(This venue is closed.) This restaurant is in soft opening (and has been for a couple of weeks, said the cashier), and considering how long Cambodian Cuisine has struggled to make the move from Fort Greene, it's understandable that this opening seems softer than most.
This plain slice ($2.75) had decent sauce and loads of mozzarella, but on a Sunday afternoon, it was doughy and undercooked. Weekday slices tend to be thinner and crisper, my neighborhood informant noted.
You'll find 25 cent honey sticks nestling at the counter, and 70 cent hardboiled eggs huddling in the refrigerator case, at this charming, idiosyncratic café. Though tempted by the soup special, butternut squash with apple, I eventually leaned toward the carrot ginger focaccia ($7.95) featuring artichoke hearts and seasoned mozzarella. Pleasant enough. The java, I haven't tried.
Tomatoes are a defining ingredient in Brunswick stew ($4.25), corn is common, and in lieu of the traditional squirrel, you might find chicken, pork, beef, or some combination. I just found this one too tomatoey.
The food court adjoining Brother Jimmy's Grand Central outlet is relatively quiet, at least compared with the frat-boy bedlam at their other locations. They do pile on the pulled pork, but I've found it dry; collards were too vinegary one time, mushy another.
Brother Jimmy's BBQ Lower level, Grand Central Station (one of several locations) 212-661-4022
Busy, sometimes boisterous destination for the raw and the cooked, Japanese style; savvy sushi lovers also take full advantage of the no-corkage BYOB policy. I was especially taken with the chawan mushi (top photo; weekends only; $8): king crab, shiitake mushrooms, and mitsuba (Japanese parsley) steamed in a egg custard and topped with peelings from the sour citrus fruit called yuzu. Of the nigiri sushi, the unagi (freshwater eel; $3), uni (sea urchin roe; $6), and toro (tuna belly; $8) were fine examples of their kinds; I was also happy to catch the "spider" roll ($10) during soft-shell crab season.
A more-carnivorous approach might take you to beef tataki (bottom photo; $9) pan-seared and served cold, perhaps sided with enoki, shiitake, and eringi mushrooms sautéed in butter and garlic soy sauce ($7). Broiled Chilean sea bass marinated in sweet miso ($16) was very pleasant, though don't expect anything approaching entrée size. To open and close your meal, consider the spicy miso soup ($5) and a trio of rice-dough-wrapped ice cream flavors called mochi ($4.50).
Poke Restaurant 343 East 85th St. (First-Second Aves.) 212-249-0569
Neighborly French Bistro, except here your neighbors would include the Metropolitan Museum; comfortable and unpretentious. The wild mushrooms in my vol-au-vent ($12.50) sent forth a savory twang, though the pastry that cradled them was stiff; roasted lamb with rosemary ($26.50), was tenderly done, the chop more so than the leg; chocolate cake ($8) was light but satisfyingly sized.
Le Refuge 166 East 82nd. St. (Third-Lexington Aves.) 212-861-4505