Sunday, January 13, 2008

Home Cooking Slovak Food at Milan's

One of the things I like about running the website for Sunset Park is that I get to explore the neighborhood in all it's corners. After having done so for the last ten years I am amazed how every day there is a new discovery. Since Sunset Park has had an explosion of eateries and restaurants it's only fair that we should write about them as well. This will be the first of many, I hope.

Milan's owner Milan Franko

I first stumbled on Milan's Restaurant a year ago when I included their page on my website. By all accounts it is the only Slovak Restaurant in the borough of Brooklyn. Yesterday I finally got a chance to try some of their food. Milan's is owned and operated by Milan Franko and his wife Miloslava who is also a professional chef who runs the kitchen and as Milan claims is the real boss. Milan and his wife emigrated to the US from Slovakia in 1991. His story is what is typical of hard working immigrants to this country who work hard at achieving their dreams. Coming from a family of chefs and restaurateurs it was always Milan's dream to open a restaurant of his own. Milan's opened it's doors 11 years ago. It wasn't long before they got rave reviews by the New York Times food critics. The restaurant is very functional and spartan. Their menu is eclectic and features dishes from Slovakia, Czech and Poland. Like most of the region one can find the same dishes across borders with some variations in the recipes.

Hungarian Goulash

The dish I had was Hungarian Goulash and potato pancakes. The Goulash was excellent to my taste buds. Now I am not a connoisseur of food, I just know what tastes good and if I like something. Milan's also serves Czech Pilsner beers on tap such as Staropramen, Urquel and Krusovice. All of them put Budweiser to shame and make it seem bland by comparison. I also had a taste of Slovak pasta with sheep cottage cheese topped of with some bacon. All in all I enjoyed the meal and liked hearing Milan's story of trying to make it in Sunset Park. The place has a homey atmosphere and the dishes seem more like home cooking than some cookie cutter kind of fare one gets in fast food places. The menu is reasonably priced and if you like East European food it's the place to go. Much of Sunset park is undiscovered territory by Sunset Parkers, not to mention our neighbors to the north and south. You should give Milan's a visit and try the food. After all, how often do you get to eat some Slovak home cooking?

Slovak pasta with sheep's cheese.

Incidentally, it's located at 710 5th Avenue off of 22nd street.

[where: 11232]
[where: 11220]
[where: 11215]


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The Cream Cake Machine of Sunset Park

Over at New York Magazine's Website they had an article about a recently unveiled cream cake machine in Chinatown. The article noted that there are only three of these machines in existence and one of them was in Sunset Park at 60th and 8th (the actual location). Being the adventurous type and being near there I decided to investigate. Hey I figured at $2 for 8 cakes, why not?

The article seemed intriguing as follows;

  • A Chinatown eatery has put something on the sidewalk that’s much more exciting than the usual bag of fish: the cream-cake machine! Unveiled for a test run yesterday outside of Quickly, a trendy bubble-tea and shabu shabu spot, the Korean contraption is just one of three in the city, said manager Patrick Chu. (The other two are at Quickly's Flushing and Sunset Park locations.) The thumb-size cream cakes cost $2 for eight and $5 for 24. Considering the machine churns out two dozen cakes every five minutes, we wonder if this means the end for the humble griddle man.
So off we went with camera in hand and $2 to try them out. Frankly I had seen the griddle carts along 8th avenue but had never tried cream cakes before. Quickly is situated around the corner off of 8th on 60th street. The machine looked just like the one in the article. I ordered 8 cakes and tried them out. The cakes taste rather a bit sweet and in some ways reminded me of Twinkies without the cream and heavy sugar. They weren't bad at all and at $2 were rather reasonably priced and a relatively cheap snack for when you have the munchies. Now that I know these guys are there I think I will occasionally stop there and get some cream cakes. I will also have to stop by one of those griddle carts and see what the competition tastes like as well.

[where: 11232]
[where: 11220]