Saturday, March 10, 2012


I don't know.  I can't say.  I've never eaten there.. nor will I (unless under duress).  Perhaps this is the root of my paucity of followers.... either that, or merely that I am "self-published" on rather than in The Grand Forks Herald.  Either way, apparently, I have several decades ahead of me to potentially figure it out:

Location?  Ubiquity.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I left Flatbush Farm with a sense of disappointment weighing heavily on my soul.  For all the restaurants I have eaten in in Manhattan and Brooklyn , I have taken away a simple souvenir: one business card from each establishment.  I consider them notches on my belt, jewels in the crown.  And Flatbush Farm, well, they don’t have ‘em.  And the funny thing is, is that they didn’t have a reason, really, except for that it was purportedly in keeping with the owner’s aesthetic, which, given its somewhat Luddite approach, is forgiveable.  That, and because everything we actually ate there was really scrumptious.  

We were doing that somewhat rushed, pre-theatre thing, so I can’t say we sampled an extraordinary amount of the menu.  But what we did try was outstanding.  The soup of the day was a luxuriously smooth mushroom bisque, unctuously creamy without the heaviness sometimes equated, essentially pure mushrooms rendered smoothly spoonable.  Another special of the day was a quirkily dubbed a U-10 (unit ten in culinary terms- as in "we won't dumb down for the eater"- ten scallops to the pound = big) scallop on a plush bed of polenta and a moat of lobster bisque.  And because soup can’t reach its destination via a fork, they provided the absent spoon upon request, which was integral in uniting all the elements of the dish in each bite.  Which were marvelous bites.   

A side of fried cauliflower didn't seem fried so much as roasted, but just as richly flavored with capers and lemon.  It would make a perfect complement with just about any of the entrees, or, as had I, rounding out the sizeable scallop appetizer for a light meal.  
Mains include a farm's worth of responsible proteins, grass-fed this and free-range that, paired with innovative, complementary sauces and seasonal produce, as they should.   A homey spaetzle was rich like poutine, with cheese curds and bacon, but also a novel flourish of pureed butternut squash to keep things from leadening out.  I would've loved to have stayed for dessert, but like I said, we were pre-theatre:  Richard was calling.  The III.  As in Kevin Spacey, his third to last performance and for whom would wait for nobody.  So we hustled out without sampling any of the seductive-sounding desserts:  cocoa creme caramel with blackberry sauce, a boozy warm poached apple or (what would've been my choice) a forbidden rice pudding with crushed almonds.  Notably sexy desserts for a restaurant boasting barnyard-chic... or was it my company?

 Our bellies were noticeably full, even though neither of us had really consumed a inordinately full dinner's worth.  The food at Flatbush is fulfilling and satisying so as not to need enormous quantity.  So with that out we rushed into the chill under a rain-threatening sky, with a momentous performance to anticipate.  Lucky for the propriety of Flatbush Farm that their food is good enough that, despite the somewhat rushed, brevity of the meal and the distraction of post-prandial events, I won't forget the delicious, soulful repast.  Even without my business card souvenir.

76 St. Marks Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217


Shorty has left the building.  Josh Eden closed his eponicknamous Shorty's .32 in SoHo to man the helm at August, a lovely, rustic haven that hasn't missed a beat, even with the chef swap, since its aperture over five years ago.   The dark wood, candle-lit glow of this homey restaurant, boasting a charming backyard garden, is the perfect complement to Eden's his simply robust, soulful cooking.

You'd be hard pressed to find a more humble, generous and nicer guy than Eden, and those attributes come through on the plate as well.  A Jerusalem artichoke soup was so lush and nourishing it was like a warm hug from a long-missed friend.  And but an iota of cream: almost pure 'choke.  Strewn atop were chip-crisp fried coins of the tuber, adding texture and amplifying its earthy flavor.  Hamachi tartare is bright and fresh, unctuous cubes of the freshest fish contrasted with crisp, juicy chunks of Asian pear, atop a smear of whipped butter tasting boldly of pure lemon zest.  From the richer side arises Alsatian tarte flambe (below, background).  Sweetly pungent coils of confit onion nestle with meaty hunks of smokey bacon atop a chewy, thin flatbread:  a pizza sporting a beret and liederhosen.

For mains, I always get Josh's skate.  Wherever he goes that I've been, skate is on his menu (pending availability) and he never doesn't do it right.  This time is was propped upon a mess of kale stewed in a rich tomato sugo flanked with wedges of yellow fingerlings.  The skate was crisp-edged and golden, if dampened slightly by the brothy sauce (a thicker sauce would've avoided that).  And to buck the "who orders chicken when you go out?" incredulity, his signature organic roasted bird is a strict carryover from Shorty's: crisply bronzed skin contains steaming juicy, tender meat atop a bed of mashed and a side of green beans.  And these beans, regardless of how addictively delectable they are in their emerald green splendor and garlicky goodness, do foment my one point of contention:  in a restaurant like this, where some of its allure derives from its homey appeal, side dishes are scarce.  It is these green beans that provide the sole vegetable accoutrement, and while the restaurant is called August, the month on the calendar most certainly is not: one could find more seasonal produce to offer up... or at least a winterier preparation than Chinese-style chilled, tasty as they are.  Okay, I know not EVERY restaurant has to have brussels sprouts, but they would've really felt right at home here.

The other a la carte side on hand was a mac-and-cheese (see above picture with tarte flambe).  Rife with rich, multi-cheesed flavor, the macaroni tended to be dry, the perfectly cooked elbows hiding out beneath a gratin crust, rather than the creamy, oozy casserole expected if you're going to expend those kinds of calories.  It's a big serving of it, though.. enough to make a meal with a veggie siiiiddddohhh yeah.  Just those beans.  Well, they would suffice- maybe better a salad, though.

Desserts are simple: a poached pear, chocolate cake, etal.  I went for my go-to apple crumble, which wasn't exactly a crumble so much as cubed, baked apples in a sandy, buttery toss of crumby brown sugar, topped with a scoop of dense, salted caramel gelato.  For the no-frills ingredient line-up, its flavor was, well... pretty frilly. The apples below weren't gooey like pie filling, but distinct chunks roasted to amplify their flavor, and the buttery brown sugar and salty-sweet gelato give the virtuous fruit a naughty little wink.

I think Eden and August make a perfect match.  And it's still winter, now.  I look forward to seeing August's menu evolve and the garden to lose its glass ceiling encasement in the coming months.... summer in the garden of Eden.

359 Bleecker Street
(between Charles & West 10th)
General Information (212) 929-4774
Reservations (212) 929-8727

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Without analyzing it too much, in my very unstudied Italian, I had been thinking all along that Del Posto implied "The Place".  But upon further consideration, il posto is the place... so Google Translate to the rescue provided me with "instead of".  And while I still think that "instead of" would be "del posto da....", there are few other posti in New York that I could honestly recommend instead of Del Posto to achieve anywhere near an equivalent experience.  It is, succinctly, impeccable.

The room looms lofty and spacious, duskily lit and warm, with high enough ceilings and an open mezzanine to diffuse any ambient noise that might otherwise interfere with the grey-haired gentleman's subtle tinkling of the ivories on a Steinway cached underneath a spiral staircase.  (Visit their website:, for a lilting sample of the music)  A softly lit bar lines the south wall and tables horseshoe around behind the maitre d's podium at the entrance, creating the grand effect of a theatre.

But the room is far, far from the main attraction at Del Posto.  The grace of service providing this excellent food makes me rank this restaurant as one of the best, if not THE best, high-end Italians in the city.  I didn't even know to expect the quality that was inherent in every aspect of my meal here, and although the price points should've alerted me, I came away somehow feeling it was more than for even what was paid.

We were welcomed with a triage of individual amuses... all individual flavor bombs that set the stage for the rest of the meal.  A tiny shot of truffled veal consomme flecked with herbs was soothing and saline, restorative yet indulgent. Crisped rice ensconced a robust filling of cheese and herbs in miniature, revamped arancini.  A tiny fritter of chickpea emitted the heady fragrance of truffles, and toasty breadcrumbs swaddled an oozing nugget of melted burrata.  After all those rich, "complimentary" delicacies, I chose a salad, simply prepared but abundantly dressed in chopped black truffles that I began to smell from about fifteen feet away.  Never have a pile of greens tasted so sumptuous and extravagant, such that the presence of any onion, tomato, cucumber, fennel, mushroom or other salad-esque addition would have been completely superfluous.  A plentiful basket of chewy, warm housemade rolls (mine, a floury-crusted multi-grain) was integral in capitalizing on every last morsel of fragrant truffle.  To spread upon these were a milky fresh butter, but also the one demerit of the repast: a waxy pork fat puree- like lard-oleo- barely salted and tasting like cold, congealed bacon fat... except maybe not even as good.  I'm sure this is Mario's residual influence here, and there must be those out there with a taste for such?  (Hello?  Echo, echo, echo....)  But at any rate, it's easily skippable.

Of pastas, all made in-house, a slippery tangle of spaghetti with Dungeness was perked up with scallions and jalapenos... a snazzy little kick to the hulking slabs of sweetly mild crabmeat.  Another, very different selection were tiny agnolotti stuffed with veal, swimming in buttery broth redolent of pecorino and generously coated in truffle dust.  The pasta in this one was a bit heavy, overpowering its delicate meat filling, but the luscious broth lubricated the ensemble to the effect of a happy coupling.

Secondi offered as much variety, but by far my blue ribbon landed upon a brown butter lobster with brussels sprouts leaves, pumpkin and shiitakes (as well as some misplaced walnuts, but they weren't offensive- just incongruous).  The lobster was brilliantly slicked with a dark, umami-rich drizzle hinting of balsamic and stock, surrounded by the earthy, chunky vegetables in perfect proportion.

 Lamb was a little less appealing to me, firstly in that it seemed more rare than medium rare, but also the accompanying artichokes were braised to resemble more the canned variety, with flavors of white vinegar and wine rather than the earthy heft they exhibit when roasted. But the dish, nonetheless, was left with just two stripped bones akimbo on the plate when all was said and done, so obviously nothing I, hardly a lamb afficionado, could critique.

Italian generosita came out in droves with dessert: we order the butterscotch semifreddo, a soft orb of frozen custard atop a thick smear of dulce de leche, incised with a crisp tuile tasting snarkily like frosted flakes, but that melted on the tongue.  Below puddled a macedonia of melon and citrus, cutting the rich, taffy-sweetness of the caramelly dulce and buttery custard.    For novelty's sake, we also sampled the Melanzane e Cioccolato.  For my own sake, however, it was to compare it to Matteo Boglione's version at  White + Church, and of all the delicacies consumed at Del Posto, this was one which I had had better elsewhere.... namely, Chef Boglione's.  But this version was nothing to shake a stick at, but the eggplant's flavor was more pronouncedly bitter and less caramelized, so as to stick out much more like an ill-fitted vegetable amongst the sheep's milk stracciatella and its cosmic loops of dark, semisweet chocolate.

The sweets did not stop there, however, as out came a charming little drawered cheese grater, with miniature cookies and tarts and cakes atop, chocolates, candies and a most ethereal little caramel-filled dehydrated grapefruit concoction that I wished was full-dessert-plate sized.  Although most impractical that would have been.  But somehow, I feel that this restaurant has a really magical quality to it, so that, if it were even remotely possible, Del Posto could make it happen.

85 10th Avenue
(212) 497-8090