Margaret Palca Bakes
210 Court St., at Warren St., Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-858-2429
Margaret Palca was baking rugalach and fruit tarts on Brooklyn’s Columbia Street before real-estate brokers started calling the up-and-coming neighborhood the Columbia Waterfront District. But despite the strip’s gradual gentrification, it has yet to attract the sort of foot traffic that neighboring Smith and Court Streets do (endless construction projects haven’t helped matters). That’s why Palca has just opened a new café on Court, where she’s supplementing her cookies and muffins with a salad bar and pressing panini made with her puffy, focaccialike homemade rolls.
50 Carmine St., nr. Bedford St.; 212-929-5050
Four years ago, Josh DeChellis returned from a cooking stint in Japan resolved to one day open either a ramen shop or a tempura bar. With the noodle market heating up, he’s opted to fill the tempura void with BarFry, the restaurant (and, DeChellis hopes, flagship of an eventual chain) he opens this week with partner Rick Camac of 5 Ninth and Fatty Crab. In pursuit of long-lasting crispness, minimal oil retention, and an integrated texture that wouldn’t obscure the main ingredient, he tested more than a hundred different batters. What made the cut? The nascent tempura mogul vaguely refers only to commercial-grade modified starches, water, soy products, and a few other secret ingredients, he says, “I’ll never come close to sharing with anyone.” All manner of seafood and vegetables are fried in canola oil (later sold as biofuel) and served by the two-ounce portion with a choice of sauces, or tucked into po’ boys or bento-style boxes. There are also panko-crusted pork and chicken tonkatsu, and a beef beignet, a sort of short-rib doughnut flavored with fermented black beans and chives. DeChellis hopes customers will avail themselves of sides like wasabi pickles and shaved-vegetable salad, which provide a foil for all that oil, as do house cocktails and ice-cold beer.