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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen Gets a Young Soul Mate

Charles Gabriel likes to have a finger in a lot of pies. Last year, the soul food master from Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen in Harlem helped launch Rack & Soul in Morningside Heights. This year he’s branched out again, opening a buffet operation inside Slice of Harlem, a pizzeria owned by his partner in Rack & Soul.

From the steam table at the new outpost, jerseyguy2000 has sampled superb ribs, oxtails, and macaroni and cheese. Greens are very good, though a tad less meaty than at the uptown original. Charles’ signature fried chicken may need some work; jerseyguy2000 found it flavorful but dry, though he allows that a fresh batch could be better. Unlike the all-you-can-eat original location, the satellite kitchen charges by weight.

For Midtown hounds craving a taste of soul, there’s an unlikely bargain option: Jezebel, the dressed-up Southern restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. But don’t try to enter the fancy dining room on Ninth Avenue. Instead, head around the corner to the kitchen door on 45th Street, where there’s a sign that says “Piece of Chicken.” There, you can buy fried chicken or fish, mac and cheese, and other takeout bites, all for $1 each.

Quality and portion size are highly variable. Fried catfish benefits from tasty breading. Some like the chicken; others prefer Popeyes. Collards and mac and cheese also get mixed marks. “But for a $5 plate,” says sandsage, “this is the best lunch deal around for this kind of stuff.”

Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen [Harlem]
At Slice of Harlem, 308 Lenox Avenue (near 125th Street), Manhattan

Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen [Harlem]
2841 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (at 151st Street), Manhattan

Rack & Soul [Morningside Heights]
2818 Broadway (at W. 109th Street), Manhattan

Kitchen door at Jezebel [Clinton]
630 Ninth Avenue (at W. 45th Street), Manhattan

Board Links: feedback on the Charles Southern Kitchen outpost at 125th?
Piece of Chicken

Fresh New Talent on the Fields of Red Hook

For fans of Latin American street food, the Red Hook soccer fields aren’t the only game in town. A couple of blocks west of the spot where a celebrated corps of vendors works the weekend futbol matches, a smaller chow operation feeds baseball and softball fans. jason carey reports tasty empanadas, pork tacos, and pupusalike snacks stuffed with black beans, among other bites. Others have spotted good-looking taquitos, tortas, and goat soup.

If the soccer fields are the major leagues of sports-fan chow, the baseball fields are something like a pickup game. The schedule is irregular, vendors and offerings change unpredictably, and service is unpolished, though not unfriendly. “These are much less ‘professional’ vendors,” notes Steve R, “much like the way the soccer fields used to be 10 or more years ago.”

In the big leagues, meanwhile, the soccer players are back in action, the crowds are larger and hungrier than ever, and the vendors are already in midseason form. Highlights of this year’s opening weekend included ceviche, huaraches, grilled corn, and chile-sprinkled mango.

Food is served every Saturday and Sunday through October, from midmorning until after dark (though some vendors close up earlier). And because you can’t tell the players without a program, the Porkchop Express food blog has put together a helpful vendor map.

Red Hook Recreation Area baseball field vendors [Red Hook]
Columbia and Halleck streets, Brooklyn

Red Hook Recreation Area soccer field vendors (registration required) [Red Hook]
Clinton and Bay streets, Brooklyn

Board Links: ‘alternate universe’ ballfields yesterday
don’t go to red hook ballfields… till next weekend
Red Hook ball fields report

Puffs on Parade at Panade

Panade is all about puffs, savory and sweet. They’re made with care and they’re delicious, says Miss Needle. They come plain or in such flavors as cheese, herb, onion, garlic, and ham and cheese. And besides the usual sweet fillings—including fresh fruit or chocolate, vanilla, or banana cream—they’re made into sandwiches stuffed with meats, cheeses, or roasted vegetables.

This tiny shop was opened a year ago by a one-time schoolteacher and passionate baker whose talents appear to go well beyond puffs. Brownies and muffins, among other things, come recommended by hounds. Coffee is unexpectedly fine, and the mood is warm and homey.

Panade Cafe and Bakery
129 Eldridge Street (between Broome and Delancey), Manhattan

Board Links: Panade

Splendid Ice Cream Sandwiches in Park Slope

Park Slope’s Chocolate Room knows how to put together an ice cream sandwich. Well-conceived combinations include burnt orange ice cream between dark chocolate cookies and banana rum ice cream between chocolate–peanut butter cookies. They’re really good, declares Brigita. Look for them among the specials.

The Chocolate Room [Park Slope]
86 Fifth Avenue (between Warren and St. Mark’s), Brooklyn

Board Links: Ice cream cookie sandwiches at Chocolate Room

Promising Turkish at Peri Ela on the Upper East Side

A Turkish restaurant called Peri Ela replaced a middling Greek diner a couple of months ago, and Carnegie Hill hounds seem happy with the trade-off. “Really delicious Turkish and quite a pretty place,” sums up foodyum. He prefers to skip the entrées and feast on meze. Highlights of these small plates, which run $6 to $9, include midye dolma (rice-stuffed mussels on the half shell), sigara boregi (feta-stuffed phyllo, lightly fried), patlican salatasi (smoked eggplant mashed with garlic and olive oil), and cacik (yogurt with cucumber, garlic, and dill). Among main courses, the karisik izgara, or mixed grill, is a good bet. It comprises chargrilled ground lamb, chicken and lamb kebabs, and lamb chops, all well seasoned and nicely cooked, MMRuth reports.

She gives Peri Ela’s entrées the edge, in quality and variety, over those at neighborhood competitor Beyoglu. jbnyc likes the newcomer but will stick with Beyoglu.

A few blocks north, Straight from the Market is another welcome spot for lovers of Turkish chow. This friendly corner grocery recently added a decent selection of foods from Turkey, reports lucybobo, including soft drinks and juices, soujouk sausage, Kashar and other cheeses, canned goods, legumes and grains, confections like pismaniye and lokum, and good fresh pide (from Taskin Bakery in Paterson, New Jersey).

Peri Ela [Upper East Side]
1361 Lexington Avenue (near E. 90th Street), Manhattan

Beyoglu [Upper East Side]
1431 Third Avenue (at E. 81st Street), Manhattan

Straight from the Market [Upper East Side]
1488 Lexington Avenue (at E. 96th Street), Manhattan

Board Links: Peri Ela–new Turkish–UES
Dinner near the 92nd St. Y
Great little Turkish market on the UES

Crowd-Pleasing ’Cue at Williamsburg’s Fette Sau

Throngs of carnivores are packing a converted garage in Williamsburg for barbecue, beer, and bourbon at Fette Sau. A Southern Pride smoker turns out a lineup of meats highlighted by meltingly rich pork belly. “Heaven,” sighs brooklyncook. Other winners: brisket, ribs, and sweet, delicious pig tails. Hounds blow hot and cold on sausage and pulled lamb or pork, which can be dry. Meats are lightly smoked, and seasoned and cooked in no particular regional style.

Sides are uneven in quality. At least most hounds like the rich, porky baked beans and crisp sour pickles (from Guss’s). Other choices include sauerkraut, potato salad, and broccoli salad. The house sauces—smoky ketchup, Tabasco-like hot sauce, and a vinegar variety—have won few fans. “I would rather use Kraft Bullseye,” carps JacksonR. Better yet, skip the sauce altogether.

Beverage choices are plentiful, as you’d expect from a joint opened by the owners of Spuyten Duyvil (a beer bar). On tap is a short but interesting lineup of craft brews, served in half pint, pint, half gallon, and gallon portions. The bar also stocks a well-chosen selection of bourbon, among other spirits.

The setup is casual and convivial. Order at the counter (where you can chat up the meat cutter), then hunt for a spot at one of the communal picnic tables. “You end up talking with folks,” notes brooklyncook, “and that really adds to the vibe.”

Fette Sau [Williamsburg]
354 Metropolitan Avenue (near Havemeyer), Brooklyn

Spuyten Duyvil [Williamsburg]
359 Metropolitan Avenue (near Havemeyer), Brooklyn

Board Links: My Fette Sau review
Fette Sau is open in the WB
Fette Sau to open in Williamsburg Fall 06

Primo Pork Chops from the Bronx to the East Village

Generations of hounds have queued up at Biancardi Meats for such delicacies as stuffed pork chops with tasty sausage-and-bread filling. Roasted fennel makes an especially nice side dish, Striver advises.

Also recommended at this Arthur Avenue landmark: stuffed chicken breasts, dried hot sausage with fennel, and—by advance order only—whole prosciutto. This is an annual family tradition for gardengirl: “We visit it regularly before it is ready and even have a naming ceremony. Yeah, we get a little too excited about it.”

Another houndworthy pork chop, Ukrainian style, is the enormous breaded and fried specimen sold at Kurowycky in the East Village. kobetobiko loves the distinctive porky, almost gamy flavor of the meat. Just heat it up in the oven.

Biancardi Meats [Bronx]
2350 Arthur Avenue (between E. 186th Street and Crescent Avenue), Bronx

Kurowycky Meat Products [East Village]
124 First Avenue (between St. Marks Place and E. Seventh Street), Manhattan

Board Links: Arthur Avenue Review
Kielbasa/Polish butcher

At Tisserie, a Cookie that Wants to Be a Brownie

It’s a cookie with the heft and richness of a brownie. The melted chocolate chip cookie at Tisserie is moist, intense, studded with bits of chocolate, and really is more like a brownie, swears nyccookie, who’s hooked.

Other offerings at this Union Square bakery-cafe seem to be hit-or-miss. Among the hits, hounds report, are pain au chocolat, cheese bread, strawberry lemonade, hot chocolate, and pastelitas with guava, cream cheese, and other sweet or savory fillings.

Tisserie [Union Square]
857 Broadway (at E. 17th Street), Manhattan

Board Links: best brownie
Tisserie on Union Sq.

Poutine Discovery at Brooklyn’s Sheep Station

New York hounds, especially those who have spent time in Quebec, get the occasional hankering for poutine, the French-Canadian specialty of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Their craving usually goes unsatisfied—but now they’re in luck. The newish Brooklyn gastropub Sheep Station serves poutine as a Tuesday night special. And they do it right, says gfood.

Sheep Station [Park Slope]
149 Fourth Avenue (at Douglass), Brooklyn

Board Links: Poutine or canadian food!

How Does a Grilled Chicken Vendor Get to Carnegie Hall?

Greek chicken master Tony the Dragon has taken a younger street vendor under his wing, so to speak. The king of the East Side lunch hawkers has passed along decades of souvlaki wisdom to friend and countryman Carnegie John, who paid close attention and (as you must have guessed) practiced, practiced, practiced.

The protégé now slings superb chicken pita sandwiches from a cart at Seventh Avenue and 56th Street, reports Spoony Bard. The meat is juicy, smoky, and deftly seasoned, with a strong herbal note. Optional add-ons include tzatziki, hot sauce, vegetables, and lettuce and tomato.

John’s menu—which also includes rib-eye, shish kebab, and burgers—is nearly identical to his mentor’s at Madison and 62nd, and even his cart is of the same model. “Tony’s been at it for 25 years,” Spoony Bard writes. “John’s a newcomer at 6 years, but is nearly as good as the old pro.” Look for him on weekdays till around 4.

Carnegie John’s grilled chicken cart [Carnegie Hall]
Northeast corner of W. 56th Street at 7th Avenue, Manhattan

Tony “The Dragon” Dragonas’s grilled chicken cart [Upper East Side]
Southwest corner of E. 62nd Street at Madison Avenue, Manhattan

Board Links: Tony Dragonas’ pupil- Carnegie John