Thursday, April 28, 2005

Just Desserts 1: Moto

LOCATION: 394 Broadway Brooklyn
DATE: April 26, 2005
DESSERT: Warm Date Cake with fresh whipped cream
PRICE: $6.00

I first became aware of Moto after watching “Eat This New York,” a documentary account of the opening of the restaurant located above the J M Z tracks in Brooklyn. Watching the trials and tribulations of two Minnesota restaurateurs in their attempt to get Moto from dream stage to reality was an eye-opening experience on just how cutthroat the restaurant industry can be. Luckily, Moto finally opened (quite a few months behind schedule) and the result is a place with a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and excellent, simply done bistro style food.

Exiting the subway at the Hewes Street stop, you’re bound to think you too a wrong turn somewhere. How could this be the location of a restaurant? But above jail-like barred windows hangs a bicycle – and this is Moto. After managing with the massive iron door, you find a candle lit interior of dark, somber hues. The lax vibe immediately penetrates and mellows. On my visit late Tuesday night, I was even fortunate to hear a Klemzer triplet strumming out some Yiddish tunes, begging the question, why would you want to live anywhere but New York, eclectic capital of the world?

Danny and I had come once before during the afternoon to have a drink at the bar (wine and beer only) and split an order of the grilled donuts. This time, however, we had a mission. Rumors of the taste orgy available in the form of Moto’s warm date cake had been spreading like wild fire and we needed first hand verification. All I can say is, even if Moto were in the ass-crack of New Jersey, it’d be worth traveling to for this cake.

The cake is a rich purplish brown, the color of gingerbread and molasses. It comes surrounded by a moat of toffee sauce which should be available at every ice cream parlor nationwide. Real whipped cream (Danny commented on how aerosol cans and Cool Whip can make you forget how delicious real whipped cream can be) floats in the toffee sea as airy as a Shakespearean sonnet. But the cake itself is the masterpiece. Dates are usually regulated to a second-tier flavor in foods, co-mingled of with an overabundance of nuts. But Moto’s cake proves the date is no Scottie Pippen, riding on the coattails of Michael Jordan walnuts. It can carry a dessert all on its own (there are no nuts in Moto’s cake. Coincidence? I think not).

The cake’s flavor is a mix between an English pudding and coffee cake with the texture of Red Velvet cake. The sauce and cake are like twins separated at birth, reunited in dessert bliss. Every bite is consistent and luxuriously smooth. It was extremely difficult to not order a second piece.

My second dessert-only visit confirmed that I need to go to Moto for a full meal. The inexpensive menu offers up Panini (which looked especially good), salads, and even a few entrees. So the next time I’m possessed by an urge to lose a few hours in a chill, European revelry, Moto will be my first stop. Maybe I’ll even ride a bike there (but most likely not). Regardless, the cake is worth the trip alone.

RATING: 8.4/10

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