The Early Word: Barrio, Moco Global Dining, Eurotrip
I've been to a couple new restaurants in the past week, and although they are too new to review, here's how they're looking so far:
Barrio (210 7th Ave, Brooklyn 718-965-4000)
The food here is mostly inoffensive—tasty at best, mediocre at worst, but all very, very overpriced. The place is charging prices that make you think it's aiming for something innovative, but in reality, Barrio is serving nominally fancied-up versions of dishes that you can get for about half the price and double the flavor at Tacos Nuevo Mexico, down on 5th Avenue. Just because you apply the sauce in a squeeze bottle squiggle does not mean you can jack up the prices.
Plain chicken enchiladas for $14.25? Tortillas layered with chicken, onion, cilantro, radishes and queso fresco do not add up to anything too exciting. The shrimp in Yucatan shrimp were nicely grilled and flavored with cilantro and jalapeño, but the plate was mostly filled with fake-tasting coconut rice. For $17.25? Eeeesh.
I'd usually not write about service issues at such a new restaurant, but our waitress here was...noteworthy. She asked my friend if she would like to "suck that last bit of alcohol out of the glass," recited the desserts to us while we were in the middle of our entrées, and at one point came right out and told us she had "forgotten all about us."
The cocktails here are great, though. Snag a place out on the deck and have a Perfecto Nestorindo, a drink made with agave, tamarind, pineapple and chile powder. It's on the expensive side ($8) but sometimes you get what you pay for.
Moco Global Dining, Eurotrip and better news, after the jump.
Moco Global Dining (516A 3rd Avenue, 212-685-3663, 10016)
This is a truly eccentric restaurant. Chef Joe Kurauchi trained in Japan and later worked at Spain’s El Bulli and the UK’s Fat Duck. Those globe trotting influences have produced a trippy, oddly compelling restaurant. The place looks like a cheesy, sushi-slinging happy hour joint and that’s partially true. But it’s actually much more interesting than that.
There’s wonderful black tempura calamari, the airy batter rendered coal-black with squid ink. Nagoya-style chicken wings turn out to be tiny, inch-long quail wings in a sweet-spicy sauce. Madras noodle is a befuddling combo of udon noodles in a thick Japanese-style curry with a Parmesan crisp, fried soba noodles and a slice of grilled naan. It was bizarre, but strangely delicious. There's a sushi roll made with dried tomatoes, and the pan con tomate features garlic-tomato foam and chopped tomatoes on that pillowy soft, white Japanese sliced bread.
And who could resist something called PuffyPuffyPuffy? That turns out to be an ice cream sundae on acid—layers of chocolate, green tea and vanilla ice cream with fruit and rice krispies, topped off with a few puffs of cotton candy.
Eurotrip (667 5th Avenue Brookyn, 718-285-9425, 11215)
The owners of this new Eastern European eatery have worked magic on the space, refurbishing the antique tin ceiling and brick walls, and creating a hospitable bar area in front, and a small dining room in back.
The menu is heavy on the dumplings and stewed meat, and the bar is stocked with German and Czech beer, Hungarian wines and Becherovka, an herbal Czech liquor that shaken into several cocktails or sipped straight. Halušky, tiny dumplings tossed with tangy cheese, chives and bacon, have a comforting chew. Shredded celery root salad is aromatic with caraway and enriched with a tart buttermilk dressing. Gipsy wild turns out to be tender beef stew slicked with a paprika-heavy spicy sauce, and garnished with tiny-diced pickles. I wished there were more pickles to liven things up, but this seems to be developing into a place to get solidly good eastern European food in a friendly setting.