Monday, August 30, 2010

Marlow & Sons

It's not often that I come across a restaurant that is so memorable that I hardly know where to begin. Well, I have been sitting in front of my computer for the past thirty minutes recounting my extraordinary meal at Marlow & Sons - and all I see is a blank screen - well, now two sentences. I keep smiling as I can still almost taste every dish I devoured there last week. However, my great imagination is not helping me make any headway. While I wish I was this taken by a restaurant more often, it is probably best for all of you as I would never be able to finish a post (and keep my friends, family, and job).

So, where do I begin? It was the start of the year when I first mentioned this spot to you as it was part of A Mouth Watering Line Up for 2010. At that point in time, I stated that I was embarrassed to admit I had yet to experience Marlow & Sons. I am now just kicking myself for having missed out on it for the past few years. No matter the night of the week, I could easily find a reason to hop on the L train, walk 15 minutes south and dine here. The comfort in the setting whether at the rustic bar or wooden tables may be just what you are looking for on a low key Monday evening. Or perhaps, this romantic dimly lit country dining room is your idea of the perfect Saturday night date. Sign me up for any and all of these outings.

There are very few places that could get away with a menu offering just a few options and those that are as simple as "spaghetti," "tomato salad," or "soup." But that is one of the many great distinctions of Marlow & Sons. There is so much more to each and every dish that a detailed menu would actually never do them justice. The elaborate descriptions could never be captured on paper, only partially captured by mouth, and entirely captured by tasting. And even the simplest options of meats and cheeses that are just listed by name are so much more than that. Their delicate selection will provide options for all palates. If you are a fan of salami with peppercorn, I highly recommend the Toscano. I could eat plates of this thinly sliced meat - and it pairs extremely well with just about any kind of cheese.

While the menu is constantly changing, I urge you to order the salads that they offer that evening. I know it can sometimes be hard to get excited about a salad, but believe me, these will do the trick. I had heard a close friend say this before - and while I trusted him, it was not until I experienced it for myself that I really felt that excitement (I hope you can feel it now)! We ordered both the bean salad and the tomato salad. While both were incredible, it was the bean salad that blew me away. It was served with green beans, wax beans, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, leeks, basil and homemade croutons. It is the combination of the freshness of ingredients combined with their house dressings that set these creations apart. The tomato salad was served with red and golden beets, red onions, basil, and a homemade blue cheese dressing.

The soup of the evening was a pureed gazpacho garnished with homemade croutons, crispy salami, and a poached egg. Not only was this completely clever, but it was delicious. We rounded out the evening with their bouillabaisse which was served with just about every kind of seafood you can imagine in a light broth with fennel. Again, a traditional dish, but unlike most bouillabaisses which are heavy, this was prepared in such a unique, delicate way. And, of course, at the end of the night, there was no way to pass up on dessert. We went with their signature chocolate and caramel tart. I really hope and believe this is one of the few constants on the menu. While the two layers of chocolate were divine, it was the layer of homemade, soft caramel in the middle that completely wowed me. The sea salt sprinkled on top made it harder and harder to resist another bite.

Well, that wasn't so bad after all! My only difficulty now seems to be knowing where to end. I think I will just go back to daydreaming about last week's meal at Marlow & Sons. That seemed to keep my fingers from typing...

Marlow & Sons on Urbanspoon

Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway
Brooklyn, New York 11211
(718) 384-1441
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My excitement after discovering an ideal restaurant for groups in New York will never get old. It would be one thing if these sorts of discoveries were a regular occurrence. However, given the number of occasions we all eat out in large groups, they are never as easy to come by as we all would like. I know I just recently preached a similar tale back in the winter as I shared my wonderful group dining experience at Barbossa with you. But, it's true. The options for eating out in large groups that actually leave you in a festive mood are few and far between. And if it always takes me over six months to find another gem, well then, point proven.

Bogota, my latest group dining finding located in Brooklyn's Park Slope, is hardly new to the scene. Open for over five years now, it has been satisfying diners looking for a celebratory atmosphere and authentic Latin cuisine for many years. I will start to blame my full-time residency in Manhattan as the reason it has taken me so long to happen upon this spot. However, there is really no excuse as its constantly packed dining room on even a Monday night indicates Bogota is more than just a neighborhood joint. There are unbeatable specials nearly every night of the week that keep the regulars and attract those from afar.

And no matter the night of the week you end up here, I guarantee it will be hard to pass up on the pitchers of mojitos or other mixed drinks. With a bar full of infused liquors such as jalapeno tequila or black cherry gin, the greatest challenge of the night will be deciding how to satisfy your thirst. No matter your choice, it will pair perfectly with the plantain chips and homemade pico de gallo served at every table. You may also have a hard time deciding on the rest of your meal since the many options are so appealing. Whatever you choose or even as you choose, I highly recommend ordering an empanada sampler. This allows a sampling of four made with either Colombia cornmeal or Argentinian wheat. My favorites of the former was the chicken and potato and of the latter was the beef picadillo with chipotle tomato sauce. For vegetarians, the black bean and feta as well as the goat cheese with queso blanco are excellent options. You will also find other great sharing options in arepas, chips, quesadillas, and patacones sections.

For main courses, options range from large soups and salads to sandwiches and main dishes. Whatever your Latin craving may be, it can certainly be satisfied. I highly recommend the tortilla soup and it is quite a filling option. The soup is made with chicken, spicy chipotle broth, tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, jack cheese, and cilantro. This hearty dish has the perfect combination of heat and fresh flavors. Depending on your mood, you can choose from beef, pork, poultry, seafood and vegetarian main courses - all to be accompanied by your choice of sides. My favorite is the jalapeno grilled catfish served with jalapeno marinade, fruit salsa, and tartar sauce with the sides of gallo pinto (sauteed black beans, white rice, cilantro, and onions) and vinegar based red cabbage salad. Both paired perfectly with the fish. Although I imagine they would do so next to skirt steak chimichurri, chicken mole, or any other hearty dish served.

It is amazing that one restaurant covers so much ground with one simple kitchen. There is no doubt that here you will find your favorites from both Central and South America and done so quite authentically. Although, I have to admit I am speaking from what I can only imagine to be authentic as I have yet to visit this part of the world. In my imagined Latin culture, I also envision group outings to be more than a regular occurrence. How could they not be in a land with such festive cuisine? In proclaiming such praise for this Brooklyn group dining find, I believe I've found the perfect opportunity for me to verify the authenticity of Bogota's food and setting. Looks like it is time for an adventure to Latin America! Until then, I stand by this recommendation on completely solid ground.

Bogotá Latin Bistro on Urbanspoon

Bogota Latin Bistro
141 Fifth Avenue
(Park Slope) Brooklyn, New York 11217
(718) 230-3805
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Monday, August 2, 2010


Why isn't my office in Soho? Why aren't we in Morningside Heights right now? How is everything so delicious? Those were the exact thoughts continuously running through my mind as I devoured every morsel of panino set in front of me at Salumè last week. For those of you who do work in Soho, Nolita, Tribeca, Greenwich village or even Midtown (honestly, I would hop on that subway if I were you), your lunch world has just been turned upside down - and I mean, in the best of ways. I have already plotted in my mind the evenings that I will make a dinner detour to Soho prior to its 8 pm closing for even just one bite of a Salumè panino. Weekend shopping trips downtown just reached a whole new level of appeal as a lunch stop here will be well worth facing the packed streets. This place is the real deal. So whether or not you have any business being in Soho around lunchtime, you better start making it your business.

After just one evening spent inside this salumeria, I immediately realized that there is no secret behind its success. This is simply a restaurant full of Italian heart and soul - and that comes directly from its Milanese owner Michele Colombo. He has truly taken it upon himself to bring an authentic taste of Italy straight to New York City. And while last week in my post I clarified the use of the French word tartine, this week I will most proudly clarify the Italian term panini. First of all, and I am just as guilty of this misconception as the next American, panini is the plural and panino is actually the singular. Little did I know that I was so often referencing eating several Italian sandwiches in one sitting. And after eating here that could actually become a regular occurrence. But, what Salumè taught me that was even more astonishing is that the traditional Italian panino is NOT pressed. Pressing, in fact, will actually destroy the intended flavor combinations which is a true waste and even insult when serving the finest of ingredients.

And so Salumè prides itself in serving top quality products and does so with the proper care. All meats here are sliced to order right before your eyes - guaranteeing that when you are served, your sandwich is in its best possible state. After your first bite, you will not need any convincing of this. Not only are the meats of excellent caliber, but the cheeses are held to the very same standard. It's as if the bread was perfectly designed to hold the amount of ingredients that they serve you - oh wait, it was! While the bread is made out of shop, Salumè has managed to create it's very own roll with Eli's Bakery. With such high quality all around, it is amazing to see that the prices are actually comparable to those at your mediocre, local cured meat shop.

I am 100% confident in stating that I do not think you can go wrong here - well, as long as you like meat. They do have vegetarian options, and I imagine those to be excellent as well - but I will only stick to imagining that. We all know how I work and with fine meats before me, the carnivore within cannot hold back. My absolute favorite panino, and I believe it is already the most popular, is the Langhirano - parma prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and extra virgin olive oil. This is certainly one of the most traditional Italian panino combinations and they truly nail it here. The meat and cheese are out of this world. I imagine that I will start repeating myself as I go through each of the sandwiches - gushing about how much I love them and what amazing quality the meat and cheese are. And so, I will spare you the repetition. Instead, I will mention my second favorite - the Bologna made with mortadella, emmenthal, arugula, and mustard. The addition of arugula sells me every time. And then there was the Valtellina - bresaola, brie, sliced lemon and pepper. I loved this simple, yet unique combination of ingredients.

So it's ok to admit it. Before reading this, you thought panini was singular and always pressed. I certainly did before last week. But, that's really just another reason why I love food. One minute you are learning from it, the next you are oohing and ahhing over its remarkable flavors. If you can't get to a culture, food will always be the next best way to get a taste of it. It won't be long before Italian professors and their students are lined up at the door of Salumè. Italian has always been next on my list for languages to learn. Come registration this fall, that just might be my ticket to regular lunches down in soho!

Salumè on Urbanspoon

330 West Broadway
New York, New York 10013
(212) 226-8111
NG (Out of 5):