The Mussel Pot

As you walk along Bleecker Street, you are at no loss for restaurants. Any cuisine you can imagine, any price point, fancy, casual, fast food, good food, not such good food.

Along this stretch of restaurants Fork, and new found friend, Whisk, came across  The Mussel Pot. And the Mussel Pot may be a combination of most of the above descriptions!

We arrived at 6:30 and the restaurant was empty. The garden tables were all full, but the interior tables were completely empty. The restaurant itself is lovely and warm, beautiful mirrors run down one wall and the room is lit by dainty glass chandeliers. The garden has 6 tables around a small waterfall and coy pond. Sadly, they were all taken, but we were able to sit at the table right next to the door.

Our waitress, Jacky, came over and introduced herself to us. Pleasant, warm, and attentive. We asked for the wine list and found a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio. Truthfully, the wine is a bit on the pricey side and this bottle was not chilled enough. THe bus boys were quick with ice, filling water glasses, and whisking plates away. Never once did they approach the table to remove a plate until it appeared both of us were done. HUGE points for that one!

We ordered two appetizers. They took a ridiculously long time to come out of the kitchen. The surprise in this? One of the appetizers was raw.

With or without the long wait, this appetizer was outstanding. Tuna Tartare. Seriously fresh tuna, sitting on a 1/2″ thick disk of guacamole. The guacamole was fresh and chunky and a perfect partner to the tuna. On top of the tuna were some microgreens and a splodge of a citrus miso mayo type condiment. To give the plate a little texture there were some house-made potato chips served alongside. The chips were a really nice addition to the tartare. You could scoop some up on the chip and have all the wonderful flavors at once.

Our second appetizer was Fried Calamari. Fork is a total sucker for fried calamari. Sadly, this was not so great. The presentation was lovely. We loved the idea of three sauces. And there ends the love fest. Fried calamari consists of 2 parts – the legs and the rings. There were perhaps 3 rings and all the rest legs. Whisk doesn’t mind the legs. Fork really doesn’t like them at all. Really, not at all. And the rings that were there were very chewy – like rubberband chewy – which usually means they were frozen. The coating, while really crispy, was not seasoned anywhere near enough.

Then there were the three sauces. There was a spicy remoulade – spicy here is the key word. I was too spicy to enjoy. The Fork and Whisk like spice in their food but not to the point of inedible. There was also a tomato sauce water. It was flavorless and so thin in consistency that nothing stuck to the calamari when you dipped it in the sauce. The third was a chimichurri. All we can say about that is  – meh! Really disappointing appetizer.

So, the schtick with the with the Mussel Pot is – well, really, it doesn’t need explaining – MUSSELS. There are 5 different cuisine styles and 15 different ways to have mussels. They range from intriguing to what were they thinking. What is glaringly absent from their line-up is Moules Mariniere.

The mussels are all served in individual stainless steel mussel pots. Okay, we get it. mussels, mussel pots. Cute. Problem? They are pretty tall and you are eating peering over the top of your pot, holding your fork or spoon at an odd angle. Really not a comfortable way to eat.

Whisk ordered the Paella style which included clams, chorizo, fennel, tomatoes, peas, white wine, saffron, bay leaf and lemon juice. The clams were unnecessary. The broth was  delicious. There was a background warmth to it that turned out to be cloves.  Really nice combination of flavors. 

Fork ordered the Posillipo style.  A light tomato sauce, garlic, white wine and basil. Very good mingling of Italian flavors.

There are plenty of mussels in each pot. They serve bread with the mussels so you can sop up all the sauce – which is also difficult with the gigantic pots! They bring a small slice of bread each, which seems kind of silly. But they gladly bring more if you ask.

Nothing really struck us for dessert. But we were instantly drawn to the Cheese Plate by the words “a variety of the finest imported cheese accompanied with honey comb, fig chutney and candy hazelnuts.” (They desperately need someone to proofread their menu). Okay. There was Brie. There was, to quote our waitress, some kind of parmigianio. There was Havarti with dill – the least dessert type cheese you could ever find.  There was fig chutney. There were candied pecans which were very soft, which means they have been sitting around a while. There were grapes. Now, if you are missing TWO essential ingredients on a composed plate and are subbing – don’t you think you should tell the patrons and ask if they would still like to have that dessert? We couldn’t recover from the honeycomb, candied hazelnuts and havarti.

Nothing was terrible, but nothing was outstanding beyond the tuna tartare. The staff needs to be better informed of what is in each dish, what is not going to be available and most of all – how to pronounce things on the menu.

Oh, one last thing. If Fork or Whisk had gone downstairs to the restrooms before we ate, we would have left. There is. The worst. Fish. Smell. And (as if you need another thing) they have unisex restrooms. Gross. And the floors are all wet from God only knows what.

Try it. Perhaps your experience will be different. I, for one, am very glad I had a 30% coupon from Blackboard Eats or I would have been far more disappointed.

Mussel Pot ~ 174 Bleecker Street ~ NYC, NY ~ 212.260.2700
The Mussel Pot on Urbanspoon

Laboratorio Lambiase

We were exhausted. We were excited.

It was the end of our first day in Rome! We had seen the Trevi Fountain, had a little lunch, taken a ridiculously long nap, had a wonderful dinner and now were wide awake and in need of an adventure!

The flat we were staying in was a block from the Church of Maria della Vittoria. We had done a lot of reading trying to gather up as much foodie intel as possible.

In reading, we came across Laboratorio Lambiase. There were raves about this place.  Cars double parked up and down the street, the crowds until the early morning hours, the fantastic smells and tastes. How were a Fork and Spoon to resist?

 

The pastry was supposed to be amazing – particularly a calorie laden pastry called Sorchetta Doppio Schizzo. The name of this pastry alone made this place a necessity.

So we wandered. Took pictures at the Piazza Repubblica, wandered down Via Cernaia, and were beginning to think we had gotten lost, when our noses picked up the most heavenly scents.

This is one of those places if you weren’t looking for it you would never know it was there. Deserted street, no real signage, down the stairs – but once you find it – well, WOW comes to mind.

Down the stairs, a very plain room with 2 tables and along counter. There are a couple of display cases with some sad looking cupcakes, and you think this cannot be right or they must be closing. Raise your eyes, peek into the next room – the bakery – and there is tray after tray after tray of amazing looking pastry.

We had to order the Sorchetta Doppio Schizzo. A sweet pastry filled with whipped cream and smothered in chocolate. It was good. The name is better!

Spoon had a hot chocolate. Fork a Diet Coke (some habits just cannot be broken and besides their small cans had a cute drawing on the side).

Spectacular were the Sfogliatelle! Crispy, crunchy, still warm, creamy inside. Perfect. May be the best either the Fork or Spoon has ever had.

Their pizza must be pretty good as well, at least 2 dozen people walked in and out while we were there buying pizza to go.

There were at least 10 other pastry that needed to be tried, but try as might, we didn’t get back again. This will be the first place we go when we head back to Rome!

Laboratorio Lambiase ~ Vis Cernaia, 47A ~ Roma

Bubby’s

Fork & Spoon needed a restaurant close enough to an event we were attending to not involve a lot of walking in the rain. Our biggest dilemma always seems to be what to eat. Neither of us ever wants to decide. You pick, no you pick, no you pick. Whining ensues. Not a pretty sound. A zip code and google helps in these situations.  Hmmmm …… southern, BBQ, fried chicken? Oh, Bubby’s, you have won our hearts! The online menu looked great. And Bubby’s is renowned for their pies and desserts.

They have many different menus. There is a breakfast menu, a lunch menu, a brunch menu (they are famous for their brunch menu), a midnight brunch menu, an afternoon menu, and a dinner menu. Our timing was going to be a little off, so the afternoon menu, which is served from 4pm to 6pm and from 11pm to midnight would be perfect. One glitch, the menu online and the afternoon menu didn’t match, so the dishes we wanted to try from the online menu weren’t available at the time we were there. It was 5:30. Would Bubby’s let us wait?

Fork was early. Spoon was running late. Would they even let Fork sit and wait? Well, yes, of course, you can sit and wait. Iced tea, menus, a discussion with Dominick – our wonderful waiter – about the menus. Yes, we had to wait for 6pm for the dinner menu, but we were welcome to wait. Iced tea was in huge glasses, fresh and most importantly bottomless.

Once Spoon arrived, and more iced tea ordered, we went to work on the menu.  Dominick listened to what we were thinking of ordering, and knew what was on both the afternoon and dinner menu so we could begin ordering. Dominick, you are the best! What a great waiter, interested in the customer, knowledgable about the menu, and attentive.

Our first choice was on both the afternoon menu and the dinner menu, so that was easy. Warm Hand Cut Potato Chips with Maytag Blue Cheese. There isn’t a single word in that title that doesn’t make you drool and isn’t decadent and amazing. The chips are amazing. Thick cut potato chips with just the right amount of crispy and chewy. The chips are city in a pool of melty blue cheesey goodness with large chunks of Maytag blue cheese swimming around. There is  just a bit of the sauce and cheese drizzled on top of the chips. It kept the chips from becoming too soggy and icky. This dish of fabulousness gave us time to get close enough to 6:00pm to put in our dinner order.

We had originally intended on ordering the BBQ Pork Sliders. They’re on the dinner online menu, but they were not on the restaurant dinner menu! After a bit of a discussion – and trying to overcome our severe disappointment – and with Dominick’s help – about what we were planning on ordering, he came up with a simple solution: The Red Wattle Pulled Pork Plate. This let us try the 2 sides we were going to order as appetizers and have BBQ pork at the same time. Sheer genius!

What arrives is this gigantic platter of goodness. Fork and Spoon are never quite sure that the white bread is about. But, white bread aside, on our fabulous platter was BBQ pulled pork, hush puppies, mac & cheese, pickles and cole slaw. The pickles are crispy and tangy and sweet. The cole slaw? Take a page from the Daily News, soak it, shred it, put it in a ramekin, voila, cole slaw. It was just plain awful. The crusty mac & cheese was really yummy. The crust was – well, as the name implies, crusty! There was a wonderful smokiness about the dish. Very cheesy, pasta not mushy. The hush puppies were so good! Free form in shape, flecks of herbs throughout, great flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The pork was totally the star. It’s seasoned really well, but dry rubbed, not in sauce. Don’t th ink for a minute this means it was dry! Not by any stretch of the imagination. The pork was tender and falling about and very moist. There was a terrific vinegary tang to it.  On each table is a trio of sauces that are made in-house at Bubby’s. One is vinegar based, one is spicy tangy and one is mustard based. The spicy and mustard were our favorites. These sauces were good on everything!

One of the sides that we had to try, but couldn’t include in our platter was Cauliflower James Beard Style. Lightly sautéed, herbs, breadcrumbs. Needed a little salt. We needed a vegetable! And this totally fit the bill. Mostly healthy, very good.

As we were sitting and happily sipping iced tea and munching away on our s, Spoon spied Dominick bringing a biscuit to a table behind us. Tines spun around so quickly to see the biscuit it’s a wonder we weren’t permanently damaged. Spoon called over our dear Dominick and merely pointed. He winked, turned and when he reappeared he had 2 of the most beautiful biscuits we had ever seen. They were so tall and golden – popover sized. You could see how flakey they were just by looking at them. They were piping hot. When you broke them open the insides were tender, just beckoning for butter! The outside was crispy with a slight saltiness to it. Dominick told us there was a new gal as the pastry chef and she had just made the biscuits. We would have run into the kitchen and kissed her had we been allowed!

And of course dessert. It can’t be a true adventure without dessert. We were still reeling from the deliciousness of the biscuit and wanted to try and blankly staring at the spinning dessert display. Every single pie and cupcake and cookie looked amazing. We couldn’t decide. We looked to Dominick and he simply said ‘Sour Cherry’. SOLD! Michigan sour cherries tucked into a flaky and crisp crust. Not too sour, not too sweet, just enough of both elements to satisfy your palate. A little whipped cream on the side and Bob’s your uncle.

I wish I could remember the pastry chef’s name. I know she was knew when we were there for dinner, I am pretty sure her name began with a K, maybe Spoon will remember. If you see this – YOU ROCK!

If you’re jonesing for good BBQ, Bubby’s will satisfy you! While we ate in Tribeca, there’s also a location in Brooklyn.

Bubby’s ~ 120 Hudson Street ~ New York, New York ~ 212.219.0666
Bubby’s ~ 1 Main Street ~ DUMBO ~ Brooklyn, NY ~ 718.222.0666
Bubby's on Urbanspoon

5 Napkin Burger

Those of you who follow along with the Cutlery know that our last trip to 5 Napkin Burger was les than stellar. But here we were in Astoria, attending a concert at the Frank Sinatra School, on a dark and stormy night – it was as if fate stepped in, placed 5 Napkin Burger across the street and said, ‘Come, give us another try.’ Like the Lemmings we can all be at times, we took the easy way out and walked across the street to 5 Napkin Burger.

The space is great. Larger than the space on 9th Avenue. Basically the same decor. Far less harried. Far less claustrophobic. Much nicer staff. Now, that could be from Spoon’s becoming a fixture there, or it could be just a more relaxed atmosphere, or just nicer staff. So far so good.

Iced tea bottomless and plentiful. Water glases and iced teas are refilled before the empty glass is set back on the table.

Our waiter came over and presented us with both the regular menu and the Queens Restaurant Week menu. Here is where our dilemma began. Knork wanted only the appetizer from the special menu, Fork wanted only the entree from the special menu, Spoon wanted everything on the special menu. Sigh. The solution turned out to be simple though. Fork ordered the special menu, but Knork had the appetizer. And Knork order the main course from the regular menu and had the dessert from the special menu.

To start, because we were ‘Starvin’ like Marvin’, we ordered the Pork Taquitos. Slow cooked pork, tender as anything, nestled inside crispy little tacos shells. So good. Piled on top of the pork is salsa, lettuce and queso fresco. The only thing that seemed to be lacking in this dish was lime. It needed copious amounts of lime. But a simple request was all it took for the lime to arrive within seconds.

We also ordered a stack of Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings. Seriously crispy. Almost a cross between a batter and a coating. The corn meal makes them so crunchy.  Fresh onions, but cooked long enough for them to not be raw, and short enough for them to still be crisp. Great dipping sauces.

For a starter, Spoon and Knork both had the Corn and Potato Chowder from the Restaurant Week menu. It looked delicious. It was perfect for the cold, rainy night we had yet to face. The chowder was thick. Nice sized pieces of tender potato, lots of fresh corn. Very fresh, very good. The tiny sprinkling of bacon on the top didn’t hurt either!

Spoon and Fork both had the Short Rib Sliders from the special menu. These sliders were slammin’! They were OMG good. The short ribs were unbelievably moist and tender. On top of the short ribs was a chowchow that was both spicy and sweet. Giving the perfect amount of OOMPH to the short ribs – like they needed any! The House Cured Pickles were amazing, so much so that we asked for more. It couldn’t be helped. They cut the richness of the short ribs and were just so good on their own! Anyone out there in 5 Napkin land who reads this – please, oh please, put these on the menu permanently!

Knork, who always has to be different, ordered the Italian Turkey Burger. Put all of your thoughts about turkey burgers aside. This turkey burger was amazing. Very moist. Smothered in mozzarella cheese and a spicy tomato sauce, this burger was the total pacakge. The burger was served on a sesame egg roll with vinegar peppers on top. The aromas wafting across the table from the burger were stirring food envy in the Spoon and Fork. THe burger was served with a side of fries. Their fries are great too. Thinly cut, very cruspy, could have used a touch of salt, but that isn’t something that’s really a problem.

For dessert, Knork had a Black & White Shake. No picture, it was gone in a flash! But according to Knork it  was thick and perfect.

Spoon and Fork shared the Brownie Sundae that was on the special menu. Gooey caramel, chunks of brownies, vanilla ice cream, nuts. Does anything else really need to be said? We didn’t think so!

What a totally different experience 5 Napkin Burger in Astoria was. We can’t wait to go back again and again! Great service, great staff, great food, great everything!

5 Napkin Burger ~ 35-01 36th Street ~ Astoria, NY ~ 718.433.2727
Five Napkin Burger on Urbanspoon

Bark Hot Dogs

At the northern end of Park Slope, on Bergen Street, just off 6th Avenue, sits the unassuming Bark Hot Dogs. Very plain front. So plain, that during the day, with the neon sign off, it’s easy to walk right past Bark. But don’t get the idea that these are dirty water dogs or some burnt weiner at a backyard BBQ. These are Bark Dogs and they are amazing.

Bark’s mission statement is simple – only use high quality, local, and sustainable ingredients. The meat for the burgers is freshly ground every day. The pickles, relishes, and sauces are made onsite. Each hot dog and hamburger – cutlery cannot live by hotdog alone – is slow cooked to order on the griddle.  There is nothing fast about this fast food. The only things not made onsite or for Bark is Heinz Ketchup, French’s Yellow Mustard, and Hellman’s Mayonnaise – some things cannot be perfected.

Keeping with the Local and sustainable ideology of Bark, they use only recycled products in their restaurant and ask customers to recycle when finished eating as well. The interior was designed using reclaimed materials.

Looking through their website, they list all of the local ingredient resources they use – from New York, Heritage Farms for the pork, Hartmann’s Old World Sausage makes private label hot dogs especially for Bark, dairy, fruit and vegetables all from the tri-state area, and let’s not forget the all important Il Laboritorio de Gelato ice cream used in their incredible milkshakes!

Bark is a no nonsense, easy going place. The seating, sadly, is those dreaded  high tables and stools, but in this situation, in this place, they work. Up to eight people can eat at each table. There are two tables for two on the side. And, for those who cannot live without being tied into the internet,there is free wi-fi.

You walk up to the counter, stare at the menu hanging on the wall and order. You almost feel like a Lemming – standing, staring, head slightly cocked to one side, in exactly the same stance as all your fellow diners waiting to or trying to decide what to order. It isn’t that ordering is difficult, it’s just seriously difficult to narrow down your choices. You order, get your drinks and sit and wait. After your order is cooked to perfection, it’s brought over to your table by one of Bark’s very friendly staff.

For drinking is soda and beer. The soda is supplied by the wonderful Foxon Park beverage company in Connecticut. If you haven’t tried these sodas, please do, they are really yummy! The flavors are very crisp and clean. The beer is from Sixpoint Craft Ales brewed right in Brooklyn. We didn’t imbibe on this trip – it was a little early even for the most adventurous of cutlery.

Now here is where it becomes fun! The hot dogs are made from a combo of pork shoulder, pork jowl and beef shoulder. They are slowly cooked on the griddle. When they are done, as if they need any help in the taste department, they are brushed one of the house specialties, Bark Seasoning Butter – pork fat that’s smoked and rendered into lard, then whipped with butter and sea salt – cardiac arrest on a brush! The hot dogs are then served on New England style hot dog buns – that is to say, no crust on the sides and slit on the top – which have been toasted and, of course, buttered. For those faint of artery, there are all beef hot dogs and veggie hot dogs as well and they are not brushed with the nectar of the gods.

This trip to Bark was to celebrate Jam Spoon’s birthday. Fork, Shish Kebab Stick and Knork decided Jam Spoon should have an all American birthday celebration.

Knork – being a hot dog purist – ordered the Bark Dog, which is topped with sweet pepper relish, mustard and chopped raw onions.  It was gone in seconds so Fork is assuming it was liked. The only remark? It’s a regular sized hot dog for a foot long price. Perhaps it’s pricey, but Fork dares you to find a hot dog this good anywhere else!

Fork ordered a Bacon Cheddar Dog. Already knowing that this meal was not going to be calorie conscious, Fork figured go big or go home. Really, what’s a 20,000 calorie meal between friends!? So what if the tines don’t fit into the jeans anymore! Truthfully, this hot dog was worth every single calorie laden bite. The hot dog was grilled to perfection. The skin crisp from the griddle with that perfect snap you want when you bite into a hot dog. Dripping on top was a wonderful, gooey cheddar cheese sauce made from Grafton Village Cheddar in Vermont. Sprinkled on top of that was braised bacon, crisp, salty, adding another amazing layer of flavor to this wonderful hot dog. And just when you thought the fun was over – chopped, pickled red onions . Look at that hot dog! Is that a beautiful, mouth watering sight or what!? 

Now, for some reason Shish Kebab Stick and Jam Spoon ordered Bark Burgers. Why? I don’t know. But from the look of the burgers, the silence that was coming from the two of them, and the blink of an eye way the burgers disappeared, they must have been good. The burgers are made from organic beef from Wrighteous Organics in New York. They are a mixture of beef short ribs, beef top round and pork jowl. After being grilled to perfection, the burger is served on a sesame seed bun with shredded lettuce, chopped Bark dill pickles, Bark bread and butter pickles, red onion and a secret special sauce. Burger King watch out, there is definitely a NEW Whopper in town.

Fries. Did we mention the fries? The basic building block of Bark Fries are the salt and pepper fries.  Dark and crispy on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside. Just the right amount of salt and pepper to make these potato perfection. Trust me, if you thought the Golden Arches had good fries, you ain’t had nothing yet. These need to be eaten by greedy handfuls. Bacon is a seriously recurring theme at Bark, and you can have these salt and pepper fries with bacon, like Shish Kebab Skewer did. Same yummy bacon that made an appearance on Fork’s hot dog is crumbled on top of the fries. From there, we had another order taking the fries to yet another level – fries with cheddar AND bacon. Salty, cheesey, bacony, goodness. Can it get better? Well, yes it can and Bark takes fries steps further. First you have gravy fries, same crispy goodness, smothered in a hearty gravy. You have Chili Cheddar Fries, self explanatory. Which, by the way, you can add bacon to either or both of these if you are so inclined. The head of the fry insanity at Bark are the Disco Fries – same thin cut, crispy fries, smothered in gravy AND cheddar cheese. Add bacon to the Disco Fries and you get a side of defibrillator.

There is definitely a trip back to Bark for Fork and Spoon. There’s a Crispy Pork Sandwich on the menu!  Bark takes Heritage’s pork shoulder, belly, and jowl and press it into a seriously porky patty and deep fry it to a noisy, crispy perfection. The patty is topped with a crisp slaw and thin rounds of Heirloom hot peppers to give it an extra kick. As if it needs more, it’s then topped with whole-grain mustard and bread-and-butter pickles, and served on a soft seeded bun. There is so much going on here it has to be tried!

There is Brisket Chili and Baked Beans – both made in house each day. Onion rings. And they make breakfast! So many things to still try. They may need to make bigger stools by the time we’re done!

Bark is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner from noon to midnight. Breakfast is served only on the weekend. Friday and Saturday you can get your bark on until 2:ooam.

Bark Hot Dogs ~ 474 Bergen Street ~ Brooklyn, New York ~ 718.789.1939
Bark Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon
Bark Hot Dogs in New York on Fooddigger

Fatty ‘Cue

Fork needs to start this off with – oh, YES, Spoon, we will be going back!

It was one of those Saturday nights where you knew you wanted to do something, needed to do something, but you couldn’t even begin to think of what that something should be. Knife called Fork with the same lament, and thus began the battle cry and battle, ‘I am hungry! Let’s go out!’, but where? ‘Do you have an idea, Knife?’, ‘Nope. Do you have an idea, Fork?’ ‘FORK NO! Do I ever?’ And then fate stepped in, as Fork got into Knife’s car Fork sat on Time Out New York and as Fork pulled the magazine out from beneath the tines, the magazine fell open to a photo of the Pork Spare Ribs from Fatty ‘Cue, and that was all the encouragement we needed!

Now, the rub (pardon the BBQ reference) – how to get there!? Thank goodness for the GPS. Truth be told, even with the GPS, we weren’t sure we were heading in the right direction. Fatty ‘Cue is tucked in near the base of the Williamsburg Bridge – Brooklyn side – and the front so innocuous that you could easily drive past it. Fatty ‘Cue is the collaboration of Jack Pelaccio (Fatty Crab) and Robbie Richter’s (Hill Country).

The concept of Fatty ‘Cue is simple – high quality meat, cooked low and slow, fused with exotic ingredients like palm syrup, fish sauce, galangal (Siamese ginger), lemongrass, for an Asian fusion BBQ perfection.

Now from the outside, Fatty ’Cue isn’t the easiest restaurant to figure out. It looks like a dive bar, the entrance down a couple of steps. Once inside it feels like a frat party – loud music, deadly cocktails, seriously great staff. The front room has seating for eating, but eating in the bar room requires a lot of screaming to make yourself heard, if you want to have any conversation. Through the bar, down a small hallway, around the kitchen, up some steps, there is another small dining room. There is a door there that leads to the BBQ pit and some outdoor seating. Up more stairs, there are more tables.

Once seated and getting a chance to look at the menu, you realize that Fatty ‘Cue is not for the culinary faint of heart – serious pork and serious HEAT. The tables are very small – especially for a place that plates are meant to be shared.  It’s a bit on the pricey side. You are warned by the staff that food comes out of the kitchen in whatever order the chef feels the need to cook and send out.

First to arrive at our soon to be over flowing table was ‘Cue Coriander Bacon. Just when you thought you had enough pork belly (Really? Is that even possible!?), Fatty ‘Cue comes up with an idea to keep you on the belly hook.  Pork Belly cut into domino sized pieces – which would be totally fine just on their own. There are, sadly, only about 5 or 6 pieces – MORE please!  Next to the bacon are buttery triangles of Pullman bread (which make a few appearances on the menu).  As if bacon and toast aren’t enough, there is also a yellow curry custard.  The curry custard is almost the consistency of a panna cotta, but with a flavor profile intense with turmeric, cumin, coconut, and other palate tingling ingredients.  It’s like a very sophisticated bacon and eggs with toast.

Just as an aside, that squishy white bread is baked by Dragon Land Bakery in Chinatown. Not being a white bread eater myself, it reminds you – almost – of Wonder Bread from your childhood.

And this wonderful toast came to our table again with our next arrival, Dragon Pullman Toast with Master Fat.  Sounds like the name of one those cheesey, badly dubbed, Kung Fu movies that used to be on television on Saturday mornings. The thick slices of buttery toast came this time paired with ‘Master Fat’. This amazing master fat is rendered from every animal that comes through the kitchen – pork mixed with beef which is mixed with duck which is mixed with lamb and throw in some bacon rendering for good measure. It’s like schmaltz on crack. The only complaint Fork had? It needed a little saltiness.

Our table was quickly filling up! Next arrived Pork Spare Ribs. They are cooked in a smoked fish sauce, palm syrup and Indonesian long pepper.  Yes, yes, a strange sounding combination of ingredients.  But the smokiness of the fish sauce keeps the palm syrup from being too sweet and the pepper from being too hot. The ribs are fall of the bone tender. The order of ribs is a little strange though. 3 ribs to the order, but you can buy a 4th rib for $5. 3? Really? That number doesn’t work for a table of 2, certainly not for a table of 4. But delicious and sticky and smokey and sweet they are. A definite must try.

The last main dish we ordered was American Wagyu Brisket. Wagyu’s translation is Japanese beef, so this is American Japanese beef brisket from Texas – go figure! This took a couple of plates to bring out, which really started to encroach on the limited space left on our plate laden table. Along with the brisket was chili jam, aioli, cilantro, pickled red onions, a beef au jus and bao. The brisket is served two ways – some slices of leaner brisket from the top half and some of the more marbled and fatty deckel (burnt ends for those who have traveled this way with us before). Fork has to admit the top half was too lean and a bit dry. The bottom half was smokey, fatty, tastey perfection.  This was our third do-it-yourself type dish. A bao, a little beef, a little cilantro, onions, chili jam – oh, skip the aioli – and a dip in the au jus. Very nice.

We had ordered a side of a cauliflower dish Knife was dying to try. It never arrived. No explanation was given. And they said they would take it off our check. Oh, how very kind of you.

Fork really wanted to dig a tine into a Fatty Bar, but they were out.  Knife is never one for dessert.  The waiter explained the only dessert available that night was First Prize Pie‘s S’mores Pie.  It sounded too good to pass up. A really thick, buttery, crispy graham cracker crust serves as the slightly salty base for this masterpiece. On top of the crust is a thick layer of Callebaut milk chocolate ganache. Can it get better? Oh, yes it can. On top of this is a layer of handmade marshmallow fluff – toasted! All the fun of a s’mores without the ants. And to make it slighty more decadent, they pour cream on top. Fork could have done without the cream, but he seemed to be pouring before I answered yes or no!

And while the plates and tables are small, and the portion size smaller, the cocktails are fantastic and give a mighty punch! Knife had a Preamble – a mixture of rye, green chartreuse (can there really be a different type of chartreuse? Isn’t that redundant?), cherry herring, lemon and maraschino. Fork imbibed a Foreplay Cocktail – aperol, yuzu, prosecco, mezcal and smoked grapefruit juice. WOWZER! 

On Sundays a whole pig goes in the smoker. It’s then sold off in mixed parts, with a pineapple curry, Thai basil and bao. It is sold on Sunday and into Monday until it is all gone. This is a definite must try next trip!

Fatty ‘Cue ~ 91 South 6th Street ~ Brooklyn, NY ~ 718.599.3090
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Fatty Cue in New York on Fooddigger

Cafe Fiorello

One of the nicest parts about attending an event at Lincoln Center is the pleasure of eating at Cafe Fiorello . Cafe Fiorello is a wonderful Italian restaurant that has been in business across the street from Lincoln Center for 30 years.

The menu is huge. There are over 50 different antipasti alone. There are many Italian classics on the menu – really something for everyone.

When you first walk into the restaurant there is a seafood bar, with places to sit and eat and watch your dishes being made. The dining room is comfortable and warm, tables not too close together. Many small booths along the wall. Serving Spoon and Fork were lucky enough to sit in one of the small booths on the side of the main dining room. Because the booths are against the wall, no one bangs into one of the diners walking through the dining room.

The wine list is extensive and wonderful. Fork and Serving Spoon each tried the Vernaccia. Very light, Tuscan wine, crisp. Very yummy. With dessert, Fork had Moscato D’Asti with dessert – sweet, effervescent.

Fork and Serving Spoon had every intention of ordering from the Restaurant Week menu – we really did. It was a terrific menu. Three starters, three mains, yucky desserts. As an aside – the dessert is important too! So many Restaurant Week menus have really weak dessert courses. Why? Icecream is not a special dessert. But here, I digress.

Our server Curtis was terrific. Very enthusiastic about the menu, very knowledgeable about the ingredients, very accommodating, at ease, and friendly.

Although we were set for the Restaurant Week menu, once Curtis started to describe the special salad for the evening, our eyes started roving the regular menu – and that was that! Off to the regular menu we went!

For our starters we first ordered the special salad of the evening. A deconstructed salad that was mainly baby arugula with some field greens with a light, citrusy dressing. It needed to be light to stand up to, but not over-power, the peppery arugula and all the ingredients in the salad. There was a candied pear. Fork doesn’t think candied is necessarily the right word, but it was very sweet and was a nice contrast to the arugula. There were also chopped pickled beets, some sugared walnuts, halved grape tomatoes, a red currant gastrique, and a round of goat cheese that was lightly coated and fried. I know, I know, a lot of ingredients on the plate, but they all worked together so beautifully.

Our second starter was Cheese Fravioli.  This can be ordered with two ravioli or four ravioli. Fork and Serving Spoon looked at each other, not wanting to be piggies, but thinking two ravioli would not be enough. Curtis to the rescue. He told us the ravioli were rather large, we should order two. And large they were. Each a four inch square. Fried and golden. Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. The filling is Stracchino cheese. Stracchino is a mild cow’s milk cheese – said to come from the milk of tired cows (stracca meaning tired). It is said that milk from tired cows is richer in fats and more acidic. Fork doesn’t know about that, it was DARN GOOD! When you cut into the ravioli the cheese was soft and stringy, great flavor. But, if that isn’t enough for you, each ravioli was topped with slices of prosciutto. Holy McMoly. A few more of these and a gigantic salad and you would be set.

But of course we couldn’t just leave it at that!

Both Fork and Serving Spoon ordered the Sliced Prime Steak with Potato Fonduta. A beautiful 28 day dry aged steak. Nice sized portion. Cooked perfectly, seasoned beautifully. Now, some may think that would be enough, but oh, no. This steak was like butter (think Mike Meyers imitating Barbara Streisand here). Fork could have used a fork to cut through this steak. It literally melted in your mouth. Just amazing. Served along with the steak was a potato fonduta. Fork isn’t quite sure how to properly explain this to you all. It’s a potato pie, covered with melted cheese. Fonduta is a fondue. So Imagine a potato pie, slices of mushroom, nicely seasoned, covered in meted fontina and mozzarella. The texture is amazing. Potatoes were nice and firm, the mushrooms gave it a nice earthiness, and the cheese was not quite as liquidy as a fondue, slightly more solidified. So, so good! Just a little complaint – it might be nice to add a little vegetable to a plate – but at least in this case there was something on the plate besides the steak.

The really bad dessert choices on the Restaurant Week menu is what really pushed the envelope for Fork and Serving Spoon to switch menus. Cheesecake or icecream. Yuck.

Serving Spoon ordered the Cannoli Siciliani. What arrived were two beautifully plated cannoli. These were not what you automatically think about when the word cannoli is said. The shells were almond tuille. Very light and crispy. Nice almond flavor. The filling was made with ricotta cheese, but it was much drier than the usual cannoli filling. There were chocolate chips scattered throughout the cream. The cream wasn’t overly sweet. The cannoli were sitting in a pool of blueberry sauce. Blueberry sauce in February – now, you know these weren’t local and most likely frozen, but the sauce was still yummy. Scattered around the plate were sliced, toasted sugared almonds.

Fork ordered the Limoncello Tart. Before Fork starts – what is with the MINT? Do you see the tree in the middle of that tart slice? Why? Who eats it? Does it really look great? If you think your dessert can not stand on a plate without foliage, maybe your dessert needs some vavavoom of it’s own. A sugared mint leaf or two, okay, but this nearly required a machete along with a dessert fork. Thick, sweet, buttery graham cracker crust. Fork loves a good graham cracker crust – and this was a really good graham cracker crust. The tart crust was filled with luscious lemon curd. Tangy, citrusy, sweet, lemony, yummy. To make this even better, the lemon curd had a brulee top. Really! As you were putting your dessert fork into it, it cracked. Perfect topping for the tart. The caramel brulee, slightly burnt sugar taste was great against  the tart, sweet lemon curd. There was a quenelle of whipped cream – could have been a little sweeter. And what is wrong with a dollop, what is with the ever present quenelle. Chefs are making quenelles out of everything. Enough already – so over the quenlle. At the side of the tart was a small pile of long, very thin lemon zest. Not sugared. Not candied. Just lemon zest. Why? Lose the herbage, make the whipped cream a dollop, and either lose or candy the lemon zest and this dessert would be stellar.

If you are going to Lincoln Center and need a fab place to eat, this is the place. Actually, if you need a dynamite place to eat this should be on your short list of choices!

Cafe Fiorello ~ 1900 Broadway ~ New York, NY ~ 212.595.5330
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