Tag Archives: ceviche

King’s CLAM BAR with Chef Bill Seleno: GRAND OPENING

18 Sep

For this story, we need to travel back to 12/12/12.  I had been chronicling Chef Bill Seleno on his quest to open up a new restaurant, The Keys.  Eater was posting about the story, and even made it “of note” in the most anticipated openings of the season.  On December 12th, there was paperwork. It looked like it was going to happen.  And then it didn’t.

The financial burden that the space was going to bring with it turned out to be much more than any new restaurant should take on and Bill just didn’t feel comfortable bringing anyone else into a space that started out with that much burden. The more they tried to make it happen, the more skeletons fell out of that closet, to the tune of likely doubling the anticipated debt. So Bill had to make the very tough decision to move on, even though he still believes in the concept and what it could have been. (And as far as I can tell, the space remains closed with no new tenants…)

I have been missing a location to have Chef Bill’s awesome food and was hoping for a triumphant return.  And now… it’s here:


Sure that blue taped sign behind security bars doesn’t look like much, but there was magic brewing inside. Chef Bill invited me for a friends and family menu tasting a few weeks ago to check out his new venture, King’s CLAM BAR.

Bill returned home after a whirlwind adventure around the country traveling, consulting, and cooking.  When he needed a place to crash, his old friend Anthony Casagrande, whom he worked with at Guastavino’s 15 years ago, offered him a place to stay.  Anthony’s cousins lived upstairs and owned a local dive bar that needed some help. It took a few months to put the pieces together, but a concept of a casual clam bar seemed perfect for the space, so Bill met up with Steve (the current owner) and decided to make it happen as chef and partial owner.  Bill brought along Heather Carter, who was going to be part of The Keys project, and just a few weeks later I am walking from the Barclay’s center to check out Bill’s new restaurant. Heather will be running the beer and wine program for the restaurant.

With King’s CLAM BAR, Bill plans to make the food he loves to make.  It will be primarily sea food and will be as local and as sustainable as possible.  He is using Sea to Table as his sea food supplier and they are right at the Brooklyn docks, with the goal of having everything that arrives on your plate caught within the last day.  It’s a bit more expensive to go this route, but Bill’s commitment to “True Food” is a very important part of the restaurant.

The concept is to serve the fish barbeque style with a menu that allows you to check off what you would like.  The fish will be portioned into specific quantities (quarter pound/4 ounces) and then you can order as much or as little as you would like).  Bill plans to cook the fish itself very simply with salt, pepper, and lemon in a banana leaf so the core of the fish dishes allow you to truly taste the flavor of fresh fish.  Then the idea is to mix and match and create whatever flavor profile you would like by combining any number of the 6 sauces (hot and cold) and 6 salads (potato, cole slaw, etc.) available.  Some sauce ideas right now are Smoked Yogurt and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce, Pepperoncini and Tomato Scampi Sauce, Spicy Ginger and Cilantro Sauce, Black Garlic and Dill Cream Sauce (YES!), and Charred Jalapeno Tartar Sauce.

The menu will also have a section from the kitchen (which, by the way, consists of 2-3 induction stoves, a double tack oven, and a smoker outside… no easy task) which will include (my favorite) mussels with black garlic and charred rosemary, a shrimp, chorizo, and pepperoncini scampi, and seared scallops with potato and bacon.  There will also be the clam dip (which I really enjoyed, and hope they serve with bagel chips!), shrimp and lobster rolls, and a few fun things from the smoker, such as a pig roast and clam bake.

The entire meal is meant to be family style and very casual. The waiters will be casual but very knowledgeable, knowing the source of all their products, including their beers.

Bill served up some great food that night, including an incredibly flavorful shrimp cocktail (with homemade sauce), Granny’s New England Clam Chowder (made with a very old fashioned recipe that involved boiling the chowder so the bottom rises to the top), mussels (which were a version of the mussels that made me fall in love with Bill’s food in the first place many years ago at Albert Hall Tavern, which is sadly gone), a potato salad (which was incredibly delicious with bacon in it), ceviche, clam dip (awesome), and then some smoked pig butt sliders.








It was all the Chef Bill food I absolutely loved.  Fresh, flavorful, with a little something special.

Tonight they will do the soft opening for the neighborhood to iron out some kinks with the system.  Most notably, Bill’s small, all-electric kitchen can’t necessarily pump out a ton of food all at once, so the food will come out as it’s ready.  Today will allow for the mishaps and the experimentation that is needed to allow it to be as good as it can be.  And then tomorrow will be the Grand Opening:

They will be serving dinner only at first and then expand from there. They will also have some special events like a patio pig roast and clam back with beer specials while the weather is nice.

The space is getting there. I’ve been watching their evolution on their Facebook page and cannot wait to drop by this weekend to see what they’ve done:

The patio out back:

Chef Bill at his newly painted red grill on the patio:

I cannot wait to have a home base to try all the food that Chef Bill is so passionate about. I have never been disappointed by a Bill prepared meal and I’m really looking forward to trying out his new restaurant.  Very excited for him.

The location is 622 Washington Ave between Pacific Street and Dean Street in Brooklyn. It’s four blocks from the Barclay’s Center and very close to the Clinton/Washington Street stop on the C train and all of the other trains that go into Atlantic Terminal.

See you there!

(For the menu and the first review of the food from Opening Weekend, check out the review here)


Sunday at Sea (AKA: The day I started to hate Lena Dunham)

23 Aug

Last weekend was my birthday weekend, however, we had a lot of obligations so there was very little ME time.  And since I am the princess on my birthday, when we saw a fun looking event on Underground Eats, we quickly decided it sounded like a perfect way to celebrate my day.

It was billed as follows:

Enjoy a three-hour cruise during which you’ll feast on jumbo lobster rolls, oysters, and whoopie pies, get a chance to learn the secrets of oyster shucking and help yourself to endless beer and wine.

  • Jumbo Lobster Rolls
  • Ahi & Watermelon Ceviche
  • East & West Coast Oysters
  • Whoopie Pies
  • Open Bar (Beer & Wine)
  • Live Music
  • Oyster Shucking Class
  • Learn to Break Down a Lobster

Sounded like a good value for $60. HA!  That’s a joke. I don’t think I’d let someone pay me to take this boat trip again.  What a shit show.

Though it didn’t start too bad.

We haven’t spent much time in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and we arrived much earlier than intended. Not much to see in the area so we killed about 45 minutes on a bench checking out a new view of the skyline.



Our ship then pulled in



And before we knew it, there was a HUGE line behind us. (They boarded a bit late, and took a lot longer to board than intended, so we wound up leaving nearly 45 minutes later than scheduled)


They were checking bags and giving everyone the pat down to get on the boat.


It was pretty empty when we first got on (which obviously didn’t last).  They had a downstairs dance floor and DJ who spun an odd collection of “beachy” music I had never heard before, but it was decent. Though I’m not sure if I would consider this “live music” as billed.

There were 2 stations downstairs for lobster rolls and whoopie pies, as well as a bar.


And upstairs there were about 20 seats, a dance floor, 2 food stations (oysters and ceviche), and a small bar.


The bar started with a very nice beer offering. I LOVE Sixpoint Sweet Action.  Always tastes like summer and baseball to me. (Perhaps because I tried it first at Citi Field).



Very quickly, the ceviche line opened.  I was SO hungry so I ran up to get it. Sadly, it was coated in peppers. But Mike said it was very interesting since it was combined with watermelon.



I went downstairs a few times, but no food was being served yet (and even though the whoopie pies were out, he wouldn’t let me touch them until the “official time”). I kept checking, and I finally caught it open and the line was already across the boat and spiraling back (it wound up building to a triple snaking line).  I left Mike upstairs since there were only 20 chairs and we scored them early.



And I waited… and I waited… 50 minutes.

50 minutes on line to get lobster rolls.

And then I got up there all excited to finally try one…



And they wouldn’t give me one for Mike.  “1 per person.”

Now I get it.  I get that they don’t want everyone to come down and hog 2 lobster rolls at once.


Then at some point during my 50 minute wait online, how about someone come out and TELL us that? How about tell us that when we get on the boat? Or give people tickets to get lobster rolls?

Or… HELL… put more than 20 freakin seats on a boat that you put at least 200 people on.

I was NOT a happy camper.

I tried to argue with the guy serving, who was from Greenpoint Fish, but he was a total jerk to me. He called me “little girl” and told me to “stop complaining and move along.”  Not cool. Not cool at all.  It’s bad enough to give a customer a bad experience (especially for a place that I believe is trying to open a restaurant soon). I immediately tweeted them an unhappy sentiment, and not only did they not do the customary social media community management best practice of responding… they actually censored/deleted my tweet from their wall. Bravo jerks. Bravo.

I was so angry that I didn’t even get a good picture of the roll, but really there was no reason to. I’m not saying this because they were totally douchey to me, but the lobster roll was just meh.  When the line finally went down a while later, Mike got on line for his (waited another 20 minutes or so) and got to the front to find out that they actually ran out of their lobster roll meat, but they had some fresh cracked lobster meat to put on the bun.  Now this lobster… this lobster was GREAT!  It made it very obvious that they had either used frozen or sub-par lobster in the original roll.

Needless to say, I will never go to Greenpoint Fish.

After this disappointment, at least we had the view to check out.



After watching the world go by for a bit, we went and got ourselves some oysters. These were awesome. Super fresh and the shucker spent all 5 hours on his feet, shucking at incredible speeds. Props shucker man.



And then we went to get some whoopie pies.



Now these were no Cranberry Island Kitchen whoopie pies (the vendor we chose for our wedding), but they were good in their own way. They tasted like fresh devil dogs.  We enjoyed these and actually, this was the only food I could fill up on, so I had a few.  Yum.



And then we made a sweep next to the lady. (A view I never get tired of)





They then had their lobster cracking demonstration. Most of the stuff I’ve already shown, but a genius way to get meat out of the legs… use a rolling pin. Comes right out!  Who knew?


And these were the fresh lobsters that wound up going into the good lobster roll. I love how the light is shining on them, as if from heaven. (mmmm heavenly lobsters)



About halfway through the cruise, the good beer ran out. No more Sixpoint Brews. Just Bud and Bud Light.  I’d rather just drink water.  BLEH.

And then everything went to hell. The bathrooms stopped flushing.

To make matters much worse, the boat was basically entirely Brooklyn hipsters.  Total hipsters.  I couldn’t believe the amount of fun mustaches and rolled up pants with boat shoes I saw.  But the style aside, these millenials were jerks.  It was like a bad episode of Girls. They smoked on the small boat, in the middle of everyone eating, and refused to move.  (NO ESCAPE!)  They cut in line and then kept blocking the path to get anywhere on the boat (including the broken bathrooms). They danced into me while I was waiting in various lines, many times, and no apologies.  They were obnoxiously drunk and dropped food all over and threw their cigarette butts into the water.  And they just had no courtesy for anyone around them.  It was as if they were the only one on the boat.  I really hate the self-involved, entitled attitude.

And afterwards everyone got on their vintage bicycles and peddled home.

I blame Lena Dunham.

Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill

9 Sep

One perk of my job is that I get to go on client dinners.  This supplements my expensive eating habits nicely.  Sometimes I wind up at places that are less than ideal (a recent trip to Dos Caminos left me in the prickly position of a waitress saying to me “there is NOTHING on the menu you can eat”… awesome) but sometimes I wind up trying awesome places like Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill (on 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in the 6 Columbus Hotel).

I had been there once before, however, this time I was with a coworker who knew the manager and he knew EXACTLY what to order.

We started with the lamb chops, which was yummy.  It even converted someone who typically doesn’t like lamb.  Winner.


It came over a delicious sweet potato puree.


Next up we ordered the pork belly.


It was a delicious slice of perfectly cook pork belly with a great balance of sweet and spicy veg on top.


We also ordered pork and shrimp dumpings, both of which were good, but no better than most NY Dim Sum.


They enjoyed an order of spicy ceviche. I’ll take their word for it that it was good.


We also ordered the duck, which came with orange teriyaki, cauliflower puree, and asian broccoli.  The skin on this was so perfectly crisp and the meat was so well cooked it almost melted in your mouth.  One of the top duck dishes I have had.


And then… heaven came out…


This was Oxtail Fried Rice.  It came with daikon, shiitake, and bone marrow.  The bone marrow was actually tucked inside an egg pocket.  See it broken open in the picture below.


This was unbelievable.  One of the best dishes I have ever had.  And it was rice.  The most delicious rice I have ever had!  I actually felt bad while eating this that Mike wasn’t enjoying it with me and look forward to bringing him back here soon just for this dish.  Add this to the list of dishes I will crave during bad days.  Om nom nom nom nom nom nom.


Just in case that wasn’t enough food, a sushi tray made its entrance.  I won’t go into the specifics (since I don’t remember them anyway) but I can tell you that every piece was awesome.


For dessert we got bread pudding and this made lovers out of haters.  It was insanely good, perfectly cooked, unbelievably tender and moist, and full of flavor.  YUM!


We also got green tea chocolate lava cake.  Awesome.  Simply awesome.


This was a fantastic meal.  Absolutely fantastic.  Knowing what to order is key.  I usually wouldn’t focus on the cooked food at a sushi restaurant, but don’t forget about the “Grill” part of their name.  It’s fantastic.

And that Oxtail Fried Rice… mmmmmmmmmmmmm

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10