Monday, March 22, 2010

Kif to Re-Open Friday

Once again, The Local does a far better job than I could of letting us know what's going on. Kif, the French and Morroccan restaurant on Dekalb that's been closed up for a little while, is set to re-open its doors on Friday.

Mr. Zoughbi had knee surgery in January and had planned to close the restaurant for only a few days, he said. Instead, he spent two months resting in his hometown, Paris. “My body said stop, so I listened. I had no choice,” he said.

In addition to a new paint job, Kif will have a new menu, with more tapas dishes and more organic food. The restaurant will open for breakfast, offer a wireless Internet connection and sell “picnic boxes” to take to the park, Mr. Zoughbi said. Also, Kif will sell Moroccan products like preserved lemons, olives, spices and argan oil.

Sounds great. I really enjoyed Kif when I was there a while back (wow, has it really been two years?), and I was a-feared that maybe it had closed for good. It's good to hear that it'll be back.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shake Shack Coming to BAM?

Thanks to Brownstoner for the heads up on a blog post hinting at Shake Shack maybe replacing Thomas Beisl, across the street from BAM.

"Let's say a moderately well-known restaurant was known to be closing its doors after half a dozen or so years. And let's say it had a nice terrace for outdoor dining alongside. And it was very near an entertainment center. A good place for a Shake Shack?"

I've only been to Beisl a couple of times, and only for drinks before or after a show, but I've really liked it. Now, I'm a fan of Shake Shack, to be sure, but with 67 Burger right there, does it make sense? 67's pretty expensive, though, and I'm sure Shake Shack will be welcome.

It will be interesting to see if this pans out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Brooklyn Restaurant Week 2010

Ack! Thanks to starting a new job, this completely flew under my radar this year. Rather than try and compile a big list like I usually do, I'll just point you over to The Local. Yes, it's lazy, but hey, new job! Forgive me this once...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

EN Review

I'm not even sure I knew EN existed, honestly. I vaguely remember reading news of a new Nigerian restaurant in the area, but if I did read it, it quickly passed through my mind without much of a second thought. That is, until the other day when I was walking home from Atlantic ave and passed by a restaurant I'd never seen before. I didn't stop in, but I gave the menu a good once over and decided it looked interesting enough to try. Which I did on Thursday night.

EN is certainly an interesting spot. The dark lighting and contemporary decor give off much more of a trendy lounge feel than that of a restaurant, and the room is dominated by the bar, which only adds to the effect. The menu is also very cocktail-centric; fully half of the dinner menu was populate by interesting drinks.

Lounge-y feel aside, we were there to eat, so eat we did. I can't seem to find EN's menu online anywhere - they don't have a website as far as I can tell, and Menupages doesn't have it - so I'm going to remember what we ordered as best I can. There may be some inaccuracies here, though.

To start, I ordered the Catfish Strips. Seeing them on the menu brought back memories of the catfish fingers at Two Steps Down, one of the first dishes I ever tried when I moved to the neighborhood. While I think Two Steps' version is a bit better, these were still very good and are accompanied by a spicy dip that complements the fish well. I think they might have been a bit over-breaded, but I'm nitpicking a bit.

We also god an order of the grilled shrimp and pineapple skewers which were really outstanding. The shrimp were large and bursting with flavor, and the pineapple added a lot. My only complaint here is that we wished there'd been more shrimp to eat because they were so good.

While the appetizers were great, things took a bit of a turn when we moved on to our entrees. Now, whenever I try a new restaurant, I try and order something that serves best to encapsulate what the restaurant is all about. If there's a house specialty, I'll go with that. If it's an ethnic restaurant, and EN is billed as having authentic Nigerian food, I'll try and order something that best exhibits the cuisine the restaurant is trying to recreate.

I say all this because I didn't particularly care for the entrees we got, but I have a feeling that in this case, I just didn't care for this brand of Nigerian food. Unfortunately, I don't have the menu in front of me, and I can't quite remember the spelling and ingredients of what we ordered. I'm going to do my best and then come back and fix things once I actually have a menu for reference. Apologies in advance, though.

Both of our entrees were served in a similar fashion: a big pile of mashed yams served with a bowl of thick, earthy stew. Mine was called Egusi, I believe, and Olivia's was Okoro or something similar. Both were made with seasoned goat (and both were also available with chicken).

How were they? Well, the flavors were very strong and very different. We both agrees the egusi was better, as the okoro was very greasy and have large chunks of fat in it. The egusi was thicker and the flavors were a little less exotic and more palatable. Not quite sure exactly how to attack the meals, we each resorted to forkfuls of the yams covered with some stew, but the whole thing was so thick and filling that neither of us made much of a dent in our plates.

Now, the appetizers were great, and the presentation of the entrees was excellent, so I'm left to conclude that these were good versions of whatever we were eating, but we just didn't care for the dish. We tried something new and it wasn't up our alley, but I still recommend the restaurant. The menu has plenty of less adventurous fare (tilapia with mango salsa, for instance), and judging by the appetizers, there is quite a bit that I'd love. The drink menu is also a lot of fun, and I'd go back for that alone.

EN is definitely worth checking out if you haven't yet. I'm all for being a bit adventurous with a new restaurant, but I'd discuss your entree careful with your server before ordering so that you have a good idea of what you're getting. Definitely try the shrimp, though. Oh, and the mango sangria.


277 Cumberland St
Brooklyn, NY

Google Map

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Parchment Baked Tilapia

Ah, weekday dinner parties - such an adventure. Everyone's bound to show up a little late, and it's a bit rushed since no one wants to stay up particularly late, either. What to make, then, when a few friends decide they want to come over and watch a movie on a Tuesday? Something pretty quick and easy, that's what. Enter: Parchment Baked Tilapia.

I've always loved fish baked in parchment paper, but I'd never actually made it myself. The concept is pretty simple: create a small bag out of parchment paper filled with vegetables, seasonings, and what ever kind of fish you want. Seal it, and then bake it. The bag steams the fish and everything else all at once, and you get a wonderfully delicious, healthy dish.

I poked around a bit online and in various cookbooks to find a recipe, but in the end I just kind of made it up myself. This is definitely the kind of thing you could, and should, experiment with.
Parchment Baked Tilapia

Ingredients: (I'm scaling the recipe to one serving - just multiply as needed)

1 tilapia filet
1-2 oz sliced yellow squash
1-2 oz sliced green pepper
1-2 oz sliced red pepper
1-2 oz sliced white onion
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp freshly grated lack pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 fresh lemon wedge


Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Cut a large piece of parchment paper, about 12-14 inches. Fold the parchment down the middle to create a crease. On one half of the paper, place the olive oil and lay the tilapia on the oil. Add the garlic and thyme, and then the vegetables, salt, and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the fish and vegetables, and add the squeezed lemon wedge.

Fold the other half of the parchment up and over the fish and then crimp along the edges to seal. This is the only remotely tricky part, and it's not that hard.

Once the bag is sealed, place in the over for 35-45 minutes. Remove from the over and serve the entire bag. Your diners will be greeted with an amazing steaming presentation of fish and vegetables and smells and tastes fantastic.

Man does not live on fish alone, so I threw together a quick salad as well as a potato recipe I found in a friend's cookbook. The salad was simply spring mix, diced red onion, diced tomato, and artichoke hearts with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, minced garlic, olive oil, and fresh lime juice.

The potatoes were from Marco Canora's Salt to Taste, which I was browsing through this weekend.

Patate alla Contadina


4 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 1/4 lbs)
1 large garlic clove, peeled
5 whole peeled canned tomatoes
1 heaping Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter


Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, then lay each half flat-side down and cut into thirds crosswise (you'll wind up with thick half-moon slices). Put potatoes in a bowl. Grate garlic into bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add them and their juice to mixture.

Then add rosemary, oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Mix well.

Transfer mixture to a medium saucepan and add water. Cover and heat over medium-low.

Bring potatoes to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Give them a stir and continue cooking. Lower heat if necessary (a gentle simmer is what you want) and stir every 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes more.

Mix in butter. Adjust seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper and serve.

A quick and successful dinner which made for a quick and successful dinner party.

Quick Review of The Vanderbilt

Having brunch-loving friends in Prospect Heights means I'm down there almost as often as I'm up in Clinton Hill or Fort Greene. While I'm not going to make a habit of reviewing every Brooklyn restaurant I go to, The Vanderbilt is pretty close by and worth a mention.

Tucked into the corner of Bergen and (surprise!) Vanderbilt, The Vanderbilt has an open and friendly atmosphere and a pretty sophisticated menu.

Being brunch, I'd be remiss if I didn't order a Bloody Mary. Any restaurant that treats their Bloody Mary with respect earns instant Brunchy points with me, and The Vanderbilt did very well with theirs, made with Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, Tito's vodka, and pickled green beans. It was spicy as Hell and very tasty, and is right up there with the best Bloody Marys in Brooklyn.

Though Bloody Marys are an integral part of brunch, they aren't (usually) a goal in an of themselves. So, we ate.

To start, a plate of the Blistered Shishito Peppers with pimenton salt. These were devoured quickly and with little fanfare. They are yummy.

My entree was the Eggs "Vanderbilt," this eatery's take on your garden variety Eggs Benedict. You get the option of ham (Jambon de Paris) or spinach, and it's got a great spicy hollandaise sauce. Of note were the english muffins, as they were decidedly un-burnt and very good.

I also ordered a side of potatoes, which were good but ended up being a bit too much food.

Here you see the Smoked Trout Crepe with melted leeks and a sunnyside egg. I only had a bite of this, but it was very good.

The Vanderbilt is very good, and not terribly expensive, though it's certainly not the cheapest brunch option. The coffee is spectacular (it's Stumptown), the food is very good, and the Bloody mary might be worth the trip alone. If you're nearby and haven't tried it, it's definitely worth a shot.


The Vanderbilt
570 Vanderbilt Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Google Map