Dirty French: When we get together for lunch every so often, a friend and I invariably opt for light Italian fare. Maybe a basil-flavored tomato salad, a plate of oozy burrata with toast, and a pasta dressed with a fresh marinara at Rosemary’s. Well, when recently doing dinner instead, we decided to switch up and go for French. Dirty French. I hadn’t been since the place opened, and was curious if the flaws had been erased and some of the pretenses dropped. They hadn’t. Entering at 6 p.m. with no reservations, we were seated at a bar table near the front door and told to eat fast, even though it was presumably an unreserved table.
Luckily, the food was superb. The wood-roasted oysters, now elevated from off-menu to on-menu status were fantastic, a cheesy variation on oysters Rockefeller. An heirloom tomato salad was as sweet as sweet could be, with lots of juices at the bottom of the plate. There was a special app, too, which didn’t make much of an impression. We split an entrée of lamb saddle with about a quarter-potato sliced thin, and had a couple of cocktails. The bill came to 80 bucks apiece and we managed to slip out into the night in just under an hour. Well, it wasn’t really night quite yet. — Robert Sietsema
Tacyi’s Beyti: Fast and affordable, satisfying and indulgent, I really enjoyed Sheepshead Bay's Taci's Beyti for a recent weekend lunch. Like in Turkey, they'll get your mezzes out to you almost as soon as you order them (pickles, tarama, spicy eggplant, hummus covered in hot pastrami), quickly followed by your kebabs, your pide (a kind of Turkish pizza/calzone), and the sides of white rice and french fries you ordered for your friend's 8 year-olds just back from summer camp. There wasn't a miss in the group, but the Iskender kebab — super thin slices of lamb over chunks of pita in a pool of hot yogurt and topped with tomato sauce — stands out as a must try. — Amanda Kludt
Breads Bakery Kiosk: I sit across from Ryan Sutton at work, which is a joy. He is truly an idiosyncratic person, and he’s like me in that when he falls in love with a food or restaurant, he really falls in love with it. In the spring, I watched as Ryan fell in love with the Breads Bakery tuna sandwich. He picked it up for lunch frequently, singing its praises out loud to all of us as he ate, and one day, the love spilled out into a written declaration of adoration. Breads printed it out and put it in their kiosk window. The Tunisian became known as The Sutton Sandwich in our office.
Not that I don’t trust Ryan, but the combination of tuna, olives, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs on bread sounded like a little much for me. Every time I thought about getting it, it didn’t seem like the right time, or I wasn’t in the mood, or something. Anyway, I finally caved. It was like 4 p.m., and for some reason I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so I went out and bought it. I loved it so much that I ordered it twice in one week. It’s hearty and spiced, and the bread bites back without hurting the roof of my mouth or sending a pile of crumbs all over my desk. It doesn’t sound like it should make sense, but it does. It’s a little messy — the oils from the sandwich ended up all over my hands — and I’ll probably never love the sandwich as much as Ryan does. But I did like it very very much. — Serena Dai
Achilles Heel: For eating adventuresomely, there’s no place quite like Greenpoint’s Achilles Heel. Even when a dish description causes you to scratch your head and think, "This can’t possibly work," it does. That was the case with "beans, nettles, and aioli," which featured two kinds of beans cooked perfectly, a wad of greens that had a nice bitter edge, and pool of aioli, garlicky as all get-out and more profuse than you can imagine. It was so good we lapped it up after the other stuff was gone. I’d brought a group of friends visiting from Seattle and our other favorite was called "rice and schmaltz." Once again, simplicity was bliss. — Robert Sietsema
Le Barricou: It's been awhile (a decade?) since I've been to a capital B Brunch restaurant. You know the genre: overcrowded, understaffed, mimosas and bloody marys, vinegary eggs florentine and omelettes that are crispy around the edges. But some friends who work in fashion wanted to meet for lunch on Sunday in my neighborhood and I thought Le Barricou would be nicer than my normal go-to greasy spoon. It was so bad I felt transported to my early 20s New York life. The wait was 30 minutes longer than quoted (an hour total), and the slammed bartender balked at serving us water at the bar unless we were eating there. They sat us at a two-top not big enough for three plates and three coffees. The bathroom floor was completely covered in paper towels. With the exception of a strangely savory side of fruit, the food was totally fine.
It's a shame because Le Barricou is a very lovely restaurant for dinner, serving reliably delicious French bistro fare at a really good price. On the bright side, I can confirm there is a definite hole in the market over in East Williamsburg for any breakfast/lunch operations that want to come on over (Saltie, are you reading?). — Amanda Kludt