Author Archives: Michelle

About Michelle

A born and bred Brooklynite that loves to fatten up my loved ones more than eating. My main passions are writing, spoiling my son and doing fun things while procrastinating. You'd be surprised how creative you can get when your back's against the deadline.

The Perfect Place to say, “Je T’aime …

Is here somewhere in these candlelit restos

Sweet Green Dreams

Lose yourself in the lit greenery at Endswell. Various plants outline the upscale, black and white rectangular restaurant. 

Showcasing the beauty of crowded diversity—perhaps a metaphor for Brooklyn itself—medium-, small-, and tiny plants sit atop the bar. A tree-hugging maximalist’s eye candy. Love them while sipping a well-done craft cocktail. Most of Endswell’s drink options include a veggie or fruit (or both) component. It’s hard to pick from a menu that looks good all over, but L’Orange, Rose, and Violet are on my list of must-samples. 

One artful, wild bouquet of spikey plants, with lights of all kind mixed in, doubles as a shout out to the kitchen counter it lines and an overall centerpiece to Endswell’s sexy space. Speaking of the kitchen, you’ll find classic French dishes with vegan options scattered throughout the something-for-everyone menu. Rave reviews for the Shrimp Mac n Cheese, the Raclette burger (Impossible burger available), and the seared scallops.

Endswell Bar & Bistro
endswellbk.com
929-276-3150

Experience the Experimental

When modern bistro Oxalis opened in late 2018, it quickly set the streets of Crown Heights on fire with talk of its unforgettable, Michelin-starred food and service. 

As derived from the name of a large genus of flowering plants with sour leaves, Oxalis serves tasting and a la carte menus that unexpectedly awaken your palette.  

Indulge in broccoli tempura with caramelized anchovy, soft and sensuous gnudi, melt-in your-mouth roasted duck with sweet potatoes, goat milk with honey and thyme, along with any other Oxalis menu item you think might be spectacular. It probably is.

As for the ambience, the garden room is proposal pretty with string lights and hanging plants. The plain-Jane main dining room sets the stage for the true star. Let Oxalis’s food create your mood for evergreen love.

Oxalis
oxalisnyc.com
(347) 627-829

A Lust-worthy Omelet

For the last few days, I’ve lusted after Bar Bete’s rolled omelet. Its pictures are insanely mouthwatering to me. The peeky toe crab filling looks tender, fresh and succulent. The egg looks moist, soft, and buttery instead of overcooked, dry and tasteless, as a lot of restaurants and home cooks prepare.

I tried to stop lusting after it but ended up talking a friend into joining me for a classic French dinner at this newcomer, date-worthy hot spot. Bar Bete’s interior design reminds me of a baby grand piano. A super glossy black bar, the walls and the ceiling are all black with rounded square arches, poses in the middle of the restaurant. While caramel seating paired with black and gray marble tables and creamy walls in the other “rooms” complement the sleek, art deco bar. 

Although the lighting and the view is perfect, great execution of Bar Bete’s French menu is the reason for its early success. Well, Bar Bete is actually Canadian French, which in some cases—think of the richness of Poutine—is even more sinfully decadent. Crispy duck fat potatoes, mushroom brioche, rolled omelet, crispy fluke and aged duck are some of my Bar Bete must-tries.

Bar Bete
barbete.com
(347) 844-9950

Stalwart Appeal

After five years of excellence, my L’Antagoniste—I’ve eaten there seven times easily—is still a top Bed-Stuy choice for intimate date nights or small group meetups.  

Its sweet, unoffensive brick exterior is charming. But once you enter L’Antagoniste’s provocative interior, you realize a much more interesting story is being told. The art nouveau-ish black and white photos of French artists that cover one entire wall is a political statement. Even if it’s been done before, it still feels original, passionate and fresh.

The cuisine you experience at this classic French resto expresses that same originality, passion and freshness. I’m sad that the cheese souffle is retired, but happy that some favorites are still in rotation. The Hudson Valley foie gras, the salmon a l’oseille, and the orange duck have always been great options.  

L’Antagoniste
lantagoniste.com
(917) 966-5300

Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

Frealthy Update

Simply Stewed Chicken

Need help fighting off a cold sans antibiotics and/or too salty but still no flavor chicken soup? Or just want juicy, satisfying chicken? Try making my half French, half southern recipe for simply stewed chicken. I made it for my family last week and … rave reviews! It will make you smile at having finally conquered the craving you fail to forget: the unbeatable flavor of down home cooking.

Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

The Greatest Crepe: Five Fantastic Brooklyn Crepe Makers

Nothing like a great crepe to warm you in the Winter. It’s almost therapeutic to watch a crepe artist do their handywork. And you’ll forget all about the cold when you, before your first bite, admire the neat, tidy bits of cream and strawberries peeping out of tanned, toasty and crisp folds of a crepe. Any of these five creperies will give you an engaging and memorable dining experience.    

Eight Turn Crepe  I went to this busy location in Dekalb Market and loved it. Every time I think of my savory shrimp and avo crepe turned ‘round and ‘round eight times—hence ETC’s name—I want to go back for it, and to try more. Eight Turn Crepe’s Japanese rice crepes menu is extensive, so it took me a while to order. Once I finally ordered, service was timely and effective. Not lightning fast but certainly not slow either. 

Usually, I like to take food to go, but my son’s affection for eating food right away won on this occasion for two reasons. Crepes have a strict no-travel policy—you must eat them ASAP—that if contested, the crepes will turn soggy in half an hour or less. 

I found myself trying to relax, as much as possible, in noisy and so-not-comfy Dekalb market. But the thought of a totally not crispy crepe was almost painful.

My mouth was literally watering as I watched other patrons pick up their orders. Finally, it came to me. And it was ridiculously beautiful, crispy edged, mouthwatering and a lot tastier than I’d hoped. 

Cloud 9 Crepes  A cute and quaint spot with lust-able rice crepes that made me walk to the other side of Bed-Stuy on a sunny but cold afternoon. Buses are not convenient during the day. But I was on a mission and no amount of inconvenience could stop my crepe craving, so I made it there and back in record time: about two hours. The longest time ever. 

By the time I inhaled it, my chicken salad crepe was of course soggy but still flavorful with Dijon mustard dressing. Sogginess aside, I could tell by the thickness of the crepe that it was a bit different from what I’m used to and what I prefer in a crepe.

Cloud 9’s space is sugary sweet though. What an adorable, child-friendly space for a friends’ get-together. 

Lakou Café  Three words, curry chickpea crepe, lingered in my mind for days till I finally ordered it for lunch. Not only did this wow-worthy vegetarian crepe exceed my expectations, it also destroyed any meat protein cravings for the rest of the day. Moments like these reaffirm my belief that Brooklyn is home to some of the best dining in the world. 

Lakou’s distinctive Haitian menu is a cool mix of classic French fare with adventurous Caribbean highlights. The Jerk Jackfruit crepe is on my long list of next times from local restaurants. “Next time, I’ll try this … next time I’ll try that.” 

By the way Lakou Café is the second Haitian resto this month that has blown me away with its undeniable flavor. And more Haitian restaurants are popping up. I see a guide to Brooklyn’s best Haitian cuisine on the horizon. It’s too spectacular to be overlooked.

Madame Poupon  Picture it! Valentine’s day 2020. You and your honey meet here at this authentic and intimate French restaurant. There’s candlelight, red roses and soft French music playing in the background. You find yourself sharing first, the vegetarian crepe, then second, the Daoulas crepe—fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache, vanilla whipped cream and black pepper—by taking turns to feed each other. What a perfect night for love. 

I hope to visit Madame Poupon sooner than Valentine’s Day next year, especially since it’s very conveniently located for me. But if I don’t make it there sooner then, it will skyrocket to the top of my list. The Daoulas crepe is one of a few sweet crepes that I’d like to try. Looks like dessert is the winner at Madame Poupon.

Take a Break and I’ll Bake Café & Creperie  Southern-French is always a favorite of mine. Cajun and Louisiana Creole cooking comes to mind. But Take a Break and I’ll Bake Café is about a fusion of American southern and European (French and Italian) cuisine. 

The decadent Peaches & Cream (Peach cobbler filling), and the Campfire (rich dark chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers) crepes seem promising.  

Lead Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The Do’s and Don’ts of Devouring a Crème Brûlée Cupcake

The darnedest things happen when your kid has to use the bathroom, so you run into a favorite Cobble Hill bakery/cafe/treasure trove of pastry lobster tails, tiramisu cakes and one of the best diner style strawberry shortcakes in Brooklyn, and you see it …

Your favorite new snack. A delicious mini version of your most cherished French dessert. Something blogworthy, finally.

The crème brûlée cupcake at Mia’s bakery! Follow these do’s and don’ts of experiencing this very French and very memorable cupcake. Trust me. You really need this eating guide. 

Do order three macarons and a chocolate cupcake—or whatever y’all agree on—as an enjoyable distraction for your child, while you finally focus on this special treat for yourself. Moist and delicious, you won’t want any interruptions.

Don’t let anyone have a clue, including your kid, as to how much the crème brûlée cupcake is making your mouth water. They might ask you for a bite and you won’t want to share.

Do resist the urge to buy two or three because despite its small size, this cupcake is satisfying and simply delicious. One is a good guilt-free indulgence. Two would be over-the-top richness.

Don’t take your order to go. Instead enjoy Mia’s quaint, clean and comfortable enough for a quick dessert stop café. I’ve seen people linger as though they’ve been sitting in the same place for hours but to me it’s not that type of place.

Do marvel at Mia’s cute cupcakes to-go policy. They use Chinese takeout containers as portable cupcake holders.

Don’t be hasty when removing this adorable cupcake from its close-fitting container. You don’t want to mess up the best part of this cupcake: its créme brûlée frosting.

Do eat the fresh berries that top the cupcake immediately, and simultaneously tune out your kid who finishes his snack, notices the pleasure you’re taking in savoring your delightful indulgence and whines for a piece.

Don’t hesitate to take three medium-sized bites—or however many bites it will take to finish—of this fantastic, one-of-a-kind cupcake. My only wish is that the filling oozed down the center of the cupcake.

Do leave Mia’s feeling like you just won a prize. If only you could get paid for eating crème brûlée cupcakes…

If you like créme brûlée and you also like vanilla cupcakes, you’ll love this clever dessert fusion at Mia’s.

Frealthy Update

This onion soup wants to hug you, bathe you and tuck you in bed. Will you let it?

It’s a typical November day in NYC. The temperature is expected to drop almost 30 degrees today. To kickoff this soup season, as the New York Times referred to this time of year late last week, I just posted a mouthwatering recipe of vegetarian French onion soup on Frealthy.

Try it out and let me know what you think. What healthy substitutions or additions would you recommend?

Frealthy is finally live!

Madeleines, sans gluten and dairy

I’ve started a new weekly page on BkFrench.com. It’s called Frealthy, a portmanteau of French and healthy. The first Frealthy post features a gluten-free recipe for France’s most iconic sweet tooth satisfier, madeleines. They’re buttery without the butter, sweet without the sugar and defy all negative thoughts of a gluten-free cookie’s nature. You smell them. You see them. You want them. This cookie is a must try.

Bored with Bread? Try Maison Kayser’s still-so-good baguette

Sometimes you want something extraordinary. Soft and stinky brie. A long, garlicky kiss goodnight. A really great bread. It’s subtle yet extraordinary and if you’re not a master baker, you probably can’t explain why or how some bread is great, not only nostalgic. It’s just steeped in its own special greatness. 

I could tell right away though, why Maison Kayser’s bread basket’s fresh baguette (and other breads including rye, whole wheat, and tourte de meule) is memorable. In addition to its intoxicating aroma, this lovely baguette offers a crisp crust, with a soft, delicate crumb. It’s served fresh and hot—hot enough to melt the cold butter that comes with the bread basket—and even my picky eater enjoyed it thoroughly.

We struggled to finish our tasty entrée, because we filled up on bread till it was completely finished. I traded my heart (and all the benefits of my usual morning cardio workout) for its buttery, probably calorie-laden glory. Served complimentary with an entrée in Maison Kayser’s cafe, it was an absolute filling treat for our two-person party. I’m sure it would be sufficient for groups of three or four.

In 2012, when its first NYC locations opened, there was much fuss about Maison Kayser’s amazing baguette. It was promptly rated the number one baguette of NY by New York Magazine in 2013. But has something changed?

As I read the so-so online restaurant reviews of Maison Kayser’s various NYC locations, I’m in disbelief that the success of this brilliant bread boss is wavering. Some patrons report that the negative reviews are not the food’s fault, but instead blame the service for Maison Kayser’s occasional two-star reviews. I’ve not seen one, single negative comment regarding the food at Maison Kayser.

Maison Kayser’s service was great for us. Our server was friendly with a warm, genuine smile, just as was the bread basket that our server brought to our table—warm and authentically French. The environment was clean and comfortable. 

Service is extremely important, but so is Maison Kayser’s bread basket. So, I hope that poor service alone is not the sole culprit that ultimately brings my favorite (and only) baguette behemoth down. 

 Here’s a short list of Maison Kayser menu items that I’m eager to sample:

  • Shakshouka tartine—a very flavorful, sometimes spicy, petite Mediterranean version of baked eggs on toast.
  • Crab and avocado tartine—fresh crab and Dijon dressing with a kick excites, pleases and does anything else it wants to your palate, if you’ll let it. (I’ve already sampled this smile maker.)
  • Salmon Tzatziki—simply roasted salmon topped with a refreshing, cucumber and dill yogurt sauce; a winning duo for sure.

Maison Kayser, 57 Court Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash