Dinner: Cupcakes and Wine In a … Plastic Pop-Top Bottle? (Keep Reading, There’s More)

After the day  I  had, I would have been entirely alright if dinner was a cupcake (or two) and 550 ml of red wine (or more).

photo(2)We were at the Prospect Park bandshell on one of the loveliest summer evenings yet so far this year, Femi Kuti was coming on in a bit, with all his brass and his feel-good music and rump-shaking ladies. The air was festive. Lounging on blankets, hanging out in the late-afternoon sun, drinking wine and eating cupcakes — it felt like one of those time-outside-of-time moments that I treasure.

photo_4Later, concert over, bellies began rumbling. Someone apparently knew something about the neighborhood, knew where to go, and I followed, literally having no idea were we were, or where we were going. Zoom out on Google Maps enough and I could point out that we’re in Brooklyn, sort of in the vicinity of the southwest corner of Prospect Park, but bring it in any closer and … nada. Which was fine. I love getting a little lost on occasion, letting someone else drive. I get to check out the scenery.

photo(3)We ended up at Cafe Steinhof in Park Slope, a wonderland of German food. I was immediately enamored, this menu is bomb-ass. (Apparently they do an amazing goulash on Monday nights, according to the local insider.) Chicken liver pate, served with sour cherries and cornichons; bratwurst (fresh), kielbasa (smoked), weisswurst (veal) and debrechina (spicy) sausages; cheese spaetzle — I felt like ordering the entire menu.

I finally decided on the Wiener Schnitzel sandwich ($10): Several pork cutlets tenderized until flat, coated in breadcrumbs and lightly fried, accompanied only by a couple of requesite slices of lettuce and tomato in a sturdy kaiser roll. Slightly dry — problem solved after I slathered the schnitzel with hot mustard from a little pot on the table — incredibly hearty. I ate half, and the salad, and hit the wall. Which means one thing: You’ll be seeing more schnitzel soon.

TIP: The food all-around was excellent, but the seafood ragout stole the show. Generous servings of trout, mussels, shrimp, cod and salmon swimming in a creamy broth — if this is the Austria’s version of bouillabaisse, I’m sold.

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Dinner: Drunken Noodles Still The Champ (the “Go to Thailand Cafe” Post)

Thailand Cafe was a stumbled-upon find a few months ago, photoand I’m happy to report that the Drunken Noodles were exactly as I remembered them: Broad noodles in a lightly-sweet soy sauce that finishes with a creeping heat from the red chilies. Really, one of the most perfect Thai noodle dishes I’ve ever had.

The Drunken Noodles were the hit of the table last time, and took the crown again this time, and both times the noodle dishes as a whole were the winners. Thailand Cafe has since stopped serving beer by the pitcher, which is unfortunate for groups, but the entire list of eight or 10 bottles of wine are all $24/bottle — an ridiculously low price-point, even by East Village standards.

All in all, Thailand Cafe remains a fantastic East Village option for reasonably-priced food and wine, and stand-out noodle dishes.

Bonus: Location of Twitter Wine Photo Revealed

Vaguely gratitious Twitter cross-promotion: 

photo-111I tweeted earlier that “A big day deserves a big glass of wine in this glorious afternoon sun!” along with this photo of a gorgeous tempranillo with the sunlight streaming through it

Here’s the answer key: Had southern-facing, afternoon sun exposure in the bottom of the East Village/top of LES. Really respectable beers and good wine for $4 and $5 a glass during happy hour. 

Answer: Simon Sips. Never been here before today, but I’ll be back. 

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Simon Sips also requited the need I had for “real food” earlier today: I had a chorizo, dry Italian cheese (forget exact name, ending in -rigornio), roasted green peppers and spinach sandwich.

The wine, the food, the sunshine, my New York magazine: It all did me good. Although, I think honestly, the sitting in the sun part was the best. I’ve missed that. 

COST: $17
PREP TIME: As long as I could stay basking … I tried.