Soul Food Arrives on Bedford Avenue: A Review of Sweet Chick

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Sweet Chick
164 Bedford Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(347) 725-4793 / sweetchicknyc.com/

 

Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

Collard Greens and Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

Collard Greens and Fried Chicken at Sweet Chick

I was thirsty, nauseous and I wanted gum immediately after.

I foraged through a bucket of chicken at Sweet Chick, the new soul food hotspot on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. An actual bucket, not in my living room in front of the TV, but in an actual restaurant.

When in Williamsburg, I’d rather trek to the smaller streets than hang on big bad Bedford Avenue. Sweet Chick is literally steps from the L train, not enough distance for me to enjoy being in Williamsburg.

The restaurant has been busy since it opened February 19. They’re even adding a late-night (12am-2am) menu, beginning this weekend, to accommodate the demand.

Not to sound like an old lady (which happens often), but the place was so dark I could barely see the food I was eating. I asked our server afterward what was in the slaw. It was collard greens, but it was so overly dressed I could barely taste anything. I would have loved some braised collard greens, and that’s something they could easily have cooked or partially cooked in advance, versus slopping some slaw into a bowl. It was overwhelming.

If you want fried chicken, you can get two pieces of chicken with your choice of waffle for $16, or opt for a bucket with the slaw and a biscuit for $17. That’s a pretty pricy bucket of chicken. I wish they had served a plate alongside to make eating it easier, but I was excited to dig in. The highlight of the meal was the chicken wing. They braise the chicken in sweet tea to give it moisture. That wing was insane! The white meat was fine, but not as moist as others (Pies ‘n’ Thighs is still a showstopper.) Also, some bites had more of a spicy kick than others. Hopefully, the chefs will work out a consistent flavor profile.

The cornbread was not crispy on the outside, and not warm. It tasted like what you grab in plastic wrap from the grocery store or deli.

The biscuit was bland, not anything close to the decadent softness I wish it had. It was hard to finish. Also it’s not served with condiments, but I used some of my friend’s butter (three different butters, actually) that came with her waffle. Still not enthused.

Some of their specials included general tso’s fried chicken with a rice broccoli waffle. A nice touch for the veg crowd, they have fried seitan as well. It wasn’t bad, though a bit soggy, the skin not as crisp as on the fried chicken.

The cocktail I had was tasty: the Sweet Chick, with house-infused watermelon vodka and a spicy brown sugar rim. They use Bootlegger vodka, produced in Roscoe, New York, for this one. Still, all of the cocktails were at least $11, a bit much to charge just because local artisan ingredients are used. (Another one has Jack Daniel’s Honey and soda from Brooklyn Soda Works.) Also, fruit-infused vodka is not hard to make.

The place is cute, with waffle pans on the walls in some spots. I think I’d be more into it if it had a more Southern feel; it still looks very Brooklyn. I hope the food gets better and cheaper; the late-night menu might be the way to go.

Now enough chirping from me, go try Sweet Chick for yourselves.

Sweet Chick on Urbanspoon

A Sliver of Naples – Review of Forcella’s Pizza di Napoli

BY DARA POLLAK

Forcella
485 Lorimer St
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
718-388-8820 / http://forcellaeatery.com/

Manhattan Location: 334 Bowery, Nolita – NYC

Forcella Interior

After my visit to Italy some years ago, I fell in love with Neopolitan-style pizza: thin crust, slightly blackened on the bottom from the hot brick oven, and topped with fresh ingredients like mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, basil, truffles…I could go on. So when I heard about Neapolitan pizza spot Forcella making a debut in Williamsburg, I had to drop in for a bite…or two…

The space is small and cozy, the waitstaff all have Italian accents, and you can watch the pizzas being flipped around in the big open kitchen. It reminded me of a place I would actually go to in Italy – and just as I was thinking that, a group of Italian men sat down next to us and were discussing the menu boisterously with the waiter in Italian. Our questions for the waiter were a little less loud and in English, but we found out that each pie is about 9-10 inches, and the crust is incredibly thin, so you can easily order one per person (which is what we did and finished every last bite).

Pizza Margherita @Forcella

The first pie we tried was the traditional Margherita (homemade mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, $11) and the crust is so thin that the weight of half an olive would make it flop mercilessly in surrender. This is not to say that it doesn’t taste good, but I think the crust should have a little more resilience. Though for such a thin crust, the edges are surprisingly puffy and doughy, which is a fantastic contradiction and in my opinion, pretty tasty.

Pizza Montanara @Forcella

The Montanara pie is one of their specialties, and for $10 it might just be the best bet; deep-fried pizza dough is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. This pie doesn’t look all that different from the others, but upon your first bite, you can taste the difference. The dough has a slightly crunchier exterior, similar to that of a zeppole, and is a little bit greasier on the lips. It’s really good and it’s not as out-there as it sounds – we were envisioning an entire pie covered in batter and deep fried a la Chip Shop. Guess they don’t do that in Naples?

 

Pizza San Gregorio @Forcella

Our last pie was the San Gregorio, one of their white pizzas (or pizze bianche, $15), which was mozzarella, pesto, truffle, and tomato. I love pizza with truffles or truffle oil, so I was mildly disappointed with this one. The truffle was barely noticeable, and if you have had truffles before, you know them when you smell them or taste them. The pizza was also divided into two sides, which I thought was strange, one side had the pesto, the other had the tomatoes. Where was the truffle though? I only got a light hint of it on the tomato side – if you’re going to charge $15 for a pie, make sure there are truffles on it. The pesto side was better anyway, even with the absence of truffles – the balance of flavors was perfectly salty and nutty.

Pizza alla Nutella @Forcella

I am rarely able to turn down dessert, especially when that dessert involves Nutella, the ooey, gooey, chocolatey hazelnut spread. Naturally, they have a Nutella pie for dessert (Angioletti  Alla Nutella, $6), which is actually two deep fried pies sandwiched together with Nutella in the middle and powdered sugar on top, making it like a crunchy, doughy crepe. I have nothing technically “bad” to say about this one, mainly because you could put Nutella on cardboard and it would taste good, but the execution was kind of lazy. Maybe some will think they get points for simplicity, but it needed something else. Would I eat Forcella’s Nutella pie again? Sure. Would I be super excited about it? Probably not because it was boring.

If you’re in the mood for a lighter, thin crust pizza with really fresh ingredients, Forcella won’t let you down. If greasy, sloppy, New York style pizza is more your speed, I would take the train back to Manhattan and get to a Ray’s, asap.

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Where the salty sea air is only a bite away – Review of Walter Foods

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Walter Foods
253 Grand St.
Williamsburg
(718) 387-8783 / walterfoods.com

There once was a  man selling lobster rolls through his door slot in Greenpoint. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it over to Dr. Claw’s place before the city shut down his operation in August.

Walter Foods

Lobster roll at Walter Foods

I finally got my paws on my very first lobster roll in a completely different way — a $24 lunch at Walter Foods in Williamsburg. In a nautical-themed setting, I enjoyed an indulgent seafood sandwich on a wintry Wednesday afternoon.

Servers clad in white shirts and bow ties serve up oysters, steak and other American fare at a place that feels very un-Williamsburg. Walter Foods is decorated like an old-school parlor, but it’s still laid-back enough to stand its ground in Williamsburg. The place also features classic cocktails crafted carefully behind a beautiful bar.

Since they specialize in seafood, I figured it was the perfect time to seize the day and indulge in a lobster roll — an obvious stepping stone in any seafood lover’s life.

The presentation was mouth-watering; I already felt closer to the sea just at the sight of it. But it took a few bites to adjust to this new experience. The Old Bay seasoning was a bit much for me; I’d rather taste the lobster more than the seasoning — especially if I’m shelling out $24 for it. The deliciously crunchy pickle served on the side definitely complemented the sandwich well. The just-salty-enough fries were like a classed-up version of McDonald’s. Though I liked them, there were way more than enough.

It was a nice breath of fresh air (or, salty sea air) having a savory summery sandwich on a cold February day. But I think I’ll be more impressed enjoying one by a beach somewhere this summer. A road trip to New England may need to happen, but in the meantime I’d like to sink my teeth into some chops next time I’m at Walter Foods. The place certainly seems promising.

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Blissful Sunday brunch: A Review of Bliss Cafe’

Blissful Sunday brunch: A Review of Bliss Cafe

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Bliss Café
191 Bedford Ave.
Williamsburg
718-599-2547

Lazy Williamsburg mornings are the best – especially because there are so many great little stops for a laid-back breakfast.

Bliss French Toast - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

French Toast at Bliss Cafe' - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

To accommodate my vegetarian houseguest, who had an irritating confrontation with bacon-laced French toast the previous evening, I suggested Bliss Café, 191 Bedford Ave., for brunch on Sunday. The café is all vegetarian and vegan. [Read more...]

Blissful Sunday brunch: A Review of Bliss Cafe'

Blissful Sunday brunch: A Review of Bliss Cafe

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Bliss Café
191 Bedford Ave.
Williamsburg
718-599-2547

Lazy Williamsburg mornings are the best – especially because there are so many great little stops for a laid-back breakfast.

Bliss French Toast - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

French Toast at Bliss Cafe' - Photo by Beth Kaiserman

To accommodate my vegetarian houseguest, who had an irritating confrontation with bacon-laced French toast the previous evening, I suggested Bliss Café, 191 Bedford Ave., for brunch on Sunday. The café is all vegetarian and vegan. [Read more...]

Still reelin’ ‘em in – A Review of Lazy Catfish

Still reelin’ ‘em in – A review of Lazy Catfish

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Lazy Catfish
593 Lorimer Street
718-599-9055
Williamsburg

I first went to the Lazy Catfish about two years ago when a friend of mine got a bartending gig there.  The first time I went he insisted that I try the food; always up for a new culinary adventure, I tried the food and was instantly hooked.

My friend no longer works at the Lazy Catfish, but every so often I make the trip.  In this instance, a friend of mine had just moved to the area and I thought that he might enjoy the free cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon that are offered on Tuesday nights between 8:30 and 10:00.  It was also a good excuse to order up my favorite chicken club in the city.

Chicken club sandwich at Lazy Catfish in Williamsburg

Chicken club sandwich at Lazy Catfish in Williamsburg

The Lazy Catfish is a rather non-descript bar in a pretty quiet neighborhood.  There is a sign hanging over the red awing with “Lazy Catfish” on it in a hard-to-read font and can be easy to pass if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.  The main bar area when you first walk in is decorated in worn red velvet.  [Read more...]

Still reelin' 'em in – A Review of Lazy Catfish

Still reelin’ ‘em in – A review of Lazy Catfish

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Lazy Catfish
593 Lorimer Street
718-599-9055
Williamsburg

I first went to the Lazy Catfish about two years ago when a friend of mine got a bartending gig there.  The first time I went he insisted that I try the food; always up for a new culinary adventure, I tried the food and was instantly hooked.

My friend no longer works at the Lazy Catfish, but every so often I make the trip.  In this instance, a friend of mine had just moved to the area and I thought that he might enjoy the free cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon that are offered on Tuesday nights between 8:30 and 10:00.  It was also a good excuse to order up my favorite chicken club in the city.

Chicken club sandwich at Lazy Catfish in Williamsburg

Chicken club sandwich at Lazy Catfish in Williamsburg

The Lazy Catfish is a rather non-descript bar in a pretty quiet neighborhood.  There is a sign hanging over the red awing with “Lazy Catfish” on it in a hard-to-read font and can be easy to pass if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.  The main bar area when you first walk in is decorated in worn red velvet.  [Read more...]

Review of El Almacén

“Too few soaring exceptions to be above the average Billyberg dining experience”

A Review of El Almacén

BY ELENA MANCINI

El Almacén 557 Driggs Ave. (near N. 7th. St.)
Williamsburg
, Brooklyn 718-218-7284

Caustic charm, overly-contrived rustic decor and decently executed cuisine with a few soaring exceptions characterize this bustling Argentine Billyberg restaurant, falsely billed as Mexican by New York Magazine.

Corderito - Lamb chops

Corderito - Lamb chops

Let me start with the high points: If you’re a carnivore,–there’s little point to come here if your not–by all means the skirt steak, entrana. Thick, velvety-tender and served with chimichurri and potato-gratin, it towered above all of the four entrees and every item in the three course meal that my party of four and I ordered.

A somewhat distant second would be the lamb chops, the corderito. Succulent and elegantly marinated in chipotle bbq sauce, the lamb chops were tender and rich with flavor. While well seasoned and skillfully grilled, it does not quite deliver the  palatal gratification of the skirt steak. [Read more...]

Chew & Brew & show some love to the animals too….

On September 13th, Greenpoint is the place to be for homebrews, snack pairings, gourmet competition and doing something good for the sweet little furry ones too….

Feel Good: 90% of ticket proceeds donated to BARC animal shelter in Williamsburg.

Where: The Diamond, 43 Franklin St. @ Calyer St., Greenpoint, Bklyn - (718) 383-5030.

When: Sunday, September 13, from 2-5pm; Prizes awarded at 5:30.

Cost: $25 per person. Only 100 tickets available.

Prizes to winning teams:

1st – $250 gift certificate at Grammercy Tavern
2nd – $150 gift certificate at Brooklyn Homebrew
3rd – $75 gift certificate at The Diamond

chew_n_brew_2009_art2

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Chew & Brew & show some love to the animals too….

On September 13th, Greenpoint is the place to be for homebrews, snack pairings, gourmet competition and doing something good for the sweet little furry ones too….

Feel Good: 90% of ticket proceeds donated to BARC animal shelter in Williamsburg.

Where: The Diamond, 43 Franklin St. @ Calyer St., Greenpoint, Bklyn - (718) 383-5030.

When: Sunday, September 13, from 2-5pm; Prizes awarded at 5:30.

Cost: $25 per person. Only 100 tickets available.

Prizes to winning teams:

1st – $250 gift certificate at Grammercy Tavern
2nd – $150 gift certificate at Brooklyn Homebrew
3rd – $75 gift certificate at The Diamond

chew_n_brew_2009_art2

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