Burger Bistro

It’s always great when a new place opens in your neighborhood. The Burger Bistro in Bay Ridge is a great new place. The food is good, the concept simple, the prices reasonable, and the staff and owners friendly and accommodating.

Fork and Knork’s first trip to Burger Bistro was so terrific we’ve been back 4 times, send all our friends there and have even had burgers delivered.

The concept is simple – make ’em burgers, and make ’em good. And these are good.

The place is simply decorated. There is a great mural on one long wall that you casually glance at, across from that – on the other long – wall is a mirror. When you look into the mirror, and face it who can’t glance in a mirror, you realize that the mural is actually drawn backwards and when you look at in the mirror you can see the full mural. Very clever.

On each table is a glass with wax pencils. Which on your first visit seems strange. When the waiter comes over with the laminated menu, he explains that you check off the boxes of what you’d like to have and the kitchen takes it from there. Interactive and fun.

You have a choice between beef, lamb, or turkey for your burger. There is also a special burger of the day. You choose how you want it cooked, the cheese, the toppings, even the bun. There are also sides, appetizers, and, if you’re really good, ice cream and cookies for dessert!

Knork started with the Chopped Salad. Very generous sized salad, fortunately not all iceberg lettuce. There were chopped tomatoes, cheese, artichoke hearts. The salad was crisp and very fresh. Good dressing that didn’t drown the ingredients.

Fork ordered the Bistro Potato Chips. They had been an appetizer, but have now been relegated down to the sides. The chips are really good. Thick cut. Chewy and crisp at the same time. My problem with the chips? They aren’t served with  dipping sauce. I can understand the charge for the sauces on the burger, but the chips should come with something. Doesn’t even have to be a choice of sauces, a little somethin somethin would be good.

Knork’s Burger. Great beef burger, but Knork is a purist (and culinarily challenged) and therefore his burger BOOOOOOR-ing.  All the burgers are served with a  little salad. Balsamic dressing, very yummy.

In recent visits though, Knork has fallen for the Rib Eye Steak Sandwich. Really good quality steak, well seasoned, perfectly cooked. The only complaint Knork has about the steak sandwich is the bun is round and the steak is sort of oblong. He spends some time cutting and tucking and then munches away happily.

Fork also ordered a beef burger. But with the list of 9 cheeses and 9 toppings, how can one be expected to have a plain burger. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. For this trip, Fork chose cheddar cheese and applewood smoked bacon. Really doesn’t get much better than that. There are also caramelized onions and frizzled onions which definitely have Fork’s name on them for another trip.

There is no easy way to choose between the fried offerings. There are French Fries, Bristro Fries, Frizzled Onions, Sweet Potato Strings and the above Potato Chips. The fries are really good. Skinny and crisp, tender ont he inside, a generous serving. The frizzled onions are amazing. Stick some on your burger and life is complete. Like a deconstructed onion loaf and not even close to as greasy. On other trips we’ve had the sweet potato strings – sweet, crisp, addictive. The Bistro Fries are the French Fries all dressed up in seasoning. Now, here we have a problem. Most times the seasoning is great – that is to say, lightly seasoned. Our last trip there was so much seasoning on the fries that they were nearly inedible. You notice Fork said nearly, we were with Jam Spoon and quite frankly, there isn’t ever enough seasoning or pepper for Jam Spoon!

What could be better to end an all American meal than ice cream and cookies! There is a daily special for both the cookies and the ice cream. You get to pick your cookie flavor and the ice cream flavor. On this trip Fork paired double chocolate chunk cookies and dulce de leche ice cream. Great combo.

In keeping with the delicate palate of the Knork – an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie with Vanilla Ice Cream.

The only downside we have found with the Burger Bistro are the cookies. Our first dinner, the oatmeal cookies were burnt. The second time stone cold. The last time the special cookie was a ‘short bread type cookie – like a sugar cookie’. Nope. It was soggy. Nothing like a short bread and absolutely nothing like a sugar cookie. It was just – well, yucky is the best word.

They use a high quality ice cream. It’s creamy and not very airy. That perfect dense scoop.

All in all, this is really a great place. Great service, great burgers, great fries. If you’re in Bay Ridge, get on over there!

Burger Bistro ~ 7217 Third Avenue ~ Brooklyn, NY ~ 718.833.5833
The Burger Bistro on Urbanspoon

Centrico

Iced Tea Spoon called and wanted an Adventure, who was Fork to turn this request down. The problem usually becomes where to go – but not this time. When Iced Tea Spoon called, Fork had been watching an episode of Chef vs. City, and Centrico became the perfect choice.

Centrico is owned by the Myriad group which also owns Nobu, Corton and the Tribeca Grill.  But the best part – Aaron Sanchez is partner and chef at Centrico. Aaron’s cookbook La Comida del Barrio is one of my all time favorite cookbooks.

Now, most of the time when you go to a restaurant with a celebrity chef, you never expect to see them. Isn’t that sad? But as I sat and waited for Iced Tea Spoon there he was – Aaron Sanchez – Fork must admit there has been a little bit of a crush there since the Melting Pot. Hey, some Cutlery like movie or TV stars, or even musicians or authors, Fork likes chefs.

Once Iced Tea Spoon arrived, we were shown to our table. Fork was SO busy oogling Aaron Sanchez that Fork walked right into the back of the host. A little blush, a little admission about having a little crush on his boss, and the next thing we knew there was Aaron Sanchez standing next to our table and talking to US!  Very cool. We spoke about his lovely wife and daughter, and trying to fit so much into a busy day and still be attentive to his pregnant wife. Not easy. We were so stunned it never occurred to us to ask if he would take a photo with us. Next time!

Fork ordered a Frozen Strawberry Caipirinha, which is cachaca (a Brazilian spirit made from sugar cane), strawberry, agave nectar and lime. Fork loves cachaca and caipirinhas – but usually, it’s limes and sugar muddled in a glass, lots of ice and cachaca poured on top. This drink was gross. That being said, it was the ONLY gross thing we tasted.

We ordered a special appetizer sampler which would let us try 5 different appetizers. There were Plantanos Rellenos – platanos, smoky black beans, a tangy crema fresca. Each bite a different flavor combination, but every bite wonderful. There was a Cerviche de Dia – which that day was a scallop cerviche. Wonderfully fresh, slightly spicy, great citrus kick.  There were  Tostadas de Jaiba – lump crab meat, avocado, chipolte-lime aioli, herbs and thin slices of jalapeno. Fork couldn’t eat these, but they looked delicious and Iced Tea Spoon gobbled them up very quickly! Enchilada de Res – braised short ribs tucked inside this enchilada was an absolute treat. The short ribs were fall apart tender. The fifth one, Fork must embarrassingly admit the notebook has gone missing. All we can remember is it was a Tamale and it was really good!

Iced Tea Spoon ordered the Pollo con Mole. ITS was determined to try something totally new and this was a dish never before tried. A very generous portion of pan roasted chicken smothered in mole sanchez. The mole was thick and smokey. Sweet, smokey, slight kick, all in one bite. Fork loves mole and loves the surprised look everyone gets when they realize there is chocolate in it. Served along with the chicken were wild mushrooms, cooked down and earthy, and sitting on top was a dollop of sweet potato puree. It added a sweetness and lightness to the mushrooms. Again, perfect flavor pairings on a plate.

Fork ordered the Birria al Estilo Jalisco. Short ribs. Fork is a sucker for short ribs. These were fall apart tender. These were braised and served in an ancho chile broth. Between the braising with all the chiles and spices and serving it sitting in the broth, there was so much flavor here it was amazing. Served along with the short ribs were fresh, warm corn tortillas.

Fork absolutely had to try the grilled corn with cotija cheese and lime. One of Fork’s favorite things to order in any Mexican restaurant, but Fork and ITS were hesitant about sitting in this lovely restaurant chomping on ears of corn. We asked our waiter if he would ask the kitchen to cut the corn off the cob for us. They were happy to do it and we were happy to eat it! Crisp, tender and with that slight smokiness things get coming off the grill. Sprinkled with cotijo cheese and plenty of fresh lime, this was a total hit.

For dessert, Fork ordered the Pastel de Chocolate Mexicana. Fork’s magic word – chocolate. ITS actually does not like chocolate – and yet we are still friends – so this meant more dessert for Fork. Molten chocolate cake made from mexican chocolate. Mexican chocolate is wonderful and dark and hints of spices like cinnamon throughout. Cut into this little cake and it oozed an immense flavor and scent that could make one’s tines swoon. THe cake is served with corn ice cream – sigh, again with corn ice cream. Corn – ice cream – I don’t think so. But this time the sweetness of the corn really played well with the dark richness of the cake. Drizzled on the plate was a chocolate chile sauce. Totally yum.

Iced Tea Spoon ordered a dessert special for the evening – a Key Lime Tart. Fork is fond of a family recipe for key lime pie and usually no other, but this was very good. tart, sweet, not cloying. The crust was rich and buttery and the perfect thickness for the key lime filling. Fork and ITS were grateful this wasn’t a key lime pie that was lathered in whipped cream – neither of us are big whipped cream fans. Needless to say, there were no desserts left when dinner was done.

This is a really good Mexican restaurant. Yes, it is a little out of the way as far as location goes, but it is so worth having an Adventure here. All in all this was a great dinner. The food is wonderful, the service very attentive, and speaking to Aaron Sanchez was just the mint in our mojito!

Centrico ~ 211West Broadway ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.431.0700
Centrico on Urbanspoon

Schnitzel & Things

 What do you do when you get stuck working an extra day at your job? Well, you can be sad, but Fork preferred to think of it as finally being able to try Schnitzel & Things food truck! (By the way, food truck folks, how about Zuccotti Park for those of us who work on the west side of Broadway!)

I spent all morning carefully watching the clock to make sure I was at Water and Broad Streets on time. No, no, I won’t make you another copy right now. I have a VERY important errand to run!

There sitting on the corner was the Schnitzel truck. There wasn’t as much of a crowd as I had anticipated, but it may have been the timing. You can have either a sandwich or a plate. The plate comes with 2 sides and a condiment. I waited my turn, stepped up to the window and asked for a veal plate. I was told the man in front of me had ordered the last veal plate and perhaps I could just kick his butt to get it away from him. Being the sterling type of Cutlery that I am, I opted not for that suggestion but instead the chicken please, with Austrian potato salad and musclun salad, spicy sirracha mao as a condiment, and extra lemon wedges please. (next time I will kick the guy’s butt, being a newbie I decided to be slightly more demure.)

Sorry for the bad photo, I only had my phone with me.  I sat and opened my take-out container and was very pleasantly surprised to see a very large schnitzel. Moist on the inside, crispy on the outside. The potato salad was really good. Potatoes just soft and not mushy, very flavorful. The salad was ‘eh’. Might have been how long it took me to walk back to my office and the hot schnitzel sitting on top, but it was wilted and if there was dressing, you couldn’t taste it. Lemon wedges to the rescue. The spicy mayo was really good. The right amount of kick.

Can’t wait to try it again, makes having to slave away for the day totally worth it!

Check the Schnitzel & Things website for their weekly calendar or follow them on Twitter @schnitzeltruck

Frites ‘n’ Meats

You’re sitting at your desk. All you can think about are burgers and fries. The take-out places charge a fortune for a hockey puck on a soggy bun and flabby pieces of potato that just aren’t worth eating. What do you do?

Well, if you work in the Financial District, on Friday you can go to the corner of Wall and Broad and find Moody and the Frites ‘N’ Meats truck!

As you approach Wall and Broad, you can smell the most amazing burgers grilling, you know you have to be close! As you round the corner, there it is – the bright yellow Frites ‘N’ Meats truck!

I always find myself a bit tentative approaching one of these behemoth trucks. Perhaps it was my terrifying experience at the Soup nazi years ago. Step up, order soup, type of bread, drink, take step to right, pay, step back, say NOTHING else or you heard the obnoxious scream of NO SOUP FOR YOU! But I digress…

You step up to the truck, take a card and marker, and circle your choices. You choose your burger, you bun, the cheese and toppings. Fries – of course! Dipping sauce. Hand it in and wait.

The burger is cooked perfectly. There was a generous amount of sharp cheddar cheese and applewood smoked bacon. Yummmmm-o!

But the frites – the frites are truly the star of this show. Slender, crispy, salty, perfect. The only problem with the frites is there is not nearly enough of them and no option to order a larger portion.

I now look forward to Friday’s – if only for my paycheck, Moody and a burger!

Frites ‘N’ Meats ~ truck in different places each day, check their website for the schedule or follow them on twitter @fritesnmeats

Aureole

Another restaurant on our dying to try during Restaurant Week was Charlie Palmer’s midtown restaurant Aureole. Aureole was originally located in a brownstone on 61st Street. It’s location in midtown is bigger with a bar in front and a dining room in back. The front sleek and modern and the back more luxurious and intimate, but still reminiscent of a ‘boys’ club’ with woods and leather with browns and tans.

And, while this was a place on our bucket list – so to speak – now tried, we’re not so sure we’d go back. The food was very good, but not exciting – well, the dessert was, but it doesn’t take much to excite the Fork and Spoon when it comes to desserts!

One of our favorite things about this lunch was seeing Charlie Parker there. It’s so nice when a ‘celebrity’ chef is actually in his restaurant – in che’s whites, mind you – and walking around the restaurant speaking to diners.

Spoon ordered the Pan Roasted Shrimp with a Summer Melons Salsa, Prosciutto, and Baby Arugula. Poor Fork couldn’t try this dish, but from the ooooh-ing and aaah-ing coming from Spoon, we can assume the dish was really good. It certainly looked beautiful. Seemed a rather small portion, 2 shrimp, 2 tiny slivers of prosciutto, and tiny pieces of melon. This was more like an appetizer on a menu for ‘ladies who lunch’ than in a place decorated like a ‘boys’ club’.

Fork ordered the Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Diced Avocado and  Croutons. What arrived was a beautifully vibrant red tomato gazpacho, small dots of olive oil floating on top. The soup was fresh tasting and flavorful, the avocados and croutons just brought it to another level, with a little crunch, of course, from the croutons. Really yummy, and Fork is not a big soup fan.

For a main dish, Fork ordered the Flatiron Steak. Sliced steak served over baby bok choy, coconut rice, scallions, and a chile garlic dressing. Sprinkled on top was toasted coconut flakes and microgreens. The steak was cooked perfectly. The slightly bitter baby bok choy gave a nice bite to the buttery steak.  The coconut rice just gave this dish the perfect sweet element. All together a knock out of the park.

Spoon ordered the Pan Roasted Chicken Breast, served over green asparagus, caramelized cipollini onions with a green olive jus. The chicken was surprisingly moist and tender.  The asparagus were still crisp, and were so perfect with the cipollini onions. The sweetness of carmelized cipollini was perfect with the salty bite from the green olive jus.  Such a simple dish, done so well, with so many complex flavors. Just perfect.

For dessert, both Fork and Spoon ordered the Rocky Road Vacherin. It was beautifully plated. It was like a sophisticated and deconstructed rocky road sundae.  There was a chocolate ice cream – which wasn’t really like an ice cream, but more of a mousse that was frozen – tube shaped marshmallows, bites of dense, gooey, rich brownie, a reduced black cherry glaze, and marcona almonds, and a chocolate meringue.  Each element of the dessert was wonderful on its own and together made magic on the plate!

Food, good. Service, so-so. Seeing Charlie Parker, cool. Portions, small. We wanted it, we tried it and the drawer is still out as to whether we would go back.

Aureole ~ One Bryant Park ~ New York, NY ~ 212.319.1660
Aureole on Urbanspoon

Wafels & Dinges

What is all this food truck craziness about? When Fork was a kid a food cart was a guy standing on a corner selling ‘dirty water dogs’ or in the winter chestnuts and big soft pretzels. Oh, how Fork longs for the chestnut vendors to come back!

I gotta tell ya, I have succumbed to the insanity. Fork follows twitters for food trucks to see if they will be near work or home or shopping so that Fork can dive in and catch this crazy culinary train.

Wafels & Dinges was in Park Slope Saturday. On my way back from shuttling someone to and fro whatever it was that they were doing, I thought I would drive by and try it out.

Found a spot across the street. There was no line! You stand there staring at the board, what do I want, what kind of waffle, toppings, sigh, confusion sets in. WHat to do. What to do. And Joe steps in. Joe was wonderful and patient, and guided the waffle virgin through the ordering process. You have a choice of 2 different wafels – a Brussels (crunchy and light)or Liege (chewy and rich and slightly sweeter). Joe suggested the Liege for a first timer. And the choices don’t end there! Once you get the wafel down you have to pick the dinges (toppings). Bananas and Nutella just jumped off the list at me, and Joe agreed it was a great choice.

The wafel was $5, the first dinges is free. Fork had received a tweet, that if you pantomime a tennis serve, you would get a free dinges. Fork looked side to side, no one there, a toss in the air and a swat at my tennis ball, and my wafel with 2 dinges stayed at $5. Does it get better than that?

I quickly and greedily grabbed my wafel, a pile of napkins, a fork and knife and scurried to my car to enjoy my feast. Oh, it gets better than that the second you take a bite of your wafel. Chewy, tender inside, crisp outside, generous about of bananas and Nutella drizzled all over the top.

The only bad thing about the wafel? It was gone, my wafel box was empty and I knew it would be a WEEK before I could get back there and try another! Fork had spied a wafel topped with maple syrup and bacon….. hmmmmm

We can’t give you an exact location for the Wafel trucks, check the website or follow them on twitter @waffletruck to find out where they are on any particular day.