The Early Word--Casa Vieja

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I first read about Casa Vieja on Chowhound, and a quick Google search yielded this 2006 NYT article, about the restaurant's owner, Lourdes Pena, who was a food vendor at one of the Red Hook baseball (not soccer) fields.

This is a very Early Word on Casa Vieja, as the restaurant only opened last Friday. I've been twice, and I think the place has a lot of potential, and will only get better as they get their feet under them. The only issue is the prices. The awning advertises "fine dining Mexican cuisine," and you can appreciate that Pena and her husband are skilled cooks who wanted to open an ambitious restaurant, but the prices really are astronomical for the area. A side of guacamole is $8, grilled rack of lamb is $21, garlic shrimp are $20.

Still, if you order carefully, it's possible to eat here on a budget. I've been twice now and think several dishes are great. Pictures, after the jump.

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The shrimp cocktail ($10) is fantastic. It's the thick, spicy, tomato-juicy kind that's usually served with saltines. Here, it's served with some chile-dusted fried plantains.

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Tacos ($2 each) are pretty good, although not great (at least not yet), but they are very generously filled. I thought the small-diced, nubby carnitas was just okay, but enjoyed the cecina (dried salted beef).

On our first visit, I didn't take pictures, but the best of that meal was the mole poblano enchiladas ($8) and the birria ($8), which was much milder, more refined and less hearty than usual, featuring small bits of stewed lamb in a very mild orange broth with dice of carrots and potatoes.

I'd like to go back and try some more antojitos, including the burritas (a fried pocket filled with beans or pork), which Pena apparently sold at the ball fields.

Casa Vieja
6007 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn
718-439-3502


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