Cervo’s in Chinatown

cervo’s in chinatown

Portugal is one of my favorite countries in the world. You can’t beat the gorgeous weather, the friendly people and the simple, tasty Mediterranean food, all of which come at reasonable prices. So when I heard that a new Portuguese restaurant called Cervo’s had opened up in Chinatown, I made reservations asap, anything to have a taste of the seafood-driven specialties of Porto and Lisbon that I enjoyed several summers ago.Read More

Tapas at La Vara in Cobble Hill

sunday supper at la vara

La Vara is one of those very “Brooklyn” restaurants where you feel like you’re surrounded by a diverse group of people who listen to NPR and volunteer at the local food co-op. On an early Sunday evening, there was the lesbian couple having a date night, the Millenials having a grown up day out, the locals taking their regular seats, and the bridge-and-tunnel Manhattan people (us) seeing how the hipper half live.Read More

Can’t get into El Celler de Can Roca in Girona? Go to Restaurant Nu instead

the streets in old town, girona
maybe arya from game of thrones ran down these stairs…

Girona, Spain is a picturesque medieval town in the coastal region of Costa Brava. The well-preserved buildings in the Barri Vell or Old Quarter are perfect backdrops for some sort of a knight’s tale or a merry band of thieves, which makes the city a very popular filming location for movies and TV shows. In fact, you might recognize some of the narrow alleyways and stone roads in scenes from Game of Thrones when a blind Arya was running from The Waif, only to destroy her in total darkness.Read More

Korean Banchan at Atoboy

atoboy place settings

At the core of a Korean meal is rice and banchan side dishes. The quality and variety of banchan can really make or break your experience. I know it’s going to be a good day when a restaurant throws in a steamed egg or pan-fried tofu, and on the flipside, it’s always a sad day when all I get is kimchee and some limp bean sprouts. Atoboy, a new restaurant in Flatiron run by Junghyun Park, the former Chef de Cuisine of Jungsik, rethinks the banchan side dish as the main dish, where you can make a meal out of several of them. The menu is divided into three sections of small plates, which is differentiated by portion size, and for $36 you can pick a dish from each one of the sections along with a bowl of rice, the traditional white rice or the rice special of the day for an extra $2. As an fyi, you really should pay up for the rice special, otherwise you will miss out on something amazing like the bacon and scallion rice.Read More

Gowanus: Freek’s Mill + Ample Hills

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the dining room at freek’s mill

Brooklyn is no big secret these days, but Gowanus is a part of Brooklyn that still feels undiscovered. I ventured out there for the first time last week, and I felt like I was discovering a whole new world where the streets were broad, ice cream parlors came with rooftops and shuffleboard clubs were trending. It’s nowhere near as developed as Bedford Ave and has more in common with low-key locales such as Bushwick and Red Hook–lots of space and warehouses along the water. There is a pretty good restaurant scene in Gowanus, the most well known one is probably The Pines, and now Freek’s Mill, a seasonal, small plates restaurant on Nevins St, is a new addition that continues to bring the average up.

the charred radicchio with burrata, walnuts and currants
the charred radicchio with burrata, walnuts and currants
wood roasted oysters
wood roasted oysters

I’m a little over the whole seasonally driven small plates trend, but after my dinner at Freek’s Mill, I’m having a change of heart. In fact, the small plates concept actually worked in our favor, because that meant we could try more things on the menu, and since everything was so good, we definitely wanted to (and did!) add on to our original order. The charred radicchio, which came with a sweet and creamy burrata, was truly a pleasure. It’s like they broke all the rules regarding leafy vegetable prep, weighing it down with liquids and cheese and testing the limits of its frailty by charring it, yet somehow they came up far, far ahead.

octopus with fingerling potatoes and salsa verde
octopus with fingerling potatoes and salsa verde
dry aged duck with refried cranberry beans and rosemary honey
dry aged duck with refried cranberry beans and rosemary honey
the stracci pasta with lamb, olives and ricotta
the stracci pasta with lamb, olives and ricotta

I also had a lot of love for the grilled octopus. This is a small plate that’s been so overdone, appearing as an appetizer on so many menus, and the prep being nearly the same, but the one at Freek’s Mill, with its tenderness and meatiness, and the airy lemon aioli, manages to keep it fresh. The dry aged duck caught my eye, mostly because I didn’t know one could do this with waterfowl, and let’s just say that this duck aged pretty well. The cranberry beans that came with it was an interesting choice, I’m not sure if it was quite the right accompaniment to the duck, but the way the beans were repurposed as a hash as opposed to something boiled and stewed was something different. We were on such a roll that we ordered the stracci, a creamy ricotta pasta served with lamb, and this last minute gamble was a big win.

ample hills creamery
ample hills creamery
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two giant scoops

Afterwards we walked over to Ample Hills Creamery, which specializes in crazy, fun ice cream flavors like Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which is amazing, and Snap, Mallow, Pop!. You can eat your cones upstairs on the roof deck, which is the best way to consume ice cream, and something you could never do in space constrained Manhattan. You really can’t ask for more on a perfect summer’s day. Some people summer in the Hamptons, I think I’m going to summer in Gowanus.


Freek’s Mill
285 Nevins St (between Union and Sackett St)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 852-3000

Ample Hills
305 Nevin St (between Union and President St)
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(347) 725-4061