Monday, August 28, 2006

Wolf it Down

Court and Warren Sts
Brooklyn, NY
Couple with booze: $45

We spent the beginning of the meal chain chipping. It was virtually impossible to shovel one chip in our mouths without having one ready to follow. The crunch stood up to the humidity remarkably, so it wasn't necessary to eat so fast, but the salsa was just too good. Not too chunky, heavy with spice from black peppercorns, garlic, and an assortment of red peppers I couldn't place (I think chee-poat-lay was in there somewhere as well, but I hate chee-poat-lay, so if it was there, I'd rather not mention it, even though I just did, but whatever), it was hard to even break for a sip of beer. Upon reaching the bottom of the second bowl of chips, we decided to put a stop to the madness, so I finally got to take a few gulps of my Dos Equis. I prefer it with a lot of limes, and speaking of which, my fiance and partner in crime opted for the margarita. Lobo's version is the classic fresh juice margarita found at Manhattan's finest upscale Mexican hot spots, but it's a lot sweeter. I think the secret is simple sugar. Regardless, the Latin libation goes down easy enough that if you'd like to contribute to the Kelly Margarita Fund for the low cost of $8.00, let me know and we'll send you our address. That way she can get more than two next time. Unfortunately, Lobo doesn't offer any sort of happy hour, so eight bucks is as cheap as they come. The beers, my personal preference, are served in schooners, and at six bucks each, the value is up for debate. It's a lot of beer, but it's still six bucks.

After a somewhat lengthy delay, the food came. An art opening happening upstairs and a new hire appeared to be the culprit, but the manager apologized numerous times. The "free drink" apology never came, but we were happy with the acknowledgement of their shortcomings.

Lobo defines itself as Tex-Mex, but their menu definitely reaches further than a combo plate with rice and beans. For example, I ordered the Texas Cheesesteak with fries, and I must say, Mexican-American fusion kicks the shit out of French-Asian fusion. This particular specialty combines fresh sesame bread (likely from a local Italian bakery) with steak fajitas (in South Philly, 'wit), and completes the ensemble with a ladle of cheese sauce. I was full from the chips, but I still managed to make quick work of this meaty piece of heaven, and I decided to add insult to injury by eating the accompanying fries with a side of ranch dressing.

After Kelly rolled me out of the place, it was time for a long walk. Unfortunately, we live less than a block away from Lobo, so we went home instead. Being this close, expect more reports from Lobo. I hear they have a Tex-Mex brunch, and I love getting drunk during the day.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Frog Island City

Cafe Henri
1010 50th Ave.
Long Island City, NJ 11109
Couple without booze and with tip: $51

Just blocks away from the dropoff where thugs return from their iron vacations, restauranteurs continue to re-zone storefronts in an effort the to offer Manhattan options without having to cross the east river.

After walking through a rather disturbing exhibit at P.S. 1, I followed a crowd that included two ministers, a really tall guy, and my fiance, to Vernon Boulevard, the Smith Street of LIC. Our final destination was Cafe Henri, an unassuming French cafe offering Beef Burgundy as the special. The rest of the menu read more like tapas, and after spending the better part of the day dancing, I figured I would have a crepe and then order a pizza when I got home later. To my surprise, the crepe complete filled me to the brim. Gooey gruyere, fluffy eggs, and juicy ham folded into a paper thin pancake. Your classic crepe, unassuming, yet delicious. Pair it with a bowl of home fries (Henri's version being roasted baby red potatoes moist with butter and dusted with rosemary), and the thought of Domino's quickly retreated into the back of my brain next to the thought of having cereal for dinner.

Before the crepe, the cheese plate. Split among six, we tasted each of the four offerings. Generous portions of herbed goat, swiss, brie, and an unidentified bleu. The bread wasn't exactly fresh, but it was still French, and it was still delicious, cold butter and all.

After the crepe, the bowl of coffee. Coffee at 10pm is usually not the best of ideas, but it was a meal that lasted hours, and a meal that required ordering the 10pm coffee. The problem with the 10pm coffee, however, was that it was more like five coffees, a giant bowl that was better suited for sticky rice, and later that night, say 4am, I thought better of ordering the Grand Moka, but it was too late to change my mind, which was racing about as fast as the condos are going up in LIC.

During the whole meal, live jazz. Hell yes.

So whether you happen to wind up a part of the gentrification or just want to catch the P.S.1 Warm-Up, I suggest you satisfy your dinner hunger at Cafe Henri.