Friday, February 12, 2010

Roman's Fort Green Brooklyn

Last week during the snow storm (you know the one to dwarf all others -heeheehee), my friend and I hopped on the B train and headed out to Fort Green, Brooklyn to Roman's, (named for owner, Andrew's younget son).  They've only been open for about 2 months. 

Yes, the trains were empty and the streets in Brooklyn, unlike Manhattan, were snowy & the wind was icy cold but nothing someone from the boros couldn't handle. The residential streets off Dekalb looked magical with the snow draped over all the big trees and the stoops, it was the perfect time to have this adventure. 

Late last summer we took a trip out to this area just for some ice cream at the General Green Ice Cream cart, also on Dekalb.  Roman's hadn't opened but there were some other restaurants that looked worth trying. I plan on coming back to this area to check them out, so I'll let you know.  On your way up or down Dekalb Ave you can also stop a Bitter Sweet a hole in the wall coffee shop that also has some very interesting ice cream flavors as well  (Momo Milk Bar eat your heart out).  

When you first walk into Roman's you notice the walls at Romans are mostly white tile (except for the colorful mosaic tile in place of a painting).  This place has a lovely atmosphere, the music is inviting and hip and  you can still have a conversation and hear the waiter too. The staff is welcoming and friendly and the feeling is easy going. The lighting is romantic, the tables and chairs are very comfy. And on our way out I counted the tables and including the bar this intimate place seats 47.  This is also one of the few times we didn't take a seat at the bar which looked grand.  The kitchen is a large open room with a wood burning stove similar to the one they're using at Vinegar Hill House  (only wood fired no gas).  Even the bathrooms have character. 

I know I'm blabbing about things other than the food so yes, yes, yes the food is outstanding.  The menu is hand written and yes, that can be a little hard on older eyes too but as my eyes adjusted to the light I was able to read it. So far this is a dream restaurant for anyone who likes simple delicious food, or someone who eats out a lot or a little and like to have the chefs tasting menu without the huge expense. As I've read in other reviews dishes don't repeat on the menu.  My response to that is, so many restaurants have their menu staples & here's a place that so reminds me of the restaurant scene in San Francisco.  They're innovative and I'm all for it. (I wanted to say "lovin it"  but I didn't want to sound like a commercial!) It's all about farm to table, seasonal and local foods and that's alright by me. The locals have a star here in Brooklyn.  I wish this place were in my neighborhood.   

The waiter was friendly and very easy going. Unfortunately he really didn't know much about the wine we ordered.  It was a Barbera that we'd never tried before and the waiter didn't know that it really needed to be decanted before drinking. Apparently someone was paying attention because he came back to decant it.  As you all know I'm just starting to learn about wine and I'm very grateful to have had this experience.  Some red wines have a slight effervescence to them that some people think is a flaw but in some cases it adds something to a red wine in this case it didn't. This bottle probably shouldn't be on the menu or it should only be by the glass.  This in fact is my only real complaint about this place.  I'm sure the owners will be expanding their wine list as most of it is French.  For a place serving local and organic foods they need to step up the wine list to reflect the smaller producers out there making amazing wines.

 Ok, so back to the food, we started with the puntarelle (chicory family) salad, with a delicious yet simple tangy lemon dressing.  We moved onto the Maine shrimp, which are in season right now, this very moment, I'm sure they will be on the menu for at least a couple of days.  The most delicious shrimp I've ever eaten, fried so delicately, drizzled with a lemon aioli the shells so crispy and tasty, were a pleasure to eat.  The pasta must be homemade if not in house by someone nearby served with a pork ragu to showcase the pasta, The prices on the menu we saw ranged from $5-$18.  Items off the menu can run on the high side $48.  But $48 gets you two Veal porterhouse steaks that are one and a half inches thick, served with a fabulous local creamy polenta.  In fact we were full enough to take 1 home.  We ordered the cookie plate for dessert and took most of them home. I ate the fig newtons for a snack before lunch the next day.

When it comes to dessert I can't eat it right after a great meal.  It pushes me over the edge and makes me feel over full and uncomfortable.  So, I'd rather have something an hour or two later but not always.  Some might complain about the small dessert list which in other reviews seemed to only be chocolate sorbet.  In fact I think the desserts at Romans will reflect the seasons as well.  So let's give them a break here and see what happens.

243 Dekalb Ave.
Fort Green, Brooklyn


Open Tuesdays - Sundays 5pm-11pm
Corkage is very friendly, hey'll probably waive it if you buy a bottle..... but don't quote me on that!

UPDATE Thursday March18th, 2010
Had dinner the other night with some friends visiting from Italy.  I've also been following the reviews on this, and I commented on the  New York Times review.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Soba Koh

Soba Koh is the only place to go in New York City for fresh home made buckwheat soba noodles.  Not only are they the best you can get, in the winter they get local buckwheat from upstate New York and make "special soba" (it's more special because it's winter buckwheat and it's local, so it's better for you too). Contrary to popular belief buckwheat is not only not a grain it is in no way related to wheat.  So anyone who has a wheat allergy and misses pasta, you can eat 100% buckwheat soba noodles.

Immediately to the right of the entrance is a one person window enclosed area where you can watch the master at work rolling and cutting the soba you will be eating.  It might look easy but this gentleman has the technique and I can tell you every time I've eaten here the food is fresh, tasty, satisfying and the soba is always perfect. Soba Koh is not a fancy place it is a humble place to come for a delicious meal alone or with some friends, in the winter or the summer.  It is a respite in the middle of a very busy area.  The tea they serve in the winter is a delicious roasted blend (I didn't ask exactly what it is).  They also carry a variety of bottled sake.

The name Soba Koh may give you the impression that all they make is soba but they make much more. Their tempura is light crisp and delicious.  They have a variety of appetizers from marinated Octopus to tofu made with a combination of soy and buckwheat.  The desserts are simple from vanilla and green tea ice cream to an amazing black sesame pudding that I ate so fast I forgot to take a photo.

If you get there before 7 they have a 5 course meal for, shusssssssh, $19.50 that includes tea, salad, tempura, hot or cold soba, and dessert.  When the meal is over you will feel great and want to eat here every night.

I highly recommend this place.

Soba Koh
309 East 5th Street
Between 1st & 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-2244

Call to make a reservation.