Editor's note: Here to answer your questions is contributing writer, former managing and SENY editor, and frequent author of our NYC restaurant reviews Carey Jones. We'll take a few of your questions each week and give you the New York restaurant advice you're looking for. Email [email protected] with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question!
This week on Ask the Critic, we're talking about Clinton Hill and low-carb diets.
Eating Well on a Low-Carb Diet
A guy who I'm currently seeing is going on a low carb diet. We're both very into food, but it's been difficult finding places to go out to eat at where his dietary choices can be accommodated. I tend to shovel large amounts of carbs into my mouth on regular basis, so it's not something I've ever really had to think about when choosing a restaurant. Do you have any places that you'd recommend that are friendly to those on a low carb diet and also somewhat gently priced? Some fancy pants options would be great, too!
"Cheap, tasty, and low-carb" is tough because inexpensive eats of pretty much any cuisine relies on something carb-y. Any two of those criteria, well, that's easy. Cheap, tasty, and carb-ed: pizza, sandwiches, dumplings, falafel, tacos, noodles, hot dogs—take your pick. Cheap and low-carb but not tasty... well, there's a whole industry devoted to that.
And I feel like it's not even necessary to give you high-end restaurant recommendations, as pretty much anywhere will have the salads, protein-focused mains, and vegetable sides to fit your needs (as long as you stay away from the bread basket).
Finding cheaper low-carb fare isn't impossible, it just might mean forgoing other elements of the way a meal is usually served. Mediterranean is a good bet; all sorts of meze are low-carb. Head somewhere like my favorite local Miriam, for instance, and you could make a nibbly meal of olives, baba ganoush, non-fried calamari, merguez, and more. (This requires you be comfortable eating baba ganoush with a spoon; I, for one, most definitely am.) Ditto tapas: sure, there are topped-bread things and croquette-ish things, but also unadorned meaty bites of ham, or anchovies, or just about anything off the plancha.
Ignore the rice and you've got even more categories. When I'm at a good Sichuan restaurant, like Legend in Chelsea, I find myself needing very little rice because I'm so enthralled with everything else on the table. Cumin lamb, "Famous Sichuan Pickled Vegetables," sauteed string beans, Ma Po Tofu—go at it. Ditto Thai; sure, there are noodles and you might want to ladle curry over rice, but the Kai Jiaw (an egg dish), Sai Kroog Esan (sausages), Kor Moo Yang (pork neck), and Kra Pao Moo Korb (pork belly) at Zabb Elee will all do you right.
Finally: all-day breakfasts. Because eggs and bacon are a low-carb-er's best friend.
Clinton Hill Eats
My girlfriend and I are looking to move to Clinton Hill. What are some neighborhood places (sandwich shops, cafes, falafel) that I could check out to get a feeling for the neighborhood?
My first thought on hearing "Clinton Hill" is "Pilar," because I'm a huge fan of the grilled cheese and plantain sandwich at Pilar Cuban Eatery, and would probably eat there weekly if I lived within striking distance. And you've got pizza options to beat many Brooklyn neighborhoods: totally classic slices at Luigi Pizzeria; slightly oddball pies at Speedy Romeo; thin-crust, wood-fired pies at Graziella's, best eaten on the roof deck that Adam Kuban called "a neat little treetop pizza hideaway."
As far as great neighborhood restaurants—you didn't ask, but hey, while we're talking food—Clinton Hill's got a number: the Filipino Umi Nom and beloved Italian Locanda Vini & Olii, just to name two. And if I lived in Clinton Hill, you'd find me at Dough an embarrassing amount.
Even if that doesn't seem like much in Clinton Hill proper, it's a slim neighborhood and all depends what corner you're looking at, and where your boundaries are. If you're east near Franklin, you've got all kinds of spots both a short walk south of Atlantic (Mayfield, Rosco's, Gueros, Chavela's) and north (head one block east to Bedford for Daily Press Coffee, Joloff, Do or Dine, Scratchbread, Sud Vino e Cucina, and more). And if you're east toward Vanderbilt, you've got Cornelius, The Vanderbilt, and Chuko just south of Atlantic; and Lulu & Po, Roman's, Olea, and the General Greene to the north.
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Have more advice for these folks? Jump in, in the comment thread!