Grilling the day’s haul from the West Side Market.
Drinks at L’Albatros.
We’ve been REALLY lazy about trying new places in the neighborhood, be they for eating or for drinking. For the latter, we generally stick with the Pencil Factory for a few pints or the Mark Bar (and its lethal $4 mixed drinks) for really tying one on. So even though Black Rabbit has been open and close by since the summer, I hadn’t set foot in it until this week. My bad. It’s a really nice bar. The renovation was carefully done, in contrast to a lot of the shiny but shoddy work you often see. Heavy fixtures, characterful dark wood, and well-considered little touches are everywhere. There’s plenty of seating, some of it in deep, dim snugs. The bar itself is stunning, a gently curving beauty fashioned from antique wood. It could have been oppressive, it could have been too kitschy, but it absolutely isn’t. (The owner worked for the company that runs the Carnegie Club and the Campbell Apartment, amongst other refined establishments, so I guess he knows from elegant.)
There’s a large-ish tap beer listing, and an even larger bottle selection. You can go high end, or you can have a can of Miller Lite. Al had a well-poured Guinness ($5), and I had a glass of not very good Rioja ($6) and a glass of very decent Malbec ($7). I really wanted to try the specialty cocktail composed of Rioja, tequila, lime juice, and triple sec ($7), but at my advanced age that combo would buy me a one-way ticket to Hangover Town. (With a stop at Vomit Junction, quite possibly. The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be. )
Next visit, I’d like to try the food. In particular, they have a cheese plate that sounds like a great deal: Huntsman, Pecorino, and triple creme Brie cheeses; crostini; fresh fruit; and brandy-soaked cherries ($9). Nice!
Black Rabbit, 91 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Is there a dignified way to eat a jello shot? If so, I’ve yet to discover it.
In addition to gorging on tacos, I tried Stoli Blueberi on Saturday night. It is, as you may have guessed, blueberry-flavored Stolichnaya. While I don’t like sweet drinks, I had to give this a go in the name of Science. And much to my surprise, it wasn’t bad. The flavor wasn’t overpowering and there didn’t seem to be any extra sugariness, so when mixed with selzter the whole thing tasted like a lighter version of the Italian sodas that coffee shops sometimes make. Mildly pleasant, but not something I’m going to be rushing to try again.
“What is it, if it isn’t Lambrusco that gives the Parmesan people that bright, sincere and dominant air; that sparkle in their eyes, that loud voice and tough expression? It is the wine of freedom and of the free man.” – Curzio Malaparte
And that’s where we start things – with some Lambrusco Reggiano at Bar Veloce (175 Second Avenue). I could have easily polished off a gallon or two on my own, but I had to content myself with a shared bottle. Brilliant deep garnet hue; dry, tangy, slightly fizzy – in short, absolutely lush. I have a new summer wine obsession.
From there, on to Yakitori Taisho (5 St. Mark’s Place). We ate:
Takoyaki – mediocore. A bit too mushy, and not enough tako.
Asari Butter – small, briny clams in a savory buttery broth. Delicious.
Ohitashi – way too dry. Happily, we solved that problem by dousing the spinach with some of the excellent clam broth.
Spicy jellyfish and tofu salad – triangles of soft tofu topped with a heap of jellyfish and seasoned with loads of spicy red paste (the Korean stuff) and sesame seeds. It was quickly devoured.
Broiled squid – large portion; nice and tender and smoky.
Skewers – shrimp (small but firm and very fresh-tasting), pork (fatty and liberally seasoned with black pepper; quite tasty) and beef (nothing special, but acceptable).
All in all, a winner. Yoko Cho is probably better overall, but I’m not complaining.