Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prime Meats

As a restaurant lover in New York City, it is hard not to be intrigued by the Sifty Fifty. But while I trust Sam Sifton as a leading voice in the review world, I by no means feel the need to conquer his list. Now, I am not going to pretend like I haven't counted how many I have tried. In fact, I am currently up to 18. But, with a list that can change every few months where some of my favorites have already fallen right off (no more Babbo!), I like to go on about my business, scouring and selecting restaurants from all kinds of lists, sites, reviews, and storefronts. And, when a restaurant I visit happens to be on the Sifty Fifty, I do smile and think, check! That's another one down - at least, for now, until his list changes yet again.

And now look at me. Two of my last four posts come from THE list! Well, my most recent Sifty stop was over in Carroll Gardens at Prime Meats. Having visited and loved Franky's Spuntino many years ago, it was time to pay a visit to its sister restaurant. Plus, I couldn't pass up accompanying a friend who is in fact determined to cover the entire Sifty Fifty (always happy to help a friend on a culinary mission)! And as with a good number of restaurants on any kind of list, more often than not, be prepared to place your name on a list upon arrival. Unless, of course, you manage to skip out of work and hop a subway in time to beat the rush.

Either way, whether you are waiting for a table or you have managed the early bird special, I encourage you to take a load off and quench your thirst by enjoying their cocktail list. The daily punch is adorable, delicious, and affordable. I am also a big fan of the Aviation made with gin, maraschine liquer, creme de violette and lemon juice as it wasn't too sweet, but still bursting with flavor (and I really just love anything to do with aviators these days). Before you know it, it will be time to decide which meat(s) will soon satisfy your hunger. And not to worry, no matter the time of year, you will not be deprived of greens as the menu is inspired by the freshest, local ingredients in the area. At this farm to table cozy and romantic stop, be prepared to go home full and happy.

The menu is a mix of new American and the best of the German cuisine (hence, the meats). No matter the time of year, I recommend starting off with fresh oysters. This is the kind of place where you know they are going to be the freshest and the best - and yes, I still crave them in the winter as they actually transport me to warmer, sunnier places. You can't go wrong with the warm mushrooms and poached egg served with parsley and garlic. The combination melts in your mouth. We also started with the absolutely delicious celery salad made with celery, celeriac, radish, parsley and topped with cider vinegar and sunflower oil. And for the adventuresome or not, I urge you to order the roasted bone marrow. Forget what you are eating and think about the taste - this is buttery perfection. This dish is served with radish, gremolata, roasted garlic, and toast, so you are free to tailor it to your liking - although it even shines on its own.

For main courses, I highly recommend the roasted La Belle Rouge Chicken breast brined in pickle juice with sauteed greens, pulled thigh meat & mashed potatoes. It is absolutely delicious. Even reading this description makes my mouth water. If you are in the mood for a burger, you cannot go wrong with the black angus patty served on a house-made sesame roll with a fermented dill pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion and hand cut french fries. For more hearty meat options, the slow braised beef brisket in red wine, vinegar and juniper berries with braised cabbage and pretzel dumplings will warm you right up. And while this is no steak house, the steak options are worthy of it. Don't be shy and pass up on the steak-frites. We rounded out all of this lovely meat and produce with the most basic dessert of all - an apple tart. And while it was simple, by the end of the night, it was exactly what we wanted and needed.

Ok, I'll admit it. Mr. Sifton has yet to lead me astray. But, I do still give myself credit for being selective from his list and so far, only picking spots worthy of my review!

Prime Meats on Urbanspoon

Prime Meats
465 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 254-0327
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Welcome to the neighborhood! After living in the west village for nearly 8 years, I do take it personally when a wonderfully warm culinary establishment moves right in. In a neighborhood where restaurants are constantly coming and going, I feel it has become my duty to greet a lucky few with open arms. The minute I walked into Buvette, my arms immediately extended. It's hard for me not to love a restaurant where a chalk-drawn map of France (and Italy) takes over its main wall and the name alone (the french word for refreshment) reminds me of the very reason I have a life outside of my apartment and office. This place already has a buzz in the air - and while it may definitely be coming from the wine, coffee, and even the food, the people have much to do with it too.

The owners are both friendly and hard at work. The minute you walk in, they make you feel as though you have personally been invited to dine with them - even on the busiest of nights. Buvette is tucked away on Grove street in the former home of the Pink Tea Cup, a soul food spot that never quite lived up to its prime location. It's the kind of place that nearly every one can find a reason to stop by. After all, who doesn't need or simply want refreshments in their life? And with both its (soon to be offered) early morning and late night hours, it's up to you whether you want to stop by for coffee or wine - or perhaps even both. The good news is that Buvette recognizes that every great refreshment should be accompanied by delicious food - offering an assortment of small plates to quench your every desire.

The menu is made up of a selection of tartines (open face toasts), fromagerie and charcuterie. However, in addition to these standard offerings, there are nightly specials that fall under the fish, meat, and vegetable categories. These are all small plates, although they are very generously sized as well as generously priced. The only trouble we ran into was fitting everything onto our table - these actually go with the small size theme. However, this meant we were able to take our time enjoying each plate as they were presented to us. Unlike many tapas restaurants, we never had to look at our entire meal in one glance.

I highly recommend the hazelnut pesto with parmesan and orange zest tartine. The citrus and cheese combination was an excellent addition to the hearty spread. I am eager to return and try the other tartines as this one was divine. If the kale and lentils are a nightly special, I urge you to order it. Served in an adorable mini cast iron cassoulet, the lentils are cooked with black kale and shallots in a balsamic sauce. A second cast iron dish full of pork arrived as an excellent compliment to the flavorful vegetarian option. The pork was braised perfectly with apples and calvados creating a savory and sweet taste in the tender meat. There wasn't a dish that left that kitchen that my eyes didn't follow as each and every was so appealing in both presentation and smell. Apologies to my dinner date - although thankfully, she was on the very same page as me. And that's what lead us directly to dessert. There was just no way around ordering the chocolate mousse and I can confirm that our eyes did not deceive us on that front.

I am just relieved I made it there before Lent as I am now off of sweets for the next 40 (now 35!) days. But that certainly will not keep me away from a stop off at Buvette in the near future. It does mean that on my next trip I'll have to keep my focus on my own little table which is probably just good news for my dining companion. And now I've got a legitimate reason to close out my next meal with another savory tartine (something I was tempted to do anyways)! With that kind of modification, Lent may not be quite as tough as it seems.

Buvette on Urbanspoon

42 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 255-3590
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):