Manhattan is where it’s at! Or is it? Yes it is, but Brooklyn is coming up big! Downtown Brooklyn is just one stop from “the city” on the subway and has nothing to be ashamed of! Chefs and restaurants are of Manhattan caliber here, and are worth the minimal travel. Take an Uber, you won’t regret it.
Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn has been a hot spot for Middle Eastern food for many, many years. Pastry shops, specialty stores, grocery stores, cafes, it’s a Bazaar of exotic foods. Smack in the middle of it, Alan Dabagh, who is of middle Eastern descent, recently opened his beautiful restaurant. HIs background is Syrian and Lebanese, and he is infusing their traditional cuisines with American accents. Having grown up in New York City in this middle Eastern neighborhood gives him the unique ability to do just that. I had the pleasure of meeting this passionate and talented young chef and had a tasting of his menu.
Nope, I’m not big on kale, but his Kale Tabouleh, made with Bulgur, Parsley Root, Mint and Lemon is to die for, and I’ll take seconds. Middle Eastern pizza? Yes please. With Duck Confit, Harissa, Yukon Potato and Garlic please.
The Foie Gras Fritters with Strawberry Verjus are simply amazing, Crispy on the outside, liquid on the inside, a culinary surprise that will not let you share your dish with even your best friend. My absolute favorite that afternoon was Kibbeh Nayeh, a Middle eEastern beef tartare with Bulgur, onion, mint and olive oil. It was amazing. Some of the sides include a Maitake Mushroom prepared with sweet Tahini, lime and caraway, as well as Spring Peas with Hummus and green almonds. These menu items area not only very tasty, but innovative and well thought through.
The Entrees are American with a Middle Eastern spin. Or are they Middle Eastern with an American spin? Who knows, who cares, they’re delicious and there is something for everybody. Try the Beef and Broccoli with Shichimi Togarashi and brown sauce, or the Duck with Freekeh, Fava Bean, Sour Cherry and coffee. You can’t go wrong with any of it! This is one of the freshest and modern menus I’ve seen in quite a while, and I’m glad I made the trip to Brooklyn.
Country Hill BBQ Market
When a restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary, they’re doing something right. It takes a lot to survive that many years in New York City. But Hill Country BBQ Market has done just that. The owner Ash Fulk is yet another Top Chef contestant that made it here in the Big Apple (yes, I find them all). He competed on Season 6 in the year 2009!
Hill Country specializes in BBQ food of course, paired with live music and a rustic decor. It is spacious and lively. Upon being seated you receive a “Meal Ticket” which serves as a menu and order form. You take it to the counters at the back of the restaurant, receive your food cafeteria style, and bring it back to your table to indulge. I love that instead of napkins there are rolls of paper towels on the tables, because Lord knows you need them. I took my son to eat, who loves him some BBQ, and he loves this place. We literally had a taste of everything.
Our order was “The Pitmaster” and a “Cue & 2”. We tried the pulled pork, chicken, brisket, pork spare rib, Hot Link, with sides of Mac n Cheese, Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash, White Shoepeg Corn Pudding, and Beef Chili. Everything was top notch, we dusted the plates and were full to the rim. My favorite was the Brisket paired with the corn pudding. I never had corn pudding before, and I’m glad I tried it, it’s scrumptious…..
Maison Kayser is a French Bakery with a string of locations all around the world. There are several in Manhattan, but if you find yourself in Brooklyn with a hanker for something sweet, this might just be the spot. I just stopped by this weekend to pick up a few treats, and I absolutely adore this place with its friendly staff. I brought home some yummy sweet treats, and some sweet breads with white chocolate infused into it, which were just incredible. The pastries didn’t even make it though the night, my family and I couldn’t keep our hands off it!
Yesterday was the Fourth of July, which I celebrated at home with my daughter, resting and recovering from a long week. I’m just so grateful to live in this beautiful country, especially here in New York City. I’m celebrating my 30 year anniversary here in the United States on July 10th, and nothing could be more amazing!!!Until next time!