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

My five-star reviews:

“Musical Pairing” Dinner with Barbara Werner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Jul 24th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

Recently, I’ve been watching the movie Silver Linings Playbook a lot, both because it’s been on HBO and because I’m a sap. There’s this epic scene where Bradley Cooper’s character is desperately trying to find his wedding video in the middle of the night, and Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” plays over his frantic search. I try to imagine the scene without the song, and it’s just nothing by comparison. And I’m sure we all have these movie moments where the music mattered so much to us and really made the scene. Chef and author Barbara Werner has figured out that the same can be said for music and food with her new book series and app, Musical Pairing: The Art of Harmonizing Music to Your Meal.

When Barbara invited me to a nine-course music-paired tasting on her at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House near Times Square last week, I expected that she’d just rented out the upstairs meeting room for the atmosphere and would be having a caterer serve us tiny one-bite plates, enough to give us a sample of what an actual musical pairing dinner party could be like. After the first course, I was dying to know the caterer’s name. Because I am dumb. Of course it was Ruth’s Chris food we were eating, and it was all incredible.

My friend Kim and I were seated at a U-shaped table with other journalists, bloggers, photographers, and eaters,

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

and in front of each of us was a set of Frends headphones in either rose gold or black that were ours to keep.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

When Barbara Werner began speaking, we couldn’t help but stop sipping our champagne and admiring our new electronics, because the woman is a real charmer. She was funny. She was honest. She spoke openly about being divorced and how much she loves being a single woman but how she hates the way restaurants announce to all of the other diners that she’s alone the moment she walks in the door. “Table for ONE? Do we have a table for ONE LONELY PERSON?” She didn’t want to have to join Match.com just to be taken out to dinner, she said, but she hated the stigma attached to treating just herself to dinner. So Barbara started wearing headphones while she ate to block out the clatter of silverware as the server removed the extra setting from her table for two, and that’s when she realized that something special was happening.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

To start the evening, Barbara’s assistants hooked us all up to iPods,

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

and then servers brought our food to us as we began listening to the song Barbara had decided to pair with that particular course. She said that she’d specifically chosen headphones versus piping the music throughout the room over loudspeakers to ensure that we’d know it was the music that had made the meal so memorable and not the fantastic conversation we were having with the people next to us.

Our example course was a single scoop of vanilla ice cream, something we all knew well and could use as a baseline. As our dishes arrived, a classical music piece began playing. It was fine. The ice cream tasted like ice cream. But when they switched us over to “Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major”, the ice cream suddenly tasted . . . different. Brighter. Creamier. I knew it was just the power of suggestion, but did I care? If I stop feeling pain because of a placebo pill, I’ve still stopped feeling pain, right? It was a little bit exciting to me to think that my brain could be won over by a couple of violins. I was also probably won over by the fact that this woman was serving me ice cream for an amuse bouche.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

The rest of the night would only get better from there, thanks to Barbara’s song choices and this sampling of the Ruth’s Chris menu.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
ahi tuna on cucumber with spicy mustard

Barbara explained that her pairings are derived from a simple mathematical formula that takes into account the type of protein, the way it’s cooked, and then all of the side dishes and sauces. Since this tuna wasn’t cooked, its musical pairing number was small, so she needed a song with a matching small number. She was looking for a steady beat with no big sweeps, not a lot of dynamics. What she ended up with was “We Got the Beat” by The Go-Go’s. I absolutely loved the spicy wasabi and ginger with the freshness of the tuna and cilantro.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
veal osso buco ravioli

Barbara has a culinary degree and comes from a long line of butchers. She was a self-described nerd in school, a choir geek, and learned about whatever music her crush of the moment was into to make boys like her. And she’s great at talking about food. The way she described the classic veal osso buco had my mouth watering even before the dish was anywhere in sight. This one was infused with saffron and was so rich and buttery. I’m not sure I’d heard of Florida Georgia Line before the dinner, and I don’t usually listen to country music, but “Cruise” had me wanting to dance in my seat and sing along.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
fried calamari with sweet and spicy chili sauce

I don’t eat a whole lot of squid in my life, and I was actively trying to control my portions so I’d be able to save room for the THREE COURSES OF DESSERT, but I couldn’t stop shoving this stuff in my maw. Set to the tune of Carly Simon’s “Let the Rivers Run” (the theme from Working Girl), it was bursting with red pepper flavor that’s making me salivate even as I type this. The lemon we squeezed over the whole plate was the perfect bright contrast to the heavy batter.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
tempura onion rings

And speaking of heavy batter, next up was the biggest onion ring I’d seen in my life. Barbara called this “the greatest stoner food known to man” and paired it with stoner music, “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones. The coating on this was so thick it went from crunchy on the outside back to doughy again on the inside. I loved getting the best of both worlds, and really, the fact that this was a tempura batter meant that it was surprisingly light. I loved the Thai flavors of the dipping sauce.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
crispy stuffed roast chicken breast with sweet potato casserole

Next up was a roasted chicken breast paired with Cream’s “White Room”, perfect for the herbaceous cream sauce that burst out of the chicken when I cut into its crisp skin. But the star of this dish, and maybe reason enough on its own to visit Ruth’s Chris Steak House, was the sweet potato casserole with a pecan crust. It was CANDY. It could’ve easily been dessert. And did I taste a hint of orange in it? The fact that no one is writing love poems to these sweet potatoes is a crime. The Best.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Finally, we got to the Ruth’s Chris signature: a petite filet mignon medallion with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. This is the dish that inspired Barbara to write her Musical Pairing series. She was at Ruth’s Chris one night by herself, listening to Luciano Pavarotti sing “Nessum Dorma”, when she was inspired to figure out why this song and this food went so perfectly together. The song was so epic–probably too epic for my taste in any other setting, actually–but there was this moment when I was spooning these potatoes drowning in butter into my mouth that I thought I’d never be able to eat steak without music ever again after this.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
whipped banana cream pie

Harry Connick, Jr. sang “It Had to Be You” to us as we ate this mini banana cream pie that was more fresh banana than pie. We loved how it was just lightly sweet and how it was so much more “real food” than banana pudding is. The espresso martini it was served with was all chocolate and sugar, on the other hand, and of course I loved that in an entirely different way.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
bread pudding with whiskey sauce

This was like an apple pie stuffed into a bread pudding with all of its cinnamon and fruits. It was paired with The Mamas and the Papas’ “Words of Love” and a creamy whiskey sauce that seemed to also have a whole lotta powdered sugar in it.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC
chocolate sin cake

This really needs no description, because it’s all in the name. Eating this cake is a sin. Especially after eight previous courses and ice cream to start the whole night off. It was so dense and decadent that half of the room left their plate nearly untouched. I, on the other hand, ate nearly all of it but left behind a single bite to show that I’m in control of my appetite. And I’ll regret that decision every day of my life.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Several years ago, when I was a faithful minimum wage bookstore employee, I was so excited to read This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession the moment it arrived in the store. I was dying to know why music affected me so much, influenced my mood so intensely. What the book basically told me was, “We have no idea.” But even if I don’t know why my connection to music is so meaningful, it is. And well, my connection to food is embarrassing at times. As I sat listening to this Florida Georgia Line song I had never heard before and was finding it so unbelievably catchy, I wondered if the food had as much to do with me liking the song as the song had to do with me liking the food. It’s been a few months since I’d had a good tasting menu, so maybe it was partly just that I was experiencing the euphoria of an overly-full belly, but I kept exclaiming, “This is the best night of my life!” Loudly, so my friend could hear me through her headphones. And she was feeling the same way. Whether or not we can pinpoint the science behind musical pairing, we’re dying to host a music-paired dinner party full of the very best/truly, truly terrible songs our iPods can produce.

If you want to do the same, check out the beginnings of musicalpairing.com for videos and contests, and try the beta app at mpwebapp.com to see actual song suggestions based on your menu.

Musical Pairing Dinner with Barbara Werner, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, NYC

Thanks to Barbara Werner and Ruth’s Chris Steak House NYC for an amazing time!

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
148 West 51st Street
New York, NY 10019 (map)

The New Dessert Menu and More at The Chester
Jul 17th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

If you’re wondering where the pretty people in NYC are eating (or not eating, to maintain their girlish figures), it’s at The Chester in the Meatpacking District. The restaurant serves American food, but the crowd is a mix of world flavors thanks to its prime location, attached to the Gansevoort Hotel with its famous rooftop pool.

I happen to work right next door and looked longingly at the soft blue-and-white striped banquettes on the outdoor patio every morning at The Chester until I finally convinced my friend Kim to join me there for lunch one day. We ordered lobster Cobb salads with chopped lettuce and piles of hard-boiled egg, bacon, blue cheese, avocado, huge chunks of lobster, and pineapple(!) and haven’t stopped talking about them since.

Incredibly, The Chester contacted me recently to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their new dessert menu, and I jumped at the chance when I saw that one of the new offerings is served in a jar, which automatically makes everything taste like sunshine and butterflies in flight. The desserts were on the house, but of course Kim and I had to sample a little bit of the rest of the new menu on our own dime.

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC
dip duo

An appetizer big enough to be an entrée is a rare and beautiful thing in NYC. This duo of dips was extra satisfying in that it included both the savory part of the meal and a part I would’ve been happy to eat for dessert. The white bean dip was the salty portion, and I loved its strong red pepper flavor. The sweet honey came through in the ricotta dip so well that it tasted like candy next to the white bean. Both seemed extra creamy when paired with the crunchy toasted bread.

The Chester, NYC
prosciutto flatbread

Contrasting that was the soft bread of our other appetizer, this flatbread topped with prosciutto, fontina cheese, and arugula tossed in truffle oil. The prosciutto was so tender, not sinewy at all, and I loved the richness that the grilled flavor added to the bread.

The Chester, NYC
scallops

The thickly seared scallops were of course the star of this plate, but I couldn’t get over how the sweet slice of cornbread complemented the naturally sweet scallops. Everything was perfectly seasoned, and there was lots of complexity thanks to the buttery cream sauce, salty capers, and bitter greens on top.

The Chester, NYC

Plus, it was just plain nice to look at.

The Chester, NYC
kale Caesar salad with salmon

Kim’s kale Caesar was SPICY! Surprisingly so. The portion size was again really satisfying, and Kim didn’t even think she needed to add the salmon but thought it was a well-cooked piece of seameat and was glad she’d ordered it. The big slices of Parmesan were our favorite part, as a couple of cheese hogs.

The Chester, NYC
chocolate cake

The first thing I said was, “There’s liquor in here!”, which is always a great way to start a dessert tasting. The dark chocolate cake had just a hint of bourbon infusion, and I wanted to drape that thick velvety frosting all over everything I ate. The raspberry sorbet had a bright, fresh taste, like it was plucked straight from the raspberry garden. The cocoa nibs, by contrast, added a dark richness and crunch.

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC
panna cotta

The panna cotta is the very last dessert I would’ve ordered for myself because they’re usually too light and not decadent enough for my taste, but this was easily my favorite of the desserts we tried. It reminded me of eating a flower in the best way, the very perfumed flavor of cardamom filling my nose. The warm sensation of the cardamom and strong whiskey cream hit my throat first, but then the cooling burst of Meyer lemon and orange followed. I loved the textural differences of the cream, followed by the crunchy almond brittle, followed by the custard, followed by a layer of liquid on the bottom. The whole experience made me think of drinking a cup of Early Grey tea. Except, you know, it was a creamy cool dessert and not hot tea and therefore much, much more delicious.

The Chester, NYC
strawberry shortcake

My dessert in a jar, at last! Layers and layers of fluffy vanilla bean sponge cake and strawberry compote. I loved that there was plenty of saltiness in this lightly sweet dessert, which really brought out a lemon flavor in the cake. It was such a pleasure to dig through the cream down to the cake and strawberries and come up with a spoonful of different flavors and textures. The honeycomb candy added another reminder of summer with its sweet honey flavor, and it hardened in our teeth so we could continue to enjoy the dessert all of the way home.

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC

The Chester, NYC

The Chester
18 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10014 (map)

Jeni’s Ice Cream in NYC
Jul 3rd, 2014 by donuts4dinner

If you’re from Columbus, Ohio, like I am, there are three things you’re proud of: the concrete corn field, The Black Keys, and Jeni’s ice cream. Maybe Marilyn Manson, too. But definitely the other three.

I usually have some shame when it comes to my carb intake, but I was in Ohio last week visiting my family and managed to eat Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams three times. I actually visited four of the locations with different friends but didn’t eat at the Bexley one because I’d literally just come from the Grandview one. This is how pervasive Jeni’s is in Columbus. When I’m there, it feels like I have to fatten myself up for the lonely Jeni’s-less winter that is NYC. Sure, there’s Jeni’s in the freezer at my neighborhood grocery store, Brooklyn Fare, but once you’ve had it fresh from the scoop, no old pint will do.

Luckily, a Jeni’s popup just opened up in NYC’s Gotham West Market yesterday and will be here until September. In Ohio, there are about twenty flavors to choose from, all so distinct and distinctly interesting, with gravels and sauces and all the accoutrements. Here in NYC, there are just seven flavors, but boy, are they doozies. I get Salty Caramel ice cream almost every visit in Ohio, and I’ve been dying to try the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. It doesn’t seem like any of the toppings are available here, though, so you’ll need to head to Ohio to get the complete Jeni’s experience. Still, Gotham West Market is going to be seeing a lot of me this summer.

To whet your appetite, here are two of the Jeni’s sundaes I had while in Ohio last week:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Wildberry Lavender, Salty Caramel, and Brambleberry Crisp ice creams, with Salty Graham gravel and a waffle wedge. Up until this visit, I’d never gotten a gravel. The ice creams are so flavorful that I thought adding anything extra would detract from them, but a friend convinced me that the gravel is as important as the base at Jeni’s. I still think the ice creams are perfect on their own, but I absolutely loved the crunch and the added savoryness of the graham cracker/butter mixture that is the Salty Graham gravel. I usually don’t even like crunch in my ice cream, but I loved the way this crunch broke apart in my mouth and melted.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

The same friend, upon hearing that I’d just gotten the gravel, informed me that the cherries at Jeni’s are the best cherries. Another friend informed me that no, it’s the whipped cream that’s so good. So on my next visit, the next day, I got the whole shebang. This was Bangkok Peanut, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean ice creams with Salty Graham gravel, Salty Caramel sauce, whipped cream, a cherry, and a waffle wedge. I really wanted to try the Donut gravel but just couldn’t miss out on having the Salty Graham again. All of the toppings were great additions that somehow didn’t tame the flavors of the individual ice creams, but the cherry was the star. It was dark and tangy, familiar and yet also unlike any cherry I’ve ever had. So rich I would’ve been sick after two of them.

I don’t know what it is about Jeni’s ice creams. Reading one of her recipes, I’m always slightly weirded out by the cornstarch, corn syrup, and cream cheese in her bases. But if that’s what it takes to make ice cream so creamy and memorable you come back for it three times in the span of four days, I’m not going to argue. Visit Jeni’s @ Gotham West Market for more information and to see all the flavors being offered in NYC!

Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036 (map)

Virginia Craft: Artisan Virginians in Chelsea Market
Jun 18th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

Last night, Virginia Tourism took over Chelsea Market for the Virginia Craft event celebrating the state’s artisan food and beverage purveyors. I was invited to attend by the Lou Hammond PR agency and brought my boyfriend along for what I expected to be a quiet night of sampling hams, but it ended up being a party packed with people aching for oysters, bourbon, and beer. The breweries and restaurants in attendance were represented by people who really cared about their products and talked lovingly about their local, organic, heirloom ingredients. Virginia is for lovers . . . of good food and drink!

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC
Chalkboard art by Carolina Ro Design and Alex Russel

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Tables set up around the room all contained one food company and one drink company, which made for some excellent pairings.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Our first stop was Foggy Ridge Cider. Cider’s my go-to at a bar, but Foggy Ridge’s Serious Cider was something entirely different than I’ve ever had–a very light, very mineral, very dry cider that reminded me of a wine but tasted like apples. It was so neat to hear about the different types of heirloom apples they grow, one of which was thought to have gone “extinct” until twenty years ago.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Beth from FOODE served us this beef brisket over organic cheddar grits with organic kale salsa verde that had a delicious little kick of spice.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC
VAT OF TINY BISCUITS

My dream come true, thanks to FOODE.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Caromont Farm was on hand with two cheeses that were washed-rind yet managed to be mild and balanced: a raw milk cheese using milk from their neighbor’s farm and a goat milk cheese using milk from their own goats. They call these American cheeses in the style of European cheeses and won second place in that category last year from the American Cheese Society.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Blue Mountain Brewery was offering two of their beers, a very light and crisp Kolsch 151 lager and a Full Nelson featuring their home-grown Cascade hops.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Chef/owner Ian Boden was serving a lamb dish from The Shack featuring Border Springs Farm lamb, peas, rhubarb picked in gin, and soy sauce lees, which is the solid left behind when the liquid soy sauce is drained away. They were surprisingly mild, and the overall dish was well-balanced with sweet, savory, salty, and sour flavors.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Chef/owner Harper Bradshaw had a lovely blue crab dish from Harper’s Table with buttermilk, cucumbers, peanuts, and lime. Each flavor came through so well, and yet the sweetness of the crab was still the star of the show. As were the wood-grain compostable plates.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Complementing that was the Faux Rickey by bartender Todd Thrasher of PX using Catoctin Creek Distilling‘s Watershed Gin, home-grown basil, and lime juice. The basil foam made it impossible to drink. And also awesome to drink.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Sister restaurants Comfort and Pasture were serving this smoked trout/deviled egg/pickled apple combo on a sumac wafer. Smoke is irresistible to me.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Belle Isle Craft Spirits was making an old fashioned the old-fashioned way with their moonshine, which they had smoked. It was intense, intensely delicious, and perfect next to the smoked trout.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Co-owner Ryan Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters was offering two types of oysters and a clam, grown at different places in the Chesapeake Bay to give them varying levels of brine ranging from sweet to knock-your-socks-off salty. My boyfriend also thought their cocktail sauce was killer.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC
the backdrop for the band

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC
feasting under the Chelsea Market lights

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC
the guys from Shooting Point Oyster Company talking about their fare

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Catoctin Creek Distilling gave us a shot of their rye whiskey and a cocktail made with rye, ginger ale, orange bitters, and lemon peel. I’ll be making this one at home. A lot.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

I believe this tiny ham biscuit was from Edwards Ham, but it arrived out of nowhere on a tray from an angel/server. The first time I had Surryano ham was on a tiny biscuit at North in Providence, Rhode Island, and this one was comparably tasty with its clear, sweet porky flavor.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

A. Smith Bowman Distillery had seven- and ten-year aged bourbons that we each drank neat and were truly taken by the smoothness of both and the stronger flavors of vanilla and caramel in the longer-aged version, which was impressively from a single barrel. The gentleman serving the whiskey was actually the person who samples the seven-year barrels and decides which of them will be mixed together for the bottles of seven-year and which are perfect enough to go on aging for the single-barrel bottles. What a life.

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Virginia Craft @ Chelsea Market, NYC

Restaurant Review: Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn
Jun 11th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

I have a hard time explaining Mile End to people. I’m inevitably hanging out with hungry friends in my neighborhood, and when I call it a deli, they inevitably say, “Oh.” So then I have to explain that it’s a hipster deli, but no one likes that, either. So then I have to explain that it’s a really cute East-Village-meets-Cobble-Hill kind of place that happens to serve the most delicious meats in the style of a New York deli. And also has plated entrees and wine.

That usually wins them over.

Mile End Deli, NYC
smoked meat sandwich

The cured and smoked brisket is the thing to get. The burger is always awesome. The entree special of the night is indeed always special. But the brisket is the thing I keep coming back for. It has that spicy crust, those thick cuts laced with fat that could be chewy but is always melty. And then the mustard adds another level of spice, the bread adds a little stability to the tower and soaks up the mustard, and then there’s just no stopping it.

Mile End Deli, NYC

Try to resist this.

Mile End Deli, NYC

Mile End Deli, NYC
lamb meatballs

This is one of those plated entrees I was talking about. I was going to get the brisket but saw this written on the chalkboard above the counter one night and had to have it. The meatballs were so juicy and well-seasoned that it was clear they came from a restaurant focused on meat, and then a flavorful hummus and crunchy pomegranate seeds made it a complete dish.

Mile End Deli, NYC
Brussels sprouts

These Brussels sprouts with chunks of apple and candied walnuts were on the menu for the longest time and will be back, if I have anything to say about it. Everything’s better with an egg on top.

Mile End Deli, NYC
poutine

French fries covered in roasted chicken gravy covered in cheese curds. This was actually the first place I ever had poutine. I’m not the hugest fan of gravy and wish this was covered in Cheez Whiz and cheese curds instead, but I understand that I have the palate of an elementary school child.

Mile End Deli, NYC
Sir Kensington’s Ketchup

Fresh, tangy, less sweet, less fake, thicker. We tried a side-by-side taste test of the Sir Kensington’s and the national brand ketchup that was right beside it on the table, and this had a much more full-bodied flavor.

Mile End Deli, NYC
Pretty Things Meadowlark

There are 30+ beers on the menu, a couple of ciders, a handful of wines, and some interesting sodas. I always order the Farnum Hill Dooryard #1310 cider and let the waiter try to talk me out of getting 750mL of beer. Like I can’t handle it.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarBlank Star

The food at Mile End is comparable to or better than that of the most famous delis in NYC. The portions are smaller than at Katz’s or Carnegie or 2nd Ave, but so are the prices, and the atmosphere here is miles (pun!) ahead of those places. I know there’s something special about getting barked at from behind a counter by an aging butcher with a Brooklyn accent and a love of half-sour pickles, but I don’t mind my deli meats being served by a friendly bearded hipster when I’m out for the evening. The only beef (pun! sorry) I have with this place is that it’s tiny and that the tables are communal. There are three shared picnic tables (read: no back support) to sit at, and if you come as a twosome, you’ll likely have strangers at your table. (Nice, considerate Brooklyn strangers but strangers all the same.) There’s also a table for two by the window and four counter seats. I don’t go here as often as I’d like even though it’s just down the street from my apartment, because it fluctuates from nearly empty to OMG CHAOS at random intervals, and I’m never sure what I’m going to get when I go. But I do love to go.

Mile End
97 Hoyt Street
New York, NY 11217 (map)

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