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New York’s Best Restaurants
Apr 6th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

My five-star reviews:

Emily – Pizza in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Apr 3rd, 2014 by donuts4dinner

I’m writing pizzeria reviews as Examiner.com’s Manhattan Pizza Examiner. I know it shows that I have the palate of a 5-year-old, but pizza’s easily my favourite food, so you can count on me for plenty of fangirling over crust and sauce in these articles.

Emily Pizza in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

The basic feeling in Brooklyn is that there’s already a pizza saturation, that we’re going to keep trying to reinvent the wheel to the point that it becomes square again, that the last thing we need is another adorable little hipster pizza joint with funny toppings. . . but no one’s saying that about Emily in Clinton Hill. Made famous by its crowd-sourced pizza oven funded via a Kickstarter campaign led by Emily herself for longtime pizza chef/owner/husband Matt Hyland, Emily is an adorable little hipster pizza joint on a quiet street next to an equally adorable bar (Hanson Dry) that’s really enjoying the nightly crowd of people needing someplace to spend the half-hour wait to get in for a pie. It’s candlelit and packed tight with tables for two, and the service is the sort that lets you know the staff has a real interest in this place succeeding, partly because Emily is providing a lot of it. Read the rest here!

Thick Crust: NYC’s First Local Deep-Dish Pizza at Emmett’s
Feb 26th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

I’m writing pizzeria reviews as Examiner.com’s Manhattan Pizza Examiner. I know it shows that I have the palate of a 5-year-old, but pizza’s easily my favourite food, so you can count on me for plenty of fangirling over crust and sauce in these articles.

Emmett's Deep-Dish NYC Pizza

Emmett's Deep-Dish NYC Pizza

The wait for NYC’s first real deep-dish pizza at Emmett’s in SoHo is as long as the crust is tall. If you arrive right at 5:30 p.m. when it opens, the friendly bartender will casually mention you to a server, who will casually push together some of the eight or ten tables for two to accommodate your group. But if you arrive any time after that, the bar is buzzing, there’s nowhere to wait, your name goes on a list that grows by the minute, and there’s not a chance you’re sitting down any time within the hour. It’s partly because this place is tiny (you’d never find a restaurant this small in the part of the country where its pizza comes from), partly because the bready pies take 45 minutes to bake, and partly because the early word on Emmett’s is that NYC has never seen anything like it. Read the rest here.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice Large-Format Dinner
Feb 21st, 2014 by donuts4dinner

I’m often made fun of for being a Momofuku fangirl, but up until a few weeks ago, I’d blasphemously never been to the most recent addition to David Chang’s assemblage of NYC restaurants, Ma Peche. But my friend The Pretender set up one of the large-format feasts for a group of 12 of us, the Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice dinner ($450), and now I can say that I’ve been to all of the Momofukus and that each one is just as amazing as the last.

My friends who’d rather spend their money on shoes than food were initially skeptical about the idea of a dinner involving chicken that wasn’t even battered and fried, and I’ll admit that I had lower expectations for this dinner than, say, the Momofuku Ssam Bar Whole Rotisserie Duck or the Momofuku Noodle Bar Fried Chicken Dinner. The website says that “the meal is comprised of your meat of choice, yellow rice, pita, and sides and condiments, including iceberg lettuce, wheat berry, chickpea, eggplant, tomato chutney, pickles, white sauce and red sauce”, so I was picturing a small assortment of condiments. What I actually got was bowl after bowl of Momofuku-quality sides that at times outshone the meat itself.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC

Before the meal began, we were shown the two deep-fried chickens and the lamb shoulder in their whole forms.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
Salty Dog

My boyfriend made the mistake of mixing the black salt into the drink. NO.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
horchata: rice milk, cinnamon

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
Midtown Collins: gin, calamansi, elderflower

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
pork buns: hoisin, cucumber, scallion

Because at this point, we didn’t know that we were about to be treated to a tableful of side dishes. And you know, even if we had, we all probably would’ve ordered these. No one goes to Momofuku without eating these pillowy buns loaded with tender fatty pork and sweet hoisin.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
chicken

Sous vide and deep-fried, these thick slices of chicken were covered in a salty, spicy crust. The pile of herbs is a Momofuku staple and something I look forward to at all of their large-format dinners.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
lamb

Lamb shoulder, confited, smoked, and roasted. Most people thought this was the more consistently-delicious of the two meats. While the chicken had more of an initial impact with its layer of salt, the uncrusted center of each slice was pretty typical chicken. The lamb was flavorful through and through, so I guess I’d go with the lamb dinner for 6-10 people ($325) over the chicken dinner for 4-8 people ($175) if I had to choose just one, but getting both is really the way to go.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
chickpeas

My favourite of the side dishes. It was like eating some of my favourite spicy hummus. I evidently didn’t get a picture of the eggplant side dish, which other people argued was the best of the sides. Point is–the sides were so good we fought over which was best.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
curry rice

Of course a Momofuku restaurant isn’t going to serve you steamed white rice.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
crispy chicken skin salad

I think pork rinds are kind of weird, and yet I tried to steal as much chicken skin off of this as I could before anyone noticed it was on there.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
tomato chutney

I still can’t stand fresh tomatoes, but this was truly delicious. It hit all of the sweet/sour/savory notes, and I loved the chewy texture to boot.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
pickles

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
pita

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
wheatberry salad

The one light and refreshing aspect to the entire meal. Which is just as I would have it.

Momofuku Ma Peche Chicken/Lamb and Rice, NYC
the whole shebang on one plate

What a meal. I know $45 per person for 10 people isn’t exactly cheap for a plateful of food, but somehow these Momofuku dinners always make you feel like you’re getting a steal. Maybe because there’s always at least one insanely delicious aspect of the feast that’s not even supposed to be the highlight. I dream about the scallion pancakes served with the Momofuku Ssam Bar Whole Rotisserie Duck and the sauces that come with the Momofuku Noodle Bar Fried Chicken Dinner; now I’ll dream about the tomato chutney at Ma Peche, too. Or the chickpea dish. Or the eggplant. You get the same friendly service at Ma Peche that you expect at the other Momofukus, but the space was clearly designed with its location in mind. It’s inside the Chambers Hotel, near MoMA and Carnegie Hall and Central Park. While the downtown restaurants are geared toward hipsters, Ma Peche is draped in fabric and colored orange in a way that brought to mind The Gates art exhibit by Christo and Jeanne-Claude that filled Central Park nearly a decade ago. And the food is just as sophisticated.

Ma Peche
15 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019 (map)

Big Daddy’s Still Makes Me Feel Like a Kid/Alcoholic Again
Feb 13th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

I’ve written about Big Daddy’s, a diner with a focus on absolutely delicious/disgustingly fatty throwback foods, before, but I just found some photos in my archive and need to show them to you in case you need a reminder of how amazing/awful/amazing this place is. I understand entirely that this is the sort of food meant for children and drunk people. And I’m both of those at heart.

Big Daddy's NYC
Bow Wow Wow

Breakfast on a waffle: buttered waffles, scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, American cheese, hash browns. A completely nutritional dinner.

Big Daddy's NYC
Real “Mac” Coy

A burger, covered in mac & cheese and crispy bacon, served with sweet potato (excuse me, sweet potater) tots, of course.

Big Daddy's NYC
Cotton Candy Circus Shake

Cotton candy topped with cotton candy.

Big Daddy's NYC

All served in a space that’ll make you think of ’50s soda fountains, ’60s hippies, and ’80s Saturday morning cartoons.

Big Daddy’s
239 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003 (map)

North Restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, and One of the Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten
Feb 6th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

My boyfriend was in Providence, Rhode Island, for a couple of weeks on business, and people kept telling him how up and coming the food scene was. I was skeptical, because everyone from everywhere loves to tell me how comparable to NYC their town’s food scene is, but Jack took me up there to find out for myself. There were two restaurants everyone seemed to be talking about in Providence, and one of them was North.

Honestly, despite the reviews, I was convinced I wasn’t going to like it. I wanted to fine dine, and this sounded like some hipster hole-in-the-wall with a teeny menu where nothing looked interesting and nothing sounded delicious. The only thing on the menu that resembled an entree was fried chicken for two, and I didn’t want to waste one of my meals on something I can find all over NYC. Even the ramen, which I usually crave, had clams in it that made it less appealing to me. I was sort of being a sadsack.

And then I loved it.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island

North totally was a hipster hole-in-the-wall. There was a bar where maybe four people could sit and then a smattering of tables that were a mishmash of built-in wooden booths and the kind of laminate tables and metal chairs you see in old pizzerias. And yet I found it totally charming. There was a sort of nautical theme, and the way-too-cool servers were also really friendly and chatty. When I accidentally left the lens cap for my camera behind at the table, they were holding it behind the bar for me and seemed so relieved when I returned for it five minutes later. The witty drink menu pretty much sums up the place.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
red wine & Coca-Cola

Damn. Delicious. Who knew.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
frozen drink of the day

I forget what they had concocted the night we went, but it was being mixed up in one of those machines you see in gas stations up by the bar. Apparently the drink changes on a daily basis and is always the thing to get.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
tiny ham biscuits: surryano ham, lemon garlic mustard

Tiny but powerful. I love a biscuit, and I thought it was cool that they were using a Virgina ham rather than an Italian or Spanish one. But it was the mustard that really had all the flavor.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
early autumn ramen: clams, miso, egg, wakame, pork broth

So deliciously porky, and I actually thought the chew of the clams added to the bowl! The broth was heavy with miso and so flavorful.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
almost boneless fried chicken: everything bread, herb salad, grapefruit chimi

Everything about this dish was my dream.

1) Most of the pieces were chicken breast that they had wrapped chicken sausage around, just like the duck at Momofuku Ssam Bar here in NYC. And then they were deep-fried. So there was this perfect white meat chunk in the center of every slice, then the more flavorful sausage, then the crunchy crust.

2) A couple of the pieces were bone-in, though, so I got the best of both worlds.

3) There was a big pile of herbs to eat alongside the chicken.

4) There was also a huge spread of one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, everything bread.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
everything brioche

I saw the “everything bread” on the menu in the description of the chicken, but it meant nothing to me. I actually thought there might be a word missing or something. Even though I live for the everything bagel. Even though one of the most memorable things I’ve eaten in NYC was the everything bagel ice cream at wd~50. Even though I have a jar of everything bagel spice in my spice cabinet. And this was actually even better than any everything bagel I’ve ever eaten. Because this was brioche from a local bakery, Foremost Baking Company, buttered and grilled so that it became a little crisp, with everything spices on the outside.

We were supposed to make little sandwiches with the bread and chicken, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I just kept eating the bread on its own and dying a little bit more with every bite. One of the most painful parts of existing in this world is the way the first bite of something is always the best bite, and every bite after is a little less exciting. This never got less exciting.

North Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
Jack surveys the end piece, which was clearly the crunchiest and best piece of chicken, and which I graciously let him have.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half Star

Okay, okay, the food scene in Providence is up and coming. Mostly because it reminds me of some of the best parts of the food scene in NYC. The next restaurant I went to in Providence actually reminded me of another David Chang restaurant I love, so apparently the restauranteurs of Rhode Island came to NYC one weekend, ate at all of the Momofukus, and then went back to open their new joints.

OH! OH! Stop the presses! I was actually just looking at North’s Tumblr, and it turns out that the cook and owner, James Mark, was at Momofuku Ko, my favourite of the Momofukus, when it first opened. And there’s a Momofuku Ko collaboration dinner being hosted at North next Monday as I type this. Hilarious.

And lucky for the people of Providence. This was the kind of meal you want to eat with all of your best friends, at a big table surrounded by mismatched chairs, with lots of Coke & red wine at the ready. The specifics of the dishes seem to change nightly, but the main ideas remain the same, and for good reason.

North
3 Luongo Memorial Square
Providence, RI 02903 (map)

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