Saturday, April 23, 2005

Eatin' Out - Quercy

242 Court St, Brooklyn

Sister restaurant to the always reliable La Lunchonette in Chelsea, we showed up here (the former Harvest East space) to try the $19.95 "Brooklyn Restaurant Week" special . While eating a three-course prix-fixe on a Saturday afternoon was alittle ambitious, the food was solid French bistro. I started my meal with a light Cream of Asparagus soup surprisingly not cream-based as I had assumed itwould be. Excellent chewy lamb sausages with cooked apples served alongside haricots vertes, and a watery potato gratin were next. I finished up with a dense, gorgeous chocolate cake served with a fudge sauce and marinated fruit. Our closing cup of coffee was intense, thick rocket fuel, the way coffee should be.

Quercy sets itself up as a reliable and delicious neighborhood favorite, and it's worth your money if you want a well-prepared French meal. The decor is simple, immediately cluing diners in to the rustic french fare they specialize in. The raised frog-embossed tiles lining the bathroom walls were a great, silly touch.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Eatin' Out - Next Door Nobu

Corner of Franklin and Hudson

Since this restaurant opened six years ago, as a "no reservations accepted"alternative to the schmancy big-time Nobu, I've been wanting to go. So when Mr. Cranky suggested one Saturday night "Let's go. I'll pay", you never saw me drive into the city faster, trying to get there before the wait become interminable. No luck - by the time we arrived at 7:30, the wait was already up to an hour and a half. I can honestly say: the wait is worth it.

I don't need to be the 200th person to rave about the Black Cod with Miso sauce, although it derves every single bit of praise. Slighly crisp on the outside, perfectly moist on the insideand bathed in a miso sauce with a perfect touch of sweetness, this is a dish I'll crave at unopportune and cash-poor times. We were seated at the sushi bar, and the service was spotty at times, but no matter. I wish I could eat this way everynight. The shrimp tempure in spicy creamy sauce was promptly added to a perfect trifecta of fried asian foods in my brain that include New Pasteur's salt & peppersquid, and Noodletown's salt-baked softshell crab.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Pillowman

At the Booth Theater
Starring Billy Crudup and Jeff Goldblum

Sometimes you see a work of art, and remember why you suffer though mediocre rock shows on a Tuesday night, or 5 movies you'll never think off again. Martin McDonough's latest play "The Pillowman" is one of those pieces that makes you remember what true originality is. While starting off slow, the play weaves its path showing flashes of pure brillance in it's unpredictable dialogue. It's darkly funny, bringing laughs from sinster turns of phrase and luridly shocking scenes. You can hear the audience stifling laughter, unsure if they should laugh or be horrified. This is a play miles away from your standard Broadway fluff, forcing audiences out complacency and into a harsh, brutal world.

The striking staging also reveals unexpected moments. The play takes place in an unnamed totalitarian state, opening with a scene in a dark box of an interrogation cell, lit only by a single-bulb on a string. Slowly, as the play unfolds, the walls reveal hidden scenery. As the lead, Billy Crudup is arresting, explaining himself by telling a small portion of his life's work, 400 fictionalized short stories. The tales are acted out in garishly illuminated, slightly askew rooms set in recesses high in the dark walls, giving the scenes a scary funhouse feel. Crudup and his brother have been brought in for questioning by the authorities (Jeff Goldblum in a hard boiled film noir-like cop role) because the horrific killings of children in a series of recent local crimes seems to directly parallel Crudup's stories.

Michael Stuhlber as Michal, the mentally defective, yet perceptive older brother stunted by 7 years of torture by his parents nearly steals the show, providing some of the best comic moments with his childlike flashes of emotion. But more importantly than the humor, McDonagh's play asks the audience to examine the constantly shifting differences between reality and fiction, and how telling stories allows anyone to create a persona and world of their own choice. Everyone in this play is a storyteller; the invigorating challenge of trying to figure out what perceptions are true keep the viewer utterly engaged.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Eatin' Out - Lamb & Jaffey

On Manhattan Ave. near Eagle St.

Review from 2005:
A sorely needed American bistro finally was opened after a few delays on on the far Northern reaches of Manhattan Ave. Though I've heard this place is packed for dinner, we tried it for brunch, and while it's a much needed addition for Greenpoint where the only thing you can get is Thai or Polish, the meal was mediocre. Brunch is not a fair meal to judge a restaurant on. Still: 1) Please learn to keep coffee hot. The silver creamers are cute, but don't work to hold heat 2) Hollandaise sauce is a staple. It shouldn't be runny with the same consistency as water. 3) An artichoke heart is not a substitute for the base bread item in eggs benedict. Creative, but still a bad idea.

Service was friendly, if a little overbearing and twitchy. The interior is simple with a huge kitchen in the back for their catering business (the original business of the two chefs) with lots of sun and wood. Although their entrees seem a little pricey for the neighborhood ($18 for scallops?) I'm definitely going to go again and give them a chance at cooking a proper meal during dinner. They also deliver. But do I need coriander crusted salmon brought to my door? Jury's still out.