05/22/13 4:00am

Root Hill Burger
256 Fourth Avenue, Gowanus
4 L’s

We have to talk about veggie burgers. Yes, they can be gross; as a restaurant reviewer who has visited many a burger joint, I often let my guest savor a juicy beef burger while I try to make the most of some lesser version—a mushy veggie burger, a bland and sad fish burger, a slippery portobello mushroom between two buns—and wonder where I went wrong with my life. If you’re craving a hamburger, no veggie burger will ever take its place, but a really good one can be a crave-worthy sandwich on its own. At Root Hill Burger, an off-shoot of the Root Hill coffee shop, the “Meatless” burger is one of those rare vegetarian wonders. Unfairly defined by an ingredient it lacks, the boldly spiced patty is reminiscent of Moroccan kefta, a delicate meatball flavored with ras el hanout, a blend of savory, sweet, and aromatic spices. If you find yourself wondering whether you taste ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne, then you’re probably not missing the meat. Melted white cheddar adds richer flavors, radishes pack a peppery punch, and a spread of tangy Greek yogurt and salty-yet-citrusy preserved lemons brings this sandwich, on a sweet brioche bun, intense depth. Root Hill’s meatless burger out-classes its vegan offering, a griddled Portobello on a black sesame-studded semolina roll, though a combination of rich walnut spread, bitter arugula, and a lively green herb purée make it much more enticing than the typical grilled mushroom-on-a-bun.

This isn’t to imply that the veggie burger outshines the meatier options. A blend of short rib and brisket, from responsibly raised animals via beloved Smith Street butcher Los Paisanos, makes the beef burgers incredibly juicy. It’ll be hard to resist reordering the hamburger piled with white cheddar, crisped root veggies, thick-cut bacon, and smoky-tangy barbecue sauce, but we’re also curious about the version topped with Brooklyn Brine sour pickles, mayo and fontina cheese crisps. Our only quibble is that most of the burgers cost over $10, and the fries—browned, salty, crispy—cost an additional $3. And you’d be silly to skip the addictively delicious, deep-fried and honey-coated garbanzo beans, served alongside the same lush lemon-yogurt sauce that graces the meatless burger ($4). Pair your meal with a Sixpoint Sweet Action ($6) or an amazingly creamy Salted Caramel Milkshake ($6), and it may feel like you’re dropping a lot of cash to dine in a mod-looking fast food joint, where artsy line drawings of hamburgers paper the wall along a pair of ketchup-red eight-seater communal tables. But once we discovered the backyard, where chunky Christmas lights hung from the fence and colorful chairs surrounded rustic wooden tables, our pricey meal of burgers and brews was most definitely worth every penny.

Photo Courtesy Root Hill Burger

05/08/13 4:00am

Sweet Chick
164 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
4 L’s

Sweet Chick has made Bedford Avenue a better place. Its fried chicken may not be as crispy as the birds served at Pies ‘n’ Thighs, and its sunny environs lack the grandad swagger of the Commodore’s dark barroom, but this new chicken joint still has a lot to offer—and it’s no secret. The place opens for dinner at 6pm on Sundays, and when we visited, it felt like a house party when it hit full capacity half an hour later. A petite bartendress in a threadbare T-shirt served pints of Keegan’s Mothers Milk Stout, cans of Genessee, and mile-wide smiles to the baseball-capped guys at the bar. Groups of preppy chicks and bros, sunglasses perched on their tawny heads, shared communal picnic tables with pale and rumpled groups of friends, each clique happily clinking pints over the blaring Southern rock. Cute couples leaned in over shared bowls of creamy gruyere-fontina-cheddar mac n’ cheese and cocktail glasses of punchy hibiscus-mint margaritas. And while the loud, tightly packed room isn’t really geared toward little kids, the heavily bearded, amply tattooed maitre’d didn’t pass our table without flashing a peek-a-boo at our 2-year-old.

As for the chicken, it’s suitably crunchy on the outside and juicy within. My husband, a fried chicken purist who has his birthdays catered by our local branch of Crown Fried Chicken, said he would’ve appreciated a warning about the subtle unexpected touch of rosemary mixed into the batter. (He still polished off an entire bucket of the stuff—three pieces of chicken with a bowl of collard slaw and a buttermilk biscuit on the side.)

When it comes to vegetarian options, Sweet Chick has its competitors beat. We predict that many a junk food-lovin’ herbivore will go nuts for their softball-sized hunks of vegetarian fried “chicken.” Its interior was lighter than a processed chick patty, with a sweet chewiness that played off its crunchy, well-seasoned batter. Served with puffy, buttery classic waffles (which also come in bacon-cheddar or rosemary-mushroom flavors) and a drizzle of maple syrup, this McNugget-y non-chicken wasn’t bad at all. Plus, with plenty of sides, salads and non-poultry entrees (like pork tenderloin, rib-eye steaks, and arctic char with beans and preserved lemons), Sweet Chick is more of a full-scale restaurant than some of its local fried-chicken peers. Decorated with waffle irons, American flags and rooster statues, its sunny country kitchen dining room is appropriate for visiting parents, and everybody really did seem to feel at home. As we bid farewell to our bearded host my son asked hopefully, “Mommy, that guy wanna come to our house?” Probably not, but we’ll be back here.

Photo by Daniel Krieger

04/24/13 4:00am

Nightingale 9
176 N. 9th Street, Williamsburg
3.5 L’s

Not all of Nightingale 9’s dishes pair staples of the American South with the bright, spicy flavors of Vietnamese cuisine, but lawdy, the best ones sure do. When we visited on a busy weeknight, clusters of peanuts with the perfect balance of salt, sticky sweetness and heat made a killer bar snack. Thinly shredded raw collard greens, marinated in citrus and spice just long enough to dampen their bitterness, were served in a tangle that resembled a seaweed salad and topped with delicately crispy fried shallot rings. Our pork belly was caramelized until it stuck to our teeth, as though hunks of rich pulled pork were coated with a butterscotch candy shell. The dish was served alongside a bowl of jasmine rice to soak up its spicy-sweet sauce, redolent of peppercorns and lemongrass.

The team behind the Smith Street Southern joint Seersucker and the buzzing coffee spot Canteen are also responsible for Nightingale 9, serving small plates, soups and noodle bowls priced in the $10 to $15 range—a little pricey for modest portions of street food served at communal picnic tables, especially because not all of the dishes we sampled were addictive like those sweet-savory peanut clusters. Though their roasted mushroom vermicelli bowl makes a valiant effort for vegan guests, an omnivorous friend described it as “kind of a nothingburger.” There weren’t enough of the umami roasted mushrooms, resulting in a few mouthfuls of plain rice noodles. A trio of serve-yourself sauces in the center of the table livened up the noodles—as long as our bench-sharing neighbors weren’t hogging the bottles. When we asked about the best seafood dishes to share among ourselves, our server recommended the fluke and crab salad, which was served like a tostada on a single piece of crispy rice paper. When we tried to break it into three bites, we sent a flurry of chilled seafood and fresh herbs onto our plate. The deconstructed snack was light and summery but lacking in depth.

The food was mildly spiced and mellow, but the beverage menu was bolder. Nightingale 9 offers wine and beer, as well as a trio of lemonades—chile-infused spicy lemonade to thrill anyone who has fond memories of their last Master Cleanse, salty lemonade for those who’ve developed a taste for this Vietnamese specialty, and sweet lemonade for the rest of us. Their michelada, an Asian chile-spiked spin on the Mexican-style beer cocktail, packed so much heat that we could only get halfway through a pint. An inspired and refreshing combination of tamarind, mint, lime and orange bitters was served over ice in a far smaller glass. We wished it came by the pitcher.

Photo Daniel Krieger

04/10/13 4:00am

The Brooklyn Sandwich Society
184 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene
3 L’s

From 11am to 4pm on weekdays, the Brooklyn Sandwich Society deserves its name, offering seven fancy sandwiches named for nearby streets. You might nibble on the $10 S. Elliott (a grilled cheese with nutty Fontina and grassy Pawlet) or feast on the $15 Cumberland (piled with rich honey-glazed pork belly, sweet pickled carrots, fresh cilantro and spicy kimchi aioli on fine pain au lait). However, at dinnertime, there’s only one sandwich on offer each evening. My friend, who had already paid the Brooklyn Sandwich Society a lunchtime visit, was happy that the dinner menu had more to offer than steeply priced sandwiches, but as someone who might rank “sandwich sampler” as my very favorite dinner option, I was sad there was only the single Thursday night special—the $13 Lafayette, a fresh-tasting but underwhelming trout burger with creamy lemon aioli and plenty of peppery arugula.

That said, the dinner menu does offer lots of elegant, seasonal dishes beyond the realm of the sandwich. Sweet circular slices of dried figs balance the wintery bitterness of the watercress salad ($9), and a generous drizzle of yogurt vinaigrette brings the two ingredients together with its tangy and creamy richness. A comforting and buttery griddled polenta cake is topped with lightly funky blue cheese, slightly spicy chicory and a sweet-tart honey balsamic glaze ($10). The ocean-fresh fluke crudo ($14) is plated as if to evoke the forest floor—perfect little pickled mushrooms scattered among green jalapenos and swirls of hot and citrusy sambal-yuzu vinaigrette. The space itself feels a bit deep-woods chic, with wide-rimmed barn lights hanging from tin ceilings and honey-colored wood-planked tabletops bringing warmth beside white subway-tiled walls.

Even if you weren’t up for a full meal, you could certainly slide into a stool at the wood-topped bar for a drink or two, pretending you were seated at the urban-rustic breakfast bar in the kitchen of a stylish friend. The house red, a light and juicy Côtes-du-Rhône, is served in an $8 carafe that pours a solid glass and a half, and the beer menu offers a well-curated selection of big, shareable bottles, like Brooklyn Brewery’s 750 mL Sorachi Ace ($20), a crisp, spicy and lemony saison, and respectable cans, including Back in Black, a dark, mellow and malty black IPA from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery ($6). For dessert, the pie-of-the-day was a tough-crusted butternut squash and walnut combo, which seemed like a spin on pumpkin pie and pecan pie that, unfortunately, didn’t improve upon its inspirations. The chocolate mousse, served in a little mason jar with bourbon-soaked cherries and chunky, crunchy crystals of sea salt, was a more successful sweet treat.

Photo courtesy Brooklyn Sandwich Society

03/27/13 4:00am

305 Smith Street, South Brooklyn
3 L’s

While cold weather lingers, summery clam-shack food promises brighter days; Kittery’s fried clam roll might be the best medicine for winter doldrums. Crunchy-crusted, juicy clam bellies are piled high on a big, soft, buttery roll—it’s like taking a bite out of a warm sea breeze. The creamy, hearty coleslaw accompaniment makes the most of winter greens, with some julienned red bell peppers and carrots for sweetness and crunch, but the other sides are clam-shack classics—potato chips and a plain ol’ dill pickle, which is especially refreshing in a borough of exotically spiced pickled-everything. The food at Kittery isn’t terribly adventurous, but that’s not the point.

With high ceilings, roomy booths, and sunny windows, it might be Smith Street’s most family-friendly restaurant, whether you’re dining with your kids or your parents. (In the early evening, the little guys are offered crayons and invited to scribble on the brown paper that lines the blue madras tablecloths.) The traditional, straightforward menu has plenty of options for relatives who aren’t looking to expand their horizons—steak and burgers for the seafood-adverse, and a kids’ menu featuring some particularly delicious chicken fingers. And if you’ve got a toddler who enjoys watching cars and trucks, a highchair positioned at the end of a booth facing the traffic on Smith is the hottest seat in town.

Though Kittery offers a small selection of oysters and clams from the raw bar, it’s hard to resist the “stuffies”—clams baked in their shells with a tasty sausage stuffing and a light, crispy, buttery breadcrumb crust. The broth of the New England clam chowder was creamy and rich with the fresh and briny flavors of the sea, but it was light on actual clams, as though our bowl had been skimmed from the top of a unstirred pot. For purists who like their lobster as lightly dressed as possible, the lobster roll may seem a bit over-seasoned with Old Bay and mayo, but it paired perfectly with a tall, cold, fruity and fizzy Allagash White. The only problem with lobster and clam rolls is that they tend to leave you hungry for more, but here you’ll be glad you were left room for dessert. We finished up with a big, steamy bowl of apple-blackberry crisp a la mode. As vanilla ice cream melted over the crunchy, walnut-studded, cinnamon-laced crust and down onto the warm, sweet fruit, we knew warmer weather would be here soon.

Photo Austin McAllister

03/13/13 4:00am

Qi Thai Grill
176 N. 9th Street, Williamsburg
3 L’s

Once you’ve gazed upon a horizonless parade of Kama Sutra statues, any meal might seem a bit bland. In Qi Thai Grill’s low-lighted, unisex, black-tiled bathroom area, where men and women wait together for stalls and wash up in a claw-foot tub that has been refashioned into a communal sink, a wall of infinity mirrors reflects a row of small, stiff-necked, nude and entangled figurines for as far as the eye can see. Standing before millions of little clay hands clutching plump thighs, hips and boobs, I wondered if it would be more appropriate to describe Qi as a date spot or a starting point for the sort of bachelorette bar crawl in which the bride-to-be blows a penis-whistle to get the attention of her drunken ladies-in-waiting. I guess it could go either way.

The two-story, 200-seat Qi could be the next SEA Thai, with Qi’s wooden spindles and dim Edison bulbs replacing SEA’s mod balloon-shaped swing-seats and neon lights. Despite its sprawling size, Qi offers plenty of nooks and crannies for canoodling. Our banquette table for four was nearly dark enough to reenact some of the pleasure positions displayed in the bathrooms without anyone noticing. But I longed for the unflattering fluorescent lighting of SriPraPhai, the beloved Queens joint that contributed a few dishes to the menu, as one friend blindly bit into the rather gelatinous and chewy SriPraPhai-style beef tendon and asked, “That wasn’t a dumpling, was it?” Though the tendons were balanced by a bright-tasting salad of mint, lemongrass, scallions and toasty rice powder, the mouth-feel of connective tissue isn’t the most pleasant of surprises. The boudoir lighting seemed more suited for recognizable textures and flavors like a soulfully spicy chicken curry, with the heat of chili paste cutting through sweet, tender chunks of pumpkin and creamy coconut milk. Chive taro corn dumplings were a bit bland, but the green papaya salad made a fine version of the classic takeout dish, sparkling with spicy chili-lime dressing and salty, crunchy roasted peanuts. A simple and delicious side order of toasted bread with peanut sauce helped balance the chili-boosted heat of the meal.

The menu also includes a collection of dishes created by well-known chef and cookbook author Pichet Ong, including sticky, crispy-skinned chicken wings glazed in sriracha and kaffir lime, and a double-shot of roasted pork and pork belly, both of which were on the dry side and got most of their flavor from a cinnamon-soy dipping sauce. Ong is known for his desserts, and it’s worth saving room for them at Qi. The rich taro mousse with coconut cream, toasty sesame crumbs and floral green tea ice cream packs bite after bite of sensual delight—no infinity mirrors required.

Photo by Phakkapol Pasuthip

02/27/13 4:00am

Runner & Stone

285 Third Avenue, Gowanus
4 L’s

Runner & Stone, named for the top and bottom millstones in old-time flourmills like the ones that once stood on the nearby Gowanus Canal, deserves every bit of buzz it gets for its bread. Peter Endriss, the baker at this coffee-shop-by-day/refined-restaurant-by-night, once worked as the head baker at Thomas Keller’s Per Se and assisted with the bread program at Bouchon Bakery. His baguettes, spread with exceptionally creamy house-churned butter, perfectly balance crunch and chew. His croissants, served as early as 7:30am, are flaky and light. At lunchtime, crusty and pleasantly sour slices of rye elevate a grilled cheese sandwich with mild cheddar, pickled apples and crispy pancetta, and a chewy roll encases a delicately sweet butternut squash fritter and rich, house-made ricotta. Before dinner, a complimentary olive-filled turnover made for a perfectly buttery, airy, briny and sweet first bite.

But if you were to dine on bread alone at Runner & Stone, you’d be missing some of Brooklyn’s best chicken. The half-bird is super-juicy, appropriately homey and infused richly with butter and mushrooms. It’s served alongside some deliciously doughy buckwheat dumplings in an altogether dreamy mushroom broth. If you are sharing the dish with a friend, things may become uncomfortable when one of you starts lapping up the broth like a puppy, so be sure to order your own. More shareable are the ricotta-filled ravioli, which are fashioned into twists, served on a bed of tangy tomato jam and drizzled with fruity basil-infused olive oil. An appetizer of subtly flavored grappa-cured striped bass, served with grilled ciabatta and fennel, seemed almost too mellow after a salad course of apple panzanella; the bitter baby arugula and apple matchsticks coated in a very tart walnut dressing made us long for tender springtime greens.

With its streamlined modern-industrial style, Runner & Stone may look a little formal for a morning cappuccino and perhaps a bit stark for a date-night dinner, but the comfort here is found in the warm staffers and the unbeatable sweets. The palmiers are heavenly, impossibly light little curls priced at $1 a piece. The daytime treats-menu includes a buttery lemon-poppy cake and a classic, deeply chocolaty brownie. After dinner, the lemon curd trifle is equal parts tart and sweet, with a super-rich texture and a welcome salty crunch from pistachio nuts. To top it all off, they’ve even got a full bar. The wine list focuses on local and Italian bottles, and the short list of specialty cocktails includes the Moped, a concoction of cocchi Americano, Plymouth gin and Tito’s Handmade vodka that’s as light as a Lillet, but with a little more bite. Toss back a few and grab a baguette for the road.

Photo by Latent Productions / Ho Kyung Lee

02/13/13 4:00am


241 South 4th Street, Williamsburg
5 L’s

It’s a Mexican miracle—a milagro. Elote, that magically messy, spicy-sweet, cheesy, creamy, citrus-spiked corn-on-the-cob has been transformed from street food to first-date food. At Xixa, the ears of corn are replaced with long, thin, charred and caramelized carrots, the greasy mayo-and-cheese topping is swapped out for rich honey butter, lime crema, coriander, feta and dill ($6). Like all good elotes, you’ll want to rub your face in it—but in this case, you can just as easily use a fork. Located on the edge of Williamsburg’s Hasidic section—and just a few doors down from its deliberately non-kosher sister restaurant Traif—Xixa is pronounced “shiksa.” This once-disparaging term for a non-Jewish woman has taken on a warmer meaning in the present-day vernacular; at this dimly lighted small-plates joint, it’s a tribute to Chef Jason Marcus’s girlfriend and business partner, Heather Heuser.

The flavors of Mexico inspire the menu as loosely and dreamily as the Spanish language inspired the sultry spelling of Xixa. A light and creamy guacamole (which gets a touch of earthiness from braised artichokes) and roasted peanut salsa is served alongside tortilla chips and chircaron de queso, a dressed-up version of the cheese that seeps out of a quesadilla and hardens to a delicious crisp on your baking pan ($5). The sweet, floral crunch of diced green apple adds another layer of flavor to an elegant plate of fresh, citrusy scallop ceviche with spicy shaved jalapeños and a touch of buttery avocado ($8). Small and plump rock-shrimp gorditas make for succulent, satisfying bites ($7). A bowl of hearty, cinnamon-kissed lamb meatballs in a rich tomato sauce ($11) was just the rib-sticking thing we needed to turn a bunch of small plates into a full meal. Though the plates were brought to the table in an odd sequence—the heavy and assertive meatballs preceded some much lighter fare like the delicate scallop ceviche—our six dishes made a scrumptious, tasting-menu-style meal for two for only $45, making Xixa one of the best new date-night deals in town.

The wine list is organized by flavor and essence and grouped under the names of gentile women. The bottles in the Helen Mirren section are described as “concentrated, baked fruits, transcendent” while the Coco Chanel-esque wines are “perfumed, aromatic, and avant-garde.” Wine list whimsy aside, the most intriguing bebida on the menu is the mezcal, which is mixed with duck fat, frozen, strained and then served neat, leaving a trace of warmth and smokiness, which smoothes out the oft-biting Mexican spirit. A side dish of smoky salt and grapefruit wedges makes for nice noshing between sips. Get another round at dessert to help keep you warm while waiting later on the chilly platform for the Marcy Avenue JMZ.

Photo by Austin McAllister

01/30/13 4:00am


364 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
3 L’s

Krescendo might make the perfect K-name for the forthcoming KimYe spawn. Like the Kardashians, this Atlantic Avenue pizzeria has West Coast roots and some strong ties to reality TV: Chef Elizabeth Falkner earned her stripes at San Francisco’s sweet spot Citizen Cake and then competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. At Krescendo, her savory signature dish is the Finocchio Flower Power pizza, which evokes the California breeze with an anise-laced trifecta of braised fennel, fennel sausage, and feathery fennel fronds. Chili powder balances the sweet vegetables with a bit of heat, shaved provolone brings sharpness, and grassy olive oil adds richness to this otherwise dry, tomato-free pie. The thin crust of her Californication pizza sags a bit under the weight of its generous toppings: creamy mozzarella and goat cheese, nutty walnut-arugula pesto, spicy Padron peppers and fresh arugula leaves with a drizzle of honey. Despite Falkner’s pastry chef background, she goes easy on the sweetness here—it’s not nearly as bold as the hot honey or bacon marmalade that Paulie Gee has been slathering on his magical Greenpoint pizza for years.

Krescendo’s long, wide, high-ceilinged space has plenty of elbowroom between tables, making it at once more glamorous and less intimate than your typical pizza joint. To warm things up, Falkner—easy to spot with her spiky platinum hair—traipses through the ample space to greet the regulars. The pizzas can take a while to come out, but you can whet your appetite with the crispy salt cod fritters encircled with cannellini beans, fresh mint, salad greens, briny olives and crunchy celery. The fresh flavors of the purple kale salad are right on target—raw, earthy greens perked up by salty ricotta salata, sweet maple-candied pancetta, and a rich yet tart lemon-egg vinaigrette—but the textures of the fibrous greens and tough pancetta were almost too chewy for us to enjoy. Our house cocktails made with basil-infused gin or rosemary-infused vodka were on the syrupy side, so your pizza might be better paired with a beer.

Like all the best California cooking, the food here lets simple ingredients shine—but there are often a lot of ingredients shining at once. Desserts are Chef Falkner’s thing, and it shows in her richly sweet pistachio sponge cake, which came with as many embellishments as the pizzas: ricotta cream, tangerine sorbet, candied citrus, Campari-soaked cherries, chocolate and marzipan. The result was tasty, if a bit overwhelming at the end of a lengthy, beer-fueled meal. For chocolate lovers, the cool and creamy gianduja semifreddo over a sbrosolona (that is, a crunchy Italian tart) with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, cocoa nibs and candied hazelnuts is the way to go.

Courtesy Krescendo

01/16/13 4:00am

Selamat Pagi
152 Driggs Avenue, Greenpoint
4 L’s

When the clock strikes 7pm in Greenpoint it’s already 8am on the isle of Bali, so “Selamat Pagi,” which means “good morning,” seems like the perfect name for a Balinese dinner spot in Brooklyn. A small sign on the door bearing the Indonesian greeting marks this bright and tiny restaurant helmed by the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream crew. Its bare-bones interior tastefully refrains from setting a tropical scene—no potted palms or faux straw awnings to get you in the mood—but a selection of Van Leeuwen ice creams displayed in a glass counter will remind you to save room for dessert.

It seems reasonable that the explosive and wildly popular flavors of Pok Pok will give Brooklynites an appetite for less-traveled Asian cuisines, but if the Pok Pok experience can be as thrilling as weaving a rented motor-scooter through Thai traffic then a meal at Selamat Pagi is more like a day of lounging at a Balinese beach resort. Of course, the fresh and simple fish-and-prawn satay—threaded onto lemongrass stalks, grilled and served with a slightly tart tamarind sauce ($7.50)—doesn’t require an avalanche of flavors to whet the appetite. The nasi campur ($15), a meal-sized sampler plate, combines some of the restaurant’s best offerings: fluffy rice, spicy pickled carrots, crispy and airy prawn crackers, crunchy long beans cooked in the exotic flavorings of gingery galangal and kaffir lime, and a deliciously spicy-coconutty salad of shredded bluefish. (Though much of the food packed spicy heat, the dish was served room temperature, as it would be in a steamy Bali kitchen.) The grassy, citrusy notes of fresh lemongrass shone in a very mild fish curry ($16)—flaky pollock over noodles with fresh cucumbers and roasted peanuts—though the subtle dish may have benefitted from a few shakes of hot sauce. But anything would seem bland when followed by a trio of flavor-forward Van Leeuwen ice creams: the sticky-sweet palm sugar variety was like a Southeast Asian take on dulce de leche, the scoop of purplish black sticky rice ice cream captured the toasty sweetness of its namesake, and the ginger perfectly balanced the fluorescent bite of fresh ginger with sweet, cooling cream.

The entire place was manned by a single host/busboy/server who handled his work with the calm friendliness of someone who just spent a week on the serene beaches of Bali himself, so we’d hate to quibble about his ambling pace. We’ll be back for a leisurely brunch (which is served Tuesday through Sunday); the Bali egg scramble ($9.50) with organic eggs, coconut oil, shallots, turmeric, roti, and papaya seems well-worth a return trip.

Photo Lauren Volo