script type="text/javascript">

Followers

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Judgement in Brooklyn: The Greenest Block Team Lunches Around the Borough by Jeanne Rostaing (guest blogger)

Last month it was my good fortune to work again for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as a first round judge for the 20th annual Brooklyn's Greenest Block Contest.  I was part of an intrepid team with veteran judge Machina Ervin and Claudia Navas, our unflappable driver.  Over a two week period we saw the community gardening efforts of nearly 200 blocks.
Above: What could be more welcoming
to gardening judges than this amazing
flowery arch?

Above: Shoe bags aren't just for shoes.

Above: Don't discard those old sneakers.  They can have
a brand new life holding plants.



A highlight of our day was lunch and here is a recap of the restaurants, most new to us but a few that we have enjoyed in the past and were happy to re-visit.  I hope you enjoy this little guide and that it inspires you to get out and have lunch in Brooklyn.

We began our work in Park Slope so we headed over to the Gowanus area to the bakery restaurant Runner and Stone on 3rd Ave. near Carroll St.  At night this place tends to be bustling with foodies but on a Monday afternoon it was quiet. We ordered from the bar and took a table near the glassed-in garden.
Above: grasses and strawberries can be seen from the dining room
in Runner and Stone.
Above: Runner and Stone is at 235 3rd Ave. 
Above: Broccoli fritter in pita.  Crunchy and tasty.


Above: Yummy grilled cheese can be ordered
with or without bacon. 

Above: Runner and Stone is noted for the bread, pretzels and other
baked goods that are made daily on site.  The name of the restaurant
refers to the two stones used to grind grain in a traditional mill.
Day 2 took us out to East Flatbush where we had lunch at Footprints Cafe, a small local chain of 3 restaurants (plus a Lawrenceville, GA location) specializing in Caribbean fare and famous among its fans for its "Rasta Pasta." The atmosphere is comfortable, even luxurious compared to the more rudimentary Caribbean cafes common in this part of Brooklyn.

Above: Machina opted for the oxtail which she said was delicious.

Above: Nina Browne, our boss and substitute
driver, tackles the house speciality.
Above: Machina and delicious
ginger beer.

Above: The signature dish, Rasta Pasta.  You can order it with tofu,
or a variety of seafood and meat including goat, king fish, shrimp,
and chicken.  We ordered it without protein accompaniment. The 
dish was creamy and flavorful and enormous.  



On Wednesday we gave in to a yen for roti and stopped at the tiny Trini Breakfast Shed II  at 3209 Church Ave. near Nostrand. Unlike a lot of other similar spots in the neighborhood it is not merely for take-out and actually boasts a couple of tables, as well as some Chinese menu items.  No haute cuisine here but the food was tasty, filling and cheap.

Above: Locals lined up for Trinidadian specialties.

Above: Machina enjoyed the oxtail roti.


On Thursday we were in Bedford Stuyvesant, the neighborhood with the largest number of contest entries.  Saraghina, with its funky interior and delicious pizzas, is a local stalwart and we were happy to return there (it's been on our lunch agenda for the past 3 years).  Once again the food did not disappoint.
Above: The organic chicken panini with tomatoes and avocado
was Machina's choice. 

Above: Don't expect the restaurant's name
to be prominently
displayed.  You can recognize it by its
distinctive black and white exterior
Above: Claudia appreciating the aroma of the ortolano pizza. with
san marzano tomatoes,
fresh mozzarella, roasted zucchini, tomatoes,
eggplant, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil


Above: Perfectly cooked farro in the
Toscana
salad with lettuce, tomatoes,
feta cheese, onion, capers and e.v.o oil


Note: While we were in Bed Stuy we learned that a sweet garden cafe, Breadlove, which we had discovered last year, is closed because of a fire.  We were sad to hear it and wish them a speedy re-opening.

We finished up the week in Ditmas Park where we discovered an excellent new lunch place, Cafe Madeline at 1603 Cortelyou Rd., a small narrow place, part coffee shop, part restaurant.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the food is great.
Above: Machina ordered the Chedder Chive Biscuit and a very generous side salad. 

Above: My "Veggieful" sandwich was
a scrumptious grilled cheese with NY
state cheddar and fresh veggies on
multi grain bread.

Above: Newcomer Cafe Madeline has a friendly message
for the neighborhood.

Above: Claudia had a special, the veggie frittata.


We started off week 2 of judging back in Bed Stuy where we stumbled upon a restaurant with a facade so beautifully gardened that we wished they had entered our contest.  The distinctive rustic style of Alice's Arbor, at 549 Classon Ave., was created out of reclaimed materials such as industrial pallets and vintage barn wood. It is a combination store (offering local prepared food products), restaurant (focusing on fresh local ingredients) and cafe.
Above: Machina ordered the "Roast Beast"
an overstuffed sandwich with house roasted
beef, Cabot chedder, jalapeno pepper and
arugula.  

Above: The front of Alice's Arbor caught our eye with its
clever use of recycled items such as galvanized washtubs
and wooden pallets as gardening containers. 
Above: Claudia had the "Big Cheese" sandwich, chedder
tomato and avocado while I enjoyed the shaved fennel
and beet salad. 
"

Above: Homemade baked goods on display.


On Tuesday we ventured out to Coney Island to see gardens just now coming back after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  At lunchtime we were close to Brighton Beach so we treated ourselves to lunch on the boardwalk at the amazing Tatiana's, a Russian phenomenon: grill, restaurant, caterer, night club, you name it.
Above: Greek salad on the board walk.

Above: Machina had fried vareniki
(Russian perogies) filled with meat.



Above: Service was slow but Machina and Claudia
don't seem to mind.

Above: Claudia had vareniki too, but
hers were boiled and filled with potato.
Both dishes were topped with crunchy fried onions

Above: The view from our table.
Wednesday found us in Brooklyn Heights at midday.  Claudia spotted Gallito's Kitchen on Montague Street.  It's a second story place that describes itself as serving urban Mexican food made of "urban farms ingredients." The restaurant is attractive and the food was good but dining here was our most frustrating experience because the servers were overwhelmed.  Go here for the food but don't be surprised if you have to wait.
  

Above: Chicken tacos were delicious
but Machina ordered 4 and only got 2.

Above: My veggie torta was fresh and tasty but it wasn't delivered to
the table until after Claudia and Machina had finished eating.

Back in Bed Stuy on Thursday we happened to park near Beso and decided to give it a try.  It is a pleasant bar and restaurant serving what Machina described as "nuevo soul" cuisine.  There is a Latin flavor to the menu which lists tapas, rice and beans, plantains etc. but the food is also down home with fried fish and red velvet cake also offered.
Above: Chopped salad with optional avocado
was a perfect summer lunch.

Above: Lindsey Dula, a visitor from the
Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Development
dept. enjoyed a fried fish sandwich.

Above: Mark Fisher, BBG head of
GreenBridge and fill-in driver, had high
praise for the fried shrimp sandwich.

Above: Beso has an inviting garden in back, making it a perfect
warm weather spot.




Friday we celebrated our last day of judging by re-visiting the pleasant Ditmas Park farm to table restaurant, Farm on Adderley.  We relaxed in the garden and were pleased to discover that the food is still fresh and beautifully prepared and the service, sometimes slow in the past, was friendly and efficient.




Above: Burger and irresistible homemade fries.
Above: The Farm on Adderley



Above: Bread and Dip Plate: hummus, roasted eggplant
and tasty carrot salad.

Above: Keeping to the farm theme,
miniature animals accompany the bill.


Above: Claudia enjoys fresh pea soup and chocolate bread with sea salt and butter.




Thanks to the amazing staff of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's GreenBridge: Mark Fisher, Nina Browne and Maureen O'Brien who tirelessly oversee the endless details of the Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest and make our job as judges enjoyable and inspiring.  Thanks also to the dedicated Brooklyn gardeners who never cease to impress us with their hard work, creativity and delightful flights of fancy. Good luck to each and every one of you!



Above: Bathtub planters are one of my favorite Brooklyn
gardening staples but this gardener filled the contents of
an entire bathroom with plants.

Above: The Greenest Block Team ready for another day of judging:
Claudia, Jeanne and Machina.


3 comments:

kacper@tastyquery.com/ said...

Hello!

I saw Your blog and I thought it had great recipes and awesome pictures! I therefore would like to invite You to our new culinary website which has just started.

This is how it works in short. TastyQuery.com is a website for food bloggers and their fans allowing them to automatically collect recipes from Your food blog. It's a large database of links to recipes on food blogs. Everyone can join us for free.

For more please visit:
http://tastyquery.com

TastyQuery.com is an English version of our main website called "Mikser Kulinarny", founded in Poland. "Mikser Kulinarny" has a large audience (over 2 mln unique visitors monthly) and with TastyQuery.com we want to repeat that success and drive thousands of new visitors to your food blog.

In case of any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

Best regards!

Vegan said...

Hi ,
I love you blog!!
Do you know this Google already?

Google of Eric Eats Blah Blah

You can personalize it with a name you choose. With the same results of Google!
Use it as your homepage with your own name on it!

Terry Smith said...

Hey Eric,
What a wonderful surprise. I have more of a reason to eat in Brooklyn now. The reviews are informative and the pictures makes you want to try it.
A close friend's block has won the Greenest block in Brooklyn several times. Didn't know you had a green thumb. The other boroughs should follow suit.
I'm a follower, keep up the good work.

Terry