• Daniel (2)
• Eleven Madison Park
• Eleven Madison Park (2)
• Eleven Madison Park (3)
• Gabriel Kreuther
• Le Bernardin
• Per Se
• Per Se (2) (extended tasting)
• Per Se (3) (vegetarian tasting)
• Per Se (4)
• Senses (Warsaw, Poland)
If you’ve been reading donuts4dinner since its inception, you know that the original purpose of this blog was to chronicle my rise from a farmgirl to a three-Michelin-star dining powerhouse. Well, since I became a full-time resident of a new Brooklyn neighborhood and also unemployed at the same time, I’ve been focusing on local restaurants and healthier living. It’s been great for the most part–there’s not a lot that’s more satisfying than finding delicious food that’s a short walk away–but part of me has missed the beautiful plating and mindblowing bites of the finest eateries. But then, thanks to my roommate/landlord/former co-worker/boyfriend, I found Brucie in Cobble Hill.
The menu changes nightly at Brucie, so expect to be surprised when you visit.
We were seated at the bar in front of the window looking out onto the street, where our good friend JFK the Woodprint sat watch over us. We felt like we saw him give us a thumbs-up after we placed our order.
My boyfriend ordered this because he said the version he had the first time he visited a couple of weeks ago was so good. The funny thing is that halfway through the dish, he remembered that one of his friends had actually ordered it and that he’d only had a bite or two. It’s not that he didn’t like the calamari, but he didn’t really want to eat a whole bowl of squid. The extra funny thing is that I sort of did want to eat a whole bowl of squid and actually might order this myself when we return to Brucie. It was classic Mediterranean with the capers, lemon, dill, and tomato, and just really fresh and light. The dill especially was a knockout. And not a drip was wasted thanks to the fresh bread served with it.
Nothing against neighborhood eateries, but I was a little shocked when this gorgeously plated appetizer showed up at the table. I was dying to dig into it thanks to all of those colors and textures, but I composed delicate forkfuls for myself like a lady. I actually ordered this dish specifically because I don’t like olives and wanted to challenge myself, figuring that making them into a jam would temper the sour flavor a bit. But no, these were straight-up oil-cured olives, no tempering to be had. And I actually thought they added to the dish next to the charred flavor of the crisp lemon peel. The lentils weren’t much more than a textural element, but the taste of the sweet Marcona almonds and the savory herbs made this such a complete dish.
Just showing off that charred peel that I loved so much.
In the reviews I read of Brucie before our visit, so many of the commenters recommended the chicken “in whatever form”, so even thought the brisket and porchetta were calling to me, I’m so glad we listened to the reviews and tried this dish. The chef delivered it to our table and told us it was a “funky” chicken, and we weren’t sure if she was referring to the ingredients in it or the fact that James Brown was playing over the speakers. I didn’t necessarily find this chicken very funky, but I did find it REALLY, REALLY DELICIOUS. It was a half a chicken, skin crisped and dripping butter. The risotto fritter was all butter and cheese and creamy. The apple was butter-browned and tasted like it might have just been plucked from a pie. But it was the Brussels sprouts that really got us. They were confit, the server told us, and boy, were they. They were just soaked in fat, nearly mushy because of it. My eyes were rolling back into my head as I ate them. I love Brussels sprouts, but these were just so beyond what I’ve eaten. Only the supremes of fresh Meyer lemon and the zing of the red onion kept this from being too rich.
Honestly, the meal I had at Brucie was a five-star meal of the inexpensive variety. It was some of the best local food I’ve eaten in a long time, and I have absolutely no complaints about it, only accolades. But I hesitate to give it five donuts just because I didn’t try any pasta and I didn’t try any dessert there, and those seem like kind of a big deal for an Italian place. I can’t wait to go back and try another preparation of chicken, though, so this won’t be my last Brucie review. And Wednesday nights at Brucie are Italian ramen nights, which I won’t be able to resist much longer. The restaurant had a cool Brooklyn vibe with its novelty wallpaper, 60s soundtrack, and hipster waitresses, but the food was totally serious and careful and could stack up to some of the finest meals I’ve eaten in terms of flavor.
I happen to live in the midst of all of the cutest parts of Brooklyn, so a night out to one of my favourite neighborhood restaurants usually involves passing four more that I want to try the next night. Char No. 4 is one of the places I’ve always noticed with its dark tones, ceiling full of lanterns, and bar bustling every night of the week. I remember looking at the Southern-inspired menu once and thinking it was too small, but when my friend Kim, her cousin, and I decided to go on a recent weekend, I realized that the menu’s actually too big, because I wanted every single thing on it.
Like chicken nuggets, only more flavorful. With spicy mayo.
I didn’t try this because I’m still anti-tomato after all this time, but my dinner companions were surprised and pleased by the shrimp flavor.
As a land-animal-favoring person, I tend toward the bacon side of deviled eggs, but the whitefish was a great addition to these. It was like tuna salad and egg salad in one.
Having recently had a really excellent lamb pastrami, the kind that’ll stick in my memory for quite a while, I was interested to see if Char No. 4’s version could compare. Resto‘s was just a big wallop of pastrami flavor, while this one was more subtle as part of a more composed dish meant to highlight several flavors. I like to be hit in the stomach by my food, so the Resto version will stay at the top of my list, but the aioli and onions from this version made it a real contender.
I was in the mood for a burger that night, and this one hit every spot for me. It wasn’t breaking any of the rules and it wasn’t trying anything fancy, but it was cooked right and made the bun soggy with its juices. I’d go back for it.
Char No. 4 is just the sort of neighborhood restaurant you become a regular at when you’re childless and dual-incomed in the swanky parts of Brooklyn. Our server was hip but very friendly, and you can’t beat the deep, comfortable booths with their low lighting and dark woods for a date night. The whiskey and whisky menus are extensive, the cocktails are expensive but composed and strong, and the food is solid enough that you want to eat it again but pricey enough ($25 for brisket is more than I’ve ever paid in Manhattan) that you’d have to sacrifice a week’s worth of diapers for it.
The curry puff is common to Thai, Malaysian, and Singaporean cuisine, but none of those cuisines is common to me, so the first time I tried one, I was in heaven. Sort of like an empanada, sort of like a samosa, it’s pastry stuffed with a thick curry, chicken, potatoes, and onion and deep-fried.
Since that original curry puff, I’ve tried as many as I can find in NYC, but I always go back to the one at Lemongrass Grill.
It’s the flakiest, the curry-est, and the most way-too-delicious-to-last-more-than-two-bites. The puff isn’t hard like a samosa’s, so the filling gets to mingle with it.
But really, it wouldn’t be anything without the dipping sauce it comes with. It’s vinegar-based with chunks of cucumber that taste a little bit pickled and a little bit sweet. I didn’t even like cucumbers a couple of years ago, but I would still dig those things out of the little cup with my fingers when my boyfriend wasn’t looking.
And I always follow my curry puff up with their chicken pad thai (which is also my favourite in NYC), or the Gai Tom Kha soup.
138 East 34th Street
New York, NY 10016 (map)
New York, NY 10025 (map)
61A 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217 (map)
156 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201 (map)