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Found 33 results

  1. Sneakeater

    Casa Ora

  2. Sneakeater


    Otway is the successor to Tilda All Day, a brunchy cafe at the corner of Fulton and St. James in Clinton Hill that was highly regarded. Tilda was co-owned by Chef Claire Welle and backers Samantha Safer and Daniel Nusbaum. The two women got into a dispute with Nusbaum, the place closed, reopened in a different form without him or Welle, closed again, and now has become this new venture with Welle back in the kitchen backed by Safer. FWIW, the kitchen is staffed entirely by women. But the big news is Chef Welle, who had her highest previous kitchen position at Mas(Farmhouse) but had also worked at Gwynnett St., Picholine, and Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. She is, on the basis of one dinner, an excellent chef, producing straightforward but imaginative New American food with clear, forthright flavors, very compelling. The menu is small but appealing. I started with the fried tripe, and that's just what it is: a bowl of cleanly fried tripe sticks, with a nice tart dipping sauce. Then the squab with mincemeat and a root vegetable tart: also just what it says it is, and delicious. Burnt nut pudding for dessert. This is a neighborhood place. Not necessarily worth a journey. But you'd be nuts not to consider trying it if you're in the neighborhood.
  3. Not be be confused with City of Industry, the Harvey Keitel movie. IC is the term used to describe a series of large warehouse type buildings on the south Brooklyn waterfront in between the Gowanus expressway and the harbor. Over the years some of those buildings have fallen into disuse while others contain thriving businesses. Over the past 5 years all of them have attracted new investment. There is an effort underway to turn a major portion of it into a mini Williamsburg. Small artsy shops have sprung up. There is now a food hall selling artisinal tacos and avocado treats. There are galleries and artists in residence. You get the picture. The entire development is very much a work in progress. You'll see breezy Internet articles that make it seem that there are exciting things to see and do there. The reality, today, is somewhat underwhelming. Let me give you some examples. Back in the fall of 2015 I saw an article saying that Brooklyn Flea was going to relocate to Industry City for the winter. We love BF so we made a point of attending the market's opening weekend. It was embarrassing. The number of vendors was about 20% of what you'd see at the original BF. And while the space is vast, everything was so spread out that there was no synergy. Vendors were hundreds of feet away from each other. There were supposed to be galleries displaying artwork but they were in different buildings and their locations were poorly marked and many of them were not open. The whole thing shrieked Not Ready for Prime Time. Move ahead 18 months. Last week I saw an article about a collaborative light sculpture artwork at a gallery in Industry City. We attempted to see it Saturday. It was impossible to find. We did see lots of signs of progress, however. The number of shops has tripled and a number of others are under construction. Things are happening here. But the whole operation still reeks of disorganization. Navigating a sprawling series of buildings is difficult. It's hard to find things and there is an almost a perverse lack of information. There ought to be maps showing where the various shops and galleries can be located. Unfortunately there are only a handful and the print is ridiculously small. We saw that there was a kitchen supply place located 3 buildings away and decided to check it out. We wandered from building to building moving in the correct general direction. Finally we saw another map. Here's where it gets good. The text was right side up but the map was upside down. Imagine a map of the United States - Florida appears in the bottom right hand corner. Now imagine that map flipped where Florida now sits in the upper left hand side. It was bizarre. (We eventually found the kitchen supply place. It was aimed at actual restaurants, not consumers.) In spite of their obvious teething pains this place is eventually going to come together and good things are going to come. There's too much money being poured into the complex for it to fail. And while the location might appear remote it's a 15 minute subway ride from Park Slope and a 10 minute walk from the 36th St. station on 4th Ave. I'm going to check in on Industry City about every 4 months to see how things progress. In the meantime if you read another of those sunny articles telling you about how IC is the next "happening" place you may want to take it with a grain of salt.
  4. Sneakeater


    Fausto is the replacement restaurant in the Franny's space on Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope. It's run by Joey Campanale, formerly the wine guy from the dell'Anima group, and Erin Shambura, formerly the executive chef of that group's L'Artusi. Needless to say, I closed the place down opening night. Fausto is a solid neighborhood Italian spot. I'd put it at about the level of dell'Anima (meaning it seems to me to be a bit better than L'Artusi). The food is good. Nothing startling, of course, just good and satisfying. We started with an antipasto of shredded chicory with hard-cooked egg. This is one of those dishes that turns out to be better than you think it will be: the egg and the chicory combined into a flavor that was almost sumptuous. Then, a primo of tagliatelle with lamb and a little bit of anchovy; anchovies turn out to liven up lamb just as they do beef. Finally, our secondo, a braised pork shank (for two) with white beans, extremely satisfying. This was all just the kind and quality of food you want from one of these places. You feel better for having eaten it. Yet, this is not, I must emphasize, a destination restaurant. Like dell'Anima, it might be a tiny bit better than you'd expect at the neighborhood level -- but not better enough to travel for, and in no way distinctive. It's the kind of place you eat out in because it's nearby. So, it lacks the magic of Franny's. Some would look at the menu at Fausto and think Fausto must be better, since it has secondi and doesn't have pizza.* But Franny's was a statement restaurant, and this is just good rustic Italian food. Surprisingly, the wine list, while very good by any standard, also lacks the Franny's magic. Maybe it's a function of my having grown since Franny's opened, but I don't see myself learning from this list the way I did from Franny's list. It's interesting that the Fausto list (unlike Franny's) is not limited to Italy. None of this is knocking Fausto. I liked it. I think, among other things, that although it isn't as "interesting" as nearby Faun, Fausto's food is appreciably better. (For one thing, unlike at Faun, the secondi at Fausto are actually good.) I'm happy to have it nearby (although I'll always miss Franny's). It just is what it is. But for what it is, its good, very good. ________________________________________ * NB: the Franny's ovens are used here for roasting and braising. There is no pizza.
  5. 193 Frost Street: I consider this among the best red sauces places I have been to in Brooklyn.. The waiter was incredibly with the kids, it was empty during a weekend lunch and it was big enough for us not to bother people around us. But, the skill of the kitchen was apparent. Almost everything we had was done well, flavors were on point. I don't know why, baked clams, so easy, are usually so disappointing.. These were great. Veal sorrentina: I had ordered shrimp francese but, they brought out another veal dish. It was so lemony and buttery. lots of garlic as you can see. for an extra 10 dollars, you forgo your free side pasta and get a plate of linguini with clam sauce. It is subtle, less heavy than the two dishes above... It's a good version, not life changing but, enjoyable and fresh the kids ordered chicken parm, this was a third portion: so excited, we sold it as chicken pizza and well, all plates were cleared.. And even more fun, i get to start making lots of chicken parm at home. this lasagna was terrible.. it was dry and hard and, well, not good... but, i don't really like lasagna and this was a bad one. thick noodles: we had three desserts.. i would pass on them.. complimentary sugary 30 proof anisette i would pass on too.. There was much of the menu unexplored.. but, the francese shrimp is very exciting, their are a lot of homemade pastas and ravioli and gnocchi.. They have mussels, squid, conch, all fra diavolo which appeals to me. The space, the location, i can't wait to go back and bring people.
  6. Daniel

    xun yu si kao

    http://xunyusikaony.com/ We were in Flushing last night and came upon this place.. It looked interesting so we went in. Actually, we parked about two blocks away from our intended restaurant, We were headed to hot space, which is another Sichuan Restaurant that seams to specialize in this type of grilled fish served in a broth on a tray with things added in and kept hot with sternos. But, it was so windy and we didn't feel like walking and we had heard of this place from various outlets... This place looks like they got their liquor license issued on the 2nd of this year and it's on google maps yet.. so, it must be fairly new. Xun Yu Si Kao is a china from China I believe.. There is one in Borough Park, one in Houston, one in Philly and I am sure other cities and I believe the chain came from China. There are cold appetizers and full plates and some bbq.. But, we just went straight in for the fish and we were not disappointed.. The arrangement is fairly simple.. Step 1 You order one of 4 whole fish.. Tilapia, Bass, Big Mouth Bass, Sea Bass Step 2 Choose your broth: around 12 different sauces ranging from spicy to sour and things in between.. pickled peppers. Step 3 Add things to the broth: You have noodles and vegetables, to rice cakes, mushrooms and pig blood cakes. Step 4: eat We started with a simple dish from their cold starters.. They have most of what you would expect and a few different than the usual. We love the cucumbers.. you can choose garlic and something else.. we went garlic. An unbelievable amount of garlic with probably scallion.. it was delicious.. the cucumbers were scooped and smashed Sea bass split straight down the middle and opened like a book... We ordered the spicy, which was the spiciest.. It tasted of dark roasted peppers.. it was oily and brothy and filled with sichuan peppercorns.. It was really the perfect spice for us. We added cabbage, rice cakes and homemade starch noodles.. these rice cakes were of good quality.. they go softer and soaked up the broth... not the hard ones that often disappoint.. We were also impressed with the quality of the fish Noodle: The two of us were really impressed with this place.. Would happily return and try other things.
  7. https://www.berniesnyc.com/ 332 Driggs What can I say, I love this place.. It's very nostalgic.. It reminds me of the Regal Beagle or some like 80's restaurant I would go out to dinner, when I was with my parents.. It's just missing a pac man game and maybe some peanut shells on the floor.. Ground Round, Charlies Uncle, old school Bennigan's type feel. . The menu is as classic as the decor.. Staff was friendly and welcoming.. We had a cocktail, a bottle of wine, a baked clams, a wedge salad, chicken parm and a side of green beans.. I could have had this same meal, minus the alcohol on any Sunday night growing up.. The total was 130 bucks, the same meal in jersey would have been 80 Baked clams were a little sweet for my liking.. They use a sweeter house made bread to make the bread crumbs.. It was distracting, miss A liked them better.. But, they were cooked perfectly. We had a wedge: they added their twist.. the sauce was very buttermilk like, with some blue cheese and chives and sweet tomatoes.. The blue cheese was scarce and the buttermilk/mayo was flowing.. very little black pepper as well.. It was delicious and more balanced than usual.. i really enjoyed this. Next up was the chicken parm.. It's a beautiful thing.. Every sunday night they serve this. I was taken a back by this plate.. It, in my opinion, is the best chicken parm that I have tried.. In reality, it would be a very good New Jersey but, by Brooklyn Standards, this is the freaking gold standard. There was a slight problem with our chicken in that it was served in like a puddle of water for some reason and the steam made the crust slight mushy but, there were still some crunchy bits around the edges.. but, yeh, it seemed like a rare occurrence.. but sauce, cheese, chicken, it all added up... Shocked in how undisappointed I was, i told the bartender that this tastes like a NJ Chicken Parm and he replied, our chef is from NJ so, that will mean a lot to them. Ah ha, see, i didn't know they brought in a ringer.. They have a really nice looking vingegar chicken and a handsome looking cheeseburger I will be back for.. But, yeh, from decor to staff and the food, we were really pleased..
  8. http://dekalbmarkethall.com/ Well, we know that it is estimated that 25 percent of malls in America will be closing in the next 5 years.... And the only sort of mall type shopping that seems to be popular are these large food court / halls.. So, with America's love of sequels and our loving of riding a fad until it's dead, we are going to be seeing a lot more of these concepts.. I personally feel like Jonathan Butler from The Brooklyn Flea and Shmorgasburg is the grandfather of the revival of this trend.. I also believe he is responsible for help making Brooklyn a World Brand but, i like the guy so maybe I am biased.. I went to Dekalb Market on Friday.. 40 or so vendors in a windowless basement with terrible cell phone receptions (was strangely familiar), long lines, disorganized people, far too few garbage cans and seating... The most iconic or recognizable business would be Katz's Deli. There was a long line of people waiting for corned beef and pastrami.. And you have a clear view of about 5 guys vigorously hand slicing the meat and furiously wrapping up the sandwiches. It makes you wonder and I have wondered why they haven't done this earlier.. There was a handmade dumpling place called Han... They have thick dumplings and a couple of noodle dishes.. I had their mian noodles and was rather underwhelmed.. They were out of scallion noodles, they were out of sauce for the dumplings and I believe napkins too when I was there. Looking forward for Han Dynasty to open and underwhelm us with delivery options.. Bunkr is there but, they only had Bahn Mi's. We had a chicken sandwich from Wilma Jean, we had a burger from Hard Times Sundae, we walked around a bit... Hard Times Sundae while good, was out of napkins, they were out of bags, which had people coming back and saying they were not allowed to leave without a to go bag.. I ordered my burger with bacon, they forgot it and when i told them, they instead unwrapped the burger and then added a side of bacon to it.. so, it made it very hard to handle the burger.. THen to make things more fun, they had no napkins.. They also didn't have many of the drinks listed.. I was excited to try their lime rickey.. Oh yeh, they were also out of mustard. I was told that vendors were told 5 days before opening that they would be opening.. There seemed to be a lot of confusion.. I couldn't imagine as, these people had no moment to breath.. They were thrust into a busy mob scene since day one.. They have to be exhausted.. You can see that there is very little storage, so things like napkins, straws, packaging and food all have to fit in the space.... Also, i was told everything has to be away at the end of the night.. So, that leaves even less storage space.. I would not have been surprised if vendors were out of things on the weekend.. I don't know, I wish them well.. It's close to my house and I would love for it to work as it's so close to my house, it's also close to the other sort of food hall/court on the other side of Flatbush Gotham Market and i am sort of close to Bergn too... At some point it's going to reach a saturation.. My friend asked me to get a space in a new food hall being built by Brooklyn Bridge Park.. I have no interest of even going let alone participating.. And I am sure there will be many more of these things before we all decide, it's not that fun eating averagely made comfort food in a hot basement with no seating and long lines.. I definitely think these concepts are great ways for start up companies or people who don't have the cash to dive into a full time restaurant to get experience, support and find investors.. I think we have seen some good stuff come from these and we have seen some mostly pretty average stuff come from these.. I don't know, i understand the appeal on paper but, it's doesn't end up being as fun as it sounds..
  9. Sneakeater

    El Atoradero

    Here's a new trend-in-the-making: noted outer-outer-borough (i.e., not Brooklyn) "ethnic" joints either relocating to, or opening branches, on Washington Ave. in Prospect Heights.* This relocation of a famous-to-those-who-follow-these-places Bronx Mexican was the first, opening last week. Look, a sister restaurant to the similarly lauded Elmhurst Thai Plant Love House, opened soon after. Admittedly, El Atoradero opens under mixed circumstances. It was originally opened in the Bronx by Lina Chavez in the back of a bodega, and then expanded. Rising rents forced Chef Chavez to close, to the consternation of her fans. Now, she reappears in Brooklyn -- backed, this time, by Noah Arenstein of Arrogant Swine and two other (perfectly nice) young Jewish guys. I have no idea what the financial arrangements are here, but it looks depressingly like Chef Chavez went from running her own place to being the employee of White Money. While it's good that she's cooking again -- and very good for me that it's a few blocks from my apartment -- it seems somewhat regrettable. When I went a week ago Monday, they were still in soft opening and tinkering with the menu. But everything I had was pretty great. Chef Chavez comes from Puebla and cooks Pueblan. But she's several cuts above the City's Pueblan norm. Sure, she makes her own moles every morning. So do others. BUT -- and this may be the influence of the Three Jewish Guys -- her ingredient quality is several steps above such lauded Pueblan places as Tulcingo del Valle on 10th Ave. in Manhattan. Imagine a lamb barbacoa in a non-fancy NYC restaurant in which the meat is actually good! (Too bad it can't be mutton -- but if Keens can't, El Atoradero can't.) I also had some queso-filled flautas that were so much better than you'd expect that they seemed a notable treat. Flautas without a hint of grease, at a non-fancy NYC Pueblan restaurant! So yeah, I'm pretty excited about this place. I'll just forget the unpleasant implications. COMP DISCLOSURE -- A shot of Mescal. ETA -- See correction below about ownership of this restaurant, from an extremely credible source. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ * Luckily, so far they've all been on the Prospect Heights side of Washington Ave. If they were across the street, they'd be in Crown Heights.
  10. Sneakeater


    Sofreh is a new Persian restaurant on St. Marks Avenue, right off Flatbush, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. It's a little troublesome to write up, because while the food is near destination-quality, the format of the restaurant is very much neighborhood. Meaning, above other things, that the service, while very very sweet, is extremely fallible. So it doesn't seem like a place you should travel to, even though the food, for what it is, is really unmatched anywhere else in the City in my experience. There are some sort of fancy Persian restaurants in Midtown, but I've never found them very exciting. There are some more hole-in-the-wall type places in neighborhoods like the East Village where, to my mind, the cooking and the raw materials are simply not very good. (There's also a well-regarded tiny place in Chelsea with strange hours and a limited menu that may or may not still be open -- but I've never made it there.) So it's worth something when a restaurant serving Persian food opens where the food is evidently very well prepared, from decent ingredients. Persian food, as you may or may not know, features a lot charred or braised preparations, often involving savory fruit sauces. It's very compelling when done as well as this. Unusually, the main dishes here seem better than the appetizers (not that there's anything seriously wrong with the appetizers). Chicken may seem boring. But this one came with beautifully charred skin, in an equally beautiful plum/saffron sauce -- with these addictive shoestring fried potatoes soaking up that sauce. The braised lamb shank, in an onion/turmeric sauce, was nice: imagine a braised lamb shank seeming kind of light. And while the charred eggplant in a tomato/garlic sauce, with poached eggs and the place's great flatbread, seemed to be overpowered by those others, it was really very good. Desserts were, I thought, wonderful. They certainly like their roses in Iran. The cocktail program is excellent, in the restaurant style, the drinks all tweaked to feature Persian flavor accents, wildly successfully (like as good as Indian Accent's cocktails -- which you'd never expect). So it's a real disappointment -- this is another part of the "neighborhood' thing -- that the wine program kind of sucks. This food would love wine -- but not the very basic selections on this list. The reds are all too fruit-and-oaky: a pity when this food would benefit so from the thinner textures and oddball flavors of today's more fashionable bottles. The only white you'd want to drink is a (concededly good) Alsatian Pinot Noir. As I hope you can tell, I highly recommend this place. Just go in expecting it to be what it is.
  11. Sneakeater

    Ugly Baby

    This new Thai place, on the Carroll Gardens end of Smith Street, is essentially a permanent continuation of the Chiang Mai pop-up in Red Hook (which in turn was a rebel offshoot of Kao Soy on the next block). Same vibe as Chiang Mai, same alt-rock playlist -- and similar or even the same pan-Thai (not regional) food (I recognized many dishes on the menu). So if you liked Chiang Mai -- as I very much did -- you'll like Ugly Baby. I had crispy pork skin in curried rice (you wrap it in lettuce leaves with other crisp vegetables), and that plate they had at Chiang Mai of braised pork shoulder and pork ribs. The spice level of these dishes was medium high -- at least one dish on the menu is listed as "brutal" -- the flavors were clearly etched, and I give this place the same high recommendation I gave Chiang Mai. This woman can COOK.
  12. Daniel

    Black Flamingo

    168 Borinquen Place Brooklyna It's about 2 miles from my house and a favorite of Miss K's.. She gets delivery here, once a week I would say... After our little experiment this summer, Miss K has stuck with the vegan lifestyle.. Maybe twice a month, she will have sushi and maybe twice a month, I will sneak her chicken stock or pork stock in order to make sure she is getting the proper stuff but, for the most part, she is vegan.. I have been vegan, except for a piece of a freshly cracked 4 year aged parm, yesterday, for the last two days. Anyway, this place has a limited menu.. They offer tacos, burritos, bowls and papusas, all vegan.. In the basement, there is a dance floor and bars and it looks like on a Saturday night, or late night, this is the place to be..Not to mention they close at 4 in the morning almost every night so, something is going on late night. Looks very cool and handmade.. We started with their 7 layer dip with tortilla chips.. The chips crunchy and warm and appear to be fried in house. This was my favorite thing of the evening.. No photos but, it's essentially a creamy bowl of warm stuff, beans and guac and some sour cream looking stuff... It was actually really delicious.. I would have eaten this and if not paying close attention, would not have noticed it as vegan.. Trio of Tacos.. Again, young crowd and all, the happy hour ends at 8 pm.. They have 4 dollar draughts of Lagunitas or Stella and tacos are 4 dollars a piece, as opposed to 5 dollars with a two per order minimum..Cocktails, which MIss A loved, were 14 a piece. The tacos we ordered were the Chorizo, the Mushroom and the Pastor.. I don't think any of them resembled anything like Chorizo or Pastor but, the mushroom was a mushroom for sure.. It was actually a fried mushroom croqueta. We felt it was the most successful but, yeh, not very Next up, we ordered burritos.. Miss K loves her burritos.. I have maybe had a bite out of a few burritos in my life.. I hate them, the idea of eating rice in a sandwich is not exciting to me.. The idea of Chipotle, revolts me. Not to mention, I am not a big fan of green peppers and all of the burrito places I encountered have just been these greasy flattops where everything tastes like oil, onions and bell peppers.. But, with not much to order, i went with the chili cheese and Miss K went with the regular one... It was constructed well and it stayed together.. I took a bite or two and eventually dumped the contents on to a plate.. Ate the rice and mixed stuff.. Drowned in their hot sauce, it was ok... Again, have nothing to really compare it to.. Miss K was upset I wasn't raving about it as she loves it so much.. I said, i would go back as you love it and I like it but, it's not like it's terrible and the joy you derive from it is more than enough to get me back here.. But, yeh, I am getting more pleasure out of eating my flavorless instant oatmeal than I would eating one of those tacos again.. In short, get the dip and stay for the dance party. The couple next to us were raving over their mushroom quesadilla so maybe get that too... Cocktails did seem interesting.
  13. Sneakeater


    Popina is a new restaurant on the Columbia Street waterfront (it would be confusing to call it Red Hook now -- although that's what this neighborhood used to be considered part of). It is, in fact, in the original Pok Pok space. The two guys that run it -- Chef Chris McDade and Wine Guy James O'Brien -- come out of the Danny Meyer organization. Most relevant here, they both did time at Maialino. Let's get the off-putting part out of the way first: the cuisine here is Southern/Italian. (The backyard area is now a bocce court.) Now that doesn't mean Southern Italian as in, say, Compagnian. It means a mashup of Italian cooking and American Southern. That's a pretty contrived conceit, very easy to ridicule; certainly not something that was crying out to be done. But the food on the plate turns out to be almost uniformly delicious. I've been twice. The first time was with friends of the house, and we were showered with so much free food, drink, and attention (despite the presence in the house of an extremely influential restaurant reviewer) that I couldn't honestly review the meal. I went back again with someone else, though, and it was just as enjoyable. I would say the star dish is the Hot Chicken Milanese, with ranch dressing. It would almost count as a guilty pleasure, if the frying weren't so pristine. This is a theoretically questionable dish that just ends up working. I'm positive they make their own ranch dressing (as I do when I make my Pretentious Mississippi Roast -- a dish that these guys could someday mash up with a brasato or something). The other main dish -- swordfish with peanuts and stuff -- was also very good, if not a superstar like the chicken. The remaining main dish listed on their web menu -- a strip steak -- isn't regularly available, although they did offer a very hearty slow-cooked (I have this sinking feeling that in this case slow cooking meant sous vide) steak special on my second visit. The pastas are all really good. My favorite is their paparadelle with smoked ham hocks, which works well enough to justify the entire Italian/Southern conceit. But don't ignore the bucatini in Venetian salsa (basically anchovies cooked down to a paste and losts and lots of very very thinly sliced onions, fried). Indeed, don't ignore the chittara with black trumpets, sunchokes, and black truffles, either. Or the cavatelli with tomato, ricotta, and nduja. The antipasti included the only real misstep: I thought the arancini in honey were too cloyingly sweet, the one case where the intrusion of Southern American accents detracted. The clam bruscetta was very good, though, and the pork meatballs in gravy (Italian red gravy, I mean) were fine, if kind of ordinary compared to other things here. The brussels sprouts were brussels sprouts. They have a whiskey cocktail called the Fancy Free that I just adore. The wine list is heavily oriented toward "natural" and lots of fun. COMP DISCLOSURE: The hits just kept on coming.
  14. Sneakeater


    I'm genuinely excited about this one. Claro is a brand new (I went on opening night) Mexican restaurant in the former Pines space on Third Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn. It's one of those "accredited chef does ethnic food" places, this one run by T.J. Steele, formerly the Executive Sous Chef (whatever that means) at the Union Square Cafe, who has since relocated to Oaxaca, spending half the year there (one wonders whether he'll continue that now that he has a restaurant in Brooklyn) and helping run a Mezcal producer that he co-created. (The co-owners of Claro are the guys who run nearby Freeks Mill.) I want to emphasize that Chef Steele isn't someone who went on vacation to Oaxaca and then came back and decided he's an expert in Mexican cuisine; this is someone who has lived there semi-permanently. Nevertheless, this kind of restaurant sounds terrible in theory; and people like Andy Ricker catch tremendous amounts of shit for being perceived as claiming they can "improve on" native cuisines they have come to love. But I've eaten around a lot in Oaxaca, and I'm here to tell you (admittedly on the basis of the only one dish I've yet eaten here) that Claro would be one of the best places in town if it were there instead of in Gowanus. And the reason is that in this case the "Brooklynization"/trained-chefification bears fruit. The food isn't a faint, deracinated version of the mother cuisine; nor is it fancied up. Rather, it's a gutsy, accurate rendition whose quality is augmented by careful sourcing and precise kitchen techniques. As I said, this is on the basis of only one dish. But what a dish! Their menu signature, a barbacoa (made with goat rather than mutton). It's priced much higher than anything else on the menu -- I think it's somewhere between $35 and $40 -- and obviously meant for sharing. But the bartender looked me over and said I could finish an order myself if I didn't order anything else. (As it turned out, I think she underestimated me: I probably could have had an appetizer, too.) As I understand it, the barbacoa is coated with lard before it goes over the wood (or in the pit, if they make it the truly traditional way). This imparts a crunchy crust that definitely improves the dish (as much as I love mushy slow-cooked meat, this is mushy slow-cooked meat with a really nice char!). And the goat was a contender for the best goat meat as meat -- and certainly the best butchered! -- I've ever had. That's one of the advantages of this kind of place: you get goat at more "ethnic" Mexican spots, and it's stringy, gristley, and full of bone shards. Not here. The cocktails are OK. The Mezcal selection is strong (although, to be fair, not as strong as at Atla). Although they're not calling it that, this is still a sort of "soft opening". The bartender told me that the menu will expand in the coming weeks (not that it's so sparse now, as these places go). I really haven't been this excited about a new place in a while. I feel ridiculous saying so, but I think I like this place more than Atla.
  15. Daniel

    By Chloe

    We had a really lovely experience at this spot in Williamsburg. Came in last night with the family for the first time at any of their locations. I can not say enough good things about the staff and the experience. Friendly, helpful, considerate and welcoming.. In terms of what I know about the place, there are several locations.. The place is totally about to be pushed out to the masses.. All of the options, except maybe one can be made gluten free. It's all vegan.. I could see this place being big on a national level The restaurant is completely vegan and almost all of the offerings can be made gluten free.. I really enjoy this aspect as you don't feel like your missing out.. We ordered the quinoa taco salad, the kale caesar, the veggie burger, the kale artichoke dip and the fries.. Kale Caesar was really delicious.. like very good, we opted for no croutons in order to make it gluten free.. Their mushroom bacon, crunchy bites of smokey slices of mushrooms.. Addicting. The dressing was very creamy. This is a sure fire winner. Their burger. Firstly, the gluten free bun was soft and doughy and warm and delicious. I could not believe it was gluten free. The patty itself was ok but, its all about the condiments and accouterments. Their chipotle mayo was really lovely, had a big mac sauce to it.. Quinoa Taco Salad: I thought it was ok.. The quinoa was super cold, the salad was very sweet, i believe it had agave in it. It was refreshing and had bits of tortilla and some "cream". There was some sort of protein in the dish, soy or tempeh or something. I was not a fan but, even without eating the protein we had a lot of leftovers. It was hearty, way more than I would eat in a seating. The fries, we had a mix of air fried sweet and potato fries.. they came room temp and dried out.. Not a good showing for fries. The kale and artichoke dip was delicious.. They used an almond cream or a cashew cream and it was topped with a ton of nutritional yeast.. They were served with tortilla chips.. This reminded me of an old school experience at Houston's.. All in all, the food was remarkably good.. I didn't necessarily leave feeling like a had the most healthy meal in the world, but, for it being gluten free and vegan, it was very satisfying and I will happily return.. Also, i didn't choose the healthiest of options either.. There is a mac and cheese and a thai salad that is on my radar for next time.. But, one could get a smoothie or a to go salad or a number of things that will make you feel good about your healthy eating choices. (help me, I am being held hostage against my will by a bunch of lunatic vegans, trying to impose their will on me.) But seriously, this is written by me on a health kick that has been juicing the last 9 days and this is my first taste of freshly made food.. If I was a vegan, I would eat here with some regularity, when I am no longer a vegan, there would be very little reason to return, if any.
  16. Cafe China, I think, New York's only one star Michelin Sichuan Restaurant opened a new location in Williamsburg in late March of this year. It's a modern and bright space, with light wood and a minimalist style. There are booths that flanks the sides of the rectangular space and a large communal table that runs the middle.. Like Cafe China, the place is no tipping. Overall, i would say the food is good, definitely giving Grand Sichuan a run for the title of best Sichuan in Brooklyn. There were a couple of misses but, overall it was refined and delicious. We started with their soup dumplings.. Crab roe, 4 to an order.. They were a really nice version.. Definitely repeatable. Actually, i will just list everything we ordered. 1) We ordered spicy and sour cold tofu.. This is usually a breakfast item and came under the heading of dim sum.. It was soft tofu with a lot of sichaun peppercorn and oil and a sour component.. On top, was sprinkled toasted soy beans.. This left my mouth more tingly than I have felt in a long time.. At 4 bucks, this is the best value on the menu.. 2) We orderd snow peas with garlic.. This was exemplary, one of the things that I love about eating in China is a simple dish of greens.. I ordered a side of black vinegary to dip and things were great.. A ton of sliced garlic, a little broth at the bottom of the dish, it was one of my favorite things were ordered. 3 and 4) Mung Bean Noodles and Sichuan Cold Noodles.. I wish I read the description of the Cold Sichuan Noodles because it was more like the sesame noodles and less like the Noodles you get everywhere in Chengdu.. The noodles themselves were too sweet.. Definitely geared towards an American Pallet. In that I found it to have way to much peanut and sweetness.. The vinegar was faint but, it just seemed like an exaggerated version of sesame noodles.. The mung bean noodles didn't stand out as anything special.. 5)This was our least favorite of the dishes.. This was cold pork belly, wrapped around okra.. The pork belly is like cold strips of bacon, braised in a sweet soy sauce.. This is classic preparation that had been kicked up with okra.. I guess the okra was supposed to act like bitter melon but, bitter melon would have been better.. the okra was poorly treated, i want to say raw but, miss A thought quickly steamed.. Either way, raw whole pieces of okra or rare pieces of crunchy bitter okra was not pleasant at all.. 6)Fried Fish with chile.. This was delicious.. while the batter was slightly steamed on the fish as a result of sitting perhaps, this is not uncommon in China.. Frying something and leaving at room temperature is a practice done in almost every kitchen but, America.. Often times, this dish could be bland.. Restaurant will use older peppercorns and the dish just tastes like fried fish.. They incorporate the sauce and the peppercorns and cilantro and a few other ingredients that, when mixed, add a delicious element to the dish.. Certainly not under seasoned. They have been open for roughly 3 months and still do not have a liquor license.. With no tipping, i am assuming, its going to be beer and wine as I don't know a bartender you are going to hire without tips. This boggles the mind, i don't understand how that happens.. 3 to 4 months in and no license. We drank tea, it was lovely.. Service was on point, not super friendly but, through computers and things, the orders hit the kitchen. Tea refilled, plates cleared... I would go back, the things we liked are worth repeating and happy to try other dishes..
  17. Sneakeater


    Faun is a new restaurant in the space last occupied by R&D 606 on Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The place bills itself as Italian, but it's only nominally Italian. What it really is, is Brooklyn "new American" masquerading as Italian. So there's a three-course dinner former, with antipasti, primi, and secondi, and the primi are all pasta -- but there isn't a traditional Italian dish on the menu. It's all market-driven new American, in an Italian format. So my antipasto was watermelon, vacuum-treated in some way to intensify the flavor (which worked), with a very heavy dusting of ricotta salata and some oregano an pumpkin seeds. You might say that the cheese and the oregano were Italian elements. But you also might say, accurately, that the chef made up this dish to showcase what's at the greenmarket. None the worse for that: it was very good (and very refreshing on one of the least comfortable days I can remember). Similarly, my secondo was squab with gooseberries. I don't ever remember seeing gooseberries used in Italy (everybody knows they're a part of Yorkshire cuisine). To be frank, I ordered this dish mainly to see how a competent chef handles an ingredient I'm enamored of but am always afraid I misuse. Here, the gooseberries were cooked whole, served alongside the squab with some sweet potatoes, adding a mild tang to a side section that otherwise risked blandness. The squab itself was almost perfect: good for this kitchen. The pasta was perhaps the giveaway as to what they're doing here. Billed as quadrucci (pasta sheets) with tomatoes and stracciatella, it wasn't at all what you'd have expected. Rather, the tomatoes were little sungolds (I assume), served whole slightly cooked, in a bath of brown butter, the cheese beside them. A much more new American than Italian dish. But lovely and delicious. And just perfect for a too-hot summer's evening. When I went to The Finch a couple of days before, I wondered what happened to the bartender I had spent my dinner with a few days after opening. He's running the beverage program here. The cocktail list is exceptionally appealing. The wine program is a good start -- although it needs to expand. The very reasonably priced by-the-glass list (this is getting to be a welcome Vanderbilt Ave. trend) places an odd emphasis on Greek wines -- but they're good Greek wines. Beyond that, it's telling (in terms of the restaurant's intentions in regard to cuisine) that the list trends French rather than Italian. Good, interesting stuff, though. Faun may or may not be a destination restaurant. It's certainly worth a visit, though, by visitors who are unable to get into Olmsted down the street. While Mitchell's Soul Food will always reign supreme (as long as its owners choose to keep it open), it's odd to see my street turning into a real restaurant row. ETA -- COMP DISCLOSURE: The bartender correctly intuited that my favorite amaro is dell'Erborista, and gave me a glass. Also, Joe will want to know that the hostess complimented my outfit -- particularly my hat and shirt -- on my way out.
  18. Sometimes Yelp is useful. You have to know how to parse the reviews but if you put the energy into it you can find some worthwhile places. We were looking for a solid Italian American place that would also serve as a Sunday lunch spot. I think we have one. Vesuvio has been around since 1953. That can mean that the place is stale but it can also mean they continue to please people. I think the second case applies here. Obviously the place has gotten a facelift or two. Initially when you walk in you're greeted by a quick serve / take out area. On either side, around the left and right corners, are regular dining rooms. The room reminds me of Queen in Brooklyn Heights, perhaps with a bit more warmth. This is the type of place where you're not looking for excitement, you're looking for well executed versions of your old favorites. That's what we got. We started with the cold antipasto for two. Prosciutto, salami, mortadelle, roasted peppers, olives, provolone, artichoke hearts and fresh mozzarella. (Sorry - no pictures.) The portion was vast but thoroughly satisfying. We probably could have split a main but we felt like living large. Deb had the chicken francese while I had the chicken parm. Again, both were enormous and very good in that classic Italian American way. The chicken was perfectly cooked and each one was big enough for 3 meals. Over the years Deb and I have had a moment of clarity about situations like this. Rather than stuff ourselves stupidly beyond all reason when confronted by portions of this size we have learned to take them home where we can enjoy them more on another day. My take away bag must have weighed 4 or 5 pounds between the antipasto and chicken dishes. If you like Colandrea New Corner you should give this place a try. Granted, my enthusiasm is based on a limited sample and Lord knows New Corner's food can be uneven. Maybe Vesuvio's is that way too. I'll take that chance. We'll be back and let you know. Extra points. Our waiter was absolutely terrific. Thoroughly professional and polished. The crowd was old school Bay Ridge, a perfect match with old school Italian. Not a yuppie in sight. The wine list is a disappointment. It's more limited than New Corner's and not priced as well. Maybe I missed something. I'll try to dig deeper next time. Vesuvio 7305 3rd Avenue Brooklyn NY 11209 (at 73rd St.)
  19. http://mayfieldbk.com/ 688 Franklin Ave What a pleasure this place is. It is one of those restaurants that you feel should be on every corner in NY but, it is just not the case. Perhaps they are so good at making it look effortless, you almost take them for granted. The menu is perfectly balanced, the type of place you can take your 80 year old grandparents, or a 5 year old child. There is something for everyone and we are not talking about people just settling, the food is good. You can sit around around and order oysters, or ceviche, you can get homemade pastas, a steak, a whole trout, a plate of mussels, some fish and chips, steak tartare, a couple of sandwiches, or smoked eggplant with faro. Not to mention, I think tonight, they were offering 7 different vegetarian dishes. Every dish is something i could be in the mood for. Nothing cutting edge or over thought out concepts, it's just classic dishes, prepared how they should be. i have heard different things about where the chef's come from.. Miss A told me tonight, two of the guys worked at Ouest, I read somewhere the owner worked at Stone Park. I started with the most adventurous sounding dish, grilled pork belly, with grilled octopus and white beans. Bacon was very crispy, the octopus was also grilled well, a simple beans and greens in a sauce, It was well, my least favorite dish and it was still very nice. Miss A started with a leek salad. I did not really pay much attention to the salad as i was once again breaking my vegetarian diet. Miss K started with a cup of coffee and a steak tartare. The steak tartare was very nicely prepared.. Served with a ton of toast points. Tartare was very fresh ground beef, perhaps 4 or 5 ounces. It was tossed with a little mustard, some cornichons and some tarragon. Topped with a cracked quail egg. Lovely dish. Was not over produced or drowned in sauce. They offered a sour cream horseradish sauce that did nothing for the tartare. Thoughtfully served on the side. Dare i say the tartare was light and refreshing? French press coffee for 3 bucks. For dinner I had the whole trout. It was deboned with the head on. In most cases, I have had the fish deboned and kept whole and pan seared.. In this case, it was roasted. Skin was a little less crispy then I would have liked but, it was nicely roasted.. Served with a very delicious and expertly made bernaise sauce. Loved the fresh tarragon.. Miss A got the whole belly clams. These are the best whole belly clams I have had in recent memory. I have to think back to Johnny Ad's in CT, or some clam shack up route one to even consider a challenger. They were battered yet, the beautiful texture of the whole belly clam remained. Crispy and fried but, then the belly bursts with all it's briny lusciousness. We also ordered the corn pudding or spoon bread. It was a custard corn cake that both excelled in taste and texture. We had a couple of drinks from their smart beer list.. Miss A also had a cocktail, i don't recall what it was. But 12 dollars seems to be the new norm. All in all, this place is wonderful.. i want to go back and try most of the menu. We sat right by the kitchen and got to watch all the dishes come out. The burger looked great, as did the fried quail and I would highly recommend the trout for anyone that would be into that. I could see myself eating here 2 to 3 times a month.
  20. Sneakeater

    The Finch

    The Finch is a standard-issue New American restaurant that recently opened on the corner of Greene and Grand Aves. (i.e., ridiculously close to Daniel's) in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Its chef/owner, Gabe McMackin, is most noted now for having worked at Roberta's -- although it's perhaps more pertinent, for understanding this restaurant, that he also worked in such places as Sperry's in Saratoga (and yeah, I guess I should say it, BHSB and GT) and as a corporate chef for Martha Stewart. This is a very good New American restaurant. The problem is, that style is so played out, it's hard to be distinctive. So -- once a certain quality level is reached (as it certainly is here) -- what counts are convenience (good for me, Seth, and Aaron; amazingly good for Daniel; not so good for the rest of the rest of you), atmosphere/ambience, and price. As for atmosphere, I'd say this place is sort of like Prospect -- but much nicer. The GM wears turn-of-the-20th Century formalwear, an affectation that struck me as kind of charming if silly. The room is not dominated by the bar, the way Prospect's is. Well, the much less-appealing front room is (in a more ambitious restaurant, it would be used as a separate tavern room with its own menu). But the main dining room, in the back, is lovely, emphasizing the attractive bones of the building they're in, fronted by a dining counter on the kitchen. It's very nice. As for price, people complain it's expensive for the neighborhood. And maybe it is. But you're not going to get food quite like this for less than the $20-$30 their entrees cost. So the question is, can these "new" Brooklyn neighborhoods support restaurants of this quality (high-end neighborhood dining)? Park Slope has shown it won't. I'm not optimistic for Clinton Hill. It's a tough choice. I could see someone saying that, to charge more than the local competition, you should be offering something much better, rather than marginally better. But I can also see the response: this is why we can't have nice things. If The Finch were a bit better -- like, say, Dover -- the issue wouldn't come up. COMP DISCLOSURE: A plate of pasta and some extra wine pours. (If you want to get treated regally by a new restaurant, come in as a solo upper-middle-aged male, apparently knowledgeable about wine and willing to spend on it, on Valentine's Day. You can see them comtemplating the potential gold mine.)
  21. Sneakeater

    Llama Inn

    This is a new entry in that new sort-of-genre I keep talking about: mid-priced restaurants run by "ethnic"/immigrant chefs with serious credentials (usually EMP or Per Se) cooking more or less Euro-cheffy versions of their native cuisine. Uncle Boon's, Fung Tu, Bun-Ker, Noreetuh, Wong-now-Chomp Chomp, there are more. There are perhaps grounds to criticize this sort-of-genre (although I personally don't buy them): it can lead to food that's fussy, contrived, overpriced, and deracinated. But you have to admit that it's worlds better than the I-took-a-month-long-vacation-in-Vietnam-and-now-I'm-a-Vietnamese-chef genre that it supplanted. Here, Chef Erik Ramirez (a) cooked at EMP and (b) is from Peru. The restaurant occupies the triangular corner space at Withers and Meeker in Williamsburg (although the address is on Withers, the entrance is on Meeker) (if you walk down Withers, though, you can have the fun of threading through the interesting crowd outside Bamonte's). The walls are mostly glass, the other materials are all hard, and the ceiling is high. If the place were full, the din would be unbearable. Happily for us older customers, that hasn't happened yet. But if this place is to stay open, it will have to. Although they have the expected '90s-indie playlist, they don't play it loud. Yet. (What I guess I'm saying is that if Roz wants to go here, she should go soon.) The food is hard to rate in terms of "destination"-worthiness. It's excellently prepared, tasty, and imaginative. The flavor profile is distinctive, and it's not what most of us would want to eat every day. (The food could in no way be described as "carb-laden stodge".) The menu, at least at present, is a bit limited. So by all rights, this should be a very good neighborhood place. BUT: the technical quality of the cooking is EXTREMELY high. And there is nowhere else in New York serving food remotely like this. So you tell me whether it's worth a trip. I managed to eat here only on my second attempt. The first time I was closed out: they list their Thursday/weekend hours as ending at 1 AM -- but when I arrived at about 10:45 one Saturday, I was told the kitchen had already shut down. 9:30 or so on a Thursday proved safer. I started with pork belly anticuchos (normally I'd make a knee-jerk purchase of beefheart -- but I'm about to make a beefheart pot roast that will last several nights at home). The cubes of belly pretty perfectly grilled, char siu sauce, nice pickled chilis, a spicy mayo that thankfully was apportioned modestly enough to avoid creating the plateful of glop that most kitchens would make of this. A solid success. But the meal achieved lift-off with the main dish: goat neck under crusty discs of red quinoa, with various Andean root vegetables (potato, turnip) and cilantro ("OF COURSE cilantro", my wife would have added) in a gravy based on chicha de jora (the beery fermented kind). This is the kind of dish that justifies this kind of place. We're all used to having goat at "ethnic" Caribbean and Indian greasy spoons. You never get pieces of high-quality, well-butchered goat meat like this. And you never have it so perfectly cooked. I mean, perfectly. I tend to think of goat as a grosser version of lamb -- all gristle and shards and funk -- but this dish showed that goat needn't be gross at all. The gravy was pleasingly complex, but -- as with almost all Peruvian food -- not spicy. The crunchy quinoa discs were, well, crunchy. Dessert, cheese-flavored ice cream with toasted Andean grains, was fine. The staff could not be sweeter, or more enthusiastic. They are clearly caught up in Chef Ramirez's vision -- they think they have something special here -- and it's a pleasure to see that. Cocktails were excellent. In fact, they did a much better job of integrating local Peruvian ingredients and flavors into cocktails here than anyplace I found in Lima this January. Let me go farther. I'd say Llama Inn does a better job of modernizing Peruvian cusine, Andean branch -- note that that's what it is, basically: Andean, not Criollo or, for the most part, any of the other regions (sure, there's ceviche and tiradito) -- than any restaurant that I, for one, was able to find in Lima last January. (To be fair, I only had one week.) It's crazy to prefer this borderline-neighborhood place in Williamsburg to Central, The Best Restaurant In Latin America®. But there you have it. Having said that, I don't want to oversell this place. I'm not saying Llama Inn is one of the great or essential restaurants of New York. I'm saying that it serves intriguing, (extremely) well-prepared food that isn't like anything else you can get around here. Obviously, I recommend it.
  22. SobaAddict70


    Looks pretty, seems precious (I never thought I'd say that; maybe there's hope for me) and it's exactly the kind of food I like eating, cooking and ordering. Will have to put this one on my ever-expanding "to-go" list. Willow 506 Franklin Avenue (Fulton Street) Bedford-Stuyvesant http://ny.eater.com/2015/3/6/8161007/willow-the-diminutive-bed-stuy-restaurant-from-the-pines-team-opens
  23. Daniel

    Dram Shop

    We have been going here since we moved to Brooklyn about 8 years ago.. Miss K loves buffalo wings and this place has been consistently her favorite place.. When she is asked where she would like to go for dinner, it's either here or some expensive Sushi Place.. I like that she likes here more.. It's a sports bar or Irish Bar type vibe inside.. There is a long wooden bar in the front, there are booths in the back, along with some video games and scattered tables.. It reminds me of those after work hook up bars in Midtown Manhattan that I am so happy to have long been absent from. But, anyway, she loves it.. So, it's dark, loud and by the time we are finished eating, the room is loud and we normally are privy to a table of drunken girls screaming at the top of their lungs.. Last night, my favorite over heard quote was a guy describing taking a "deuce" in a steamy bathroom.. It's a lot of fun.. But, she is unaware of everything that is happening and is content with eating her wings and her wedge salad. We found this place after doing a search for Brooklyn's Best Wings or Burger or something.. In my opinion, it has neither.. We have long abandoned ordering the burger.. The wings are just Frank's Red Hot Sauce with butter.. They often even come soggy.. We specifically have to order them crispy or, they come pre-fried and soggy.. Last night we forgot and they were soggy.. The rest of the menu, which is really small reads like a typical bar. Irish Nachos (fries), Regular Nachos, wedge salad, chili, burger, pimento cheese, a fried chicken sandwich and chicken fingers.. That is pretty much it. We ordered 20 wings, a wedge salad and their chili.. A true Stoner Picnic: Nothing too exciting.. The chili was watery, the wings were soggy, the wedge salad was just ok.. Miss K was super happy.. It's a relaxed vibe. Would be an ok enough spot to go to with friends to watch a sport or something. But, really, unless your daughter is asking to go here, I would say there is very little reason to go.
  24. Wait - you're going to a rock and roll show?
  25. Daniel

    Sushi Katsuei

    Sushi Katsuei 210 7th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215 This place has been open for two years and I am upset to just be finding it now.. This place is fantastic. Miss K was home for a night before heading back out so, we wanted to have a special dinner with her. This was certainly the place to do it.. When we walked in, I noticed three sushi chefs behind the counter wearing white coats with ties tucked into them.. All with glasses, all looking in their 60's.. They were familiar.. "is that the guy from Gari?" "Is that the guy from Sekki?" "Is that our waitress from Gari" Turns out we were correct on all accounts.. I started getting more excited.. The waitress we recognized is now the owner for this place.. She was super sweet, remembered us and gave Miss K and tshirt.. She also spoke with her in Japanese.. We started with some cooked dishes: A little love for Miss A: Our resident Eggplant fan.. Cold eggplant with bonito in a sweet soy sauce: Fried Chicken for Miss K: Least successful dish of the night.. While the shell was delicious, the chicken was dry.. They give you that little squirter of lemon that does help though. Broiled Salmon Collar: Really wonderful We then moved on to the 65 dollar sushi and sashimi Omakese. They provided soy sauce and we were told the tuna was the only one we should use it with. The snapper at 9 o'clock was covered in lemon and salt.. Normally a throw away piece, this was remarkable. The slightly charred salmon which i normally do not like was meaty and beautiful. Mackerel is always my favorite piece but, I have to say, that salmon was a shocker. It was very much in the style of Gari. We were to eat one piece of each: yellow tail, salmon, tuna with various things painted on and added to.. This was uni and salmon eggs: Fatty tuna: We added Scallop Sushi: And crab and uni: And some of the best Tomago I have had: Finally the Omakase comes back to finish with a hand roll of tuna: It's all about the papers the papers.. So crisp and crunchy. Another thing we were missing that we now have, or have had for the last two years but, i am just finding out about.. Taro was my go to but, there is a new place to throw into the rotation.
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