Subscribe for FREE with:

noodles

Lemon Grass Beef Rice Vermicelli

The latest eatery on 86th Street, Pho & Co, opened at the beginning of September. As promised when we wrote about it back in July, we stopped by for a bite.

The restaurant describes itself as a destination for “Vietnamese street food.” That kind of had me hoping for some extraordinary, exotic treats – like this rather grotesque squab porridge. But it turns out the menu is a slimmed down, somewhat Americanized version of what you’d find at other area Vietnamese restaurants – soups (pho), sandwiches (bahn mi), and meat-over-vermicelli dishes.

While some might consider a more limited menu to be a handicap, it’s actually quite liberating to not have to look over a hundred or so options and, in a spasm of indecision, order the same darn pho you always get. Here, you come specifically for the soups, sandwiches and noodles – no distractions.

One neat thing I noticed about the menu right away is several options of summer roll. Most Vietnamese restaurants serve these with shrimp only. The shrimp is steamed, chilled, and packed into a rice wrap with vermicelli, scallions and other veggies. At Pho & Co, other options include grilled chicken, B-B-Q pork, soft shell crab and tofu.

I went for the soft shell crab, but was disappointed to learn they were out. So I settled on the B-B-Q pork ($3.95). Once you choose traif, you don’t go back, pal.

summer-roll

B-B-Q Pork Summer Roll

Minutes passed, and the B-B-Q Pork Summer Rolls arrived. Having only had shrimp summer rolls, which are cold, I was surprised when the rolls came packing in hot meat. The pork was flavorful, if a bit charred, and neatly accentuated by bits of mint rolled into the vermicelli and lettuce. The accompanying peanut dipping sauce was much saltier than I’ve had at other places, but not overwhelmingly so.

I was struck by the relative sloppiness of the wrap itself. It was done a little too long and couldn’t support its own weight, and the wrinkled folds suggest someone who’s just getting the hang of it.

Since I was there on a hot day, I declined the pho and went for the Lemon Grass Beef Rice Vermicelli ($6.50) for my entree. The short version? The beef was dry and flavorless, the noodles clumpy and unevenly cooked, and they forgot the accompanying sauce (a heavenly concoction of sugar, water, fish sauce, and lime juice). The pickled carrots and cabbage that came with it were pretty spectacular, though.

So with an amateur’s hand putting together the summer roll, and lemon grass beef that had little hint of lemon grass, you’d think this an unkind review, right?

Wrong. I’m actually looking forward to Pho & Co upping its game because they have everything else they need to succeed. The staff was young, energetic, friendly and incredibly helpful. They were well aware they were just starting out, and no less than three people came by my table to ask for suggestions, feedback and recommendations – two of them more than once.

What they lack in experience, they make up for in drive, and I have faith that they’ll take that feedback and put it to use. It’s true, they need to work out the kinks in the kitchen, but they’re eager to learn – and I’ve seen restaurants achieve far more with a lot less than that.

As for me, I’ll be back in a month or two to try that soft shell crab summer roll. Because where else in Bensonhurst can you get that?

Pho & Co Vietnamese Street Food, 1927 86th Street, (718) 946-8686. 

Is there a restaurant or specific dish you think we should check out? Let us know!

American Flag on 4th Avenue

Today marks 13 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks. In addition to visiting the 9/11 Memorial site, the Wall of Remembrance in Coney Island, and pledging to do a good deed, here are some ways to honor the memory of those who were lost and those who helped on that day:

  • The Brooklyn/Bedford Park 9/11 Memorial Committee is hosting its annual memorial and candlelight vigil at Bill Brown Park, Avenue X and Bedford Avenue, at 7pm, rain or shine.
  • State Senator Martin Golden will host two memorials: in Marine Park, at Fillmore Avenue and Marine Parkway, at 6pm, and then at 7:30pm on the American Veterans Memorial Pier at Shore Road and Bay Ridge Avenue.
  • The September 11 Family Group is holding a ceremony at 9/11 Memorial Square in Asser Levy Park at 4pm. The park is at Ocean Parkway and Surf Avenue, by the Brighton Beach – Coney Island boardwalk.
  • The Children of Abraham Peace Walk returns to Cobble Hill at 6pm, starting at Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes at 236 Kane Street.
  • At 7pm, Brooklyn Heights’ St. Ann & The Holy Trinity Church are hosting their annual public interfaith memorial service on the Brooklyn Promenade at Montague Street.
  • Bargemusic will hold a free Memorial Concert at 8pm at Brooklyn Bridge Park, led by violinist Mark Peskanov and featuring music by Bach, Haydn, Schubert, and more. No reserved seating; doors open at 7:30pm.

Do you know of a local memorial service that we missed? E-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com or let us know in the comments.

spray

New York City Department of Health vehicles will be driving through the neighborhood tonight spraying mosquito adulticide into the air, in an effort to prevent West Nile Virus outbreaks in the city.

Spraying is scheduled for Brooklyn zip codes 11214 and 11228, between 8pm and 6am. See the map above for the approximate areas.

The chemical used – Anvil 10+10 – has no known risk to humans, according to the city. But residents should still take precautions. Here are a couple of things you should do to make sure you stay safe:

  • Stay indoors whenever possible during that time period – especially if you have asthma or respiratory issues.
  • Close the vents on your air-conditioner and set it to recirculate.
  • Remove toys, equipment and clothing from outdoor areas. If you leave them out there, make sure to wash them with soap before using them.
  • If you have an outdoor garden, wash your produce thoroughly before eating it.

Here’s a .pdf from the city detailing the spraying and safety tips, and here’s the city’s webpage for West Nile Virus.

Just a BJ’s stock photo… (Source: Nicholas Eckhart/Flickr)

Just a BJ’s stock photo… (Source: Nicholas Eckhart/Flickr)

The new BJ’s Wholesale Club in Bensonhurst will open its doors to shoppers for the first time this Saturday, September 13, Bensonhurst Bean has learned.

The big box retailer’s latest location at 1752 Shore Parkway, near Ceasar’s Bay, will be open for business beginning at 9am, but the grand opening celebrations are not slated until a week later, on Saturday, September 20. A representative for the company said they’ll be partying that day with “lots of food” in the form of sample carts, as well as other festivities and a ribbon cutting with local elected officials.

BJ’s was originally slated to open July 12. Construction delays, however, pushed it back to the September date.

The retailer will occupy the ground floor of a 200,000-square-foot space at 1752 Shore Parkway known as the Bay Center. The center will be two stories tall with commercial units above the BJs. The project is being developed by Thor Equities.

Construction kicked off in December 2012.

BJ’s will be open 9am to 10pm, Monday to Saturday, and 9am to 8pm on Sundays.

bensonvape

Bensonvape, a “premium vapor lounge,” will soon open at 2081 86th Street.

The business will specialize in selling “vaping” products, an expansion of e-cigarettes that turn flavored nicotine into vapor (nicotine-free versions are available). Proponents claim it’s a healthier alternative to cigarettes, and a large hobbyist community has formed around it with many stores recently opening around New York City.

The owners already maintains an active Facebook page, but has not yet announced an opening date.

It replaces Last Chance, a woman’s shoe store that closed several months ago.

Good luck to our new neighbors!

Chancellor Farina (Source: DOE)

The head of the New York City Department of Education, Chancellor Carmen Farina, will take questions from the public at a town hall hosted by Community Education Council District 21 tonight.

The local advisory council is urging neighbors and parents to attend the meeting, where parents can bring up issues and ask questions about the city’s educational policies directly with Farina. Speaking time is limited to two minutes per speaker, and must sign-up to speak before the meeting begins. Interpretation services will be available.

The council is also holding a high school admission workshop tonight, featuring an expert who will guide parents through the process, and give tips on things to look for when considering a school for your child.

Community Education Councils are advisory bodies that replaced school boards. They help guide policies at local schools, and serve as advocates for their district’s needs to the larger government. District 21 includes schools throughout Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst. You can see a full list here.

The high school workshop begins at 5pm. The town hall with Chancellor Farina begins at 6pm. The regularly scheduled meeting begins at 7pm.

The meeting will be held at I.S. 226 Alfred D. Be Mason, 6006 23rd Avenue.

blessing1

They said a little prayer for pooches at the New Utrecht Reformed Church this weekend, when guest pastor EJ Emerson delivered the annual Blessing of the Animals.

A handful of dog owners turned out for the event,with EJ Emerson continuing a long tradition in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis shared a love of animals, even penning the Canticle of the Creatures in honor of all the lord’s living things.

“Our pets bless and care for us with unqualified love and faithfulness. They’re a source of great joy. This is our opportunity to thank God and to invite a special blessing for them,” said event organizers in a statement.

The blessing took place Saturday at the church at 18th Avenue between 83rd Street and 84th Street. There was also a baked goods and jewelry sale.

Check out the adorable photos below!

86superstar

“For rent” signs have been posted at 86 SuperStar at 2172 86th Street, less than a year after the restaurant rebranded and renovated.

It was back in December 2013 that we told you Hottest 86 had reopened as 86 SuperStar, selling all-you-can-eat sushi and shabu shabu (hot pot).

It’s a bit surprising to see it closed down, as we stopped by after the reopening to give the shabu shabu a shot. The place was packed and the staff friendly and helpful, especially in dealing with a table of hot pot novices. But competition on 86th Street is stiff, and it looks like SuperStar couldn’t cut it.

Sad to see you go, and best of luck to the owners on their future endeavors.

Primary Day is upon us, so we’ve compiled some information to make voting as easy as possible.

  • Polls are open from 6am to 9pm. You can find where you should vote, as well as see a sample ballot, here. For example, neighbors living on 86th Street near Stillwell Avenue are going to see a ballot that looks like this.
  • If you need further help locating your polling place, you can call the city’s voter phone bank at 866-VOTE-NYC.
  • The city Campaign Finance Board also has a good resource page, detailing how and where to vote, who your candidates are, district maps and more.
  • The city Board of Elections has said that polling places should be accessible to handicapped voters, but if you find barriers to voting, you can call the Brooklyn Board of Elections at (718) 797-8800.
  • Additionally, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office will operate a statewide election day hotline, at which you can speak with attorneys about problems at the polls, which will be open until the polls close at 9pm. Schneiderman is encouraging voters to report issues or problems at polls by calling (800) 771-7755 or emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time until 9pm.

And, of course, if you encounter problems at the polls, you can let us know in the comments below or by emailing nberke@bensonhurstbean.com.

Every Democrat in New York State has the opportunity to vote in today’s primary, in which Governor Andrew Cuomo is being challenged for the party’s nod on the left by both Zephyr Teachout and Randy Credico. Cuomo is expected to win by a wide margin, but the race is being seen as a measure of dissatisfaction against the incumbent. Teachout, a Fordham professor who lives in Fort Greene, has been embraced by the city’s progressives for criticizing Cuomo as a lackluster economic moderate who has failed to come through on a promise to clean up Albany. The third candidate, Credico, who is also running on the Green line, is prioritizing reforms in the criminal justice system primarily by legalizing marijuana and releasing non-violent offenders.

There is also a Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, where Cuomo’s handpicked choice Kathy Hochul is being challenged by Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu. Hochul, an upstate moderate and former Congressional representative, has been on the ropes for most of the campaign, defending her liberal record to progressives. Both Wu and Teachout have used her as a prop to suggest Cuomo is more conservative than he lets on. Wu’s priorities are fighting corruption and dismantling corporate monopolies, while Hochul is focusing on the NY DREAM Act and the Women’s Equality Act.

For more on these candidates, check out the League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org project and WNYC’s Election Guide, both of which include questionnaires and profiles of each.

For an insider’s view of primary day, check out the guides from the New York Observer and Capital NY.

– Additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Source: 24gotham/Flickr

The New York Police Department is cracking down on motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses with flashing lights, police sources told this outlet.

The initiative is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate pedestrian fatalities and was timed to begin on the first day of classes to protect returning students. The goal, say police, is to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement. The operation will last approximately six to eight weeks, beginning Thursday, September 4.

State law requires drivers to stop at least 20 feet away from a bus if it is has red lights flashing. Traffic must stop in both directions, even in front of a school and in school parking lots, and even if the motorist is on the opposite side of a divided highway.

Before a school bus stops to load or discharge students, bus drivers will usually flash yellow warning lights. Before the bus embarks again, the red lights will stop flashing or the bus driver or a traffic officer will tell you to proceed. Drivers should be cautious around buses; most bus-related deaths occur when children cross the street after being discharged, and motorists should look for children along the side of the road.

It’s a heavy penalty for those who violate the law, with fines as high as $1,000 and the possibility of imprisonment.

By Conviction Minimum
Fine
Maximum
Fine
Possible Imprisonment
First Conviction $250.00 $400.00 Up to 30 days
Second Conviction
(within 3 years)
$600.00 $750.00 Up to 180 days
Third or
Subsequent Convictions (within 3 years)
$750.00 $1,000.00 Up to 180 days

 

A similar crackdown, called Operation Safe Stop, occurred statewide in April 2014 at governor’s orders. An estimated 50,000 drivers illegally pass buses on New York state roads every day, according to a website created in conjunction with that initiative.

The NYPD has also put out the following flier to educate drivers on best practices for safely driving near school buses:

school-bus

Click to enlarge