Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dressler; Revisited

It had been over a year since I last visited Dressler, so a return visit was definitely overdue. They've redesigned the menu since then, saving a few appetizers like the diver scallops and ricotta raviolini, but tossing the short rib and monkfish for a different fish-heavy list (salmon, cod, black sea bass) and a few other meaty American staples -- duck, chicken, sirloin, porkchop.

We started with the crispy artichokes, a surprisingly salty, cheesy plate. Long strips of Parmesan melted on top while rich, creamy ricotta hid underneath. The artichokes were fried to the point of tasting like junk food -- in a good way.

The market oysters were my favorite size (not too big), and my favorite strength (not too mild, not too briny). They went great with our bottle of txakolina, a very dry white wine.

The octopus was as pretty as a picture, almost tender to a fault, with an odd pairing of fingerling potatoes that strangely seemed to work. Served on top of a small drizzing of kalamata olive oil vinaigrette with red peppers and feta cheese for maximum saltiness.

The beet and navel orange salad came with the obligatory goat cheese -- a whole wedge of the stuff -- along with a scattering of hazelnuts and lots of leafy arugula. The salad was set atop really thin slices of a roasted tomato tart. I haven't met a version of beet-and-goat-cheese salads I haven't liked, and this one was definitely a winner, thanks to the hazelnuts and abundance of cheese.

The only main entree we ordered was the Heritage Country Pork Chop, a huge, fatty, rich piece of meat that tastes nothing like your traditional pork chop. It was served on top of a generous portion of grits, with morel mushrooms and a few stalks of white asparagus. The grits complemented the fatty pork really well, everything melting into one another.

I really liked Dressler's first menu, but I think this one has a lot of promise, too. There's a good selection, interesting ingredients and a great wine list, too. I think its safe to say that Dressler is still ahead of the pack of restaurants of its caliber in Brooklyn.

149 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 384-6343

Sandwich Fridays Continue

I've been a lot more true to this summer's sandwich promise than I was to last year's burger endeavors. I've already got two more to add to the list: Blue Ribbon Bakery and Baoguette.

After a great panini at Ino on Bedford Street, my summer sandwich friend and I decided to give Blue Ribbon Bakery right across the street a go. They only do takeout, so it was a good excuse to grab some food and head over to the waterfront for some picnic-style scenic dining.

Blue Ribbon Bakery's sandwiches are all open-faced. Most just include a butter (like fresh churned or cashew) and/or a cheese (like manchego and stilton). While I was too hungry to consider a bread, butter and cheese sandwich (good as they sounded), I went with the heartier duck breast with honey mustard. I was surprised to see that they sliced the bread AND the duck fresh from the loaf/full breast. They loaded the meat on top of the toasted bread and sprinkled some parsley on top. It was just the right amount of food.

And I should mention that the place was empty and the guys working here were really friendly. Another West Village sandwich winner!

Blue Ribbon Bakery Market
14 Bedford St.
(212) 647-0408

I recently made my second trip to Baoguette, the much-hyped Vietnamese sandwich shop down on Lexington. I don't know why it took me so long to get hooked on banh mis. I love Vietnamese food, and always figured noodles were the best vehicle for the sweet and spicy flavors. But I was wrong! Crispy bread gives the whole mess texture, and as long as it has some spicy meat, some fresh herbs and something sweet to balance out the flavors, I'm happy.

Their classic banh mi comes with a thin layer of pate, spicy pork and lots of carrots and cilantro. They always ask if you want it spicy, and if you say yes, they don't mess around. 

My favorite is their signature Sloppy Bao, with spicy curried beef, green mango, basil and lemongrass. The flavors together are perfect in the summer: fresh, sweet, slightly fruity.

The only thing that could use a little help here is the atmosphere. I don't mind eating at a cramped counter facing the wall, but when that wall has a mirror, it makes it a little awkward to chow down on spicy food. Here's a tip for summergoers: eat towards the back of the room, where there's a small fan that will just barely keep you from passing out. It's uncomfortable, but the baoguettes are worth it!

61 Lexington Ave (between 25th & 26th) 
(212) 532-1133