Saturday, May 26, 2012

New York City 2012: The Food

Not a bagel; halibut at The Breslin
By popular demand, here’s the first in a two-party series on mine and Husband’s recent trip to New York City. Let’s start with where we ate (well, at least the places that I remember).

Besides grabbing muffins and wraps at Westside Market, my favourite grocery store, we also ate the following places:

Absolute Bagel (2788 Broadway; at 107th St)
This Upper West Side bagel spot is so popular that it even had a line out the door on a Friday at 9:30 am.  The bagels we picked up (sesame seed and everything) were light and fluffy but came with way too much cream cheese. They were also massive, like all NYC food.

Sandwich Planet (522 9th Ave;  at 39th St)
We came across this small but highly-praised Hell’s Kitchen sandwich spot while walking down to 34th St. from the Circle Line cruises dock. I had an excellent, and massive, Swiss and house-roasted turkey sandwich while husband went with a roast beef one. I also had an amazing house-made ice tea that I would happily purchase from a store. And best of all, our meal cost under $20.

While this place is out of the usual tourist way, it’s definitely worth checking out if you happen to be hungry and in the neighbourhood.

The Breslin (16 West 29th St; between Broadway & 5th Ave)
Located in The Ace Hotel, this April Bloomfield gastro-pub is all about meat. Oh, and line ups. Like all trendy places it doesn’t take reservations (the exception is if you’re staying at the hotel) so when we got there, we were told that it would be an hour-and-a-half wait unless we wanted to sit at a cocktail table.

The infamous lamb burger
We said that would be OK and for our open-mindedness, were rewarded with an amazing upstairs table that overlooked the restaurant and came with banquet sitting on one side as well as its own private gate. As for the actual table, it was normal-sized.

My sister, who picked the place, had read that the best things to eat were the lamb burger and the Scotch egg. So she ordered the egg (along with a salad) while my Husband and hers both ordered the lamb burger.

My sister quite liked her egg but the lamb burgers didn’t go over as well. Simply put, they were too greasy. They were also quite rare, which I think was a bit off-putting.

I went with something lighter, the halibut, and it was amazing. We also ordered homemade potato chips and bacon-fat roasted peanuts for appetizers and a trio of ice cream flavours (including a lemon saffron) for dessert. The peanuts were rather disappointing but the chips and ice cream were both great.

While we did have some issues with the service (the chocolate brownie I ordered never appeared and our waiter could have been more attentive), overall this was a great place to eat that also felt very “New York”.
(Fun bonus: You can access The Ace Hotel’s nightclub, Liberty Hall, by going downstairs to the basement, were the bathrooms for both the restaurant and the club are housed.)

Radegast Hall & Biergarten (113 North 3rd Street Brooklyn)
We didn’t plan on eating at Williamsburg’s take on a German beer hall. But after stumbling across this place after learning that our original dinner restaurant was self-seating (never a good thing on a Saturday night), we decided to try it out.

While there is a proper menu, the main focus is on the dozens and dozens of different beer choices, as well as the grill, which cooks up over half a dozen kinds of sausages and burgers.

Turkey burger on the left, Portuguese sausage on the right 
I don’t drink beer or eat sausages (or really any German food) but I actually quite liked this place. There was a nice choice of reasonably priced wine, a fun, almost festive atmosphere and a really good turkey burger. The others I dined with also enjoyed their food, with the fries getting high marks.

We also all loved the space the restaurant occupied: An old warehouse that still has it with stone walls as well as an open roof and communal tables.

One odd thing about this place was the music. You would think that it would be either typical Bavarian music
or, since we were in Williamsburg, indie rock. Instead it was a strange mix of everything from Flamenco guitars to generic rock to Persian songs.

Music aside, this a fun, affordable place if you’re in the mood for something a bit different than your typical Williamsburg bar.

Doughnut Planet (Multiple Locations)
I know they look amazing but...
I’ve heard a lot about Doughnut Planet and how it was home to all these amazing and creative flavours. So I was really excited to see this place in person and order four different kinds of doughnuts that all looked great: Crème brulée, strawberry, double chocolate and pistachio.

Unfortunately, this place didn’t live up to all the hype. Yes, the doughnuts were good but that was about it, they were just good. Only one, the crème brulée, really caught my attention. The other three flavours weren’t nearly as special as I was hoping they’d be. The chocolate one was particularly disappointed as it was rather dry and crumbly.

Eataly (200 5th Ave; at 23rd St)
This actually was amazing
Last time I was in NYC, I ate at this massive Italian marketplace’s fish restaurant. This time we waited the 30 minutes at got bar seats in the pasta/pizza restaurant. My verace pizza, made with buffalo mozzarella and fancy extra virgin oil olive from Sorrento, was amazing but then so was everyone else’s meal, including my Husband’s pasta that was made with one of the best tomato sauces I have ever tasted.

Eataly is noisy, busy and filled with tourists (like me) but the food is well worth all of that. Plus it’s not badly priced either.

We also ate a Smorgasburg, Williamsburg’s weekly outdoor food market, but I’ll save my write up on that for my next post, which will look at what else we did in NYC.

1 comment:

  1. You always have the best reviews! Can't wait to see what you did in NYC :)