After an exhausting afternoon of rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, EW, JS, ATO and I headed straight to Dale Talde’s Pork Slope to satisfy our hunger pangs with some pub food done right. This place is solid - nothing fancy and nothing mind blowing - but just good ol’ greasy spoon grub, better than what you’ll find at any typical pub. All in all, it’ll fill you up, your hands might need a wipe-down afterwards and you might even feel a little sick…. in a good, “I was a glutton and couldn’t control myself and ate too much” way. This place would be a ridiculously good drunk food spot!
Here’s what we sampled:
Half a rack of St. Louis ribs. Now that’s something pretty.
Tater tots! Like really, really good tater tots.
Crispy mac and cheese, burnt edges and all!
Onion strings. Good on just about anything. Finished with a surprising nice kick!
Frickles! We cleared the entire table but for two frickles. They were good for frickles, but frickles always seem to be a better concept than they are a reality.
Brisket sandwich. Loved the toasted white bread.
Motherporker. WTF. That’s a lot of pork. And an egg for more richness. Cos we obviously needed more richness.
Shrimp po’ boy. Impossible to eat without dropping shrimp in your lap or smearing mayo all over your face. Delicious nonetheless.
Red Rooster Harlem
I had been wanting to go to Red Rooster forever! On this fine, sweltering Sunday, I finally made it up. To avoid a wait, ST, EA and I decided to meet at 11am, right as the restaurant opened for brunch. Very aggressive; but as any New Yorker will tell you, brunch actually falls squarely between lunch and dinner, so we thought this was our best bet. Well…. we still waited, but not because of the restaurant (cough EA cough EA! :-)). ST and I sat at the front bar patiently waiting for our dear friend to arrive.
Looking around I thought “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Aquavit anymore”. Obviously the food is different: Scandinavian vs. comfort food. But more than that, the entire feel was different: the look, the atmosphere, the clientele. There was a jazzy, gospely live band playing near the bar and the magnetic elderly front woman moved about the room singing to groups of guests (head down, I was avoiding her like the plague; I find these situations very awkward, but alas, to my despair, she made eye contact, came over, threw us a smile, sang us a verse and shook her shoulders into us). At some point Chef Samuelsson waltzed out right next to me, joking around with a customer in his butterfly-printed converse high tops, striped pants, plaid shirt and strange newspaper boy cap. Yes, it’s a very cool vibe. Very different for NYC. If I wasn’t so hungover, I would have enjoyed it more.
But sadly, overall, I found the food underwhelming for the hype. We started with the corn bread served with both honey butter and tomato jam, which EA ordered without hesitation, without even a look at her dining companions (fine, you know us too well, how could we pass up corn bread?). It was fine. The honey butter was better than the tomato jam. Nothing really more to say.
Above is the lamb and potato hash with egg, rosemary and beets. Important note: the potatoes here are sweet potatoes, not normal potatoes, which convinced EA to order this dish and swayed me against it.
ST ordered the jerk bacon and egg with brown beans and pikliz (which I googled, and it’s a combo of pickled shredded cabbage, carrot, onions, shallots and habanero peppers). The pork belly (the “jerk bacon”) was perfectly prepared and the pikliz nicely offset the richness of it. The sauce was a satisfying mix of sweet and savory. But the beans and the eggs were just OK, not great.
And with my newfound braveness stemming from the acceptance of Lactaid in my life, I ordered the hearth baked mac and cheese with gouda, NY cheddar and comte, served with some fresh greens in a mustard dressing. And because that was not nearly enough calories for me, I also ordered a side of chicken apple sausage. While all fine and dandy, it was all a bit disappointing. Am I at Cafeteria or The Smith or Eatery? Cos I’m pretty sure I would have received the same thing. But this is not what I’d expect from the winner of Top Chef Masters, Season 2! I mean, Rick Bayless’ restaurant (Season 1 winner) was freakin amazing!
Oh well, a bit of a bust. I will not travel to Harlem for this brunch again. Also, just cos I like complaining, there’s a couple more things I’d like to get off my chest: (1) the live music, while cool for the first 20 minutes, got pretty annoying - it was too loud! I was straining to hear our very riveting conversation on the many functions of LinkedIn (I just joined!); (2) the wait to get our food was ridiculous; they must have been too distracted by their intense need to wipe down our table every 3 minutes, for fear that the condensation from our cold water glasses might ruin their pretty leather tabletops. Good thing I was so engaged in our LinkedIn conversation that I forgot to be bitchy!