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Always cooking good: Fifth Avenue Restaurant-Diner

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art diner, part restaurant, part classic and part innovative: these are all terms that could easily describe the Fifth Avenue Restaurant-Diner (432 5th Avenue in Park Slope, 718-832-8131). Open and exceptionally spacious, featuring two separate expansive dining rooms, the Fifth Avenue is equally right when you want a quick bite as it is when you want to have a feast. As you might expect, the “diner” nature of the kitchen means a long and rambling menu that caters to virtually any taste, from simple breakfast dishes to innovative sautés, a long list of seafood specialties and an equally lengthy enumeration of singular sandwiches. And owing to the fact that the place is open 24/7, you can get whatever you crave whenever you happen to crave it. For no particular reason, begin your perusal with breakfast; all the standards, of course, but also Amaretto French Toast, Belgian Waffles in every variation on a theme, eight kinds of oatmeal and items you won’t find elsewhere, like the Veggie Benny: two poached eggs on a toasted English muffin with grilled tomato, Portobello mushrooms and crowned with a Hollandaise sauce. Breakfast specials, incidentally, starting at just over a buck for an egg sandwich, are offered Monday through Friday, 5- 11 a.m. Of course, like any self-respecting diner, Fifth Avenue has the full array of burgers in a dozen variations on the theme, a half dozen grilled chicken breast options and all manner of sandwich, both familiar and those destined to become classics. From this latter category comes the Paesan, with roast beef, fried onions and melted mozzarella on a toasted garlic roll; the Ioanian, which consists of a grilled Portobello, goat cheese, fresh spinach and skordalia spread. There’s even something called the Avgonima, which sees slices of London broil combined with spinach, onions and peppers. Of course, where there are singular sandwiches, can wraps and Paninis be far behind? From the former list comes such temptations as the Capri, with roasted turkey, sun dried tomatoes, Romaine lettuce and mozzarella cheese. And from the latter, enjoy the Rascal, with roast beef, avocado, sun dried tomatoes and Romaine or the Turkacado, which substitutes turkey for the beef. Incidentally, the Paninis are very thick and overfilled with whatever you order, so come hungry. And yes, there are triple deckers aplenty, Greek specialties and a much better than average selection of Gourmet Salads. For example: mixed greens, Portobello mushrooms, stuffed grape leave and sun dried tomatoes. The grape leaves, incidentally, may also be ordered as a stand alone appetizer, excellent and tangy from fresh lemon juice, very tender and flavorful leaves and generously stuffed and well seasoned. Thick rounds of fresh pita are served hot from the oven on the side. These are true pitas, not the paper thin variety so commonly found elsewhere. You may want to begin dinner with one of the excellent dips that go so well with the pita bread: the Tzatziki, a cool cucumber dip, the taramosalata, which is a sort of Greek caviar, and the aforementioned skordalia, an addictive garlic variation. But while all this is sufficient to get you here, so too are the entrees, and chief among these are the sautéed pasta specialties available nightly 5-10 p.m. The average price hovers around $10 and includes soup or salad. You can zest up any dish with chicken or shrimp for a few extra bucks. Options include the Caruso, your choice of pasta with leaf spinach and roasted peppers in a very creamy garlic sauce. The Park Slope Pasta sees the return of Portobello mushrooms, here combined with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers and olives in a light lemon-butter sauce. Obviously, the traditional favorites are represented too: Carbonara, Bolognese, Alfredo, ala Vodka, Scampi and the long list continues. Portions tend to be extremely oversized, so you’ll likely need a doggy bag when you leave. As for the other main dishes, they seem to be equally split between seafood, chicken and beef. There is a wide array of fresh fish, most of them served simply broiled or stuffed and there’s also the catch of the day to add to the choices. Chicken dishes are classico, like the Marsala with tender white meat with a blizzard of mushrooms in a deep, rich Marsala sauce. The Park Slope Chicken is topped with a creamy fresh vegetable sauce; the Arizona is stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, peppers and cheddar cheese. As for the steaks and chops, there’s a grand rib eye served with grilled mushrooms and onions, a char-grilled Sirloin done the same way, the Romanian (my favorite), plus pork and lamb chops. The conclusion: a full dessert and ice cream bar. The sundaes are absurdly massive; there are cakes and confections galore, plus all variations of smoothies and a full selection from the fountain. The Fifth Avenue Restaurant-Diner is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Most major credit cards are accepted. Private parties are accommodated. Free delivery is available. Beer, wine and a full bar are also featured.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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