Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Best Long Delayed Food Journey

Last Friday I met Carol in Brooklyn for a months delayed trip to a certain out of the way eatery.  I came out of the subway in a neighborhood I believe I'd only visited once before.  A couplet by Kanye West immediately came to mind as I took in my surroundings: 

Make a left on Nostrand Ave . . .

. . . we in Bed Stuy

(It's a theater.)

Yes, I was in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.  I saw many interesting things on my way to the restaurant, things like a street for feelings . . . 

This van.

As well as women fainting in a church, women stepdancing in unison inside a bar called Denim, people barbecuing outside a YMCA, and abundant conviviality.

But what I was officially there to see was a little restaurant called Do or Dine.

This is the decoration in the tiles when you enter the restaurant.  I wish I took more pictures of the interior.  At least Carol did.

Honestly, Do or Dine seems like a concept that shouldn't work.  Restaurant with a punny name in an out of the way neighborhood with varied, punny menu of unexpected combinations of flavors and foods served by very hipster staff . . . but you know what, it works.  The place is great.  The very hipster staff is also very friendly, informed, and helpful.  There's an impressive sound system in the ceiling that was 90s hip-hop hits at a volume a bit lower than it should have been.  And the food is great.  The creative combinations we sampled really did the trick.  It definitely brings to mind dear departed M Wells.  Is it as good as M Wells?  No.  That is a nearly impossible thing to aspire to.  But it is a very good spot and I would definitely make the trip out to it again.  Perhaps even with my parents.  Yes, it's a Worthy of Your Folks level restaurant.  That's what I'm saying.  

We had the foie gras stuffed jelly donut.  Very nice donut and I don't think there's anything that doesn't taste even better with foie gras.  In fact, I guess this donut proves that.

Nippon Nachos.  Store-bought gyoza topped with kind of Mexican, kind of Japanese nacho toppings.  Also good.

Skate with "Beans and Rice." I had to ask the waiter why "Beans and Rice" were in quotation marks on the menu.  He said it was because the skate was served with fermented black bean paste and puffed rice.  And also black beans.  Good reason.  Great dish.

A little hungry, we ordered one more plate: the slow cooked lamb breast.  We talked with the chef a bit about this dish, how he and his roommates had been buying lamb breast because it was a super cheap cut but never cooked it into anything good until one day he put it in the oven and didn't turn the heat up enough.  And then he forgot it was in the oven?  Something like that.  A lot of forgetting in this story.  Hours later he smelled something delicious.  It was the lamb breast he had forgotten about.  Slow and low, that's always the trick.

And here ends my Do or Dine report.  For my final thoughts on the restaurant, please reread what I wrote five paragraphs above.


You know what?  I think you deserve to hear about one more dinner I had.  Because it was also with Carol.  We had sandwiches from Mile End Sandwiches on Bond Street.  Turns out this place is screamingly good.

Carol had the chicken salad with fried chicken skin sandwich served on bread that had been fried in chicken fat.  From a little sampling I can say this sandwich is a superstar.

I had their roast beef on a Weck roll sandwich.  I'm going to say something crazy: this was the best roast beef sandwich I've ever had.  Ever single thing about it was perfect, the horseradish so good, lots of big flakes of salt on the roll and on the meat.  Were it not $13 I could eat three of these.

So, in conclusion: If you're in Manhattan, you really must try Mile End Sandwiches.  And if you're in Bed Stuy, you gotta stop by Do or Dine.

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