Sunday, September 10, 2006

Brooklyn as a Vacation Destination?

Our friend Rocket is one of the few people we know who live in Manhattan still, when she comes out to visit, she always comments on how nice and quiet it is out in Brooklyn (duh). She also is fascinated by the houses around here (she had never been out to Bklyn until recently). All of this prompted us to invite her out for a "Brooklyn Vacation." Come spend a weekend with us, you will love it - we won't get on a train or go into the city once! We can go to parks, ride bikes, eat delish food, shop in cool stores and go to the farmer's markets - you will love it!

It also made us realized what a lovely "charmed life" we have out here as we went about our weekend activites. We started out with a walk of the puppy to Fort Greene park. Passed a bunch of stoop sales getting set up and along the way we stopped for the "most delicious in the world" muffin and cappucino at Smooch. I got an acai-banana smoothie at the new juice shop - Urban Spring. Then we dropped off our compost at the farmer's market before playing in the park for a little while.

Smooch (and many of the other cafe's in the nabe - Outpost, Brown Betty's, Choice) has such a nice laid back feeling. People lounging around enjoying the day both inside and out, very neighborly too. They (Smooch) has also started a new 'addicted to coffee' card thing-y (you know, frequent buyer stuff).

Urban Spring whips up some yummy juices and smoothies for a reasonable price (for organic) and the shop is built from recycled architectural scraps, the drinks are served in corn-based plastic, which means they will just dissolve after a couple of weeks in the trash. They are still working out service kinks, it was a little scattered, but they have some delicious offerings, more of which I look forward to trying!

Last night G-pup and I went on a 'date,' which meant no puppy and no cell phone (so no pictures). We took a pleasant walk over to Los Pollitos III for some sneak up on you margaritas and mexican food. I had read a lot about Pollitos in comments on this blog, on chowhound and CitySearch. That unfortunately put my expectations a bit unrealistically high. The outdoor seating, while ample is less than ideal on that particular stretch of Myrtle Avenue. The music was some radio station which meant we had to listen to ads ?!? during our dinner - at least until the, we'll call them 'young men,' pulled up and had radio wars with their cars, which drowned out all radio and conversation for about 20 minutes. Ambience aside, the staff was very courteous and attentive (although confusing since we had no less than 4 different people taking orders, delivering food and checking on us). The margaritas are generous if a little lacking in flavor. It reminded me of a college bar, didn't taste that good but had a little bit of a kick (especially if you drink it rapidly through a straw because it is really full and the table is slanting so it is dripping out of the glass).

We ordered the guacamole, which had been raved about on other sites, my take? Should have gotten the nachos. The guac was alright, and clearly freshly made, but it didn't have the kick of some or the super fresh taste of others (usually has to be organic for that). The chips were of the thick kind - we prefer thin, and the salsa tasted a little water-y and definitely lacking in spice. (It was more like eating a agri-business tomato - tastes like a watery tomato). Finally on to the mains, I had the vegetarian enchilada (a spinach and cheese ench with tomatillo sauce) which more than made up for the previously missing spices. The tomatillo sauce was bright and sassy. The refried beans and spanish rice were stunningly good - g-pup declared them "perfect!" - better than I have had any where else around. G-pup went for what he is calling "a NYC burrito" (since they won't ever be the "mission burrito" that he longs for). He got some shrimp in his burrito, and here is his take on it...
"A shrimp burrito? Aside from the fact I really should cut the seafood cord, this non-SF style burrito had a pretty snaz presentation, a nicely folded almost square appearance alongside a bit of vinegar-y onion-ish mixture - a salad of somekind? The inside mix was actually very tasty, the ratios of the guac to the sour cream, the beans to the shrimp were well balanced and the size of it wasn't insanely tooo much. We were outside and it was kinda dark so no insight on the appearance of the interior. I'd have it again for sure (prob skip the shrimp tho) and it really beats the pants off the 'rito at neighbouring Castros."
Hmm, I kinda liked Castro's better - but mostly for the salsa. Still we both prefer Pequena's over either of the Myrtle Ave. establishments, but are both interested in going back to try more things off of their extensive menu.

Urban Spring
185 DeKalb (at Carlton)

Other reviews: Clinton Hill Blog

Los Pollitos
495 Myrtle Avenue
(718) 636-6125
Mon-Sun 11am - 11:30pm

Other reviews: CitySearch, Brooklyn Record, Yelp, Go Brooklyn, Brownstoner, Add Your Own


Anonymous said...

I hate phrases like 'out in Brooklyn' or 'into the city'.
All sounds so provincial and all.
And nothing is more boring than all the inane comparisons of the two.
People, its all one city. You act like going from one neighborhood to another is an event worthy of a weekend excursion.
Is your world that small?

hey mama said...

i think one of the great things about our city is that you can go from one neighborhood to another and feel like you're in a very different place, that every neighborhood has it's own personality. i love going to other parts of the city and trying out new places to eat, drink, hang out, whatever. i don't think that makes my world small. i'm aware that there is a whole big world outside of the 5 boroughs. but how sad if you don't take advantage of all the cool things and places you can get to on the subway...

and i agree that brooklyn—or at least, where i live, clinton hill/bed-stuy—does feel different than manhattan. i mostly stay in brooklyn now that i'm home with my son, but when i worked in manhattan i loved the feeling of getting off the G train and seeing more trees, hearing less traffic, and just feeling like i had stepped out of the crazy a little bit.

Rich said...

I've eaten at the Los Pollitos location on 5th Ave... nothing to write home about...

And I've gotta agree with you, Pequena's is amazing.

And as far as Brooklyn is concerned, I moved here 10 years ago from Philly and never once felt like I had to (or even wanted to) move into Manhattan. Every apartment I've been to IN THE CITY (for hey mama's benefit) has been incredibly small and cramped and I was paying about the same for 4 times the space.

rich said...

oops I meant anonymous, not hey mama...


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infinitme1 said...

After checking out the menu at Urban Spring, I soooo looked forward to having a freshly made smoothie and enjoying any of a selection of vegan treats not shipped from out of state until I experienced the frigid reception of the workers. Even though there were NO other customers in the store and no one even greeted me. The woman was all indignant when I asked about a grain on the shelf - which she wrongly identified. When I tried to pay with a debit card, it would have been nice (and customary) if the woman had at least suggested a nearby ATM - especially since it was raining ice outside. Finally, there was nothing in the way of a "thanks," "have a nice day," or "stay warm." I left wondering who these people were who could be so connected to the earth yet so disconnected from people. The smoothie was OK, I only remember that it had cacao and coconut milk. The cookie - it had goji berries, pumokin seeds, oatmeal (if I remember correctly), and almond - was pretty good. But, I've been eating vegan and organic for years, I - or anyone else with eyes and a couple of taste buds - could figure out how to make them at home. Anyhow, when I Ieft to get cash for the ATM, I was so tempted to just go around the corner to Smooch and forget about paying. I did pay; but I doubt they'll ever get any more money from me.