever have imagined. The combination of leeks, chicken, kafir lime leaves, galangal, coconut milk, thai basil and chilies was absolute perfection- it was savory, but not so much so that it overpowered the lighter sweeter flavors. Pair it with the sweet chili sauce offered up at the bar, and you couldn't ask for a better $5 meal!
The Pork and Sage Roll was a slightly different story.

After the pie, I was expecting something amazing, and this definitely fell short. The pork was well cooked, but the sage was too strong and aromatic for me to enjoy the dish. Also, without the recommended ketchup it was too dry for me to even finish.
Moral of the story: stay clear of the average tasting rolls and order twice as many of the delectable pies!
Address: 115 Saint Mark's Pl , New York 10009 btw 1st Ave and Ave A( other location 68 E 1st St btw 1st and 2nd Ave)
Average Price:$4
Grade: A-

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Skyway Cafe

In an effort to expand my food horizons, I decided to try a type of cuisine that was new to me: Malaysian. Malaysian food is influenced strongly by neighboring Indonesia and Thailand, as well as by China and India. Because of this, even though I had never eaten Malaysian before, many of the items on the menu at Skyway Café seemed at least slightly familiar to me. I wandered into the restaurant around 1pm on a Thursday, after a somewhat disorienting journey through the lower part of Chinatown.

It couldn’t have been more than two seconds after I walked in the door when 2 waitresses swooped in on me, seated me, and brought me my own steaming pot of tea. I looked over the menu, and was shocked to see that the lunch special was actually only $3.75! I had seen that price online, but assumed it was outdated. I decided to try out one of their appetizers since my lunch would be so cheap, and settled on the Roti Canai($1.95), which is an Indian style pancake that Skyway serves with a chicken curry on the side. For my lunch, I ordered the chicken with ginger and scallions. All of 5 minutes later, my food emerged from the kitchen! Talk about lighting fast service! I started with the Roti Canai, which I could tell had just been pulled off the stove.

The bread was so super flaky and sweet, I almost didn’t want to dip it in the curry! The first bite of the curry was amazing; I could really taste the coconut, the turmeric, and the chili, which are some of my favorite flavors. As I kept eating however, the saltiness of the curry became wayyy too overpowering, and I had to switch to my lunch dish. It was a shame it was so oversalted, because the flavor combo in the curry was phenomenal. My lunch dish was absolutely loaded with green onion, ginger, and chicken, and was still steaming hot when I started into it.

The vegetables were fresh and crispy with a light sauce that had a flavor that I couldn’t quite place, although I did recognize turmeric and chili again. The chicken was ok, but I feel like it may have needed a little bit more cooking time, no small wonder when you think about how quickly my food came. I only managed to finish half of my dish before I got incredibly full, and actually had to take leftovers home from a $3.75 meal. Awesome! All in all, while the curry in the Roti Canai was too salty and the chicken in my lunch was slightly undercooked, the meal was awesome. I’m eager to go back again and try some of the noodle dishes out, which are apparently their specialty.
Address: 11 Allen St, New York 10002
Phone: (212) 625-1163
Average Price: Lunch $3.75, Dinner $5-13
Grade: B

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cafe Himalaya

As a lover of Asian food living in NYC, I originally found it impossible to wade through all of the mediocre Thai, Chinese, and Indian places to find something fresh and unique. It seemed that everything was overpriced, over hyped, and just plain boring. All of this changed when I stumbled across Café Himalaya, a Tibetan restaurant nestled on 1st street just below 1st Ave. This place is definitely a hole in wall- seating is minimal (probably fits 20 people max), the decor is sparse, and the kitchen is open to the rest of the restaurant. But what it lacks in ambiance, it more than makes up for with the most amazing home style cooking I’ve had in New York yet. It's so good in fact, that I go about 30 minutes out of my way to go there at least every two weeks!

Before arriving at Café Himalaya, I recommend popping into a nearby Bodega to pick up some beer or wine, as the place is BYOB. There is no cork fee, which helps make an already cheap dining experience even cheaper. If you can, try to snag the table by the window-the couches are super comfortable and it’s a great area for people watching. If you’re looking for something cold to drink, I recommend any of the smoothies($4 my personal favorite is the mixed berry) or the mango lassi ($3.50). The fruit and juice used couldn’t be fresher, and these drinks make an excellent accompaniment to some of the menus the spicier dishes. However if you’re looking for something to warm you up, the Bocha ($1.50 Tibetan tea with salt, butter, and milk) and the fresh ginger tea ($1.75) are my favorites. The ginger tea is spicy and invigorating, while the Bocha is soothing and filling.
As for the soups, I recommend the Dal ($2.99 a lentil soup flavored with shallot and cilantro), and the Ashom Thang ($3.50 a corn soup served with lemon). The Dal has a creamy richness, while the Ashom Thang is lighter and tangy.

(Ashom Tang pictured)
The salads here are not your typical Caesar or garden; most of them incorporate tofu or potato. My favorite are the Shogok Khatsa ($4 spicy potato & peas cooked himalayan style in sesame dressing served on lettuce leaf) and the Himalayan Nezom ($4.50 a spicy medley of tofu, peas with seasoned potato & black-eyed peas served on lettuce leaf). Both salads are hearty and flavorful, but the portion size is just small enough to where it doesn’t take anything away from the entrée.
One of the best things about Café Himalaya is that they manage to pull off both fantastic vegetarian AND meat dishes. Out of the meat entrees, the Chasha Shamdey ($7.50 Himalayan style chicken curry marinated in homemade yogurt & spices with basmati rice) and the Shapta ($10.50 a traditional tibetan spicy beef dish sauteed with ginger, garlic & onion served with rice or paratha) are my favorites. The vegetables in the Shapta are always fresh and crispy, and the sauce has a lemony tang and is super light.

(Shapta pictured)
The Chasha Shamdey is spiced perfectly, and the curry is an amazing consistency, it doesn’t overpower the chicken or the potato, but rather enhances the flavor of both. As for the vegetarian entrees, I enjoy the Tsel Momo ($6.50 steamed or pan-fried dumplings stuffed w/ fresh seasonal veg. served w/ cabbage salad) or the Tsel Dofu($7.50 tofu sauteed with cabbage, carrots, spinach & ginger on a bed of basmati rice). The spicy sauce served on the side of these dishes really turns up the flavor!

(Tsel Momo pictured. Photo credit Plate of the Day)
If like me, you're tired of your typical Asian fare, I couldn't recommend trying a restaurant any more than Cafe Himalaya. They use the freshest ingredients and very unique spices, and manage to keep all of the food simple and delicious.
Address: 78 E. 1st St., New York, NY 10009
Phone: 212-358-016
Average Price: Lunch $4.99, Soup or Salad $4, Entree $8
Grade: A

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Warma Cafe

I've been on quite the brunch kick lately in case anyone hasn't noticed. This weekend though, things were a little different. My roommate hurt her foot pretty badly, so we decided to order in instead of going out like we usually do. We settled on Warma Cafe because of it's affordability, and because it had both French Toast with sausage ($4.50 for french toast,$3 for sausage.) and Huevos Rancheros($6) on the menu-the two dishes we were craving. I first tried calling in the order at 12:30-only to be hung up on twice by mistake. I waited another 10 minutes to call back, and finally got someone. I placed the order and was told it would be 30 minutes before we got it. 45 minutes later, I called back to check on its status. The woman on the phone was beyond rude to me, even though I was very polite, and actually hung up the phone without answering me. We waited another 30 minutes, and the food still hadn't come. I called back again and asked about the status of the food again, and the women told me that the delivery man was just leaving, but not before SHE TOLD ME NOT TO CALL BACK TO CHECK AGAIN BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO BUSY! After waiting an hour and 15 minutes when I was told it would only be 30, I think it is totally reasonable to call to check on the food twice, especially since I was so polite. Thankfully, the food arrived about ten minutes later, putting our wait time at about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Ridiculous, especially considering the proximity of the place to my apartment. All of that aside though, the food was actually really good. The tortillas on my huevos rancheros were clearly freshly made, as was the salsa. The salsa was amazing- seasoned with just the right amount of onion.

The eggs even tasted better than eggs normally do, I think they must have cooked them in grease from the bacon or sausage (which is bad for vegetarians, but good for me!) My only complaint was that the refried beans were really dried out around the edges- I actually thought it was bread when I first saw it because of the texture. My hashbrowns that came with them weren't anything special, but I don't have any complaints.

My roommates french toast was moist and really delicious- although pretty basic. The sausage wasn't anything great; it was moist but under seasoned.

All in all, our "breakfast" was amazing, but the poor service REALLY detracted from the experience. I would only eat there again if I actually went into the restaurant-but even then I would be skeptical about the wait time. A dilemma!
Address: 442 Lorimer St Brooklyn, NY 11206
Phone: (718) 963-2003
Average Price: $5.50 for Breakfast/Brunch
Grade: A for food, F for service

Dante's on Hope St. (Brooklyn)

Being a southerner, I was super excited to try Dante's, a restaurant with the slogan "southern cookin' in the heart of Brooklyn." I initially based my decision to try their brunch on the fact that they had cheese grits-something I have been sorely missing these past few months. We walked into Dante's around 1:00pm, and were the only other group there. There were at least 5 waitresses mingling around the bar area, but it still somehow took us over 5 minutes to be seated. The decor/music of the restaurant was pretty funny. It was an odd mix of 70's soul music, 80's style graffiti art,renaissance style ceiling murals, and... Transformers 2 playing on big screen tv's. Definitely strange. We sat down, and everyone started looking over the menu. It took over 5 minutes for a waitress to take our drink order, and another five for her to bring the drinks out. Usually I understand, having been a waitress myself, but this place was entirely empty at this point. Looking at the menu, I immediately noticed some options that were different from your typical brunch fare. The ones that jumped out at me the most were the Eggs Sardou ($10 for two poached eggs on an English muffin with a ragout of artichoke hearts) and Cajun Crab Benedict ($15 for two poached eggs on English muffins with Dante's hand done lump crab cakes and smoked chili hollandaise sauce). Both looked amazing-but the Cajun Crab Benedict was a little out of my price range, and I wasn't really in the mood for artichoke. I decided to go with the regular eggs benedict, or the "eggs benny d" as Dante's calls them. My friends went with the biscuits and gravy, ($6) the pancakes with sausage, and an omlette with spinach,mushroom, and onion ($9). It took our food about 15 minutes to arrive, and it all looked really great on the plate! I was really hungry by this point, and dug right into the cheese grits.

Right from the get go, I was super dissapointed. The grits were cold, way overcooked, and the cheese flavor wasn't strong enough. I switched to the eggs benedict, which despite looking and smelling delicious were actually disgusting. The eggs tasted like they had been cooked in a soapy pan, as did the sauce. The Canadian bacon was cold and flavorless, and the english muffin tasted like it had been microwaved rather than toasted. Gross! I ate as much as I could, and then decided to try my friends meals. The biscuits and gravy were decent, but I felt like the biscuit was a little to dry and the gravy wasn't thick enough for my taste.

The pancakes were fluffy and sweet, and the sausages were juicy and perfectly seasoned.

What really stood out though was the omlette. It was literally stuffed to the brim with spinach, mushroom, and onion, all of which were perfectly cooked! The home fries on the side were also really good; they were nicely seasoned and perfectly crispy.

While my dish was absolutely awful, all of my friends dishes were at least decent. Even with that in mind, I personally wouldn't go back again. If they couldn't pull off basic eggs benedict, I don't have much faith for their other dishes that looked delicious- but more complicated.
Address:153 Roebling St. Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone Number:(718) 599-1945‎
Average Price: $9
Grade: C-