Tuesday, August 19, 2008
On the recommendation of Ted Allen, we recently hit up abistro for brunch on a Sunday, eschewing our regular haunt of Olea for something new. I'll be honest, I had no idea this place even existed. As you can see from the picture, the facade is pretty barren of anything identifying it as a restaurant from a distance, and it's only once you get up close that you can see any sign that they are, in fact, purveyors of food. Pretty good food, as it turns out, albeit with a few caveats.
The space is small and a bit cramped, especially once it filled up. We got there at about 10:30, were seated, and then were almost immediately asked to move so they could accommodate a couple with a stroller. No big deal, but we went from a nice seat by the window to a table cramped back up against the kitchen. Ah, well.
I'll get my main complaint out of the way first - the service. It took quite a while for us to get any attention from the wait staff after we'd gotten our menus, then a good 45 minutes for us to get our food, and in between we asked a couple of times for water and coffee and had to wait 15 to 20 minutes for each. When I asked for the check, it was a good ten minutes before anyone seemed inclined to start ringing things up, and by the end I'd gotten up and was waiting by the register, ready to get out of there. There were only two waiters serving a pretty hefty crowd, so maybe they were under-staffed, but I'm not exactly sure how they could fit anyone else in there any way. The poor couple sitting next to us has similar problems, except their orders came out completely wrong, so they had to start the whole cycle over again.
Was it worth it? Well, maybe, but just barely. The food's pretty great. I had the Spicy African Chicken sandwich, which has marinated onions, roasted peppers, and baby greens and comes with home fries. The sandwich seemed to have the shallot-soy dressing they put on the spicy chicken salad, and it was great. After living in Forest Hills for years, I've grown wary of under-spiced "spicy" dishes, but this delivered. The home fries were also spiced up, and very good.
Mick had the house omelet, which has spinach, portobella mushrooms, and feta cheese and also comes with home fries. I don't think she's ever met an omelet she didn't like, and this was no exception.
It's also worth noting that the coffee here is really, really good. Very dark and strong, and it's probably worth stopping in (when it's not crowded) only for the coffee.
Will I go back? Probably. There are at least a few other dishes I want to try, especially this yogurt parfait concoction that another table had. I'm going to make sure to go when it's not too crowded, which will hopefully ease some of the problems we had with the service.
154 Carlton Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205