Category Archives: Uncategorized

What We’ve Been Doing for the Last Five Months, Plus My Homage to Café Lafayette: Shrimp Fritters

For nearly five months of lock down, my family and I have enjoyed getting fat from eating too much soul food—not my mom because she eats like a bird and not my son because he loses weight as he gains it. He’s in the Ninja phase.

Also, on our list of quarantine activities are:

  • cleaning
  • fighting like Ninjas
  • completing online learning tasks (now the endless summer packet)
  • working from home
  • reading and watching the news
  • becoming addicted to the news
  • getting sick of the news
  • avoiding the news 
  • loving the videos and pictures of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests across the country

Of course, my all-time favorite activities are cooking, eating great food and hearing how wonderful my food tastes.

During the quarantine, I’ve made a bunch of new things. Among the best is a shrimp and sweet potato fritter. My love for the late, great, and quaint Café Lafayette’s shrimp fritters, inspired me to make it. 

Before the treasured Fort Greene spot, Café Lafayette, closed in 2017, my sister and I spent quite a few Sundays brunching in the living-room sized restaurant. Downing mimosas and Kir Royales. Listening to Nina Simone and other Blues notables. Regrettably sharing one chocolate lava cake, instead of ordering two. 

Café Lafayette was one of OUR places, which meant neither of us were allowed to bring anyone else there. We also agreed that the shrimp fritter—juicy morsels of shrimp laced with crispy shreds of sweet potatoes and carrots—was a remarkable, tasty and satisfying bite. 

My family loved my recreation of this shrimp fritter. Omitting the carrots, I added a bunch of other stuff to add flavor and to “French” it up a bit. It’s definitely lighter, moister and richer than I remember.

Try it and I think you’ll agree that it’s the kind of appetizer that takes the word “appetizer” to whole new level.

For the shrimp and sweet potato fritter recipe and more healthy, French cooking, check out Frealthy, a page for francophiles that love to cook.

Image by Melinda Wright.

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

Bonjour Again! Still Craving French in Brooklyn and Beyond

It’s been a little over a year since I’ve posted on BKFrench.com but just as French culture in Brooklyn grows, so do my cravings for everything French. Without finding a way to include commentary on the Parisian-ish second season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as I’d very much wanted for this welcome back post, I’ve weaved together some of my recent francophile fun and plans for this blog, as the former are the inspiration for new French food and cultural adventures.

“Frealthy”
On a sometimes fragile, sometimes solid mission to get fit—egg whites ’n green tea mornings, celery ’n carrot afternoons, chocolate chip cookies ’n ice cream nights that follow a rich lamb and mashed potato dinner, and not to mention taco Tuesday—while saving money, my own personal focus has shifted from eating out to cooking at home.

In my clean-eating efforts, I’ve discovered some great substitutions for classic French recipes that keep the traditional je ne sais quoi flavor. Hence, I’m excited to announce that BKFrench.com will feature a weekly cooking page on French meals with a healthy twist.

A lil’ French here, a lil’ French there, a lil’ French everywhere
The week after the school year ended was the absolute right time to visit the most magical place on earth: Disney World in Orlando, FL. Our offsite hotel, great. The parks, spectacular! The food, standard, if not what I’m used to as a foodie from a global cuisine capital. Disney World’s food was so-so, until we finally ate at Be Our Guest—an excellent restaurant based on Disney’s 2017 movie, Beauty and the Beast.

Be Our Guest was magical. After a great meal, we got to meet and hug and high five the Beast! Watching my son have that experience meant the world to me. As an avid Yelp user, I almost heeded the advice of some negative reviews of the restaurant, but I’m so glad I didn’t. This experience is one of many inspirations for another new page of BkFrench.com. Frippin—French tripping— will list awesome French cultural events and restaurants to try across the country.

Newest and truest restos
As I still love to dine out or order in weekly, I’d be remiss not to list a few new Brooklyn French restaurant must tries (asap):

  • La Cafette – A quaint nod to marine-life for seafood lovers that touts octopus, roasted chicken and salmon entrees.
  • Citroën – Authentic classics, coq au vin, French onion soup and cauliflower gratin reign supreme at this intimate Greenpoint newcomer turned neighborhood favorite.
  • Maison Yaki – The Japanese-French fusion invasion occurring in Brooklyn (and Manhattan) may have been going on for decades, but now Maison Yaki presents an affordable version of this east-meets-west cuisine. Go here for amazing yakitori skewers dipped in French sauces.

Just a note of thanks to my readers for your patience. I’ve certainly missed researching and writing about my francophile experiences and I can’t wait to jump back into it. Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment!

 

Michelle Wright

 

Photo by 1905 Travellers on Unsplash