Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

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Cocktails at Brooklyn Social

April 7, 2008

Brooklyn Social Cocktails

This has to be one of the most effortlessly cool places to drink in Brooklyn. 

Low lighting, slow ceiling fans and a dark, mysterious exterior, Brooklyn Social perfectly recreates the Italian Social Club it used to be in days gone by. Screaming subtlety and effortless coolness, it is a superbly relaxed place to sit and chill out, drinking some superb cocktails at the bar, whilst listening to Ella Fitzgerald.

© Katheryn Rice 2008

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Bagel by the brownstones

March 29, 2008

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The strongest memory I have of New York brownstones is from seeing one on the Cosby Show as a child. At the time it didn’t occur to me where it was, but then when I saw them on grown up shows like Sex and the City, I started to identify them with New York. During our stay with Chloe in Brooklyn we strolled up and down the brownstone streets and it felt as if we were somewhere memorable and iconic.And what else could be more iconic in New York than a bagel? Scallion cream cheese is something I have always wanted to order. Of course it would be easy to make at home, just chop some spring onions (scallions) and stir them into some luscious cream cheese. But how New York it would be to order it in a bagel? I managed to spoil it though by causing confusion with my final choice of bagel filling. When I am making sandwiches or ordering a free combination of fillings from a menu I tend to overdo it with the flavours I choose to compete with each other, and this occasion was no exception. If I was to follow convention I would have ordered a cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon) bagel, or a scallion cream cheese bagel, but I wanted both of those flavours, so I went for scallion cream cheese and lox – on an onion bagel – and got some puzzled looks.

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 But when I sat down on a park bench opposite the bagel shop and bit into the tasty bagel as the bright spring sun shone down on me, I knew I had made the right decision. The sweet onion bagel and smoked salmon combined with sharp scallions and creamy cream cheese to make the perfect taste! So next time you’re in a bagel or sandwich shop, don’t be afraid to go off list!

© Katheryn Rice 2008 

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Blue Ribbon Bar and Sushi, Brooklyn, NY

March 25, 2008

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So we met up with Chloe and her friends at the Blue Ribbon Bar and Sushi and we ended up with this  superb platter of california rolls, sashimi and sushi, and a couple of lucky dip items. I’m not sure why, but ‘going for sushi’ seemed like a new experience in New York, even though there is a sushi bar at the top of my road in North London.

The platter looked superb, and tasted great, but it was pretty standard for sushi. Having said that there was a new one for me – eel. It just happened to be part of the selection but I’m glad it was. For some reason I thought eel would be tough and chewy but it was quite the opposite – soft, succulent and with a delicate flavour with just a hint of salt.

But the best thing about this meal was the company. We got our own little booth, which was almost like being in our very own sushi box, but very cosy and perfect for a night of chit chat with the girls, during which we explained the actual meaning of ‘snogging’ (it doesn’t mean the same as ‘shagging’) and introduced our American friends to that very British phrase, ‘love-rat’. And the anecdote in which this term came up involved a Northerner describing someone in that way, so by the end of the evening, the yanks were saying it as ‘loove rat’, which was even more endearing and funny.

© Katheryn Rice 2008  

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Bar Tabac, Smith Street , Brooklyn, New York

March 20, 2008

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My first trip to New York was full on Manhattan tourism – all the obligatory sights; Battery Park, Empire State, Central Park, shopping, the East Village etc, but this time our trip was less wide-eyed green tourists, and more hanging out in the right places with the locals (kind of).

We couldn’t come to the US of A without doing brunch, and our lovely host Chloe made sure we did it in style. Venues don’t come much hipper than Bar Tabac in Brooklyn, which was rammed on Sunday brunchtime. We squeezed our way through the crowds in the front bar section, past the New Orleans swing band, complete with tuba, and to the front of the throng waiting to be seated.

We’d had lively night on Grey Goose Martinis, so hair of the dog was in order in the form of a spicy Bloody Mary. I definitely needed a pick-me-up but the Bar Tabac Bloody Mary had a hell of a kick, thanks to the special dose of fresh horseradish – ouch! 

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The eclectic crowd ranged from young families to middle aged men to the trendy Brooklyn crowd, but the most popular dish by far was the Bar Tabac special – Ratatouille topped with eggs, so that was my brunch of choice – when in Rome and all that…

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The perfectly fried eggs had warm, melty yolks and the ratatouille was tangy and tomatoey with diced, sauted potatoes for a bit of extra body – a filling, satisfying brunch.

© Katheryn Rice 2008 

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Big Apple breakfast

March 15, 2008

A long weekend in New York with two special girl friends was a very well-timed getaway, made all the more interesting thanks to one of the friends being a native New Yorker, Brooklyn to be specific. 

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It’s a cliched image, but one I wanted to share. Shame about the traffic cones though – put there to protect skaters from the melting ice.

As soon as we boarded the plane to New York we had been fantasising about an American breakfast; pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and so on, so that was our first stop in Manhattan. The Waverley Restaurant is the quintessential diner; customers seated at the bar and in booths, and others waiting to be seated as the super-efficient waiters take orders for the breakfast staples – coffees, hash browns, pancakes, bacon and all manner of eggs. 

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 After a quick translation by our host for the weekend, we ordered two rounds of ‘Silver Dollars’ (the small, manageable-looking pancakes), hash browns, sausages, bacon and scrambled eggs. As we salivated with anticipation, we gave little consideration to the huge portion-size America is famous for. So when the food arrived, we had unwittingly ordered enough for five or six people. Each plate of Silver Dollars was piled high with 10 of the little blighters. I had been expecting two or three… Cue lots of seasoned customers smiling kindly at the green British tourists with too much food!

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Having said that, this breakfast was exactly what we had been dreaming about. We spent a delicious half an hour tucking into our maple syrup-drenched brunch. Although after we’d eaten as much as we could, with no regard for our modesty, our sight-seeing took on a slower pace as we were all markedly heavier, but well satisfied. 

© Katheryn Rice 2008 

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Table service on the Trang-Bangkok sleeper

March 5, 2008

This is a special one from the Thailand archive for Mr Rice, who is currently relaxing with his chum Mr Bawcombe on Palolim beach in Goa.  On our most recent trip, we had three weeks in Thailand, which allowed to spend a little longer on the road, rather than flying to each destination. So Mr Rice finally got to show me the Bangkok sleeper train he’s so fond of.

A week or so before we boarded the Trang to Bangkok sleeper, we had jumped aboard the midnight train from Hua Hin to Surat Thani only a couple of days before New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t just Mrs and Mr Rice who were trying to get south for the festivities, so the train was jam packed – consequently we had settled for ‘second class air con’ seats, which basically meant old-fashioned plastic bus-style seats with minimal recline. ‘Air con’ was simply a wide open window that allowed the cold night air to rush through the carriage – all night. And worst of all, Mrs and Mr Rice were sitting next to each other, but with the pesky aisle separating us, so we couldn’t even cuddle up to keep warm. Ho hum, eight hours later we arrived, having had very little sleep and groggily resolved to travel sleeper all the way in future.

Sitting down happily in our ‘second class sleeper’ carriage after we boarded the train at Trang, I remembered the less than comfortable journey in second class air con, and I was as happy as if we’d sat in Business Class. Sometimes the most romantic moments are in the most unexpected places, and as we settled back in our seats, watching the sun set over the Thai countryside, our evening was perfected by the lovely waitress who brought us dinner and two cold bottles of Chang!

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It was a simple but tasty meal of sweet and sour chicken with rice and salad, served on a stow-away table by a persistent lady who kept bringing us two Changs instead of one.As night fell, the carriage grew quiet as the bed man walked through the car, converting each double seat into an upper and lower bunk. Mr Rice chivalrously took the lower bunk, meaning I could climb the little ladder up to my cosy little cabin. I closed the curtains, snuggled up in the blanket and had a great night’s sleep.

Our friendly waitress returned the next morning with breakfast: ‘toast’, butter and marmalade with fresh pineapple, orange juice and a nice cup of tea for Mr Rice. The toast was in fact bread, but there’s no need to split hairs. It was a charming way to start our day and limber up for a day travelling through and from Bangkok.

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So, remember – sleeper trains should only be done in sleeper carriages, and I hope you have as memorable a journey as Mrs and Mr Rice did.

© Katheryn Rice 2008 

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Find restaurant reviews on She likes her food

February 21, 2008

I’ve had a spring clean and rearranged the categories on She likes her food, so wherever you will be eating in the world you can check my recommendations.

The Eating out categories so far are: Barbados, Brighton, Cannes, Ibiza, London, St Kitts and Thailand. I’ll be adding a New York section very soon too.

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