Townline BBQ

So you’re driving out to the Hamptons. You’ve sat on the highway for what seems like an eternity. You are now about to begin the long, slow, unending, serpentine of traffic out to the Hamptons. Heck, this could be the reverse, the unending serpentine to get to the highway to sit on traffic on the way back to NYC! Suddenly you realize you are starving. Now, where to go? I know! Townline BBQ is the answer!  

Townline BBQ is part of Honest Management Corp. The same folks who have brought you Hampton superstars Nick & Toni’s, La Fondita and Rowdy Hall. The building is constructed from reclaimed barn wood. Simple tables and chairs inside and out. Rustic, charming, loud, fun, funky and delicious all wrapped up in one package.

The staff is great, super friendly. This is as laid back and simple as a place can get. You go to the counter, order, go back to your table, wait, they shout your name, you get your food, and dive in! Everything is served in paper boats. The iced tea is bottomless and very fresh. You help yourself from a giant cooler on the beverage counter – they didn’t think Fork should take it to the table though. The place is casual to the point that if you have food to take home, there’s a self wrapping center in the dining room. There is a full bar though, I mean, just how rustic is cutlery expected to get?

The food is fantastic. This is BBQ at its finest.  The kitchen is wide open so you can see the pit master and catch all the amazing aromas from the smokers.

As we sat at our tables, drooling from the aromas and waiting for our food, we seemed to be enthralled by the long horned steer with the tinsel crown, and tapping our toes to the great music playing in the background. There is a caddy on the table with different BBQ sauces, just waiting for something yummy to be poured on top of.

And then FINALLY – well, okay, about 10 minutes later – they called us. Truthfully, and shockingly, on a summer Friday afternoon, the place wasn’t crowded, but I can imagine this place is hopping from Friday night through Sunday night, and then some!

Fork ordered the Burnt Ends Platter. Yes, a platter! In our quest for the elusive burnt ends Spoon and Fork have come across appetizer portions or a few measly pieces in a paper boat filled with wax paper to make you forget there was no burnt ends there. But this was a platter and it was ALL for Fork!  Succulent and smokey. Crispy and tender. All your favorite parts of a BBQ brisket, served over a piece of squishy white bread. Fork was pleasantly surprised at just how good these burnt ends were.

Knork ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich.  Really tender, moist and very flavorful pulled pork. Melt in your mouth delicious. The pulled pork is served on top of a white hamburger bun with a generous topping of cole slaw. THe BBQ sauce itself was sweet and tangy with just a slight kick of heat.  On the side of the sandwich was a pickle salad.  Crisp pickles, slices of red pepper, red onions, all of which were sweet and sour, and perfect to go along side the pulled pork sandwich.

Now for the sides, there always have to be sides!

We ordered a basket of fries and a basket of thick cut fried onions. The fries are great. Crisp on the outside, very tender on the inside. The fried onions were not onion rings or heavily battered. They were thick pieces of onion, lightly battered and deep fried to golden perfection. Because these were pieces and not rings, all the batter on the onion fried and there was no soggy batter here anywhere. YUM!

The other side ordered was the Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing. Nice sized wedge of very fresh, very cold, very crisp iceberg lettuce. The wedge was smothered in tangy blue cheese dressing. Sadly there were two things wrong with this salad. 1) take the core off the wedge and, 2) where’s the bacon!? How can you have a wedge salad with blue cheese without bacon!

While standing and staring at the menu board, Fork kept noticing the desserts – does this surprise anyone? One menu item seemed to be calling out like a siren’s song. Deep Fried Apple Pie. Really, how could it not be calling out? Dough, apples, deep fried, as close to a perfect dessert as you can get without ice cream added. Fork had slight reservations about this, envisioning McDonald’s fried apple pie, gelatinous apple filling, greasy crust. Or those Drake’s Apple Pies we all loved as  kids – thick crusts, gooey inside and a sugary glaze on top. What we tasted, though, was nothing close to either of those. The crust was tender and flaky, lovely and golden brown, dusted with powdered sugar. The filling had large slices of apple that still had some bite to them, just the right amount of warmth from the cinnamon. The perfect ending to a perfect lunch.

So, for those of you out East who think man cannot live on lobster rolls alone, give Townline BBQ a try. Your taste buds will thank you!

Townline BBQ ~ Corner of Townline Rd & Montauk Hwy ~ Sagaponack, NY ~ 631.537.2271
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Colicchio & Sons

It’s summertime … and the dining is easy … Sorry, just had to break into a little song for a moment!. The best time of year for Fork to run away with Spoon for Culinary Adventures is summertime in New York City. So many wonderful culinary reasons to be happy – 1) New Yorkers are on vacation, so restaurants are easier to get into; 2) there are two weeks of Restaurant Week; and, 3) a lot of restaurants have lunch specials to lure customers into their restaurants. Check websites while making plans, you’ll be surprised what you find!

Such is the case with Tom Colicchio’s Meatpacking District restaurant Colicchio & Sons.  The announcement of Colicchio & Sons offering a $25, 3-course lunch in the Tap Room for the month of July flew through the NY foodie community like wildfire. It took Fork and Spoon seconds to make a reservation for this special treat.

Before we begin – GO! CALL! Make a reservation! This special, at this point, is only for July and is only for lunch. But 3 courses for $25 cannot be beat – especially not for a lunch this outstanding.

Colicchio & Sons in on the corner of 15th Street and 10th Avenue, across the street from the back entrance of the Chelsea Market and the Highline.  The Tap Room is in the front of the restaurant. The room is bright and airy, and warm and inviting. Brick walls, wood floors, large dark wooden tables, sofas on one side of some of the 4-tops and comfortable chairs on the other and for the tables for 2. There are great rustic paintings on the wall of chickens and ducks and produce. Fork and Spoon sat, taking a moment to regroup out of the sweltering heat, and were instantly just comfortable. You want to hang out there. You want to stay there.

Iced tea is fresh, with lots of ice, simple syrup if you like, and most importantly, bottomless.

Our waiter, Shawn, was wonderful. A little tentative with us at first, but a couple of giggles with the Cutlery and all was well!

Fork really struggled with the Starter. Pea soup? Nuh-uh. Romaine salad with anchovies? No, I don’t think so. Spoon was ordering the Watermelon and Cucumber salad (which, just by virtue of watermelon and cucumber being in the same bowl was a no from Fork. But, you will be happy to learn that Fork as seen the error of this thought and converted).

So, after much difficulty, for starters Fork ordered the Baby Beets with Black Olives, Lovage, Pistachios and Yoghurt. Shawn told us there were red, yellow and candy beets and that it was really very good. Quite frankly, there was no description that would match the beautiful plate set in front of us. Small and delicate roasted beets, quartered. The colors alone made your mouth water. The beets sat atop curried yoghurt. Really subtle and flavorful, and so warm against the sweetness of the beets. You add into this the briny olives and you think perfection has been reached – but wait, there’s more! Add in some wonderful lovage for a bright freshness, pistachios for the crunch factor, and goat cheese -well, just because and you have an appetizer knocked right out of the park. Lovage has a flavor like celery and really added the right amount of brightness and freshness to this dish.

Spoon, on the other hand, had no trouble whatsoever picking a starter. Made a beeline right to the Watermelon and Cucumber Salad, which it turns out was a very nice, refreshing choice. Large chunks of summer ripe, sugary sweet watermelon, surrounded by ribbons of cool, light, almost melony tasting cucumber. To go up against the sweetness of the watermelon and the coolness of the cucumber was arugula in all it’s peppery glory. So far the flavors make your tastebuds stand at attention. Invite mint to the party and you could go into sensory overload. Now tie this package of perfection up with a bow of a limey dressing and you are just totally satisfied. What a wonderful flavor combination on the palate, light and bright and fresh and citrusy and peppery in one bite.

That is one thing that always has to be said about Tom Colicchio’s restaurants and the excellent executive chefs in them – they have a way with flavors and combinations of flavors that just make you stand at attention while dining, waiting for the next great thing to arrive on a plate before you!

On to the second course. These choices were only SLIGHTLY easier!

The easiest was the Roast Pork Sandwich. This was the dish from the every day Tap Room menu that we were hoping would be offered on the 3-course special lunch menu. This time we need to work from the outside in. The bread, the bread was fabulous. Toasted perfectly, not so crisp on the outside that eating it is near impossible. Those types of panini are terrible. Now to delve into this sandwich – come along, you won’t be sorry. THe description of this sandwich on the menu in no way does it justice.  Large pieces of juicy, flavorful roast pork is the first thing you notice. These aren’t shreds of pork, but large, tender as anything pieces. The next ingredient in the sandwich you come across is ham – a surprise to us! Salty, meaty, rich in flavor. We were gobbling this up too quickly to take the sandwich apart to see what sort of ham it was! Mea culpa. Surrounding all of this flavorful goodness is provolone cheese. Sharp, slightly salty, melted, and surrounding all of the ingredients in this sandwich. Then there’s a crunch from the pickles. Lovely bread and butter pickles. Sweet with a bit of sour, a lot of crunch and a wonderful instrument to cut back the richness of the meats and cheese in this sandwich.   This was a Cubano sandwich on steroids.

The other choice was not as easy. But in the end the word Pizza was too intriguing to let go. We ordered the Taleggio, Asparagus, Cherry Peppers and Sopressata Pizza. I wish YUMMMMM was enough of a description along with the photo, but this deserves so much more! Fabulous crust. Crisp edges on the crust. The crust under all the goodies was just as crisp. A good crust that holds up to its toppings is really the sign on a good pizza, at least to Fork and Spoon. On top of the crust was a layer of taleggio cheese.  Granted, this cheese is a bit stinky, but it is oh-so-good, especially melted. The cheese at the edges of the crust gets very crisp and nicely salty, but in the center, the cheese melts into a pool of luscious creaminess. Then came the toppings! Rounds of asparagus. It was interesting to see the asparagus cut this way, and made them much easier to eat. Precariously and carefully placed on the pizza were slices of cherry peppers. Seriously hot cherry peppers, that you really only wanted a small bit of in each bite. Shawn warned us. Glad we listened. And entire slice of cherry pepper would have knocked the silver right off the tines! To add the last layer to this pizza was sopressata. Slightly crisp from the oven, meaty, salty, and yummy. Again, the attention to how the flavors played together and off each other was very apparent. Another winner.

Dessert. AH, dessert. There wasn’t anything on the dessert menu that we didn’t want. We were even so cheeky to ask if we could subsitute more dessert for starters! We craned and strained watching dessert after dessert leave the kitchen and arrive on tables. They all sounded so good. They all looked so good. They were just beautiful.

The only clear dessert choice, without a moment’s hesitation, was the Peach Tatin. Was it the lure of fresh peaches, or the anticipation of the caramel-y tatin, or maybe it was the sweet corn ice cream. Yes, that’s right, sweet corn ice cream! Let’s start with the ice cream, as this is the place where our opinion differs. Yes, it was interesting. Yes, it was different. Yes, it was like a total backyard BBQ package, corn and peaches. Spoon loved it, Fork, not so much. Fork liked the concept and appreciated the concept. Fork even got the whole BBQ analogy. And it wasn’t that the ice cream wasn’t sweet, it was. It was even good. But there is something inherently wrong with corn ice cream! Perhaps Fork is a little prudish on this point. Ice cream, sweet cold, caramel, nuts, got it. Corn, maybe, not sure. Spoon, of course, loved it. THought the sweet corn was the perfect foil for the peach tatin. And that’s why Spoon is a spoon and Fork is a fork. But, now back to business, the peach tatin, the star of this dessert. And what a star it was. Lucious, sweet peaches crispy puff pastry, lovely caramel goodness, all make for an interesting dessert. It was gobbled up in seconds. Wait!, Nestled between the tatin and the ice cream was popcorn, just a few kernels, with caramel drizzled over the top. Sigh. Yum.

The second choice was between three with no ability to make a choice in sight. Shawn to the rescue again! He virtually picked for us, told us we should order his favorite dessert – Zeppole. Fried dough, could there be anything wrong with that? These zeppole were not like any street fair zeppole. There was ricotta mixed into the dough, making these zeppole light and fluffy. Zeppole has a tendency to get very heavy and doughy, not so with these fluffy beauties. Perfect size, too. Two bites and gone. Covered in confectioner’s sugar – as any decent zeppole would be! – and tucked into a napkin. Served with the zeppole was a small ramekin filled with a dark chocolate hot fudge sauce. Very nice, made these zeppole even more decadent than they already were. Served along side of the zeppole was a quenelle of mint ice cream. This was so bright and refreshing, perfect to cut through the richness of the sugar coated zeppole and the dark chocolate.  Atop the ice cream was a tiny bit of sugar candy – thin, crisp, minty and nice. Fork isn’t even the biggest mint fan, and Fork was swooning over this ice cream.

All in all – one word – amazing.

This 3-course lunch special is running through the end of July.

By the way, the entire restaurant is lovely. The dining room is beautiful and polished, fabulaous light fixtures, much of the same warmth and coolness of the Tap Room, just amped up a bit. They also have a beautiful private dining room.

Are you still reading? You have three weeks left! Don’t just sit here and read about Colicchio & Sons! Go. Call. Make a reservation.

Colicchio & Sons ~ 85 10th Avenue ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.400.6699 
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Le Petit Oven

Knork and Fork sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Okay, without making you all too nauseous, Knork and Fork wanted to do something special for their anniversary, but Knork wanted to stay close to home and Fork wanted an adventure. The perfect solution was Le Petit Oven. Located just off Third Avenue on 69th Street in Bay Ridge, this restaurant is truly a hidden gem that Fork is so happy to have FINALLY discovered!

We had passed this lovely 11 table restaurant many, many times, always looking in the window and drooling over the wonderful menu in the window. Had we ever gone in? Nope. Must have been tarnish clouding the senses.

Sitting and watching Chopped one night before our big event, we were delighted and surprised to see Kat Ploszaj, the chef and co-owner of Le Petit Oven, as one of the contestants (she didn’t win, but she should have!). This was a sign. It had to be. This would be the place.

We didn’t have a reservation, and now after Chopped, you really should make one, but we were early enough to be able to get a table. Kat’s partner and co-owner Nicole Guarino is so friendly and welcoming that you instantly feel like family. As we sat and looked at the menu, we watched other diners stroll in. They were almost all greeted by name. We chatted amongst the tables while looking at the menu. They have a great selection of beer and a wonderful wine list. Nicole is very knowledgable about wines and can help with any pairing. AS we overheard her say, she won’t serve any wine she wouldn’t be happy to drink herself.

The menu changes constantly, depending on what motivates Kat when she goes to the markets. It is amazing to watch her in the kitchen – alone – cooking and smiling. You can see the passion on her face and you can certainly taste it in her food.

There is a three course tasting menu available for $35 (a serious bargain) or you can order a la carte. Either way, you are in for a true treat.

For starters, Knork order Duck Spring Rolls. What arrived were four small spring rolls. Golden brown on the outside, crispy crunchy in texture. Knork eyed them suspiciously, thinking ‘they are so small’ – no, this was not said aloud, but after all these years I can see the squirrels running on the treadmill and know what is going on in that head. But just one bite and that look disappeared. They were out of this world.  Filled with tender duck, deep fried to absolute perfection. A sweet chili sauce was served on the side to dip the spring rolls into. They may have been small in size but they really packed a lot of flavor.

Before taking our order, Nicole told us about some changes and substitutions on the menu. One of the things substituted was the soup – which is okay, Fork doesn’t like soup. What was offered in its place was Patata Con Chorizo. It sounded too intriguing to pass up. And we were right. What arrived was a stew-like bowlful of warm and spicy and flavorful. In the thick and tomato-y base were chunks of potatoes, onions, and spicy chorizo. It was so simple and so complex at the same time. There was a lovely smokiness to the dish, but still had a bright freshness to it.  Minced chives were sprinkled on top. Fork wanted to grab the bowl and a loaf of bread and sit alone greedily sopping up what was left in the bowl. You will be happy to know, Fork refrained.

Truth be told, at this point both Knork and Fork wanted the same entrée.  Does Knork not understand the concept of ordering different things so as many dishes as possible can be tried? More level tines prevailed and two entrees were ordered.

Knork ordered the Skirt Steak.  What arrived were perfectly cooked, thin slices of skirt steak. The seasoning was slightly Oriental and really good. The steak was served over white asparagus and a tiny dice of carrots. To make this even more perfect was the soy glaze on the plate. It was – well, umami is the word that comes to mind, so does delicious and more please. The down side of this dish was the crispy potato pancake. It was SO salty it was inedible. The potatoes were great. The crispiness was great. The flavor itself was great. But the salt content – oh, my, my, my.

Must say, though, everything else was so wonderful that they get a total pass for the potato pancake. What’s a little salt between friends?

Fork ordered the Pork Belly. This was the dish that Fork spied each time Le Petit Oven was passed, each time the menu was looked at online. Before even walking in Fork knew this was a dish that had to be ordered. And there was absolutely no disappointment about this dish. Everything at Le Petit Oven is beautifully plated. A lot of attention to detail goes into each dish and how the food looks on the plate. This dish was no exception.  There were layers of flavor and goodness, each different and excellent on their own, that all worked deliciously together. At the bottom was a layer of mashed potatoes; creamy, buttery, rich, perfect. On top of the potatoes was an Asian flavored slaw. Light, refreshing, and cutting through the richness of the potatoes and pork belly. And, let’s not forget the star of this dish, the pork belly. This was a very generous slab of pork belly, very tender in the center, not too ridiculously fatty like a lesser quality of pork belly would be, all leading up to a wonderfully crispy top. This was a little slab-o-heaven.

As always, there has to be room for dessert. There were two desserts that night. Didn’t that make selection fairly simple? I let Knork go first – although Fork already knew what Knork would order – so that two different desserts would land on our table.

Fork ordered the Panna Cotta.  The panna cotta was thyme infused and seriously silky. The thyme was just a background note, but it added so much to this simple, elegant dish. The panna cotta was served on top of a mixed berry compote. Not too sweet, fresh and fruity, simple and a perfect accompaniment for the panna cotta. And just when you think your mouth is as happy as it can be, your spoon scoops up a bit of mango puree and you suddenly have an extra layer of flavor from a burst of tart sunshine. The mango absolutely shot this dessert over the moon. So simple, so fabulous.

Knork ordered Bread Pudding. A lovely square of bread pudding arrived. Fork wanted to dive into the bowl (more restraint). Not soggy at all, as many bread puddings can be. The bread pudding sat in a luscious pool of caramel. Just the right amount of burnished, sweet buttery caramel to play with the rich denseness of the bread pudding. Sprinkle toasted chopped pecans on top and a dollop of freshly whipped cream and you are in dessert heaven.

This was without a doubt the best one of the best meals Fork has eaten while out to dinner in Bay Ridge in a long time – heck, while out to dinner in Brooklyn in a long time! 

The food is delicious. The service warm and inviting. The music is great. If it weren’t for that pesky check at the end you would have thought you were sitting and sharing a meal with friends. We all chatted between courses, talking about the neighborhood and the restaurant. We all craned our necks as beautiful dishes came out of the kitchen to see what each ordered, and much time describing dished to each other so we were all able to share in each other’s experience.

Le Petit Oven is open on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for dinner. Do yourself a favor, try this restaurant, your taste buds will thank you. Maybe we’ll see you there – we’ll be the ones ooh-ing and aah-ing in the corner!

276 Bay Ridge Avenue ~ Brooklyn, NY ~ 718.833.3443
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