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Where We Ate This Week

Notes on dining and drinking at Blacktail, Olmsted, Lalo, and more

The carrot crepe at Olmsted in Brooklyn

Welcome to what has been Eaters' Journal, field notes on where we've visited for a sip, a bite, or a longer meal. In this format, we'll build on visits so you can read past entries as if thumbing through a journal. Have suggestions? Leave them in the comments.

Blacktail: I went to Blacktail (22 Battery Pl.) this week with a coworker and was pretty bummed out by the vegetarian offerings on the menu. The drinks were great and that complimentary welcome-to-our-house frozen daiquiri is really lovely! But when you drink, you sometimes also want to eat, and if you don't eat animals there's only an outdated beet salad and some mediocre plantain and yucca fries and a "vegetable bouquet," aka raw vegetables served on ice here. (When I asked if they could make me a rabbit-less Cuban, they said the $22 sandwich was assembled offsite and so they couldn't alter it.) Whatever the theme of the bar is, if you serve $16 cocktails, there should be some sort of heavy-on-the-carbs offering for people abstaining from meat for any reason — maybe even just put a fancy grilled cheese on your menu and call it a day. — Sonia Chopra

The interior of Blacktail in the Financial District

Kreuther’s Handcrafted Chocolates: The ethics of product endorsements have been in the news a lot lately, so I'm a little hesitant to say this but it's so true (and I don't work in government nor am I plugging a product in which my boss has any interest!): Kreuther's Handcrafted Chocolates (43 W. 42nd St.) makes a chocolate hazelnut spread that puts Nutella to shame. It is so smooth it slips around your tongue as you eat it, every molecule so perfectly in place that it's hard to imagine that chocolate, sugar, and hazelnuts do not exist as one in nature. I am venturing out into the cold this weekend just to buy myself another jar. — Daniela Galarza

Olmsted: I finally made it to Olmsted (659 Vanderbilt Ave.) almost a year after all of my colleagues started raving about it. It is a great restaurant, I get why so many people love it. I'm not dying to go back — except for dessert. Olmsted's lavender-scented frozen yogurt dessert is the only frozen yogurt I have ever loved with my whole heart. I can't say it better than my colleague Ryan Sutton did in his review last August: "The dish, as well-balanced as any of the more savory starters, is a monochromatic study in temperature and texture: It's nearly impossible to tell which of the two ingredients you're eating until it's actually in your mouth." I'm a sucker for that kind of magic. It's what makes dining out so exciting. — DJ


Lalo: Gerardo Gonzalez’s three-month old Lalo (104 Bayard St.) has expanded hours to serve lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends and it’s clear the former El Rey chef is going to use the midday meal as a pretext for further experimentation. I dropped by recently to check out the lunch menu, and ended up eating a Mexican doner sandwich ($13), which put the unusual combination of goat, chicken, hot sauce, crema, and pineapple on a black-and-white-sesame-seeded pide. It was gloppy as hell and memorably delicious, accompanied by homemade carrot and cauliflower pickles. I also couldn’t resist revisiting that old El Rey standard, the vegan Caesar, which was as good as ever— without eggs or anchovies. Look for my full review this coming week. — Robert Sietsema

Tavo: It’s a good idea to visit a popular restaurant during the Super Bowl, right? Well, maybe not. I went to the newish Mexican-Asian restaurant Tavo (615 Hudson St.) last weekend during the earlier half of the game, and the food simply wasn’t “on." A Cuban lasagna tasted like reheated mush, while a shrimp chow fun was obscured by a heap of shaved raw carrots. Only a Peruvian corvina ceviche tasting engagingly of lemongrass impressed my friends and me.

Worst was a fussily elaborate burger ordered medium rare. It came on a brioche bun with avocado, cheddar, portobello mushroom, and bacon poking out the sides, with a floppy piece of seared foie gras skewered on top, shedding its grease all over the bun. Unfortunately, the wagyu beef patty inside was cooked almost to a cinder. We sent it back and when it reappeared, the beef was virtually raw, without the slightest suggestion of a sear on either side. When the manager came over to apologize, the only explanation he could offer was that the chef wasn’t in the kitchen that night. At least the charge was removed from the check, because the burger was inedible. — RS


Flora Bar: I had dinner at Flora (945 Madison Ave.) pretty quickly after it opened and, unsurprisingly, the weeks-old restaurant felt like a pro. Over the weekend, I stopped in for lunch and had a completely different experience, but, still wonderful. My friend talked me into ordering the endive salad and it ended up being one of my favorites: simply delicious (and s t u n n i n g). Like my dinner back in October, the standout for me was the steak. Served with Béarnaise and potatoes, I made sure to save a perfect bite (a little of each component) to bookend the savory part of my meal— a move I also pulled when I decided to end the dessert with a bite of the glorious, nutty sticky bun. FloFab recently hyped this sticky bun, and it is worthy of all that hype and more.

Snow days are good for coffee and sticky buns at #FloraCoffee #matterhouse

A photo posted by Flora Bar (@florabarnyc) on


Hanoi House on St. Mark's Place serves pho that's worth a detour, though I'm smitten with the morning glory greens —ong choy— with brown butter fish sauce, garlic and capers. I can't wait to go back for the clams with congee or the papaya and crispy pig ear, cut in batons and served like a pile of matchsticks. The crowd on a Tuesday night at 11 was super fun and the staff is very warm. — Melissa McCart

Olmsted

659 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (718) 552-2610 Visit Website

Lalito

104 Bayard Street, Manhattan, NY 10013 (646) 998-3408 Visit Website
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