We get antsy in the summer, and it takes very little convincing to get us to commit to a long midday meal away from our desks. And so a few days ago, we headed out to Carroll Gardens to check in on lunch at Nightingale 9.
We’ve previously praised this restaurant from Seersucker and Smith Canteen proprietors Robert Newton and Kerry Diamond, crediting the inventive American twists on Vietnamese street food that fill out the dinner menu. The lunch list, which launched about a month ago, keeps a few of the nighttime offerings, including cha ca catfish over vermicelli noodles, green papaya salad, and, of course, pho. But it also adds a section of bahn mi sandwiches, the crusty halved baguettes layered with caramel pork belly or market mushrooms and pickled mustard greens. Come here at night and you’re likely going to order a pint; during the day, and you might actually give thought to the worthwhile sodas, including a bright and refreshing tamarind-spiked sipper.
A couple of dishes you might consider ordering if you wander that way for a leisurely lunch:
Order cha ca catfish in Vietnam, and there’s a decent chance you’ll find yourself cooking your own dinner table side, sauteing a hunk of seafood in hot, dill- and turmeric-laden oil. Nightingale 9 dispenses with that method here, incorporating the turmeric in the crispy batter that encases the fish and then serving it with dill and scallions over vermicelli. This dish, which is appetizer-sized for a party of two, works best with a hit of the chile you’ll find sitting on your table.
We forewent the more styled out sandwich takes for the most traditional Vietnamese version of the banh mi on the menu: the pate. Salt-loaded country ham is assuaged by the rich liver and garlic-imbued mayonnaise. Crushed peanuts provide a welcome textural contrast evident even beneath the crusty bread; cilantro provides a fresh lift to an otherwise heavy bite.
Nightingale had just one pho on the menu the day we stopped by, and so we slurped simple chicken broth bobbing with slices of poultry, bean sprouts, cilantro, and a nest of noodles. If light broths aren’t your thing–and we’re not sure they’re ours, since found ourselves longing for a heftier beef version of this soup even in the summer–this can be doctored effectively with fish sauce and more of that chile.
A cool, refreshing tamarind soda.