What is eggs Benedict?
Sotto Voce is a small corner restaurant that quickly gained Park Slope fans looking for simple Italian food. It's less fussy than the neighborhood's faux-highbrow Cucina, and less hectic than lowbrow Aunt Suzy's. It's free of Tutta Pasta's crowded cafeteria ambience, and unlike Tonio's a few blocks down Seventh Avenue, much of its food tastes good. It serves dinner till a romantically very late hour. Its tall windows are open to the sidewalk in spring and summer, and even in cold weather the room has a pleasant goldfish-bowl effect. On one visit, a friend passing by on the sidewalk tapped a greeting.
Brunch is $10.95. A basket of good, crusty fresh white bread and slices of Entenmann's-quality pound cake is served with jelly or herbed olive oil. Unlimited refills of coffee, champagne, mimosas, and bloody Marys come with brunch, but the thinly spiked mimosa use slightly acrid canned juice. Ironically, you get more fresh pulp with your water, which is poured from pitchers in which float orange slices. You're safer ordering the blood Mary, which though not spicy is consistently premixed and is likely to contain more vodka.
The hollandaise on the promptly served eggs Benedict ($10.95) is thin and sparse; mot of it pooled between the two halves of the entrée. The eggs are more blanched than poached, with nicely folded exteriors but runny, though hot, exteriors. Plain, ungrilled ham is used instead of Canadian bacon. It used to be pepper-edged "Black Forest" ham; on my last visit the ham showed the scary texture of pressed-together composite meat. The English muffins are undertoasted. The quartered small potatoes, sauteed with red pepper and onion and parsley, are wonderful, and are juicy enough to create a fine sauce of their own. A side order of three or more thick strips of bacon ($2) is on the crunchy side but hot and tasty.
Sotto Voce gets one star for service. Past visits have featured late waiters, and one night a waiter entirely forgot my and my date's dinner order, blamed the kitchen, and whose idea of apology was to murmur sotto voce, "Mmmmmmm, big plate!" when finally delivering my plebian spaghetti and meatballs. A friend reported that on a lunch visit of her own, she sent back a bad-tasting focaccia sandwich, declined their offer for a replacement and hoped just to eat her salad in peace and leave, only to find the waiter returning it to her table in a doggie bag, and following her out the door with the rejected food when she left.
Although kind feedback to this site from the owner suggested improvements in food and service, my return this autumn found the sauce still thin, cheaper ham as described above, and more scatterbrained serivice, with my waiter delivering my coffee to the wrong table and another waiter delivering another table's entrée to me.
Rest rooms: Small but clean.
Cupping Room Café
Knickerbocker Bar and Grill
Corn Bread Café
Park Slope Brewing Co.
12th Street Bar and Grill