Best of Downtown Summer Specials


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Grab these seasonal specials while you still can this August 1. The newly opened Black Tree Sandwich Shop & Bar (131 Orchard Street), shares the same name as its restaurant in Crown Heights, which is equally slight in space. Signature woods, exposed brick, and brass-framed photographs line the narrow walls, and brown paper placemats protect the oak tabletops ? order a sandwich, and you'll see why. Full of fresh cut, hulking meat, many of the chefs' creations are slathered with thick, homemade jams like Red Raspberry Chocolate mint or Spicy Cherry, some with potato chips wedged between the buns.


Owners and executive chefs Sandy Hall and Mac Sillick only use locally sourced ingredients. All of their cheeses, fruits, and breads come from vendors in New York State. Ladies, look away, because this tidbit isn't for the faint of heart: they also butcher whole animals in-house. So you're getting really, really fresh meat. Their current summer promotion is the Sip & Slide-r Happy Hour, which features a chef's selection of 3 slider-size sandwiches for $9, unlimited $4 drafts of New York state craft beer, and unlimited $6 glasses of Channing Daughters wine on tap. Possible chef's selections include the Mushroom Sandwich with balsamic-roasted Portobello mushrooms, smoked goat cheese and strawberry balsamic jam, a Short Rib Sandwich with coffee-rubbed, stout-braised short rib with house blue cheese dressing and market greens, the Summer Lamb Sandwich with cucumber, yogurt, mint and local feta, or any others on the menu. Frankly, though, with prices this low, you can go ahead and splurge for a full sized sandwich, too, like the Lobster Claw & Tail Roll or the Summer Duck (you'd be crazy not to try this one if they have it). The menu tends to change frequently, so if you have your heart set on something, call ahead. Oh, and don't go in expecting to order a Diet Coke, either ? your choices include herb peach, sarsaparilla or spicy blueberry soda. 2. Put on your fancy pants (or shorts), because The Lion (62 West 9th Street) is first class all the way. Inhabiting a townhouse built in the 1800s, the restaurant features a fireplace, a small slab of elevated balcony seating right in the center of the action, and a classic American menu from Chef John DeLucie. The black lacquered doors lead into a stylish, expansive dining room decorated with eclectic contemporary artwork and crowned by a giant dome skylight. Their fare is on the pricier side, but the sumptuous summer barbecue brunch menu is worth it. On Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests can choose from a variety of entrees including the Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwich, the Lion Burger, Smoked Pork Butt and Crispy Fried Oyster Po' Boys, Fried Chicken and Waffles, or the Lobster Roll. Each entree comes with Jalapeno Spiked Corn Bread, Coleslaw and Pickles as well as a pint of draft beer, all for $25. Personally, I'd go for the lobster roll every time, but any meat-eating man will flip over the slabs of smoky pork that come out on a wooden board. If nothing else, the ambiance and friendly wait staff make it worth the trip. 3. Every Monday night at Louro (142 West 10th Street), Chef Dave Santos's "Nossa Mesa" closes its restaurant doors to the general public. By reservation only, around a dozen guests are seated at one long, communal table and served a seven-course dinner with a theme, which changes every week. The supper club series' seafood dinners are a refreshing summer dining choice, and are a great way to get to know your neighbors. Coming up on August 5th is the "VIP Shellfish Dinner" ($75) featuring unique bites like Vanilla Lobster and truffle potato puree with parmesan foam, followed by the "Summer Truffle Explosion "($95) on August 19th and the "Portuguese Seafood Boil" ($55) on August 26. August 12th will be their "Breaking Bad" ($65) dinner, based on the series finale of the TV show, and will feature Test Tube Shooters, Fluke Crudo with Avocado Puree and Tortilla Foam, and Grilled Cactus Salad. "We want to surprise, excite and exhilarate our guests, maybe even challenge them a little," Chef Santos says of these endeavors. He makes good in his promise. All dinners are BYO wine and beer and start at 7 p.m.


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