Archive | February, 2013

Where to Eat Right Now: Nightingale 9

27 Feb
Caramel Berkshire Pork

Caramel Berkshire Pork

Once I took my first bite of crispy fried catfish at Seersucker, I was a fan of restaurant duo Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond. Then my first sip of a frothy cappuccino from Smith Canteen came along, and I fell even more in love with their Southern-inspired esthetic and the culinary expertise they brought to Smith Street. So you can imagine how excited I was when they decided to open a THIRD restaurant in the neighb– a Vietnamese place called Nightingale 9. 

Long Island Squid Salad

Long Island Squid Salad

After months of anticipation and following Rob’s travels to Vietnam for menu inspiration via social media, the eatery opened on February 21st. I’m usually weary to visit a restaurant the week of an opening, as they’re usually working out some kinks, but the Seersucker/Smith Canteen team had it down pat. The friendly staff made  a wine recommendation (local wines, of course!) based on my tastes, so I ordered a carafe. The menu offers Vietnamese street food and some classic dishes. I recommend getting a few things for the table to share, as they are easily share-able plates (and you’ll want to try everything).

Cha Ca Catfish

Cha Ca Catfish

My table of two got the Long Island Squid Salad, the Cha Ca Catfish Vermicelli Bowl, and the Caramel Berkshire Pork with jasmine rice. Knowing the restaurant’s history with spectacular catfish, I had to get it, and I’m glad I did because it was my favorite– with two pieces of golden browned catfish placed on a bowl of soft white noodles with peanuts, scallions, and dill. It was so pretty, I almost didn’t want to eat it, but obviously there was no way that was ever going to happen. A caddy of Vietnamese sauces was brought with the meal, adding the option to add a little more sweet, spicy, or savory to your dinner.

Popsicle in crushed peanuts

Popsicle in crushed peanuts

The dessert menu was all popsicles. And I went for a creamy coconut carameled sugar pop dipped in crispy crushed peanuts– a  flavor combo unlike any other dessert I’ve tried, but the perfect texture combination of icy-creamy-crunchy.

The menu was solid and unique, with Southern touches that take Nightingale 9 beyond just-another-Vietnam spot. The decor pairs well with the menu– communal seating for shareable plates and simple, clean style for dishes that spotlight fresh and local ingredients.

I’ll be back, and I suggest you give it a try too. Check them out on Facebook here. 


Becoming Brooklyn Happiest Hour: Photo Recap!

25 Feb


Thanks to everyone who came out to Lola BKLYN on February 20th for my “Happiest Hour” meetup! It was great to chat with fellow Brooklyn-ites  about the borough– especially our food and drink experiences. A special thank you goes out to Lola BKLYN’s staff for making it a special night, and providing us with “Becoming Brooklyn” mustache-topped cocktails and other fun drink specials.

Missed this one? It won’t be the last! Stay tuned for more fun events and meetups.

Me sipping on the "Becoming Brooklyn" cocktail

Me sipping on the “Becoming Brooklyn” cocktail

Mustache straws!

Mustache straws!

photo 3

photo 4

Amanda with her winnings-- a BQT Shirt Tote Bag!

Amanda with her winnings– a BQT Shirt Tote Bag!



Drool of the Day: Terroir Wine Bar

22 Feb
Tomato, basil and egg bruschetta at Terroir Wine Bar in Park Slope

Tomato, basil and egg bruschetta at Terroir Wine Bar in Park Slope

I know it’s good when I’m still thinking about it days later. This drool-worthy photo is the tomato, basil, and egg bruschetta at Terroir Wine Bar in Park Slope. It’s best when paired with a bottle of Italian Barbera. This dish alone is worth the trip.

Where to Eat This Week: Sweet Chick

18 Feb

bar 2 sweet chick
On February 19th, 2013, Williamsburg will be a little bit more Southern with the arrival of Sweet Chick, a creation from restaurateurs John Seymour and Sam Saleh. I attended the restaurant’s preview dinner to try their fried food-filled menu and got the chance to chow down on chicken & waffles, mac & cheese, and double chocolate pudding.

Sweet Chick exudes a warm, comforting feel to match the cuisine, with communal picnic tables, exposed beams, and reclaimed wood paneling on the walls. A bit like a little farmhouse. Definitely somewhere to stay a while. So here are a few of my faves from the menu: I’m a fan of the Mac & Cheese, made with conchigliette bubbling with gruyere, aged white cheddar, and fontina cheeses under a buttery Ritz Cracker crust. The waffles are also worth trying, served with or without the fried chicken. Sweet Chick offered a non-meat fried chicken for the veggies in the room, which could have been mistaken for the real thing. The Kale BLT Salad was another fan favorite, with preserved lemon vinaigrette– a play on the BLT sandwich.

They did up the dessert too– offering cheesecake, chocolate pudding, pecan pie, and cookies for each guest. The creamy chocolate pudding was my pick– served in a jar with a layer of rich chocolate cake at the bottom, vanilla bean whipped cream on top, and crisp homemade graham crackers on the side. DROOL.

sweet chick

Do not bypass the bar when you dine at Sweet Chick. The cocktail menu is one of their best features, especially the SweetChick martini (made with house-infused watermelon vodka).

Sweet Chick will be open daily for dinner and the bar will open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Stay tuned for brunch– it’s in the works!


61Local Celebrates 2 Years on February 23rd

16 Feb

One of my favorite bars in the neighb 61Local is about to reach a big milestone– their two year anniversary. On February 23rd, they’re inviting us to celebrate with some of their local friends Brooklyn Soda Works, Cut Brooklyn and BK Farmyard.  On top of their usual menu, 61Local will serve up soda shandies and have a knife raffle where all proceeds will benefit another bountiful farming season at BK Farmyards. Plus, there will also be a short screening that documents some collaborative projects with these great producers. Here’s a preview of a video with Cut Brooklyn below.

Be sure to stop by anytime between 5 and 11pm– entry is free!

The Evening We’ve Been Waiting For: Nightingale 9 Opens February 21st

12 Feb
Nightingale 9 almost ready to open!

Nightingale 9 almost ready to open!

I always rave to you about Seersucker restaurant in Carroll Gardens, and soon the owners of the restaurant, chef Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond will open another restaurant nearby, Nightingale 9. On February 21, the new eatery will open its doors, featuring Newton’s interpretations of Vietnamese classics and street food, applying the same sourcing and quality standards he has in place at his other restaurants.

Although Newton is a Southern chef who hails from Arkansas, he fell in love with Vietnamese food in culinary school when he was exposed to ingredients such as lemongrass and fish sauce for the first time. To prepare for Nightingale 9, Newton traveled this past summer through regions of Vietnam known for their cuisine—Hanoi, Hoi An, Dalat, Hue, Phu Quoc Island and Ho Chi Minh City—cooking with different chefs, shopping the markets, and of course, trying as many different dishes as possible.

So here’s what I’m excited about: the menu will feature a variety of Rice Noodle Soups such as Berkshire Pork with country ham, cracklins, lemongrass, and annatto; Vermicelli Bowls like Turmeric Catfish Hanoi-Style with dill, peanuts, and scallion; Jasmine Rice Dishes such as Caramel Berkshire Pork with Phu Quoc peppercorn, lemongrass, and coconut water; Salads including a Poached Hudson Valley Chicken Salad with cabbage, mint, basil, basil seeds, and peanuts; Sandwiches, and Appetizers. Newton especially loves the Vietnamese tradition of customizing ones’ food and allowing the diner to determine how spicy his or her dishes are. As a result, diners will be encouraged to use various dipping sauces, hot sauces, and herbs, all important components of the meal.

In their usual fashion, all meat and fish will come from the Hudson Valley, Dutchess County, and Long Island. The well-known Caputo’s Bakery in Carroll Gardens is making a special baguette for Nightingale 9’s take on Banh Mi, the famous Vietnamese sandwich. Other ingredients and produce will come from Chinatown and the Carroll Garden’s Greenmarket, where Newton is working with several farmers to grow hard-to-find ingredients specifically for Nightingale 9. Fish sauce, an important ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, will come from Phu Quoc Island, while the house soy sauce will be Bluegrass Soy Sauce from Bourbon Barrel Foods of Kentucky.

Beer and white wine will be on tap, and of course they’ll serve up coffee in traditional Vietnamese fashion.

Visit Nightingale 9 at 345 Smith St starting Feb 21. It will be open for dinner on weekdays from 6pm-10pm (closed on Wednesdays), and from 6pm-11pm on weekends. Lunch service will begin in the near future.

I. Can’t Wait.

You’re Invited: Becoming Brooklyn Happiest Hour

10 Feb

drinkI have some fun plans for your February 20th evening: a Brooklyn meetup happy hour with me at Lola BKLYN in Fort Greene from 7-9pm.  As a Becoming Brooklyn guest, you’ll get to enjoy happy hour specials like $5 well drinks, $6 glasses of wine and $1 off draft beer.

PLUS the bar will serve up a special “Becoming Brooklyn” cocktail, and there will prizes for being social. So come down and bring some of your BK friends. I want to hear all about your fave Brooklyn places, and I’ll give you some of mine. 

RSVP here now. 


5 Comfort Food Dishes for a Snowy Evening

8 Feb

When it’s cold and blustery outside, I start craving a warm and comforting meal. It’s the kind of food that makes you feel like home, and more importantly fills you up and warms you up. Here are my favorite comfort dishes for a snowy, chilly, stormy evening.

1. Pizza from Sottocasa

You can’ argue that pizza is one of the most comforting meals out there. Especially the pizza at Sottocasa– a brick oven joint with a cozy atmosphere. Pair it with a green salad and a bottle of wine for the ultimate snowy night feast.


2. Meatballs from The Meatball Shop

The Meatball Shop’s got it all– veggie, chicken, pork, classic beef balls. And you can eat them plain, in a hero, or in a “smash,” with a variety of sauces from tomato to pesto or mushroom gravy.


3. Falafel at Zaytoons

Crispy falafel + creamy hummus + warm pita = comfort food heaven. I’m a fan of the falafel at Zaytoons, as well as all of the salads and sides that can accompany them. I suggest stopping by and taking advantage of their BYOB policy.



4. Ricotta and Butternut Squash from Roman’s

When I think of comfort food, I think of cheese. That’s why I like to order the ricotta and butternut squash at Roman’s. It’s topped with olive oil for extra flavor.



5. Ramen at Ganso

Of course I’m going to put ramen on the list– what’s more comforting than a big bowl of noodles, a salty broth, and a soft boiled egg? I ate the Tan Tan ramen with shiitake mushrooms and Asian greens.


Best Brooklyn Bar Snacks

5 Feb
Cottage Fries at The Vanderbilt

Cottage Fries at The Vanderbilt

If I’m out for a drink, I can’t help but want to snack on a little something while I sip. There are some bar snacks that are beyond just your average bowl of peanuts, so I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. But I want some recommendations too– comment here with you faves!

Cottage Fries at The Vanderbilt

Deviled Eggs at Clover Club

Cheese Plate at Bocca Lupo

Cajun Boiled Peanuts at Strong Place

Roasted Chickpeas at Palo Cortado

Cheese Fondue at The Jakewalk

Roasted chickpeas from Palo Cortado

Roasted chickpeas from Palo Cortado

I told you mine, now tell me yours!


Order it Now: Smoked Trout Salad

1 Feb
The Smoked Trout Salad with fennel, apple, celery root, and red onion from 606 R&D.

The Smoked Trout Salad with fennel, apple, celery root, and red onion from 606 R&D.