Deep Fried Pizza?

I haven't had the time to actually check this out in person yet, but the description sounds intriguing: Hi, I just wanted to tell you about a new pizza place that is on Myrtle right off Classon. I think it's called Vino's, though I don't quiet remember right should probably double check that...It's in the same spot that another pizza place used to be but it's a new name / new owners and unlike the last spot, this one is actually really good. Not sure if I can say it's better than il porto pizza, but they do have deep fried slices and I doubt any other clinton hill spot has that....

Deep fried pizza!  I've never heard of this period, never mind just in Clinton Hill!  Might be worth a trip back to the Hill to check this out.

Have you tried it?

CHB Reviews: Dino

The new restaurant that's taken the place of LouLou - Dino - is now open, and last night I checked it out with Kath Hansen of PUPS. I had only been to LouLou a few times, but Kath remarked on the "great reno job" on the inside.


The back yard was small and cute, clean and simple.


The bread had one of the most delicious dipping bowls I have ever encountered. The olive oil was enhanced with mashed olives, along with tiny pieces of orange rind for extra flavor.


Kath had the chicken, as she says "you can judge a restaurant by its chicken."  She gave it two thumbs up, for both quality and portion size (she took half of it home with her).


I had the rigatoni, also delicious and a generous portion.


And the icing on the cake: the staff overheard Kath mention that she was taking me out for my birthday and they brought me a gigantic piece of tiramisu on the house.


Service was wonderful- friendly and helpful staff, a great sounding selection of seasonal cocktails (we opted for the rose, which was crisp and great for summer -- but we think this place would be worth stopping in to for a fancy drink!), they already have liquor license and take credit cards (which is not so common for new restaurants in this neck of the woods).  Pricing was "around the same as LouLou," per Kath, but "better than LouLou."  Simply put from me: delicious food, great staff, and they have their sh*t together.

(Sorry, I didn't have my nice camera with me!)

Dino 222 DeKalb Ave

Beny's Delice Opens on Fulton nr Clinton

Welcome to another new business on Fulton!  A new bakery's opened on Fulton between Vanderbilt and Clinton, on the same strip with Chance, Olivino, Bar livino, Just Taste It, etc.  I think this might fill a big void for folks on the way to the C train at Clinton-Washington.  Have you been in early yet? I stopped in quickly after work for a chocolate croissant ($2.25, smaller and non-greasy, bready), but I'm due for a longer visit in the morning when the selection's fresh and full.




The hours are (I think) 7am-10pm.  Props for the open early - open late.

Wasabi: OPEN

IMG_1225-150x150 Wasabi, the new Japanese place on Fulton at Waverly, is open for business!  For now, they're offering 10% off of a meal to celebrate grand opening.

Sorry I didn't get better shots, but it was a snap decision to dine when I saw the flags heralding the open doors.

Mr. Lesterhead and I enjoyed sushi there last night.  First impressions: very friendly service, good prices, some tasty special rolls.  We split the spicy roll combo and two special rolls (Birthday roll and Christmas roll). Wasabi offers several roll combos- 3 rolls with soup AND salad for around ten bucks (this is a lot of food for $10!  Who else gives both soup AND salad?).  The combo rolls were on the small side, but tasty nonetheless.  The Christmas roll was fine, but the Birthday roll was excellent (shrimp tempura with some other delicious ingredients).

The space is small but nice- maybe 3-4 booths and a few small tables.  For both of us who left stuffed - sushi and green tea - the bill was under $30.

I was surprised more people weren't there, but I wonder if being in between the two C train exits means not as many people walk past?  Maybe it just opened last night?

If you happen to live down this way, definitely check it out.

(I did not look closely at the check to see if they had taken 10% off.)

The Quest for the Best Chocolate Croissants

The chocolate croissant: my most favorite breakfast pastry!  And these days, readily available in the neighborhood and nearby Fort Greene. Lately I've been on a bit of a choc croissant bender, and so I decided to compare the local offerings to see which establishment offers the best one.  Under consideration: price, fluffiness, appearance, the grease factor, quantity of chocolate.  Over the next few days, I'll share my findings.

I'll be highlighting five offerings.  I probably won't be able to try them all, but feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

CHB Visits Black Swan

(I'm not going to label this a "review," since I went to dinner to catch up with friends and wasn't there in the mindset to be thinking critically about it.  But it was tasty so I thought it deserved a post!) A few weeks ago, Mr. Lesterhead and I met up with friends who live just across the CH / BS border.  They had been raving about Black Swan on Bedford Ave, saying they'd been there "almost every night" since it opened.  It's just over the neighborhood border and the photos we've seen have look great, so we decided we'd check it out.

The place is gorgeous!  Great inside decor, a nice outdoor seating area, a great selection of beers on tap (milk stout, which someone recommended in an earlier post, is indeed delicious).  On the night we dined I tried the evening's special, which was fish and chips. I love the standard F+C fare, but this was a special interpretation.  The fish was fried in what almost seemed like a light tempura and was wonderfully seasoned.


We split the coconut flan and the apple tart for dessert.  This is the latter - delicious.


Mr. L's only critique was the booth's wood benches, which were just a little too shallow to sit totally comfortably (and I wouldn't have noticed on my own).

Overall, a great new addition to the neighborhood!

Black Swan 1048 Bedford Ave @ Lafayette

A Bistro: YUM

Abistro on Carlton in Fort Greene is one of the tastiest restaurants in the area. a bistro

Hidden behind a simple white gate, you might have just passed by without noticing.  Don't let the exterior fool you.  This tiny, cozy space offers some of the most interesting food around, not to mention  some of the friendliest service. It's a family affair - chef and co-owner Abdoul Gueye mans the kitchen, while his wife serves patrons.  The couple's young daughter is often on hand, too.

It's also BYO, which helps save some cash, and communal table often spark discussion between diners who didn't arrive together.

I've recommended this place to many locals and people visiting from other neighborhoods who are looking for a unique dining experience. What's your favorite dish?

Abistro 154 Carlton at Myrtle

Senegalese Summer at Le Grand Dakar

Le Grand Dakar chef Pierre Thiam is getting all sorts of acclaim these days - in addition his cookbook, he's making an appearance on Iron Chef America opposite Bobby Flay! In celebration, Le Grand Dakar is throwing a celebration on Thursday, June 24.  Attendees will enjoy unlimited food/sangria and live Afrobeat music, including Jojo Kuo's band (he's a Cameroonian drummer who recorded with Fela back in the day).  Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.  Sounds like a good way to spend a summer evening, and support a local business on Grand Avenue.

Clinton Hill Blog is giving away a free ticket to the event! Want to enter?  Email us and tell us why you want to attend.  The best entry will be posted on CHB and the winner will enjoy a free evening of food and drinks. (email your entry to clintonhillblog-at-gmail-dot-com).

CHB Finally Visits Urban Vintage

urban vintage I know, I slacked big time on this one.  I missed their small preview and then hadn't made time to go check them out after the grand opening.  But I finally made it last weekend and boy am I glad I did!  Urban Vintage is GORGEOUS!  I love the combination of merchandise and retail.  The bright, spacious shop is stylish and comfortable, and the owners Elizabeth and Emily Hazelwood couldn't be any nicer.

urban vintage owners

Urban Vintage is closed on Saturdays, which seems like an odd choice given the crowds just down the block at Choice (and the limited seating there).  However, they're closed so they can host private events on Saturdays.  And let me tell you, I would have loved to do my bridal shower there had they been open last summer.  Keep it in mind.

I didn't check the prices of all of the home furnishings, but the stuff I looked at was surprisingly reasonable.  Like this cute clothespin-inspired garbage bag holder for less than $30:

garbage bag holder

What an awesome way to re-purpose a small plastic bag as a garbage bag and make it look cool!  I'll be back for this, for sure.

The Local's covered it here and reviewed some of the food.

Urban Vintage 294 Grand Avenue

Buka: Have You Been Yet?

Reader Ursula just reminded me that Buka's having its soft opening on Fulton.  She says:

i don't  see anything about it on your blog yet, but Buka on Fulton is now (softly) open. i peeked inside, it looks nice, exposed brick, wooden floors & bar - it was all pretty bare on sunday... i'm attaching a pic of menu & window... personally while we already have Joloff right on the corner of st.james/fulton (i was really hoping for something else...), and here's yet another african restaurant, this one looks "classier"... so let's hope it's tasty and becomes a good dining/drinking option in this neck of CH.

I meant to give it a try late last week, but the focus on spicy on the menu dissuade me for the time being.  The prices look really reasonable - bravo.

Have you been yet?  What's your reaction?  I'll try to go in the next few days.

Here's the coverage from B'stoner.

A Creperie for the former Brown Betty

I'm not sure exactly when Brown Betty closed shop, but I'm bummed.  Their dinners were amazing (and with only a few small tables inside, you were lucky to partake) and they made a mean thai iced coffee (see one of our posts from 2006 here).  At least Cynthia's bringing her tasty food over to Black Swan (mentioned yesterday).  And, I hear that the space will soon be home to a creperie! I'm psyched, as it'll be something totally new and different.

A Gastro-Pub for Western Bed Stuy

Bed-Stuy Blog tipped me off to this brand-new gastropub open on Bedford near Lafayette called Black Swan. The menu was designed by former Brown Betty chef Cynthia Walker. (more on Brown Betty in our next post).  Man, this place looks amazing.  Has anyone tried it yet? I have some friends who lived near here in 2001 and I bet they'd be shocked to come back now.

Lunchtime With Tillie: Der Schwarze Kölner

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Lunchtime With Tillie. Or maybe as I should refer to it this week, "Lunchtime With Tillie and the Beer + Babies crew!" That group--of which I am proud to be a member--meets every Friday at beer garden Der Schwarze Kölner on Fulton. And since I had a personal mission to accomplish there, it all worked out nicely for an LWT destination.

The Beer + Babies idea was formulated by frequent CHB commenter Betsy, who has a must-read blog for the parenting set called Mommy FTW. I don't know how she first figured out that the beer garden was the place to go for the ultimate in kid-friendliness, but I do know a lot of parents are glad that she did!

And when I talk about kid-friendliness there, it's hard to even convey how nice and accommodating the staff is. They break out crayons and rocking horses and soon as families walk in. The owners are new parents, and I think they just love to be around other children and see them have fun.

Anyway, if you just happen to be at home on a Friday afternoon and thinking to yourself, "Hmm, I wonder what Van and Tillie are doing? That crazy pair is always up to something," well the answer is that we're at Der Schwarze Kölner. I've even been working on incorporating my stay-at-home dads group meetings into the Friday routine. You get the point: I like DSK. Now let me tell you about this personal mission of mine.

As a decent observer of the Lenten season that just passed, I don't eat meat on Fridays. I'm a big bratwurst fan, and the beer garden serves the best I've ever had. So I'm going there every Friday, just to be denied one of life's little treasures. This past Friday, with Easter long gone, I was out to eat at least four or five brats with a couple of kielbasas thrown in for good measure!

We got there, found a parking spot for the stroller and settled in among the rest of the parents. Tillie was a little subdued at first, I guess due to just waking up from her nap. Usually as soon as we walk in, she's running from one side of the restaurant to the next. (Sorry other patrons!) I scooped her back up and walked to the bar to place our order and this could be kind of cool or sad, depending how you look at it: The waitress automatically said "Einbecker?" which is my beer of choice there and I said, "Yep!" Then I ordered what I thought would be the first of my many brats and a pretzel for Tillie.

We made our way back to where the rest of the parents were and mingled for a bit. Then as she was walking around, Tillie noticed the tricycle stroller for another kid. She immediately pounced on it and I pulled her off, which lit up a little cranky fire underneath her. The parents said it was OK for her to sit on it, so I let her at it.

Then our food arrived and the first thought that came to my mind was, "Oh glorious bratwurst: Where have you been the past six weeks? I've missed you so!" I held off on jumping into that first bite seeing as how I had a daughter to feed and all! Plus, I've been super anxious about T's eating habits lately: I'm reading a book now that says things change eating-wise when babies hit the toddler stage. And Tillie's been that way and then some. The day before, I fixed four different lunches trying to get her to eat!

I got lucky as the pretzel seemed to agree with her mood. She had a bite then walked around some more, which gave me a chance to get that long-awaited first brat bite. After devouring the whole thing in about 47.2 seconds, Tillie came back around for her second piece of pretzel. Then she went back around to the trike. (I'm sorry, other parents, if she was monopolizing it!)

Then after hanging out and chatting some more, I realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I'm going to eat all that sausage, so I put in an order for a kielbasa and another Einbecker. They arrived shortly and were consumed just as quick.

And just when I was contemplating the next stage of my attack, Tillie's mom called and said the spring festival at Pratt was going on and there was a big bouncy castle out there. I decided to abort the mission and figured fun with the family at a bouncy castle would be a great alternative to beer drankin' and brat eatin' all day!

So I packed up, threw in my share of the tab and headed out with Tillie to meet TM on a nice Friday afternoon.

This is usually the part of Lunchtime With Tillie where I say if I'd recommend the place or not. I hope I made it obvious throughout this here tale how I feel about Der Schwarze Kölner! But in case I wasn't clear, then yes, I'll be back: It's the perfect place for parents and kids to go. I plan on being there most Fridays eating till I can't eat anymore--at least until Lent comes back around!


I recently received this menu under the door:

Normally I wouldn't pay much attention, but the name of this place is truly awesome.  A Google map search says this place is located near the park.  I know there's a pizza place there, but I had no idea it had such a kick-ass name!  Have they recently changed their name, or has it always been Luv-n-Oven?  I'm sure I'll get a few comments of the "What, are you some newcomer that you don't know about this place?" variety, but I've been spending the last six years ordering from the equally-awesomely-named Not Ray's on Fulton.  NR's does NOT offer Buffalo wings, while LnO does.  Maybe I'll give them a try?  (And speaking of that, I have on my to-do list a review of all of the Bflo wings in the nabe.)

So, what's up with Luv-n-Oven?  How are the pies?

Lunchtime With Tillie: Pilar

Can you believe it? Scooped by The New York Times!

Hey everyone, it's Van and Tillie, and this time the Lunchtime With Tillie Express stopped off at Cuban restaurant Pilar, located on Classon Avenue, the day after the place just hit the big time with its review in The New York Times' Dining section.

I thought T and I would have been the first major players to write up the place, but I guess if we have to come in second to someone it might as well be the Times!

Pilar worked out as a logical choice for us to go because I was dropping Tillie off for a couple of hours at one of her little chum's house, who only lives a block or two down from the place. Then I was off to get some daddy time (or rather, hit-the-computer-and-look-for-freelance-work time).

Before going there, I had a pretty good idea of what we were going to eat: I was going to get the quarter-chicken, black beans and rice lunch special and Tillie would have one of whatever empanada they had. (And maybe an extra empanada would make its way into the mix for the big guy!)

But in looking at the glass casing where the food was, said empanadas were nowhere to be found. I asked the owner of the place who was behind the counter were they out and he confirmed my worries. Empanadas had been pretty hard to come by after the Times article and by the time we got there later in the day, they were way gone, so there went that part of the lunch plan for Tillie—and me, too. I had them before, but she was going to be missing out.

Luckily, there was a ton of other options to choose from scrawled on the black board. One thing, in particular, caught my eye: a soup with chickpeas, bacon and potatoes. I wasn't sure if Tillie was that big a chickpea eater: She's eaten falafel before and hummus, too, but I didn't think she had them in there whole form. It sounded good, though, and if she didn't like it, I'd give her some black beans and rice.

So after placing our order, that's when we hit a big snag: where to sit. Plenty of spaces were available, but there was no high chair. I didn't have too many worries when it came to that; I figured I could just feed Tillie with her sitting in the stroller. But the only seats available were the tall chairs that they have for the high tables or ones outside with no table. I went for the high seat and got settled in.

The food arrived within five minutes: a steaming bowl of soup with a big plate of the chicken, black beans and rice. I was quite curious about the soup, so I took a bite first. It was loaded with chickpeas, big chunks of bacon and potatoes, and was tasty—even though it didn't burst with flavor like I thought it would. After I had a bite, I was put to the test with trying to figure out how to feed Tillie from my elevated position. I didn't want to keep getting out of my seat for every bite, so I reached down with another hand under the spoon and gave her her first taste. She took to it right away, which definitely impressed me. It was a long time ago, but I know I wasn't eating chickpea soup at 17 months!

So after giving her a few bites, I was able to start eating my food. I know it may be a basic meal, but I really love the chicken, black beans and rice combo, and Pilar's doesn't disappoint. The chicken was nice and juicy and the beans were flavorful. And since I was dipping into Tillie's soup, I figured I'd reciprocate and give her some beans and rice, which worked out good for her.

I didn't think we'd do it, but we managed to get through all that food, save a chickpea or 12. And there were no major spills to report, despite the precarious position I was feeding her from!

I went to the counter to pay, then thought, "You know what would make a tasty treat for Tillie? Some good-ol' plantains!" I asked for some, but they were out at the moment. They told me it would just take a couple of minutes to prepare some more, though. I really appreciated that because it wasn't that big a deal for her to have some. And they were right, it did take a really short time. I can't really report on how Tillie enjoyed the fresh, hot plantains because we got them to go for her to bring over to her pal's house. After that, we took off for Tillie's playdate.

The bill was reasonable, I felt, at $15—and that was for a lot of food. The people working there were extremely nice, which just adds to the highlights of the place, and the food was more than satisfying—both taste- and filling-wise. However, the seating sitch was kind of tricky. The owner told me he needed to get a high chair. Until then, we'll probably get our food to go—and get there earlier for empanadas!

Dine in Brooklyn: Starts Tonight!

I've heard varying opinions on the Dine in Brooklyn promotion, mainly that the portions are small and you don't get to try the best stuff from the regular menu.  Whether you're a fan or not, it's a good reminder of what's available right down the street.  (Or hey, be adventurous and try a different neighborhood!) Here are the participating restaurants in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene (I have bolded my personal favs):

B = breakfast

L = lunch

D = dinner


Amina Italian Bistro BD Italian 458 Myrtle Avenue 718-422-1122

Autour du Monde D French 860 Fulton Street 718-398-3500

Five Spot Soul Food Restaurant D Soulfood 459 Myrtle Avenue 718-852-0202

Il Porto Ristorante & Brick Oven Pizza D Italian 37 Washington Avenue 718-624-0954

Kush Café D French/Pan-African 17 Putnam Avenue 718-230-3471

FORT GREENE Aqualis Grill D Mediterranean 773 Fulton Street 718-797-3494

Caffe e Vino BLD Italian 112 Dekalb Avenue 718-855-6222 718-384-6777

Chez Lola D French 387 Myrtle Avenue 718-858-1484 American

Chez Oskar D French 211 DeKalb Avenue 718-852-6250

Dajeh Restaurant LD Caribbean 919 Fulton Street 718-857-1616

Graziella’s Italian Restaurant LD Italian 232 Vanderbilt Avenue 718-789-5663

iCi D French/American 246 Dekalb Avenue 718-789-2778

Luz Restaurant BLD Latin American 177 Vanderbilt Avenue 718-246-4000

Madiba Restaurant BLD South African 195 Dekalb Avenue 718-855-9190

Mullanes Bar & Grill BLD Irish/American 71 Lafayette Avenue 718-797-7606

Olea Restaurant D Mediterranean 171 Lafayette Avenue 718-643-7003

Scopello Ristorante Bar BD Italian 63 Lafayette Avenue 718-852-1100

Thomas Beisl D Austrian/Viennese 25 Lafayette Avenue 718-222-5800

*As always, disappointed that Locanda Vini e Olii is not participating (again)

Lunchtime With Tillie: Amin

“It’s Tillie and Pops/Tillie and Pops/We’re pullin’ out all the stops/It’s Tillie and Pops/Tillie and Pops/Better watch out and call the cops … ” Hey everyone , and welcome back to Lunchtime With Tillie! I was feeling a little nostalgic so I thought I’d share some of the lyrics to a little song I made up when I started staying home with Tillie. That song came to mind because this is the first LWT of 2010 where it’s just the two of us as Tillie’s mom couldn’t make it out. (She says hi!) We missed her, but the show must go on, and that it did as T and I went to Indian restaurant Amin on Dekalb Avenue.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m usually a Kinara’s guy: Really good food and a great lunch special (50 percent off the whole menu!) make it hard to top. But since Tillie and I hadn’t gone to Amin yet in our food forays, I thought it would be nice to drop by. And personally, I hadn’t been there since way back when it was the only show in town. Back then, I wasn’t blown away by it, but things change, so who knows?

Anyway, we got to the place kind of late one afternoon and it was empty, except for the employees. Tillie and I had our run of the place as far as seating went, so I took a spot where I could leave the stroller unfolded. I got a high chair from one of the guys working there, but bad news: The buckle to strap the kid in was broken and it was the only high chair they had. Great, I thought, because keeping Tillie down in a high chair is tough under optimal conditions and these conditions were a little far from that. I set her in it, with extra attention paid to her escape ambitions!

She had a menu to play with that kept her occupied, while I took a look at mine to see the lunch specials. I usually go for a lamb dish when I eat Indian food, so I picked the lamb bhuna this time: chunks of lamb cooked in a thick, spicy sauce. I ordered that, along with some plain nan and an order of samosas for an appetizer.

While we waited for the food, Tillie noticed an elephant statue on the floor that she wanted to go over and play with. I took her out of the chair—which wasn’t too hard, seeing as how she wasn’t exactly strapped down—and let her walk over to the statue. She pet it a few times, pointed at the various studs adjoining it and pretty much just got a kick out of it. In the midst of this fun time, the samosas arrived.

We got back to the table, ready to dig in—or at least I was: Tillie was still thinking about her new pal on the floor. I thought samosas—pastries stuffed with potatoes and peas—would be perfect for Tillie, so I gave her the first bite. She seemed to like it, so I followed her up with a bite of my own. It was OK, nothing to write home about. The samosas were served over a brown sauce and a green sauce. (Sorry I don’t know the proper names of them, but I’m sure you readers out there know what I’m talking about: I can call them brown samosa sauce and green samosa sauce!) Tillie liked the brown better than the green, and me? I’m kind of ambivalent about them: I guess I’m not the sauce-distinguishing connoisseur that Tillie is!

The lamb, rice and lamb arrived shortly after and I have to say, it all looked pretty good. I took a bite of the lamb first to see if it was going to be too spicy for Tillie. I thought it had a little kick to it, so I gave T some rice with the brown samosa sauce on it. She was eating that pretty steadily, which was a good sign as far as her getting a decent serving of food in her lil’ tummy. I was able to fix myself some lamb over the rice and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The first bite I took before serving Tillie didn’t blow me away and the follow-up failed to, as well. The dish was a little greasy and the sauce seemed to be like a coagulant over the meat: In other words, it wasn’t enough to hit all the rice. And as far as dipping my nan in the sauce, forget about it: There just wasn’t much to go around. I tried to offer Tillie some nan dipped in what little sauce I could muster up, but she wasn’t interested.

As I mentioned, the dish had a little kick to it, so I finished my water early on in the meal. I was about halfway through with my food before anyone came back around to give me any more. Tillie’s sippy cup of milk never looked so good …

I ended up giving Tillie a taste of the lamb and rice, and it wasn’t too much for her to handle. Then I finished up and asked for the check. When it came, it reflected my whole experience there: disappointing. The bill was $14.35, not including the tip, which is a little much for a below ho-hum meal.

So in other words, I don’t think we’ll be back: The lunch special wasn’t that special, the water was distributed as if they were conserving it and there’s only one broken high chair. But I guess T had fun with that elephant, so if she wants to go back, she’s picking up the check: Her half of the royalties on the “Tillie and Pops” song should be enough to cover it.