Since our New York dineout experiences were largely at Asian food establishments (at least one meal each of the six days we were there), I posted about those meals under Dineout Reviews: Asian food in New York City (2011 Edition) on the other blog. Here are the rest of the meals we had.
Shake Shack (Midtown, Times Square)
We could see the new midtown Shake Shack from BiNK’s apartment and determine that at the time we got into New York and the Times Square area at 2-ish, there was no line out the door so we could not get it out of our mind to not go there immediately. Last time, in 2009, I ordered a hot dog while NPY ordered a Shackburger and we did not share although NPY decided it was the best burger he ever had. That means I spent two whole years of wanting my own!
The magical combination of sirloin, chuck, and brisket was juicy and fragrant and we gobbled our burgers really quickly. NPY wondered in the middle of the trip if we’d go back so we were back at lunch hour on Sunday and it was a zoo! We tried the ‘shroom burger which is an expensive and small burger with the oddest crusted portobello “patty”. We still like the original Shackburger best. Next time, I’m trying the scary-sounding Concrete!
Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien (Midtown)
The Shake Shack visit the day before was unplanned but meeting up with Alfred to check out Burger Joint, “the hidden/secret burger restaurant”, was planned. I think I first heard of the restaurant years ago from ljcfyi blog and “hidden” was something easy to remember while the restaurant has apparently remained popular over the years. For a moment, I worried that it was so hidden I would not find it but I looked for telltale curtains and just around the corner was the little neon sign depicting a burger and an arrow.
It is a tight squeeze in the Burger Joint with the order counter, grill, queuing area, and seating occupying just about 200 sqft (could be my bad estimate) of space. There was an overhead list of instructions to most efficiently give your order and I was so anxious that I forgot to mention how I wanted my meat cooked.
It was a delicious burger nonetheless, very juicy and hearty, and a really fun New York experience to hit up that place.
Bouchon Bakery (Midtown)
Last time, we did walk by Bouchon in Time Warner Center but, for the life of me I don’t know why we didn’t order anything. Perhaps I was looking for something really unique I had never heard of or seen before and I’ve since grown up to accept trying things that I have seen or had before but appreciate a different restaurant’s take on it.
So, after visiting and lingering at the hilariously fun temporary Museum of Conan Art exhibit, we got some coffee and baked goods from Bouchon and, not finding any seats upstairs, enjoyed them in the caf area of Whole Foods on the basement level.
The super chocolate-y pain au chocolat was indeed unique but it frightened me so I ordered an Oreo-looking TKO which I now know stands for Thomas Keller Oreo. The dark chocolate biscuit was soft and chewy and the white chocolate ganache sandwiched in between was a dreamy filling. Alfred’s chocolate macaron was also good but even better was the pistachio one NPY and I got a few days later. And the pistachio one was pretty and green.
Rice to Riches (SoHo)
In 2009, we went to Rice to Riches which I heard about from Lil Sis. We went not once but twice and I got two orange Solo containers and rice pudding spoons which have been great reuseable containers over the years… until I disposed of them during the move a few months ago. It was nothing new to try but we had saved room by not ordering much at Teariffic in Chinatown and I decided not to order anything if they could not accommodate my request for a green container.
Well, you can figure out they did give me a green container and instead of a white/cream-coloured rice pudding I went dessert mode with the chocolate hazelnut rice pudding with toasted pound cake crumbs. The volume of food is large although it is stated to serve one person but I felt fine because it is light on taste with the fun contrasting texture of lumpy rice pudding and crunch crouton-like cake crumbs.
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria (Brooklyn, DUMBO)
While we did pick up a slice at the pizza shop next to Century 21 in the financial district, it was not the right experience so I picked a couple of pizzerias this time to make sure we had a proper thin-crust New York pizza and we checked that off the list when we went to Brooklyn and queued up to get into the famous Grimaldi Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge.
I imagine there is a constant line to get into the famous eatery and we found the end of it while wondering just how long we would have to queue for starting from 2:30 and if we wouldn’t be full still when we went to dinner. The Asian places we went to so far had clipboards where you sign yourself up but I saw no such system at Grimaldi’s. Instead, we observed the host pop his head out of the restaurant and shout something like, “Two more!” before letting the heavy wood door slam shut. The people at the head of the line would figure out which is the next party of two and they would enter the restaurant. Once, in the 30 minutes we waited, the host came out to see which bigger groups were in line for him to save his bigger tables for.
Upon being seated at our table in the restaurant, a welcome thing, we learned just how they managed to handle the constant crowds. Besides having a very simple menu, we sat cafeteria-style with our two-top table attached to three other two-tops. Being that the place was packed with tourists, it was a bit of a fun style of eating and I could lean over and ask the couple next to us what size pizza they ordered and the two couples to my left struck up a conversation that started with asked how the food was and learning they all hailed from the L.A. area.
While some part of my wonky logic would drive me to order a lot because we waited for half an hour, there were other spots to hit up before dinner and we ordered a six-slice small pizza with three toppings: pepperoni, mushroom, and olives. All the red pizzas came with tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. I would have preferred salami or anything other than the dried hard pepperoni disks, the mushroom was barely there, and thus the olives were relatively overpowering. My crappy selection of toppings aside, the pizza was delicious, with good tomato sauce, really good mozzarella cheese, and thin, fresh crust.
Holey Cream (via Seamless Web)
Oh, the thrill of living in a big, fast, tightly-packed, demanding city: BiNK introduced us to Seamless Web for which they have an account and can order from a mind-boggling variety of restaurants home delivery of good food through one integrated system. She suggested Holey Cream and described a donut ice cream sandwich that made me champion the place even more. I wasn’t going to eat it but I wanted NPY to have it!
I went with a blah fat-free (and it tasted like it) coffee almond frozen yogurt and took over customizing NPY’s donut ice cream sandwich with three different ice cream flavours (red velvet, peanut butter chocolate, cookies & cream), adding waffle pieces, and sprinkling it with pink and purple (they forgot the purple) sprinkles, cocoa puffs, and gummy bears. It took two sittings for NPY to finish this dessert.
Norma’s at Le Parker Meridien (Midtown)
BiNK raves about Norma’s and takes all her visitors which means she knows her way around the menu very well. We were green newbies by comparison. I checked out the menu the night before and marveled just how inventive their brunch menu is. Despite that, NPY ordered the most normal eggs benedict where the twist was using pancakes instead of English muffins… so his is not pictured! I ordered the Super Cheesy French Toast and started to get anxious that I would just die from the volume and cheesiness. It was ultimately manageable (unlike the Foie Gras French Toast, I hear) with a cheese-coated ultra-flakey croissant-like bun and most crispy applewood smoked bacon. The accompanying gravy was thin but very savoury to dip some toast and the greens. The potato pancakes were ordered for us all to share but I couldn’t appreciate it much after working and putting away my own meal. The pancakes were okay but it was the sweet carrot puree that I did not initially see as complementing potato so much that was tasty.
BiNK raved about and ordered the Waz-za which is an innocent-looking Belgian waffle topped with fresh fruit and stuffed with something like a thick and creamy yogurt fruit smoothie. The bananas were slightly seared for the brulee effect and taste. They also ordered the Artychoked Benedict which I would have wanted NPY to order–all he needs is for the poached egg to be present–but couldn’t vouch for the creation until it arrived and is just about the best Benedict idea ever. Instead of Hollandaise sauce that makes my head reel to think about, they used a truffled porcini sauce, a perfect complement to artichokes. I loved my taste of it but it still might have make me keel over if I had to eat a full or even half portion.
Southern Hospitality (Midtown)
BiNK pointed out Southern Hospitality one night but could not recommend we go there for food. And that it is owned by Justin Timberlake whom NPY likes. The next night, we were only looking for somewhere to drink and traditional places like “social” did not appeal and other places like Ember Room were full. At least we could say that we had been to JT’s restaurant. And they had free wi-fi!
Which meant I could check into Southern Hospitality on FourSquare and learn that NPY’s Coors Lite could be comped and he decided we could order an appetizer, at the risk of ruining our appetite for dinner later, and we went with fried green tomatoes, a Southern classic dish neither of us had tried before. They came three to the dish with BBQ ranch dipping sauce. The crust was beautiful, uniformly crispy and fresh and the green tomatoes were firm and a touch sour. It was a good choice that nearly seemed healthy!
Lobster Place in Chelsea Market (Chelsea)
“What’s Chelsea and why are we going there?” NPY asked. I didn’t really know what we were getting into but our afternoon in Chelsea was really nice. It reminded us of a bigger version of Gastown and there were wondrous sights. After eating, we would walk along the High Line which was a really nice and efficient way to walk uptown, but first we went to Chelsea market which I warned him would be like Granville Island’s prepared food section… only better!
The bakeries like Fat Witch and Eleni’s were nice to visit but I wanted a small meal and I was holding out for a meat pie from the Tuck Shop and/or a proper clam chowder from the Lobster Place.
Lobster Place is a seafood market that reminds me of home (Clearwater on Bedford Highway) with fresh and stinky seafood being sold and prepared food offered at the back. A row of serve-yourself soup cauldrons were on a table and it was a no-brainer to go with the red Manhattan clam chowder over the creamy New England clam chowder. The chowder had broken clams and potato and was hearty and just the right small meal to tide us over to the next place!