B is for Bocca Lupo, Thomas Beisl, BLT Burger, & Bouley

My friend Karlyn loves my This Little Piglet Goes to a Restaurant posts, so I thought I'd do a quick one today about some recent visits.

Bocca Lupo
I'm a big fan of Frankies 457, the Carroll Gardens small plates spot that has developed a bit of a cult following. Their butternut squash ravioli is sweet and soothing and I could easily eat the pork braciole every day, but the no reservations policy is a pain, and there's always a really long wait. So what if Chris Robinson might sneak in and steal the table you've been waiting for? It might have been fun once, but I'm not falling for that trick again, especially since Kate Hudon will most likely not be sitting with him. These days, I'm thanking my lucky stars for Bocca Lupo, a sandwich/small plates spot that's tucked away on a quiet corner in Cobble Hill, just a few blocks from my apartment. It's loud and lively like Frankies, yet still a bit more subdued. And the food? On our first visit last month, Daniel and I shared a perfectly pressed sausage, broccoli rabe and tallegio panini, a rich and cheesy risotto, veal and porcini mini meatballs, an artichoke salad with hazelnuts, and a bunch of bruschetta, all of which were just as good -- if not better -- than some similar dishes at my old friend Frankies.

Thomas Beisl
I love going to see movies at BAM. I've never fallen asleep mid-movie there (something which happens a lot at other theaters) and its soaring ceilings and intricate molding are kind of fancy. And instead of a tea shop across the street like my other favorite theater over in Cobble Hill, there's Thomas Beisl, an Austrian bistro that's the perfect pre-movie spot. Daniel and I only had about an hour to stuff ourselves with sausage, sauerkraut, and a few steins of beer before The Lives of Others (an excellent German film that you all should see), but I definitely plan on going back, this time after a movie, for a few more beers and a bowl of borscht.

BLT Burger
There are so many burger joints in this city that sometimes, I have a hard time keeping up. If I had to choose, I'd say Shake Shack is my favorite, followed by Burger Joint and then Corner Bistro, and BLT Burger might now be in the top 5. The burger itself, which I had topped with Vermont cheddar, was pretty good, although the bun got soggy way too fast. The real winner? Waffle fries! Crispy, crunchy, seasoned discs of deliciousness that brought me right back to my middle school days when A&W's curly fries (and TCBY's white chocolate mousse) were all the rage.

My Mom recently treated Daniel and me to a celebratory dinner at Bouley, the fancy Tribeca restaurant I've always wanted to visit. I loved the big wooden door that leads you into a sweet-smelling, apple-filled hallway, and we even lucked out with seats in the red room, a dark, romantic den where fresh bouquets and tall lamps top every table and an army of servers glide softly.

In terms of decor and ambiance, it's a great spot for a special occasion, but would you believe that we weren't wowed by the food? When entrees cost $40 and up (and some on a special menu were over $100), I expect a mind-blowing meal. Unfortunately, it was all just mediocre.

The one thing that left an impression was an organic egg with black truffles and a 25-year old balsamic vinegar that my Mom ordered as an appetizer and the three of us sopped up with our piles of fresh bread. And while we were leaving, a hostess gave us two loaves of homemade lemon cake. I gave up sweets for Lent, so they're both now sitting in my freezer. But come Easter morning, those parting gifts could win Bouley some extra points!

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