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Archive for the ‘Carroll Gardens’ Category

I know that it’s been going on for a while now, but last night was my first foray into this year’s Brooklyn Restaurant week. A joyful time, for those of you who do not know, you better recognize. $23 3-course prix fixe meals at some of Bk’s finest eating establishments. And when a place isn’t fancy enough to dole out 3 courses that are worth $23, then they generously offer a 2-for-1 at $23! Amazing.

So, when my lovely auntie invited me out for a French-African meal at Carroll Gardens’ Korhogo 126, of COURSE I said yes!

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Here it is. It used to be called Bouillabaisse 126.

Since reservations are at a premium during RW, we were relegated to a 6:30 dining spot. Totally fine. After a lovely little sit in the park on Smith and Carroll, we wandered across a BQE overpass (also lovely!) and found the restaurant.

Nicely lacquered wood benches covered with sort of African-looking cushions. Homey-feeling hutch as the wait station, topped with small tribal-looking carved masks and statues. It is no wider than an average brownstone, so at my table against the wall I could see right into the kitchen across the way and see what they were doing. Nice plating, I noted on the way to the bathroom.

Anyway….. what am I here to talk about? Oh right. The food.

One downside of Manhattan’s RW can be that the menus are very small – the fanciest places obviously want to limit the number of things you could get for such a low low price. This menu was nice. I liked it. The least exciting thing on the appetizer menu was a Greek Salad (because of when, you know, the Greeks colonized French-colonized Africa. it was complicated). The most exciting thing (I thought) on the app. list was escargots served in puff pastry with fennel compote. Truth be told, I mostly got it because of the fennel compote – a winter vegetable I love but rarely prepare myself.

When it was served up it was definitely NOT your traditional French escargots! When they are stripped of their shell and butter sauce, it turns out that escargots look sort of like swollen mussels (the kind from the sea, not your bicep), and also taste like a milder, less briny version of mussels. These were prepared in sort of a ratatouille, with richly savory tomatoes. Delicious. Except… I think they got confused somewhere between fennel “compote” and fennel… quartered and steamed. It was nicely steamed, to be sure. Not overcooked, not undercooked… but compote it was not. Whatever.

Auntie got a nice plate of citrus-ey calamari and baby octopusses (ew) I mean octopi. They tasted nice, and were a lovely texture, though she was a little freaked out by the bulbous things that seemed to be baby octopus heads that were still attached to the baby octopus bodies.

On to the main dishes! The seafood menu had 2.5 x more options than the meat or veggie menus so we said – OK! We get the message. And ordered some seafood. Bouillabaise. Again, with the fennel! Bouillabaise with fennel. And I love me some West African peanut stew. So we got that.

The Bouillabaisse base (ha!) was outstanding. SUCH a flavorful broth. And it came with toast points spread with some kind of artichokey aioli – really really delicious. As it should be – the whole restaurant used to be named Bouillabaisse (126). And it came with a variety of seafoods in it. But you know how seafoods all take different amounts of time to cook? And how they’re really easy to overcook? Um, me too. And, Korhogo 126 knows it too. Because while the tilapia was perfectly tender, the mussels and shrimp were straight up overcooked. Maybe that’s why they changed their name. Whatever. Let’s move on to the stew, eh?

Now, when you think of stew, it’s steaming and hearty and generously proportioned, right? Me too. Stew’s made of cheap ingredients so that you can have a lot of it, right? Unless it’s, um, saffron stew, or whatever. Do you think of a scant 3 tablespoons, served with a hearty 1 cup of quinoa? OMG, me neither. We have so much in common, you and I. But on this? We differ from Korhogo 126. Weird.

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An example of what google images classifies as “stew.”

That thing I mentioned above? About the scant blah blah, that’s what I was served. It was weird – like in a diet program where they’re like, you can eat your peanut sauce and lose weight too! I wanted to ask the waiter if he thought I was too pudgy or something. Because. The small bowl the “stew” was served in. Was. Not even. HALF FULL. In fact, it was not even HALF EMPTY! That’s right. What’s an optimist (or pessimist) supposed to do when you’re barely at 1/3 full (or 2/3 empty)? I don’t know.

OK, to give credit where it’s due, the stew was tasty. Not a stew, as you or I would classify it, but you know, it tasted peanut-ey. It was about as much peanut dipping sauce as you’d get for a plate of spring rolls at most Thai places. Whatevs. Oh! And in the menu it was “stew with okra.” I love okra in stew! It finds its natural place there, where its gooeyness has an appropriate time and purpose. But uh… steamed on the side of my plate? I’m back at diet camp, where I’ve never been, so how they can do such an effective job evoking it is beyond me.

Ugh. So then they bring over the dessert menus. Which have on them, yes, a list of desserts. But also prices. So I think OK, they didn’t want to print up new dessert menus just for RW. Saving trees! Props to you, Korhogo 126, I think in my head.

But THEN. Then… well, let’s save that for later. (This is called dramatic tension and foreshadowing) My Momi (the name of the dessert I ordered. not my actual, um, mom) was a banana-millet cake that was really nice! A kind of gooey banana bread. Served with a poached pear, vanilla ice cream, and African honey. All that was a little too sweet, but overall pretty nice. But, do you know what they served it on? Right, a plate, smartass. But what was BETWEEN the plate and the other stuff? Looked to me like nothing but chocolate syrup. And tasted to me like Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Now, that stuff is fine and good, but how distinctive is the flavor of Hershey’s!! It was like they were writing a movie about someone writing a song, and the song they came up with was “Like a Rock.” And that wasn’t a pertinent plot point. I wanted to suspend my disbelief, but I just couldn’t.

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This girl knows what I’m talking about.

Auntie’s dessert was plated on an intensely sweet strawberry sauce that also tasted commercial – it was some combination of strawberries and ice cream and something else. I guess their take on strawberry shortcake? Not so impressive, and not at all nuanced.

Whatevs. Remember that dramatic tension I mentioned earlier? Can you guess what happened? They CHARGED US for the desserts! Assholes! The whole point of Restaurant Week is that you know, up front, how much you’re paying and how much you’re getting. So I do not appreciate them trying to pull a fast one and make us look like some fucking cheapskates just because they can’t stick to a deal.

Suffice it to say, if I had been paying, I would have put up a stink. Auntie is gracious and a grown-up in many ways that I am not, and we left quietly. But I took a solemn vow that I would write a disparaging review for these jerkstores that dared besmirch the decency and trust of restaurant week. For shame, Korhogo 126, for shame.

Pros: Excellent bouillabaisse broth, charming French waiter

Cons: Bloodsucking lying two-faced trolls, heavy-handed with the Hersheys

Korhogo 126

126 Union St., Carroll Gardens

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As many of you already know, Brooklyn Skeptic is chock-full of rabid bocce enthusiasts. This means that we like to get down with the balls & court several times per week. We’ve got needs, you know?

Up until recently, our bocce playing arenas were limited to two bars – Floyd NY and Union Hall. But what happens when a normally free game ends up costing like $50 in beer money? Or when the bartender knows you better than your own family? Or when there are seas of douchebags teeming over the court, their high heels and guido-boots pockmarking the delicate surface? Or when it’s like 6:00 in the morning?

Well, in that case, you haul your ass to Target, pick up your very own set of bocce balls and head over to Carroll Park. The park has two regulation size bocce courts which are like twice as wide and another 20 feet longer than the indoor courts. The extra space and the inability for the balls to roll lead to some creative hurling methods. Additionally, the courts are filled with STD-infected sand, not dissimilar to what you might find on the banks of the mighty Gowanus. You’ll love it.

After we played in the lower STD court, we realized that there is a really nice, fenced-in court just above it. It’s all smooth and raked. Maybe you should try that one out. I’m still picking syringes out of my flip-flops from the other one.

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Park Slope 5th Avenue Festival

Sunday May, 20th 11am-7pm

5th Ave. b/w Flatbush Ave. & 14th Street

 

You should come join in on all the 5th Avenue fun. We at Brooklyn Skeptic love street fairs. (Who doesn’t?) With everything from fried oreos to pashmina vendors, the Park Slope 5th Avenue Festival has got a little something for everyone. Including a grilled cornbread mozzarella sandwich. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. But also, maybe don’t try it if you have high cholesterol and/or IBS. Sometimes the risk just isn’t worth it.

So hope you all have fun at the festival. If it doesn’t rain, I know I will.

 

At the 5th Ave. fest you will be able to purchase:

and:

and:

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The Gowanus Lounge told me that Brooklyn Brewery might move into Smith & 5th!

I once made the trek out to the industrial boneyard that is W-burg to celebrate a fellow blogger’s b-day at the Brewery, and it was great. The only bad part was getting there. And getting back.

Yay beer gardens! I’m thirsty.

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I went to this bar on three separate occasions this weekend. And I bet I’m not the only one. Brooklyn is a great place when it comes to patios. Walking down Court Street for example, there are a number of bars to choose from that offer a nice, relaxing outdoor space. Even the Dunkin’ Donuts has a pretty terrace where the three customers I’ve ever seen eating there can enjoy their pastries. I’ve walked by that Dunkin’ Donuts with Manhattanites, and their heads almost explode. There is such a lack of nice patios in Manhattan, that the idea of giving some up to a Dunkin’ Donuts is mind-boggling. But in Brooklyn, that’s just the way it is.

Gowanus Yacht Club is a bar that is open from the late spring until around Halloween. Located on Smith and President right next to the Carroll stop on the subway, GYC is a small outdoor patio that can probably seat about 40 or 50 people, and is incredibly laid- back. It’s not really a club, and there are no yachts to be seen. Instead, it’s a group of wobbly, colorful tables, parasols, and cheap drinks. The beer selection is quite impressive (ask a waiter – he’ll go on for minutes), and they also offer hot dogs, burgers and the occasional pulled pork entrees.

Pros: Cheap-ish drinks, a drunk but oddly behaved clientele, a friendly and attentive wait-staff, nicotine-friendly environment, bar plays full albums of both new and classic rock, cheap hot dogs.

Cons: Only one bathroom, tight quarters, sometimes tough to get a table, neighborhood kids throwing rocks inside from the street, the grill has been taken away after complaints from neighbors (don’t bring up P.J. Hanley’s ribs around these guys), beer prices are slightly up from last year.

All in all this bar is pretty magnificent. I have the feeling that they’re going to challenge the suspension of their grill, hopefully improving the food situation. In terms of kids throwing rocks inside the bar, one bartender told us his intention of using a bottle of Ballantine as a weapon if they ever come back. That makes me feel safe.

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I thought that probably the best chance of getting my face smacked would be in an argument with a greasy Bay Ridger at some dank-ass bar, deep in Red Hook. Turns out I only had to venture a couple blocks into a quaint residential neighborhood for the bum ticker to get it on.

I should inform you, blogite, that my usual meandering about the streets of Carroll Gardens with roommate Kelley has us fitting in quite well with the surroundings. My darker, seemingly Italian looks and Kelley’s red Irish cocks-comb both harmonize with the culturally intertwined local spirit you can find on display at PJ Hanley’s Bar (that’s for another review). Anyhow, that night circa 2 am, any fear or respect our looks should have inspired didn’t apply to the bored, low-life, hood youngster scum that is so abundant in this town.

We were well into Henry street, a quiet, brownstone-lined, well-to-do area with a corner pizzeria with a front stoop harboring maybe ten teenagers having themselves a New York moment. I’m sure was a deep philosophical discussion they were having, but as we pass by them one of the larger set members suddenly broke loose from the pack. Hollering “Hey, how are you?” as I spun around distracted, this young hoodlum pops a sucker punch right to my left cheek. I was more stunned by the randomness of it all rather than any pain. Kelley, usually the effusive poet, was also rendered quite speechless.

So this pizza-loving douchebag bolts down Henry while his pathetic cronies are yelling in the street, pointing to which way he went. We snap out of shock and by instinct give chase, my vendetta fueled rage kicking in while Kelley spewed between breaths the most vile of ancient Gaelic curses in his repertoire. A couple blocks down Henry, probably at about Second Place, we realize there are still about five of the trolls trailing us. Kelley turns to me and in an Alec Baldwin voiced hush informs me of the potential for an urban ambush.

So we decided right then and there that our best course of action was to avoid an outnumbered street confrontation and so we turned down another street towards Court. The wanking blackhearts declined to follow.

What I should have done was whip out my cell phone and started barking orders in Russian. Then those kids would have been pissing their pants.

Shite happens, I guess…But doesn’t it suck how you always think of those things way after?

By guest blogger, JJP.

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