Nightingale 9

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If you’re looking for delicious, affordable Vietnamese food in a casual, neighborhood environment, make sure to go to Nightingale 9 in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

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The restaurant itself is modeled to the stripped-down neighborhood restaurants of Hanoi, using reclaimed materials in the dinning room, and numbering their tables. They even have their own herb garden in the restaurant’s yard.

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Everything on the menu looked great, and I started with some of my favorite veggies and ordered their Crispy Brussels Sprouts (lime, garlic, benne seeds). These were awesome. The brussels were indeed crispy on the outside, but tender in the middle and juicy, absorbing all of the savory and spicy flavors.

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Then, I had the Seared Long Island Squid (caramelized sugar, rice cakes, celery, chili, peanuts). This dish was amazing, I loved it so much. At the bottom of the dish, you have a sweet squid ink, which I was encouraged to mix up all of the ingredients into the ink sauce. The dish as a whole is a little on the sweeter side, but totally delicious and balanced with the smokiness of the squid and the crunch of the raw peanuts and celery. So, maybe the most unique thing about this dish was the rice cakes. It was basically a tapioca, congealed rice protein type of texture, completely smooth, soft, but a little bit chewy, and cut into discs (that actually resembled sliced, small potatoes). I never had anything like it, and loved it.

The Shorts:
Name: Nightingale 9
Location: 345 Smith Street, Brooklyn
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Yes, in a Vietnamese minute…ok, maybe that phrase doesn’t actually work, but, it’s technically a Vietnamese restaurant IN New York, so…yeah, I’d go back. For sure.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely! The staff is friendly, great service, awesome food.

L’Apicio

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The other night I went to L’Apicio for dinner. This modern Italian restaurant, located in the East Village, was a total gem.

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Dimly lit, high ceilings and wrapped in wood and warm colors, the space is generous in size, but still gives a cozy vibe. The service was great and the staff was really nice and attentive. Not to mention, the music was awesome, they were playing Indie Electro Rock and Pop.

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I started out with a cocktail, the Mac Daddy. I mean, the name alone could have been enough. The drink is chamomile infused bourbon, elderflower liqueur, and apple. It was sweet and a little citrusy with some warm honey notes. Super tasty and potentially dangerous.

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Then, I went for the Brussels Sprouts, because, well, I’m obsessed with Brussels. They were prepared with black pepper and parmesan, and I got the taste of a bit of a citrus butter or vinaigrette that worked really well. They were also shredded, which, I liked since it saved me time on cutting and more time for eating.

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I also got Charred Octopus with fregola, olives, and lemon. The octopus had a great and subtle char on the outside, a crispy skin, and tender on the inside with lots of flavor. The fregola, pasta similar to couscous, was also a great accompaniment, very delicate in texture and had a great garlic flavor.

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The Shorts:
Name: L’Apicio
Location: 13 East First Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Definitely. The menu looks great and I’d love to try more of the items.
Would I recommend it? For sure. It’s a great spot for a date, catching up with a friend, or even grabbing a cocktail at the bar.