checking out the new franny’s

I’d been curious to see how the new location of Franny’s would compare to the original, as it’s been one of my Brooklyn favorites. The new spot opened on April 8th, and promised more seating, a larger menu, and even a separate downstairs dining space for private parties. Accustomed to arriving to a group waiting just outside or inside the door, we were amazed to find the new space much more open. The pizza oven space is much more spacious, as is the bar area.

We decided to sit at the bar, happy to have caught them still serving dinner at almost 10pm (their posted hours are actually until 11:30pm). We ordered several appetizers as well as a pizza, which ended up being a perfect amount of food. The first dish to come out was the pea shoots with lemon and pecorino rossellino. The fun ribbons of cheese were a nice balance to the slight bite of the greens.

This freekeh salad was my favorite out of the starters. It included some tasty parsnips, almonds and pecorino ginepro.

I was not sure if it would be too heavy, but this wood-roasted pork sausage with mustard greens was a perfect addition to the line-up, adding just enough protein to the starters we tried. The greens were nicely done – not too bitter with excellent flavor.

And of course, it’s not a visit to Franny’s without a pizza. This time we went with the prosciutto cotto, spring onion, olives, chilies and caciocavallo pizza. The thinly cut proscuitto was flavorful. The chiles added a bit of spice and it was a nice change from the standard mozzarella for them to use the caciocavello (a sheep’s milk cheese).

For dessert, we tried their latte gelato and the salted caramel. The latte was more of just iced milk – made me almost think of making snow ice cream growing up. Put the two together, and the flavor was quite good. Yum. Verdict? New Franny’s still equates to the varied goodness of the original.

Franny’s – 348 Flatbush Avenue (b/w Stirling Place & 8th Ave), Brooklyn – 718.230.0221
No reservations, except  for parties of 8-12


sunday supper at 606 r&d

A few Saturdays back, we decided to try out 606 R&D’s “Sunday Supper”. It had been a busy day – running all around Union Square/Greenwich Village for iAdventure’s Olympic Scavenger Hunt (we, the Google+ Local team, were the overall winners!). We had worked up quite an appetite.

Located along a strip of several restaurants and bars, 606 R&D looks very low-key. T originally thought it was more of a sandwich shop until a friend mentioned they had fabulous cocktails and we should stop in.

Sunday supper only runs from 5-9pm and they don’t take reservations (for it or any other meal, for that matter) unless you are a party of 6 or more. We were seated out back, a nice open patio with simple white lights strung up around the perimeter.

I was intrigued by the simple, seasonally appropriate menu. This could either be really good or too simple and basic to deliver. The first course was an eggplant spread with radishes, celery, and crackers. The eggplant was flavorful and the radishes, celery, and crackers were a nice crunchy contrast to the soft spread. After that first course, I had a feeling the rest would be solid.

The main course and its accompaniments was served family style, arriving with enough for two in three different oval dishes. There was the rotisserie chicken – simply done, juicy and flavorful. It worked quite well with the macaroni & cheese, which was light on breadcrumbs but crunchy enough along the top to get by in my book. Besides whatever cheese they used – hard to tell though a blend of a stronger and a slightly moderate strength white, if I took a guess – was just so good. And then there was a basic big green salad. The dressing was light, allowing the freshness of the greens to shine through.

For dessert, there was their much touted donuts. I’d read you wanted one cinnamon sugar and one with just plain sugar. Thankfully that’s precisely what each person receives. Perfect ending.

The first time I went, they were running short on donuts and they allowed my boyfriend to substitute their blueberry pie. My oh my. Hands down, the best blueberry pie I’ve had in a long time. Dare I say it challenges my all-time favorite, Brieremere (serious compliment). Note, if they don’t offer the substitute, there will probably be a $3 charge – and the strawberry-rhubarb isn’t as good as the blueberry pie.

It was such a good meal, that we went back last night. There was an additional option on the line-up. For starters, there was this refreshing watermelon salad – two kinds of watermelon, mint, feta, and pumpkin seeds. Perfect for a warm evening.

Additionally, you could change up your choice of mains – rather than the rotisserie chicken, this Sunday we ordered the butterflied trout with a celery salad for $32 versus $20. The fish portion size wasn’t playing. The salad had olives as well, which made for an interesting combination. I’m not a big fan of olives, but the diced ones here worked somehow.

If you don’t want to dine-in, you can call in 20 minutes ahead and get that day’s set menu to go. This is definitely one of my new fave spots. Can’t wait to try out brunch.

606 R&D – 606 Vanderbilt Ave (at St Marks Ave) – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – 718.230.0125
Reservations for Parties 6+

soul food done right at mitchell’s

It’s rare that I go into a place in NYC and forget where I am. Not because I’m lost but because it just doesn’t feel like NYC. New York, I love you, but I have to say finding this is refreshing. I walked into Mitchell’s after 9pm on a Thursday. We’d tried to call in an order for delivery but learned that the person who does delivery was gone for the evening. No worries. I’d go in person.

Mitchell's Soul Food - Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Mitchell’s Soul Food – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

 “What desserts do you have? Do you have banana pudding?”

 “We don’t have that today. We have peach cobbler. And we have cake.” The way she said it, I thought they only had one kind of cake. When I walked in though I found that wasn’t the case. She was using it collectively, just like how all soda in the South is “Coke”. It made me smile.

 The dining room is nothing fancy. It’s all about the food here. It was on the later side for dinner, so when I was there it was mostly filled with people also waiting on orders to go. The tables are basic – topped by simple plastic tablecloths.

 I’ve said before I’m usually underwhelmed by the fried chicken most people rave about. Buttermilk Channel? Meh. The best I’ve found thus far had been Clinton Street Baking Company. Until now, that is. The fried chicken at Mitchell’s was only lightly breaded. The flavor made it obvious to me that they aren’t using super old oil, which was great to see (and taste!). The portion size was generous yet manageable. I usually try fried chicken at any given place only one time. I have to say, I don’t know that I could try any other main dish here now that I’ve had their fried chicken. So good.

Fried Chicken, Mac 'n Cheese, & Collards - Mitchell's

Fried Chicken, Mac ‘n Cheese, & Collards – Mitchell’s

For sides, I went with the mac ‘n cheese and collard greens. The mac was creamy enough but nothing extraordinary. It proved to be a nice balance to the strong pork flavor of the collard greens – and no, that is not a negative comment in the least. Both the fried chicken and collard greens are menu items not to miss.

To finish things off, we had the peach cobbler, which was quite good, even though I found myself wanting just a bit of vanilla ice cream. That’s me just being dessert greedy. The dough portion was not as sweet as others I’ve had, but it worked well with the sweeter peach portion. If this spot were closer to me one word… danger. All this food came to about $12 each. Not bad at all. Highly recommend.

Mitchell’s Soul Food – 617A Vanderbilt Ave @ St Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – 718.789.3212
No Reservations / Cash Only

outdoor dinner at beast

Sunday’s weather made for a perfect night to finally try out Beast in Prospect Heights. Their outdoor seating isn’t plentiful, but we managed to catch it at just the right time – the brunch crowd having finished and the dinner crowd just starting to trickle in.

We ordered several things to share – the first no-brainer being their fried manchego cheese. When it came out it was just perfect – not too heavily breaded, nicely seasoned, warm, and gooey in the center. They source their cheeses from Stinky Bklyn and this selection did not disappoint.

Fried Manchego Cheese - Beast

Fried Manchego Cheese – Beast

We also went with their beet carpaccio – thinly sliced oven roasted beets, hearts of palm, and a goat cheese dressing. Fresh and simple, this dish was a perfect spring appetizer. The hearts of palm weren’t super flavorful, but they managed to add a nice crunch to the dish.

Beet Carpaccio - Beast

Beet Carpaccio – Beast

One of the daily specials was broccolini, prepared with crushed red pepper and pecorino cheese. Spicy broccoli is one of my favorites and the cheese sprinkled on top was a nice complement.

Broccolini - Beast

Broccolini – Beast

For our main, we had the marinated skirt steak with corn fritters, baby arugula, and a chipotle aioli. The steak was perfect – nice and pink at the center and nicely sliced into thin slices. The corn fritters were great and paired nicely with the steak. Only improvement would be if they were a bit thinner. I thought the aioli brought a nice flavor to the mix, but there was a lot of it on the meat. A little less and that fabulous steak would have been able to shine through even more!!

Citrus-Marinated Skirt Steak - Beast

Citrus-Marinated Skirt Steak – Beast

I’ve heard great things about their sticky toffee pudding, which I didn’t get to try. I’ve read people say they come here just to get this dessert, so it’s high on my must try list at the moment. Service was super attentive and the food fresh. They change up the menu often so I’ll definitely be returning back to this spot in the future!

Beast – 638 Bergen Street (at Vanderbilt Avenue) – 718.399.6855

double ice cream day at ample hills

While we’ve had a few days here and there that have been nice, yesterday was one of the first truly nice days where I was out and about on the weekend. As I mentioned earlier today, on Sunday I went to brunch with the gang of Google Places Power Users at Cafecito Bogota. left craving a little something sweet. Blame it on my having eggs and not french toast.

It was nice that from there my boyfriend and I decided to go on a walk. We continued on through the rest of Greenpoint into and through Williamsburg, winding back into Bushwick, making sure to stay on the sunny side of the street since it’s the time of year where that makes all of the difference.

Blame it on the weather, but along the way that dessert craving became more focused. Ice cream. Only ice cream. We passed some ok looking places, but why settle for ice cream dispensed from the corner of a convenience store when you can keep going a bit more for the real thing – Ample Hills.

Ample Hills Creamery opened last summer on Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights. I didn’t get to try it for a bit -scared off by the likes of them selling out of all of their ice cream during their first four days they were open, causing them to have to close and replenish their stock. That’s no joke!

I finally got to try their ice cream, but never on-site. One cold, gross day my boyfriend surprised me with a pint for us of their Black Cow Float – root beer ice cream with a swirl of milk chocolate. So good. Root beer ice cream? Yes please. And for a friend, we had one of their ice cream cakes – tasty but heavier than other ice cream cakes I’ve had.

Fun with seasonal flavors

Fun with seasonal flavors

Yesterday though? I went inside. Ok. I may have gotten ice cream not only once but two times in the same – once before dinner and another time after dinner. Both at Ample Hills. That’s okay though. Being able to do things like that make all the downside of being an adult a bit more bearable.

First, I had their PB&J ice cream. I sampled it first as I thought that sounded like it could be amazing or disgusting (note after sampling a few flavors here, I think even the most extreme flavors here end up working). It was really good – not overwhelming peanut butter ice cream base with a grape jelly-esque ribbon running through. Unique and so good.

Oh hey hey, PB&J

Oh hey hey, PB&J

The other flavor I’d been eyeing was Nona D’s Oatmeal Lace – brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream with bits of oatmeal cookies sprinkled throughout.

They’re about to start ice cream classes and they also often accommodate parties. Have an idea for a flavor? Tack it up to their flavor board and maybe you’ll get your wish. Let’s just say I’m thankful I don’t live around the corner from this place or else I know where you’d find me all summer long!

Ice cream doodles from the suggestion board

Ice cream doodles from the suggestion board

Next visit? Shake time. Yes, that’s happening.

Ample Hills Creamery – 623 Vanderbilt Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue) – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – 347.240.3926