I don't want it to seem like I hate all the restaurants in my neighborhood -- I have a schoolgirl crush on Brucie, Hibino is almost always delightful, ditto Bocca Lupo, Char No. 4 hits the spot when fat and meat are called for, the pizzas at Enoteca on Court are good etc. etc. But we have some real duds and perhaps futilely I feel an ongoing duty to warn.
Despite having in lived in the area on and off since '03, I'd never set foot inside Cafe Laluc, which strikes me as being one of the older survivors on Smith Street, until the other night. Don't know what made me go in, but I was curious. Had a special of fish and chips with chipotle tartar sauce. The fish was ok, if tasteless, but the frying oil was anything but fresh, and tasted it. The chipotle tartar sauce was neither -- just a soupy tasteless green mayo thing -- I asked for some vinegar, but it didn't really improve matters. A glass of chardonnay reminded me of the wine they used to give away for free in an all you can drink special at a Chinese restaurant on the UWS beloved in my youth because they didn't card. Weirdly, despite being grossed out by my main course, and feeling vaguely ill from the nasty tasting oil, I decided I wanted dessert. Wanting something hard to screw up, I got an affogato -- but the espresso lacked all body and richness and the vanilla ice cream was ridden with crunchy ice crystals. Finally fed up with the utter terribleness of the food and the cynicism that seems to be at the heart of such places that are utterly indifferent to the product they serve, I mentioned the ice crystals to the waiter (who'd been of an indifference and carelessness of a piece with the cooking throughout the meal) and his response was "Are you sure?"
How does such a place possibly stay in business, and what's more thrive -- for years?
333 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
391 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Char No. 4
196 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Enoteca on Court
347 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11231