Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hoboken Road Trip Part 3 - Candy Shoppe, Elysian Cafe

Continuing their ramble up the main drag of Washington Street, the Divas decided to turn up 4th Street and head to the parks by the Hudson. It was time to sit down, rest, and work some more on the Friday NY Times puzzle. On the way to the parks we stumbled on the Candy Shoppe and, of course, had to detour in. It's candy of the old-fashioned variety: fruit slices, nonpareils, Jordan almonds, etc. Everything is the same price, so you just load up your bags and pay by total weight. I'm not sure what Diva1's favorite was [the dark chocolate nonpareils -Diva1], but Diva2 loved the chocolate 'olives'; these were almonds covered with chocolate, shaped like olives and died green with a red tip. Divine; all they needed was a chocolate martini. Alas none was in sight.
The Divas continued on up 4th Street to the parks and took a well-deserved rest, finishing off the Times puzzle, solving the problems of the world and watching the local Hoboken faithful file into the church across the street for Friday confession. When the Divas were ready to move on they zig-zagged back to Washington and continued to check out the sights of Hoboken. Much to #2's surprise #1 announced she was scouting out places for lunch. On top of breakfast and bakery and candy shop, you also want lunch? OK, I can always eat; no one in #2's family ever passes up food.

Thus we came to Elysian Cafe at 1001 Washington; it's the Hoboken version of a Paris bistro and very nice it was. We dined outside under some shade, and I tell you, I felt a million miles away from NY. It was like being on vacation. Diva1 had the house Elysian burger with some great fries (crispy, tasting of potato - you get the idea) and Diva2 had the spaghetti bolognese. It was just about as bolognese as I am; in other words, just a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, but tasty it was and it came with some lovely garlic bread. There may even have been salad; Diva2 forgets. We washed it all down with root beers and the refills (on the house) kept coming. For dessert #1 had a very tasty apple strudel and #2 had the profiteroles with white and chocolate ice cream. The profiterole dough was a little tough and hard to cut, but all was forgiven because of the whipped cream on top. This was the genuine article, thick and tasting of fresh cream, and absolutely not some spritz from a spray can. Two thumbs up from the Divas on this place. We would go back.

After lunch the Divas continued meandering up Washington, giving out prizes for the day. The children's shop (El Bambi at 1204 Washington) got a prize for the pink pig humidifier for baby's room that was in the window. I wanted that pig and I'm no baby. The horticultural prize for the day went to the most beautiful and most fragrant apricot and yellow rose that the Divas wandered past somewhere i n their travels and I think Diva1 gave a prize to the very regal elk statue in front of the Hoboken BPOE lodge. By mid-afternoon the Divas had made their way to 14th Street, so they turned down it and made their way to the ferry stop at the bottom of the street. A short ferry ride later and the Divas were back at 39th Street in Manhattan after a hard day of playing tourist.

More Hoboken adventures will surely follow; Divas intend to go back at the first possible opportunity.

Elysian Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hoboken Road Trip Part 2: Carlo's Bakery

The Divas certainly did enjoy their road trip to Hoboken. We filled up at La Isla first on the theory that if we stuffed ourselves with big breakfasts then we wouldn't buy out Carlo's Bakery and have to lug 10 pounds of cookies all over Hoboken for the rest of the day. It was a good plan; I think Diva1 bought only a coffee mug and half a pound of cookies and Diva2 escaped with 2 large Black and Whites. Carlo's Bakery, for those who don't know, is an old-fashioned, old school (read slightly frowsy and slightly down at the heels) Italian bakery at 95 Washington Street, and it is the site for TLC's reality series Cake Boss. The Cake Boss is owner Buddy Valastro, but he was not in evidence when the Divas were there; Buddy's sister Mary was, however. On the Cake Boss series Mary is edited as bitchy and unfriendly to the customers; I think she's getting a bad rap. Diva2 had a small issue paying for her cookies and Mary was nice, I tell you, positively nice in straightening out the problem. Just as the Divas were leaving, a large Canadian (yes, Canadian) tour bus pulled up and 40 or so young men and women (high school trip?) piled off the bus and stormed the bakery, cameras at the ready. Hopefully Buddy put in an appearance for this group. I knew Cake Boss was a hit for TLC but somehow in my mind that didn't translate to Canadian tour buses. I can't speak for Diva1's box of cookies, but my Black and White's were mighty tasty when I finally got around to them at home over the weekend. The Divas give out prizes on occasion, and even though they didn't try any of the cupcakes on offer in the bakery, a special visual prize was awarded for the Muppets cupcakes, especially the one with the blue sparkly frosting. The Divas will be back here soon; that's a promise.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hoboken Road Trip Part 1: La Isla

For some time now this culinary haven in New Jersey has been beckoning to the NYC DinerDivas, who were waiting only for better weather before venturing across the waters to the haunts of Hoboken. Finally on Friday the skies were clear and the temperature was neither too warm nor too cold, so the Divas met early in the morning at the 34th Street PATH station for a reverse commute across the Hudson.

First in the plans was breakfast at La Isla at 104 Washington Street, and at 9:00 a.m., when we arrived, it was throbbing with a Latin beat and a lively breakfast crowd. Luckily, there was still a spot for us in the narrow, 36-seat restaurant. We ordered coffee (black for Diva1, iced for Diva2) and sat back to peruse the menu. It was a difficult decision for Diva1, whose response to every choice was "Oh yeah, I want that!" Diva2 was better prepared: she had come specifically for the Stuffed French Toast, the chef's award-winning original creation, and only hoped that it was not sold out. Our luck held: it was available.

This is the concoction that won a Bobby Flay Throwdown on The Food Network. Ingredients include guava, strawberries, cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds ... the question was, could it really taste as heavenly as it sounds? Diva2's blissful sigh at first bite provided the answer. Diva1 begged a bite, and heartily concurred.

In fact, Diva1 now looked at her Huevos Rancheros and wondered whatever had possessed her not to simply duplicate Diva2's order for herself. She took another sip of coffee (strong, with real body, but with not so much as a hint of bitterness), scooped up a spoonful of the rice (delicious), then had her answer in a mouthful of poached egg with spicy tomato sauce. This breakfast was a revelation for Diva1: how the various parts of a dish can meld into one yet retain their own distinct flavors.

So here's the La Isla verdict from Diva1: the service is friendly and efficient, the ambience is cheerful and lively, and the food is a delight for the taste buds. Even the price is right: not cheap, but not wallet-busting, either, especially considering the high level of care taken to prepare and serve these culinary gems.

Makes a DinerDiva want to swear off Diner food altogether and become ... egads! ... a foodie.

No, no, no, especially when you can get food as wonderful as this in this place with its honest-to-goodness down-to-earth real Diner vibe.

The Divas shall definitely return here to further explore Chef Omar's delicious take on Cuban cuisine!

La Isla on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Old Town Bar and Restaurant - an unexpected demerit

Diva2 had occasion to be in the Union Square neighborhood recently so she went for lunch at the Old Town Bar and Restaurant. This place is a New York institution, north of Union Square on East 18th Street, and around since 1892, if I recall correctly. There's lots of dark wood paneling and plenty of seating, at tables and at the bar - a nice comfy vibe to the place. The menu comes with an insert showing the specials of the day and including a factoid of the day, You gotta love a place that tells you one of the soup specials is corn chowder and by the way it's the birthday of James Monroe, fifth president of the US.

I got a cup of the corn chowder, which was lovely - lots of corn and potato pieces and a nice broth. However, it could have used some salt; it was definitely under seasoned in that respect. I got the clam roll, a bad choice; it was just nasty small pieces of clam previously fried somewhere else and reheated in the microwave methinks. You get a choice of one side with the clam roll so I got the cole slaw which was also under seasoned; it too needed salt. However, it was fresh and crunchy and not overly mayoed; in fact, I think the dressing may have had a buttermilk base and not mayo at all. Plus points for that.

For dessert I got the apple crumble; plus points to the waitress for asking if I wanted it heated up. Yes, please. Quite enjoyable it was too. I also ordered a cup of tea since I am not a coffee drinker. Diva2's first monthly Big Demerit Award goes to Old Town. The waitress promptly returned to tell me there was no tea; they had decided not to carry it any longer. What is the big deal about a cup of tea? It's a tea bag and some water. How hard is it to stock a few tea bags? Sheesh. Old Town, you are off my list until cups of tea return.

Old Town Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Troy Turkish Grill - a cure for the Port Authority blues

Diva2 went off to play in NJ yesterday and got back to Port Authority later than she intended, right in the middle of rush hour, and she was hungry to boot. What to do? The choices in PA are by and large dreadful; there are far too many coffee and pastry joints and the smell of all that pastry is enough to sicken anyone.

Nip out the back door at 9th Avenue and go diagonally across the street to Troy Turkish Grill to wait out rush hour, that's what to do. Troy is small and narrow with seats for about 15 or so and the food is basic. I had the Adana Kebob (minced lamb seasoned with spices) grilled and served on yellow rice with a little salad of lettuce, tomato and red onion and accompanied by a large warm tasty pita. The whole thing was quite serviceable and the rice had a nice spicy tang to it; I think the small pieces of something green in the rice may have been hot peppers. That would certainly account for the spicy tang. I washed the whole thing down with a Stewart's root beer and felt I had certainly gotten value for my $12.65.

Added bonus: Diva2 got to stock up on the Tamek brand of Turkish sour cherry juice that Troy obligingly carries in its soda case. Can't find Tamek anything in my neighborhood but Troy always has the cherry juice. Downing one is like drinking a cherry pie.

Troy on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 3, 2010

French fry heaven on Flatbush Ave.

So there Diva1 was on Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope, by the 7th Avenue subway stop on the Q line, facing five eateries in a row. Of course she would choose the Diner: Parkside Diner, in this case.

She almost didn't go in: the windows were shaded so there was no telling what was inside before actually going through the door, a definite turn-off. Oh, the things a DinerDiva does for the blog!

It was dimly-lit inside, the decor had a very worn, tired look in spite of the flat-screen-tv concession to modern diner life, and I spotted only two other patrons as I slid into a booth by the door. The waiter, a young man in jeans and a baseball cap, was johnny-on-the-spot with a glass of water and a menu, which he left me to peruse. The menu, too, seemed a bit worn. And tired. I probably should just order a burger, I thought, but I was really hankering for some nice crisp fresh veggies, so I took a chance and ordered the Chef's Salad, specifying no roast beef. Then hoped the veggies would not be as worn as the decor and the menu ...

The waiter took the order, took the menu, went to the kitchen in the back, and promptly returned with the news that they were out of turkey for the Chef's Salad. As I didn't want any roast beef, that left only those (possibly worn) veggies and some cheese ... I took the opportunity to order a well-done cheeseburger deluxe instead.

It wasn't at all a bad choice. The bun was something soft and nondescript, the pickle wedges limp and undistinguished, but the burger was well-done as ordered, the tomato slice juicy and the bit of lettuce fresh and crispy. The french fries were a real, welcome surprise, crisply well-done and scrumptious with an added sprinkling of pepper. In a word: yum!

One further test, however: apple pie. The waiter asked a question I considered to be a good sign: would I like it heated? Why, yes, I would. And so the pie arrived, well heated. Hot. Too hot. With a mealy crust. Oh, why oh why didn't I stop at the fries?

For a burger and fries, though, this place was just only fine. In fact, I'd definitely go back just for the fries. And a burger. At the counter. Replace the worn-out decor, and there you have quintessential Diner.

Park Side Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Quick Bite at La Parisienne

Diva1, famished, on her way home, stopped in for a quick dinner at the friendly-looking restaurant-diner, La Parisienne on 7th Avenue not far from Central Park.

It did seem like a good idea at first: Diva1 was quickly shown to the one booth not yet occupied, handed the menu, asked if she'd like something to drink (yes, please, a black coffee) while a glass of iced water was placed before her. So attentive. So efficient. And Diva1 does like a place lively with folks eating & schmoozing.

There were plenty of burgers on offer, which were tempting, but Diva1 has been watching her scale march relentlessly upward this past year, so when she spotted a grilled chicken special on the menu, that's what she ordered.

Waiter: The sandwich?
Diva1: Oh. The grilled chicken special. If that's a sandwich, I guess so.
Waiter: Raises eyebrows, gives withering look to Diva, scratches on his pad. Will that be all?
Diva1: Hm. It comes with french fries?
Waiter: French fries.
Diva1: That's all then.

Reader, it was a sandwich, of the open variety, a hunk of grilled chicken lying unadorned atop a toasted burger bun. French fries, a slice of tomato and a lettuce leaf shared the plate.

Waiter: Would you like some cole slaw or pickles?
Diva1: Pickles would be great, thanks!

And so arrived a small plate bearing two nondescript limp pickle wedges.

The first disappointment was the french fries: pale, mealy, no crispy goodness whatsoever. Still, the Diva was hungry, and they were not, after all, inedible. She did not eat the sandwich as a sandwich, opting instead to eat the chicken by itself and treat the bun as a side of bread. The chicken wasn't horrible, but was on the dry side, and not quite flavorless, but almost. The tomato slice was large and juiceless, the lettuce leaf crisp and delicious. In fact, that lettuce leaf and the toasted bun were the best things about this meal.

After all that, Diva1 was going to forego any thought of dessert, but on the other hand she thought ... well, she's unsure just what she was thinking ... she ordered apple pie. Which arrived cold. And, like the tomato, juiceless.

La Parisienne. Diva1 has never been to Paris, but she imagines that no Parisian would want to be associated with such a meal. Sighing deeply, she left a now empty restaurant (no, it was not closing time), belly full but heart heavy: it had seemed so promising. Alas.

La Parisienne Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Breakfast(s) at the Nevada Diner, Bloomfield, NJ

A Diner Diva should actually eat in a diner now and then, and lucky Diva2, she had to be in Bloomfield a couple of times recently at breakfast time. The bus from NY goes right down Broad St. past the Nevada Diner, so these were my chances to check out said diner. At home I eat a light breakfast, nothing too fancy, but when I'm in diner territory the sky is the limit.

On my first visit I had a the ND's version of a Toasted Bagel All the Way and it just hit the spot; it's a bagel with lox, cream cheese on the side, and lettuce, tomatoes, onions and olives. There's not too much I can say about this; this was filling and just what I wanted and it was about the same as any other diner in the NY area would offer. Nothing to rave about, but no complaints either.

On my second trip I went for the Stuffed French Toast with a side of bacon. The French Toast was 2 big pieces of Challah Bread stuffed with fresh strawberries and blueberries. There was a big dollop of butter, with chopped pecans, on the top and maple syrup came served, not in a plastic pack, but warmed the way it should be in a nice little pouring jar. The serving of bacon was big (I think at least 6 pieces), it was nicely crisped all the way through, and it was the perfect accompaniment to the French Toast. This was a winner in my book and with a couple cups of tea I was a happy camper.

If you happen to be in Bloomfield, do stop in and give this diner a try. I will be back again the next time I have to be in that neighborhood.

Nevada Diner on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Trio of Lunches in Forest Hills

Lunch #1: Pinang, the Malaysian/Asian fusion restaurant on Queens Blvd. Diva2 knows precious little about Malaysian cuisine, but she comes here on occasion with a friend after the movies. The friend always, always orders the Spring Roll appetizer and the Chicken Satay appetizer and announces herself as satisfied with this. Diva2 always goes for something more substantial (but safe) like Pad Thai. These are good choices all, but a little skimpy on portion size.

Therefore, I decided to check the place out at lunch to see what the Mon-Fri lunch special was like. It's priced according to the main dish and includes choice of soup (wonton or something I don't know at all, called, I believe, Tom Tam or Tom Yum) and dessert of the day. I chose Wonton Soup and Mango Chicken. In due course the chicken arrived, without the soup. I had to send the waiter back for the soup and it was undistinguished when it came; in fact, the wontons were terrible - small and hard with no filling that I could discern. The chicken dish, on the other hand, was quite tasty - hot and spicy, but not overpoweringly so, and served with a generous portion of rice, all of which was needed to absorb the sauce. The dish had lovely strips of chicken, red and green peppers, onions and mango. I never did get my so-called dessert of the day; the waiter never offered it or brought it and I was full from the main course, so I didn't really need it.

Considering that this lunch was priced at $6.50 plus tax and tip, I can't really complain. However, the waiter clearly was out of his element and the place was not full at all; I'd hate to think what would happen if the waiter had been really busy.

Verdict: Pinang is a perfectly acceptable place to stop in for a quick lunch in the area, but I don't think it is going to set the world on fire. This will be an occasional stop for me, but I won't become a regular.

Pinang Malaysian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lunch #2: Baluchi's, the Forest Hills outpost of this Indian chain, also on Queens Blvd. Baluchi's has a Mon-Fri lunch special - 50% off on any in-house item ordered. This does not apply to takeout. I find the food here to be decent, but overpriced, especially since it is all a la carte. I only go here for lunch, since 50% off makes a big difference. I opted for Goan Shrimp Curry accompanied by Rice and Raita.

The shrimp curry was a wonderful surprise: 5 big plump pieces of shrimp in a lovely sauce that was reddish in color, but not from tomato. The color must have been from the spices used as the sauce was listed as having lime and coconut milk but not tomato. It was not a hot and fiery sauce, but a sweetish one - cinnamon, perhaps? The dish went very well with the rice and raita. At half price off this came in around $10.00 - $10.50 plus tax and tip.

Verdict: Again, a perfectly acceptable place to stop in for lunch, but not for dinner, as the cost mounts up very quickly. This place was also not busy. Neither Beluchi's nor Pinang can seem to attract any kind of a crowd at lunch.

Baluchi's on Urbanspoon

Lunch #3: Corfu Grill, a Greek restaurant on Austin Street in the heart of the Forest Hills shopping area. I had been here several years ago and had ordered the falafel. It was the worst falafel I have ever eaten in my life, hard and totally undigestible, so I had written this place off after 1 visit and had never gone back. However, I keep getting good word of mouth on this, so I decided to give it another shot and check out its Mon-Fri lunch special.

For the lunch special you get a cup of soup, pita with tzatziki sauce, a choice of rice, hand-cut fries or lemon potatoes, a salad and your choice of main dish. Main dish could be Spinach Pie, Dolmades, Souvlaki, Gyro, Moussaka, etc., etc., etc. I went with Spinach Pie and I chose the Lemon Potatoes.

First came a bowl of out-of-this-world Chicken Soup, loaded with rice and chunks of carrots and tasty, tasty, tasty. My only complaint, and you are going to laugh, was the square soup bowl. My spoon kept hitting the corners of the bowl and making a racket. Diva2 Moment of Epiphany here; soup bowls are usually round for a reason. They are less noisy.

Next came the main platter with a triangle of spinach pie that was warm and flaky, three big wedges of potato, warm and soft pitas, a tangy tzatziki sauce and some Greek salad. This was all basically good, although the lemon potatoes had too much rosemary on them and no discernible lemon taste. Also, the olives on the Greek salad were mushy and straight out of a can - undistinguished to say the least. The salad was also a little soggy with too much dressing.

HOWEVER, and this is a big, big however, this whole meal was priced at $6.00 plus tax and tip. I cannot stress what a bargain this was; I had a bowl of soup and a platter loaded with food for a ridiculously low price.

Verdict: Corfu Grill is a diamond in the rough, a few misses but overall the best bang for my buck that I've encountered in weeks. The neighborhood knows it too; there were seats when I arrived at 12:30, but by the time I left every seat was taken and hungry eaters were pouring in the doors. Give this place a try; I know I will be back checking out other items on the menu. Just avoid the falafel when you go.

Corfu Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Divas Do DUMBO (with photos)

The 2 DinerDivas began their Down-Under-The-Manhattan-Bridge-Overpass Good Friday in Brooklyn Heights at Diva1's nabe-fave Montague St. diner, The Grand Canyon, home of the 7 oz. burger. But this was breakfast.

At 9:30 a.m. the place was filled with a good-sized breakfast crowd but still there was a comfy booth available with chairs nearby to spread our things out on as we placed our orders: a brunch-worthy Monte Cristo and tea for Diva2, a Belgian waffle and bacon with black coffee for Diva1.

The waffle arrived first, buried in what looked like at least 2 rashers of bacon, surprising Diva1, who had expected a couple of slices, maybe 3 at most. Plenty of butter and single-serving-containers of Kraft fake-maple-syrup accompanied the waffle. The waffle, buttered and syruped (and bacon put to the side), was delicious and properly puffy if a little on the bland side. The bacon, if a bit much, was nicely done, not at all limp and wimpy and not too crisp, either.

Diva2 drizzled a bit of the syrup on her Monte Cristo which she declared to be quite tasty while also noting it was a large-ish serving.

After downing our meal, we kicked back with the Friday New York Times crossword puzzle and readily proffered refills of our tea and coffee. In fact, we sat for quite some time puzzling over ... and finishing ... the puzzle without ever feeling rushed or in any way unwelcome -- quite the opposite, in fact, a neighborhood-diner-perk we appreciated and rewarded with a generous tip before leaving.

From there, we made our leisurely way through the Brooklyn Promenade, along Old Fulton Street, past the already lengthy line for Grimaldi's Pizza (we did not indulge), to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory at the foot of Old Fulton Street to enjoy some fresh, handmade ice cream.

The line into this little shop, too, was out the door, but the ice cream -- a scoop of butter pecan and another of coffee ice cream in a waffle cone for Diva2, a scoop of butter pecan in a waffle cone for Diva1 -- proved well worth the short wait. Rather than take the cones outside to eat, we sat at one of the 3 tables. Diva2 declared the coffee ice cream had the absolute perfect coffee taste; and Diva1 echoed the sentiment, noting that the Factory had achieved pecan perfection without overwhelming the ice cream with nuts.

From the Ice Cream Factory, the Divas paid a short visit to part of the newly-opened Brooklyn Bridge Park, noted an upcoming appearance of the Young@Heart singers at Ann's Warehouse, peeked in through some doors at Jane's Carousel (to be ensconced at year's end in a new pavilion in the aforementioned Park), and stopped in for some Easter goodies at Jacques Torres Chocolates, where we admired the $60 chocolate cow and where Diva1 bought the irresistible dark-chocolate-dipped Tuxedo Peeps, a requisite dark chocolate rabbit, and 2 chocolate mud cookies, one of which Diva1 ate on the spot, the other of which she gave to Diva2, who devoured it later at home.

Diva1 just wants to say not only is the chocolate the absolute best in the world, but those Peeps are the Cadillac of Peeps. Clearly not something bought off the shelf in some drugstore, they were soft and sweet little marshamallow confection perfection!

Next on the foray into DUMBO was PS Books, where the Divas lightly grazed at the shelves then gratefully fell onto the store's comfy couch to rest and chat while paging through their selections.

Next thing we knew, it was after 3:00 p.m., and time for another eating adventure, this time at the newly opened Choice Market at the corner of Jay & York Streets. Once inside this roomy eatery, we chose drinks from the refrigerated case (some interesting, different choices among the usual Cokes), perused the menu, placed and paid for our orders at the cash register, then took our seats at one of the long communal tables. A waitress brought our orders to us when they were ready:

Diva2 declared the hanger steak delicious and done as ordered: pink and juicy. Asked about the side of mashed potatoes, she said they were fine and not at all watery, which is Diva1's usual complaint about mashed potatoes ordered out. Diva1 found the salmon burger to be lovely, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomato, and crisp sprouts. Her only question was that she thought she might have preferred mustard to the mayonnaise already on the burger -- but then again, maybe not. Anyway, she hadn't been given the choice, which she thought it would have been nice to have, especially at a place named Choice. The french fries were a real treat, served hot, outsides crispy, with a side of perfectly ordinary ketchup. Only thing was the fries came already salted, while she would have preferred to add her own salt; actually, she'd have preferred pepper, no salt. The portions were perfectly sized, appetites sated with nothing left on the plate.

All this was polished off with new-to-us soda choices: Fentiman's "botanically brewed" Traditional Ginger Beer for Diva1 and Fentiman's Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger for Diva2. Diva1 definitely recommends the Ginger Beer to any true ginger lovers out there; Diva2 noted that even the Orange Jigger had a kick of ginger in it. These drinks added some decided tang to the meal!

The ambience here was casual, relaxed (as we had earlier at the Grand Canyon, we lingered here too after our meal, feeling welcomed and not at all rushed, the place busy but uncrowded), and all about good, fresh, well-prepared food. And only our earlier sweet indulgences as well as our desires to return home meant passing up the tempting desserts on offer here.

The Divas will definitely choose Choice -- and do DUMBO -- again.

Grand Canyon Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory on Urbanspoon
Jacques Torres Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Diva2 here, just back from early eats at the local CheeburgerCheeburger franchise. This is another of those faux 50s diners that seem to be everywhere these days - you know, the pseudo 50s jukebox tunes, the fake pressed aluminum trimming, the enforced hearty peppy atmosphere, the kitschy wall decor, etc. I arrived at 5:30 to be greeted by a sign announcing Family Night from 6 to 8. Apparently in this neighborhood that means 5 to 7, because when I went inside there were more kids than adults. I turned down the first table offered (too close to a dad burping a baby) and was shown to a better spot. After perusing the menu I settled on a Large Coffee Shake, Small Onion Rings and the Classic Burger (smallest of the several sizes on offer) with lettuce, tomato, onion and horseradish sauce.

Waiter/Diva2 conversation:

W: How would you like the burger cooked?
D2: Pink and juicy.
W: Well done.
D2: No, well done is NOT what I want.
W: OK, medium then.
D2: As close to medium rare as you can get it.
Waiter departs with perplexed look on his face.

The food arrived in a very odd manner. First came the shake, which was thick and tasty, but I was 3/4 of the way through it before the onion rings arrived. I was halfway through the onion rings before the burger came and there was a long, long wait between onion rings and burger. It really would have been nice to have everything come to the table at the same time. I had heard a lot about the onion rings, and in their defense, the ratio of batter to rings is good. You can actually taste the onion; it's not all batter, batter, batter. However, the batter itself is not good; there's something "too uniform and made somewhere else and reheated here" about it. The burger itself was not bad although it certainly was closer to well done than medium or medium rare. Condiments on the table included mustard, ketchup and pepper, but there was no salt in sight anywhere on my table or any table near me. Luckily the burger had enough taste that salt wasn't necessary. I wonder what happens when someone wants salt for their fries.

All of a sudden I heard a great commotion behind me and I turned around to discover that Family Night means the Balloon Man and the Face Paint Lady. The kids were all having a blast and the balloons were pretty awesome looking - the green spider was a particularly big hit. Face Paint Lady was also doing a roaring business.

Overall verdict: If you are doing errands in the nabe, you can duck in here for a burger, but I can't see making a special trip here, unless of course you have kiddies that need entertainment on a dull Wednesday night. This is not a place I would deliberately seek out again.

Cheeburger Cheeburger on Urbanspoon