Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Abistro Review

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

Google Map


Anonymous said...

Is it possible to get brunch anywhere in this hood that DOESN'T have awful service? I've tried a few places and am always disappointed. I know it's nice to be leisurely, but should one really have to wait an hour for food? *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Brian, I would be happy to offer you a meal for your service troubles at my place. I am glad you liked the food but I would also like it if you liked the service too. Part of our problem is sometimes we like to be very personal with customers and sometimes this takes time away from new customers. Whenever you decide to stop by please have whoever is working to call Cassandra and let her know that Brian, from Clinton Hill foodie is there, and I will take care of you.

Your pictures are fantastic, but it would be nice if you got the warm fuzzies over who we are as well. So please give me a call when you come.

So call abistro at 718-855-9455 to give me a heads-up before you come.

Anonymous said...

i'm completely floored by this comment you must have come on a day that was unusually busy, because the service is always pretty up to speed. i would not recommend telling people to come only for coffee, its a great place. i think you should give a bistro another try.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked by this review. I have been going to Abistro for years and there has never been a time where the service has remotely been like this. If you let them, the staff of Abistro becomes like family, and I will tell you it is well worth it! They are all kind, generous, and fun to be around. Abistro is a true dream come true- the food is a taste of heaven in every bite, for Abdul and Cassanda for making it happen and for the staff reflecting their dream everyday.

I also work in a small place, this is new York after all, some things you just have to let slide. Also, as far as I
know up until this weekend, the second weekend in October, they were not open till noon for brunch.

Ft. Greene and Clinton hill are filled with repeat ideas, I think Abistro is a dimind in the ruff and should be treated as such.

FN said...

I absolutely love this place, did not have an issue with the service. Make sure you get the burger with the salsa!


Anonymous said...

The food is pretty great - agree. But a $40 brunch? 50 with tip. Make sure to ask how much specials are before ordering. Also, it is cramped and cold (and all of the staff seem to be running in and out of the curtain maybe 25 times during our one hour meal)- I think A bistro is better for dinner than brunch - esp. for the prices.

Anonymous said...

I am also suprised at the lackluster review. This is one of my favorite places in Fort Greene. The entire staff is above and beyond friendly. The food is amazing. The atmosphere is cozy. You can bring your own wine or order a bottle from the nearby gnarly vines which can be delivered. I'm hard to please and I love this place. Also a nice option for vegetarians.

Erin said...

this place has great food AND is BYOB. nuff said.

Anonymous said...

the spicy pancakes here are maybe the best thing ever!