Fried turkey with Haitian trimmings: plentiful green banana, pale yam (not sweet potato, certainly not candied), wilted onion, lots of (chicken) gravy. Juicy, tasty turkey, my dining buddy and I agreed (light lunch for two, $7 total).
Bebe Fritay 82B East 18th St. (Church Ave.-Albemarle Rd.), Flatbush, Brooklyn 718-484-0244 Also 826 Rogers Ave. (at Church Ave.) 718-676-1636 www.BebeFritayInc.com
When the portion is so generous, sometimes the presentation suffers. To be sure, the Guyana-born owner deposited his kale greens into the top of the clamshell container, where they retained their brightness and snap; the bulk of the sampler (small, $8) was piled high in the bottom. It included a combo of rice, lentils, and peas; curry eggplant; okra and tofu; red kidney beans, and what the sidewalk menu board described off-handedly as "stew chunks" (also shown below) — ruddy-looking pieces of textured soy protein. Yes, a heap, but even for a meat lover like me, also a delight.
H/T Katie R
Strictly Vegetarian 2268 Church Ave. (Bedford-Flatbush Aves.), Flatbush, Brooklyn 718-284-2543
"Sauces contain seeds, caution." Given the vibe inside this Trini storefront — during my initial visit, in late afternoon, a patient but determined knot of customers obscured any decent view of the steam table — I counted that handwritten warning as a plus, not a minus. The sign also added substance to a second, otherwise pedestrian notice, "all baking done on premises."
On a return visit at midday I found a seat, one of the few, tucked against a side wall, where I had elbow room enough to dig into a plate of curry goat atop rice and peas ($10). (I also had the incentive, given my itinerary, not to plow all the way through at one go. Plastic zip-seal bag, my backpack lining thanks you again.) In this particular batch of curry I didn't happen upon any seeds, though in all fairness I was occupied with nibbling around goat bones — in my book, also a plus.
Grace Before Meals 3113 Church Ave. (fittingly enough; Fairview Pl.-Raleigh Pl.), East Flatbush, Brooklyn 718-282-4035 Closed Sunday (as you'd imagine)
Flatbush "has had many different groups moving in and out over the years," observed Louis Delsarte, the artist who created this series of glass mosaics. "Now it's predominately Caribbean, and I wanted to freeze a moment in its history." Frozen here, on a detail of one panel: market-goers and a produce display.
The name "stew chicken," like "shave ice," is an example of apocope (a-Pah-co-pee), the omission of the last sound, syllable, or part of a word. Though these clipped forms may seem like nothing more than sloppy pronunciation and spelling, sometimes they reflect underlying differences. Shaved ice (with the final -d), for example, includes a wide range of desserts whose ice may be either shaved or crushed, sometimes coarsely, but aficionados of Hawaiian shave ice (without the -d), which is never crushed, are quick to point out that confection's snowlike consistency.
Compared with many prosaic stewed chickens, Trinidad-style stew chicken has a glowing color and a pervasive sweetness. Both come from brown sugar, which dances the reel and jig with seasonings such as garlic, ginger, black pepper, and thyme. The side dishes are distinctive, too: This stew chicken combo (small — yes, small — $7.50) was accompanied by curry potatoes and callaloo. Fall-off-the-bone tender? Count on it.
This "coffee shop" hadn't seen the light of day for many years until Ambrosia's previous, superfluous sign, which had been pressed flat against the facade, was removed. A search for traces of the older business yielded a page of classifieds from the 1940s. Schrafft's ran five ads on that page, for bakers, for waitresses, and for women and girls to do "candy packing." A single, much smaller ad sought a woman for "delicatessen kitchen work" at the address pictured here, but it didn't list a business name, only a telephone number. The trail dead-ended at INgersoll-2.
Coffee shop Surviving signage, 3306 Church Ave. (New York Ave.-East 34th St.), East Flatbush, Brooklyn Lately the location of Ambrosia Health Foods
A handful of stools at a ledge along one wall offer the only seating at Blake's. It's less of a restaurant than a takeout joint and snack shop that also sells baked goods, ice cream, and pizza in the "finest Italian style." That claim, when set against a sun-faded backdrop in the Jamaican national colors, doesn't inspire confidence, but it does suggest an obvious mashup.