SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
The New Brunch Menu at Ted’s Montana Grill
Sep 29th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

If you’re like me, you probably think of Ted’s Montana Grill as a place for business deals, happy hours, and big, juicy bison steaks. The Midtown location in NYC is great for all of those things, with its hardwoods and low lighting and intimate booths, but when Creative Communications Consultants invited me in to try a complementary meal at Ted’s Montana Grill, they encouraged me to give the newly-revamped brunch menu a chance.

Because Ted’s is in a more business-oriented part of town, I would’ve never thought of it for brunch, and the massive space was pretty quiet when we arrived at 1 p.m. An hour later, though, things were filling up, so I guess it just takes people a little time to make their way uptown. The staff told my boyfriend and me that when designing the new brunch menu, they wanted to please the people who were there for breakfast foods and the people who wanted to eat the Ted’s signature items no matter the time of day, so we ordered a mix of the two.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

There’s a dim lamp in each of the high-walled booths and a map of the American West covering each table. It’s very handsome and atmospheric.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

We had just come back from a trip to the Philippines, so my boyfriend adorably tried to order a glass of pineapple juice. Ted’s doesn’t have that, but they do have fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices with thick paper straws.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

Some nice half-sour pickles arrived for us to savor while we admired the gigantic bison head on the wall behind us. These were perfectly salty and still retained so much of their cucumber flavor. I wanted to put them on a burger immediately.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC
bison short rib hash

They’re not lying when they say everything is made in-house here; we could tell that the sweet corn had been cut right off the cob for this dish. It was filled with tender, fall-apart bison short ribs with tons of BBQ flavor. They tasted so beefy, yet with just a hint of something extra. The rich flavors of the onion and peppers hit us first, but then a little brightness from the cucumber came in at the end. There was so much depth in this plate; certain bites had a combination of flavors that made me pause to enjoy the bliss.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC
Absolute Best Fish sandwich

I’m a little bit skeptical when you start using too many superlatives, but this really was one of the finest fish sandwiches I’ve had. The breading was crunchy but not too thick, the cod was so flaky it didn’t want to stay contained in the breading, and the grainy bun added earthiness and made the sandwich feel more upscale. I’m such a tartar sauce snob, but this one was very flavorful with its chives and capers and totally passed my test. The coleslaw was so tangy, and I loved the green onion in it. And the fries–OMG, perfect. They were like county fair fries, super crispy and with the skin still on, extra salty and oily without being greasy. This wasn’t only a great fish sandwich but a great plate all around, where even the side dishes were stars.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC
huevos rancheros

This isn’t usually something I’d order (I want carbs on carbs with extra meat for brunch), but the manager told us it was one of her favorites and that we’d want to eat the house-made tomatillo salsa on everything. Apparently the chef had a Latino friend consult on how to make it extra-authentic, and we did think it was a winner. It actually tasted like it had mango or pineapple added to it, but it turns out that was just the natural sweetness of the tomatillo. It gave us a slow burn in the back of the throat, tamed by the egg and crispy tortilla. It could’ve actually been spicier for my taste, but this was a really hearty dish, great for vegetarians who still eat eggs.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC
French toast

This is exactly what I want from French toast. It was like someone took the very best banana bread from their grandma’s kitchen to make this. The outside had a crunchy coating, and the inside was nice and fluffy, not too dense. The bananas on the side were cooked down to sugary-sweetness, and they imparted a little of their flavor onto the dollop of smooth whipped cream. Even the butter served alongside the dish somehow seemed exceptional, just because it was salted. I would order this every time, with a short rib hash to take care of the part of me that loves savory alongside my sweet.

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

Ted's Montana Grill, NYC

Growing up in Ohio, my family farm was down the road from a field full of bison, and my mom used to take my little sister and me to the field on summer afternoons to visit them. I have such fond memories of those times and remember how majestic I used to think the bison were, so it sort of warms my heart that Ted’s Montana Grill brought the bison back to the American table and made a market for bison farmers. On top of that, I loved everything I ate at Ted’s. I’ll think about that tender short rib, those county fair fries, and the crispy coating on the French toast for a long time to come, and with bottomless brunch cocktails, I know other New Yorkers are going to love this new menu, too.

Ted's Montana Grill, 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)

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)

Minetta Tavern: the Burger, the Bacon, and More
Feb 27th, 2013 by donuts4dinner

Stepping into Minetta Tavern, you can’t help but feel reminded that this is New York City you’re in. The bar is packed for Sunday brunch, with fortysomething women turned backward on their barstools to flirt with fiftysomething men. The floor is that classic checkered black-and-white, the ceiling is hammered tin, and the walls are covered in a mural that looks like it’s been there since the 1800s. Only the Minetta Tavern of today opened in 2009. It was opened by Keith McNally of Frenchy favourites Balthazar and Pastis, though, so you can bet it’s the perfect mix of the used up Minetta Tavern of the 1930s and sparkling new, classic and newly-conceived. And nearly impossible to get a reservation at.

My boyfriend and I went solely for the Black Label Burger, which is mostly talked about because of its $26 price tag. And also because it’s really, really good.

Minetta Tavern NYC
Black Label burger

A mix of different meats from famed purveyor Pat LaFrieda, this thing is dry-aged for weeks like a fine steak is. The New York Times review that gave Minetta Tavern three stars said, “It’s without question a riveting experience, because burgers seldom pack the discernible tang and funk of aged beef. But for that same reason, it’s unsettling and arguably too intense.” MAYBE FOR A PANSY. For me, biting into this thing with its caramelized onion topping was like sipping a cup of French onion soup. Beefy French onion soup. Except better, because it was on a bun. The meat was so dark and had such deep, rich flavors that it tasted expensive, gentlemanly, and refined. Served with a side of slightly crispy, slightly curly fries to soak up all of those beef juices.

Minetta Tavern NYC

Minetta Tavern NYC
“fried green tomatoes”

Neither fried nor green, these tomatoes were a big broiled disappointment when they arrived at our table. But once we got over the menu lying to us, we found that these were perfect to spread over our burgers like natural ketchup. Of course the burger was perfection on its own and didn’t need them, but at least we found something to do with them aside from throwing them onto the floor in anger.

Minetta Tavern NYC
thick-cut bacon

The bacon was your steakhouse staple, with that just-right chewy-melty combination of meat and fat.

Minetta Tavern NYC
Green Mary cocktail

The bloody mary list is five-deep and ingredient-thick here, and this one had green tomatoes, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Southwestern spices. Tex-Mex in a glass.

Minetta Tavern NYC
coconut layer cake

With fresh coconut in the cream and toasted coconut on top to make it extra coconutty, and a nice, balanced amount of sweetness. There are rumors of rum being added to the cake, which would explain how moist it was.

Minetta Tavern NYC

Living in a city so crowded, I have a preference for sparse, modern, clean-lined dining rooms, but I have to admit that I was charmed by the hubbub and ballyhoo of Minetta Tavern. It felt like half of NYC was crammed into the restaurant that afternoon, all of us sipping cocktails and listening to the conversations of the people next to us.

Minetta Tavern NYC

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012 (map

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter is Frying Up Chicken Right
Jan 22nd, 2013 by donuts4dinner

Despite being a hick from the heartland, I’ve never cared a lick for fried chicken. We didn’t eat it when I was growing up on the farm, because we were too busy enjoying the beef and pork we raised, and then I became a princess who liked all of her meat already off the bone. But after visiting California a few years ago and forcing myself to order the eponymous dish at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, I realized that maybe it was worth a little bone to have a juicier, more flavorful chicken.

And then I became blogfriends with Han of Handi-Eats, whose every other blog post is about fried chicken in NYC. She recommended the year-old Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter most recently, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the pecan pie bread pudding the menu promised, so I fought against my natural desire to not leave the house before 8 p.m. on Saturdays and met my boyfriend and our friend Nik there for brunch.

My first impression of the place was all about relief. The reviews online had made it seem like some divey place with no tables and a wait that would make lesser women gnaw on their hands for nourishment. Instead, it was this rustic-looking open room with white walls, dark floors, plenty of sunlight, five or six tables lining one wall, and a counter for eight or ten diners in front of a bar on the other wall. And people, the bathroom smelled good. I was immediately in love and daydreamed about myself living in Alphabet City and coming every Saturday morning to sit by myself at the counter, eat some bird, and chat with the super-friendly waitress.

The three of us ordered the fried chicken supper for four with ginger ales and sweet teas all around, and here’s what we got:

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter NYC

Twelve pieces of white and dark meat spread across two platters that sort of overwhelmed us when they arrived at the table. The skin was so well-seasoned and crisp, and the meat underneath juiced all over my hands. The huge, perfect pieces of breast were my favourite; peeling the skin back and revealing the smooth white meat felt like unwrapping a gift, and even the very centers of them, so far from the bone, were still succulent.

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter NYC

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter NYC

For the three sides included in the meal, we (I) chose macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and cheddar grits. Each of them was better than expected, with little extras like the crunchy topping on the mac & cheese and the scallions on the grits that made them special. We all loved the potato salad with its chopped peppers, agreed that the tangy cole slaw was too good not to be mentioned on the menu itself, and couldn’t get enough of the warm biscuits with honey.

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter NYC

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter NYC

We were way too full for dessert (and had enough leftover chicken to feed a fourth person), but we bravely forged ahead and ordered the pecan pie bread pudding and the banana pudding. The bread pudding truly was reminiscent of pecan pie, right down to the nuts that don’t get stuck in your teeth and the sweet, sweet caramel drizzle. But truthfully, I liked the banana pudding even more. My boyfriend thought it was too thin and soupy, but even he couldn’t deny how delicious it was. Even the whipped cream on top was something special.

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter NYC

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne-Half Star

From what I saw of its uncrowded tables at prime brunchtime on a Saturday, Bobwhite Counter is one of those rare New York City restaurants that’s doing everything right without anyone noticing. Maybe it’s the Avenue C location far from the subway, or maybe it’s just that East Village kids can only go out at night, but whatever it is, I’m sorry for Bobwhite and happy for me. I’m going to take all of my friends here in groups of four until I’ve had every combination of fried chicken, sandwiches, sides, and desserts that exists. Your invitation is in the mail.

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter
94 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009 (map)

Long-Lost Brunch at The Dutch
Dec 4th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

I looked at my blog yesterday and realized it’s been almost two months since I posted here. I skipped the entire month of November. And you know I’ve been eating this whole time–and how. I have an Eleven Madison Park to write up, a Jean-Georges, a couple of Momofuku Kos . . . but I’m lazy, so I’m just going to post some photos from a trip to The Dutch this summer with my boyfriend and our friends Nik and Marko. It was getting buzz from the second it opened thanks to its chef, Andrew Carmellini, not only being super but having another restaurant with Robert De Niro. And I wanted his fried chicken and biscuits. (Not a euphemism.)

The Dutch NYC
a bloody mary and somethin’ else

The Dutch NYC
two fried eggs with grits and chorizo

The Dutch NYC
tripe! and Fritos!

The Dutch NYC
cheddar burger

The Dutch NYC
fried chicken with honey butter biscuits

The Dutch NYC
honeeeeeey

The Dutch NYC
lemon poppyseed meringue pie

The Dutch NYC
mystery pie

The Dutch NYC

I really loved the neighborhoody feel of this place. They’re not trying to invent anything new, and they spent a lot of time trying to not try too hard: the result is a restaurant that’s comfortable enough to want to spend your Sunday morning in but hip enough that you expect the $18 cheeseburger. I could definitely be convinced to come back for those honey biscuits, but I’d probably be more likely to go to closer-to-home decor-twin The Smith for my everyweek brunching needs. Still, The Dutch is a cute addition to the neighborhood and a must-stop for carbo-loading on your way to your lesson at the Trapeze School New York. (Yes, that’s real.)

The Dutch
131 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012 (map)

Alice’s Tea Cup is Pretty Tea-y but Not So Alice-y
Sep 6th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

My friend Kim online-introduced me to her hometown-friend-with-a-blog Katie Qué (pronounced kay) a few months ago, telling me that she’s a much more interesting blogger than I am and that I’d love her posts about “Game of Thrones” and her many and varied photos of her much-personalitied cat. Within days, we had created a House Katie sigil and motto. (Sorry if that means nothing to you. Wait, no, I’m NOT sorry. Watch “Game of Thrones”. And also “Girls”. Mostly “Girls”, actually.)

Katie Qué came to visit her friend Patrick last weekend and was kind enough to invite me to be a part of her wallet-emptying/belly-filling/Alice-in-Wonderland-obsessing odyssey. My portion of the adventure included brunch at Alice’s Tea Cup, the beloved Upper East Side café with a Saturday morning waitlist far too long for me to ever bother with it. But Kim luckily lives mere blocks away and put our name in early so the rest of us could arrive an hour and a half later with none of those this-better-be-worth-it feelings that a long wait usually leaves me with.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

To put it bluntly, I don’t give a crap about tea and didn’t really even plan to order any, but then I decided on a dish that came ready-made with a pot, so the four of us ended up sharing pots of Alice’s Tea, a blend of Indian black vanilla tea blended with Japanese green tea and rose petals, and of Darjeeling Earl Grey, a Darjeeling flavored with bergamot.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

I was really, really surprised by how much I liked the tea. Especially the Darjeeling, which was just bursting with that deep, dark, depths-of-winter orange, both in smell and in flavor. The mismatched cups and saucers, the sugars and milk, the little spoons–I loved the shabby formality of it.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Katie Qué looks so petite behind her giant cup, and Patrick appears as if he’s plotting a bergamot-fueled bank heist. In the 1950s.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Kim just looks pretty.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

I ordered The Nibble, a two-tiered stand with a sandwich of my choice on top; a scone, a pot of clotted cream and preserves, and an assortment of cookies filled the bottom plate. My sandwich was the Black Forest ham and gruyere, and I was probably about as excited by the look of it as you are. It’s kind of a piddly thing next to the mile-high Katz’s pastramis of the world, right? But I soon forgot how flat and unadorned it appeared when I bit through the golden-raisin-studded bread to the whole grain mustard and then to the sweet and salty ham and cheese. It was more complex than I expected and also more filling.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

I couldn’t have been happier with my pumpkin scone, which was glazed crunchy on the outside but stayed warm and soft on the inside so as to melt the sweet, thick clotted cream. I wasn’t sure the berry preserves would go well with pumpkin, but together, they were this perfect end-of-summer/start-of-fall, warm/cool combination. If the wait wasn’t so unmanageable, I can see myself coming to Alice’s every weekend for their $10 two-scones-and-a-pot-of-tea deal just to have this again.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

Everyone else ordered the vegetarian egg white omelet to punish themselves or something, but this dish ultimately got the last laugh by including these roasted pears that the three of them couldn’t stop raving about. I think Katie Qué may have been inspired to write an entire cookbook centered on roasted pears that afternoon.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

My cookies, on the other hand, inspired me to remember to stick to the scones in the future. There was a chocolate chip, a sugar cookie with sprinkles, a cranberry, and a white chocolate-macadamia. As someone who only likes fresh, soft cookies so heavy with butter they can barely maintain their cookie form, these seemed old and stale to me. Between the four of us, we only ate half of each.

Alice's Tea Cup NYC

A good time was had by all, and I can certainly see myself coming back to Alice’s to have a chance to eat that preserve-laden scone and drink that orangey tea again. It’s a charming little café for people in the neighborhood. I have no idea why this is a destination for out-of-towners, though, in the same way I don’t understand why Serendipity 3 is. The Alice in Wonderland theme is minimal, unless you consider adding the word “Alice” to “eggs Florentine” a real nod to Lewis Carroll. The service is plenty nice, but we were taken aback when our server brought us our last pot of tea and told us we’d reached our time limit for taking up a table at the same time. I guess they know I don’t know where else to get clotted cream.

Alice’s Tea Cup
156 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065 (map)

The Bow Wow Wow and Frozen Hot Chocolate at Big Daddy’s
Feb 16th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

After a night of drinking, my friends and I needed some filling, not-fancy grub. Weeks before, I’d been to the Big Daddy’s in Gramercy Park just for a giant strawberry daiquiri after dinner and had been interested in basically the entire menu, so I led the way to the retro diner for some of the heartiest breakfast foods around.

My friends ordered things like pancakes dripping with melted chocolate chunks and omelettes practically exploding with meats and cheeses, but I went for the biggest, nastiest, kitchen-sinkiest thing on the menu: the Bow Wow Wow.

Big Daddy's NYC Bow Wow Wow

It’s a buttery waffle sandwich filled inches-high with a slab of scrambled eggs, American cheese, Canadian bacon, and hash browns. For the person who’s drawn to sweet breakfast items but never quite gets the satisfaction of savory items from them, like me, this is the perfect compromise: there’s all the cheesy saltiness of the filling, but there’s always the syrupy sweetness of the waffle. And a side of tater tots to boot. The waffle was super-crunchy on the outside but doughy on the inside, just the way I like it, and the sandwich was so stuffed and stuffing I had to eat it with a knife and fork and take half of it home (and you know I like that, too).

Big Daddy's Bow Wow Wow

Everyone else ordered shakes to accompany their meals to overwhelmingly positive reviews, but I had to get the frozen hot chocolate to see how it compares to Serendipity 3‘s (the most famous in the city) and Dairy Queen’s (my personal favorite). Nothing will ever compare to the thick, rich, ice-creamy version that DQ does, but the Big Daddy’s version was eerily similar to that of Serendipity.

Big Daddy's Bow Wow Wow

Which is to say not that impressive. I always expect the milkiness of my mom’s homemade hot chocolate with ice and ice cream blended in, but it’s like some terrible mom used a packaged hot chocolate mix in some water and just added ice. It’s thin and watery and wimpy. But it tastes good, I’ll admit. I just need to remember to ask for a scoop of vanilla on top. And probably some peanut butter, too. Also marshmallows.

Big Daddy’s is my kind of diner. It’s open 24 hours, it’s big enough to seat a party of eight with no problem, and it’s not the usual drab neighborhood joint you only frequent because it’s convenient; not only is the food so comforting it’s worth going out of the way for, but the decor is something you only find in places owned by Branded Restaurants (the folks behind City Crab and Duke’s, another favourite of mine for really over-the-top, fattening stuff); it looks like a 1950s kitchen, but the walls are covered in giant logos for Atari and PanAm and Kool-Aid, displays of throwback products from my childhood, and framed photographs of TV stars too bygone for me to recognize. It’s worth a visit, drunk at midnight or otherwise.

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

Whole Suckling Pig at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room – Gastropub/American – Midtown West
Apr 8th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

As a fairly new food blogger originally from three states away, I sometimes feel out of the food-blogging loop. And as a pig farmer’s daughter, I really love me a good pork roast. So it was a delight to be invited to eat a whole suckling pig at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room with one of my favourite food bloggers, Chubby Chinese Girl, and her pals Henry from Ramblings and Gamblings, Tia from Bionic Bites, Addie from Gypsy-Addie’s Food Diary, and other friends who actually eat things without blogging about them.

The first thing you notice about The Breslin is just how gastropubby it is. It’s a bar, but it’s the kind of bar where the bartender’s serving more burgers than beers. Every inch of wall space is covered in something farm-related–mostly ceramic animals in all shapes and sizes–and all of the fixtures are old-timey. The place is dark but for the bright light coming from the sparkling white open kitchen in the back. And we especially loved the use of what appears to be the original ceiling, which was cracked and peeling and beautiful.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Breslin Suckling Pig

Breslin Suckling Pig
herbed Caesar salad, anchovies, croutons

I’m really not an appreciator of salad. I get that some people like light, fresh foods, but I’m going to chase my oysters with a big buttered steak every time. Our first course was a salad even I could’ve eaten as a meal, though. The Caesar dressing was just so flavorful, the dried herbs so crunchy. The anchovies weren’t fishy at all, really, but just added some salty depth. I would order this again in a second.

Breslin Suckling Pig

And then the pig arrived as the entire restaurant spontaneously broke into applause.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Its little piggy face was right in front of me, its eyeless sockets staring at me and its puffed ears floating alongside its head, begging to be popped like balloons at a county fair dart game. It was much smaller than I’d expected, but I guess we were feeding a table of nine and not a whole neighborhood of smalltown Ohio hillbillies.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Our pig-carver deftly removed the legs from each side and then tonged shoulder, belly, loin, and butt onto our plates.

Breslin Suckling Pig

My plate of crispy skin and shoulder was heavenly. The forkfuls alternated between completely falling apart and so crunchy I couldn’t cut them. It was all of the best things about pork with the benefit that I could sample all of the cuts in one dish.

My boyfriend’s experience wasn’t quite as good as mine, because the skin he got was floppy rather than crispy. I had to give him a piece of my skin before he understood why everyone was salivating over it. I guess that’s one of the side effects of EATING A WHOLE PIG.

Breslin Suckling Pig
duck fat roasted potatoes

It was served with sides of potatoes roasted in duck fat, roasted fennel, broccoli rabe, green sauce, and red sauce. The potatoes were the star with their extra crispy/extra fatty exteriors and soft insides, but really, all of the accoutrements held their own. The garlicky broccoli rabe and tender fennel were both spicy to accent the sweetness of the pork, while the chunky red sauce of peppers and tomatoes only added to its sweetness by tasting wildly of apple pie.

The apple that had been roasted in the pig’s mouth, on the other hand, was funky. My first bite was just nice, mushy apple, but my second bite was freaky, pig-saliva-flavored mushy apple. Lesson learned.

Breslin Suckling Pig

We spent an hour or so really ravaging that carcass, peeling back the cheeks and breaking off the ears, making excessive mentions of the butt meat and trying the doubly-flavoured neck meat.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Even my boyfriend, the salad-lover, found himself ravenous.

Breslin Suckling Pig

In the end, only this

Breslin Suckling Pig

and this remained.

Breslin Suckling Pig

And that’s when they brought the chocolate tarts

Breslin Suckling Pig

and ice cream.

Breslin Suckling Pig

The tart was very good, especially the parts with course salt sprinkled on top, but the ice cream was the really delicious part. I don’t want to pretend like I have any idea what to compare the flavor to, but the ice cream was extra sweet and just had a really wonderful smooth texture. I wondered if there was Marshmallow Fluff or something mixed in.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarZero Stars

Breslin Suckling Pig
see larger (still impresses even me)

This was a difficult rating for me. On one hand, I really appreciate the novelty of being able to eat an entire pig in a fairly small NYC restaurant. I appreciate the work and care that had to go into preparing it. The side dishes were all better than expected and were flavorful enough not to become just afterthoughts next to the pig. I’m still thinking about that ice cream. But at the end of the day, if I’m going to spend $85 for a plate of food, I’d rather have it be an uncommon preparation made with ingredients I have to Google before I leave for the restaurant. Had this been anything but a whole pig, it would have been much less expensive, and there wouldn’t have been any floppy skin to deal with.

But my boyfriend said, “I mean, I just ask myself how much better they could have done with that, and it seems like, for what it was, that’s about as good as you could expect,” and I think that’s reasonable. It was a really neat experience, and I’m very glad I got to be a part of it. I found out that for me, eating an animal that still looks like itself isn’t weird at all! And I met some great people in the process.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
16 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001 (map)

La Silhouette’s Brunch – French/American (New) – Hell’s Kitchen
Mar 30th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

My boyfriend and I ate at La Silhouette last month and enjoyed their tasting menu of citrus-soaked daurade, veal that melted in our mouths, and the biggest chocolate soufflé I’ve ever seen. I gave the food 4.5 donuts but mentioned that the kitchen was still running a little slow with only two weeks of service under its belt, so co-owner Sally Chironis invited us back for a second chance.

Ironically, we had been looking for an upscale brunch spot only the Sunday before but had found every restaurant we thought of closed. Had we remembered that La Silhouette is now serving brunch, we would’ve been treated to:

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Hell’s Kitchen Basket: croissant, pain au chocolat, pound cake, muffin, baguette, butter and jam

I love a good bread basket, and this one had some real high points. The chocolate-banana muffin was the major one thanks to the crunchy sugar topping and the crust of chocolate chips. The buttery croissants flaked apart in our fingers, and the trio of fruit spreads that accompanied the basket were all delicious with the soft marbled pound cake.

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Champagne Punch

This cocktail put your usual brunch mimosa to total shame. It was super sour and loaded with peaches, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, and what my boyfriend thought was rhubarb. Rhubarb!

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Bloody Mary a la Silhouette with clam juice

Unsurprisingly, I don’t drink bloody marys, but my boyfriend assured me this was a good one. He loves a little protein in his cocktails and welcome the baby shrimp, which even I tried and liked when swiped through the Old Bay Seasoning on the rim of the glass.

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Classic Croque Madame

It’s funny that the menu called this the “classic” croque madame, because it tasted quite different than others I’ve had. I don’t think I even knew what a croque madame or monsieur was until a few years ago, and now it’s hard for me to imagine anyone eating anything else at brunch. It’s basically just a grilled cheese sandwich. Filled with ham. And then covered with more cheese. With a fried egg on top. What could be better, right? The difference with this one was that where most croques I’ve had have been mostly cheese-flavored, this one was heavy on the ham. Instead of a single slice, there was a big pile of thinly-sliced ham between the buttery slices of crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bread.

The other plus was the side of Dijon mayo for dipping. I actually thought it was some sort of wasabi mayo, but of course a French-influenced restaurant went the Dijon mustard route. The chef noted the European fondness for mayonnaise on French fries but wanted to add a little kick to it. Oui!

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Norwegian Eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, lemon paprika Hollandaise

My boyfriend has been wanting smoked salmon for breakfast lately, so this dish was perfect for him. Even I, usually so wary of the extra-seafoodiness of smoked fish, thought the flavors were very well-balanced. The smoke wasn’t overpowering thanks to the lemony Hollandaise, and I liked the way the firm English muffin provided a substantial base.

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
La Silhouette Sundae

The night before, we had been to Serendipity 3, arguably the most famous dessert restaurant in the city, and we thought this sundae not only stood up to the one we had there but surpassed it in some ways. There’s a time and a place for over-the-top, brimming-with-every-topping-imaginable sundaes (more often for me than most people!) but Sunday afternoon is not one of them.

This felt like a sundae for adults. A sundae with lighter, better ingredients. It started with the crunchy pink meringue on top, which we later found tiny chunks of throughout the sundae. There was the Chantilly (vanilla) cream, the large slices of beautiful strawberries, the dark chocolate syrup, and the thick vanilla bean ice cream, too. I’m not usually one to praise desserts that don’t knock me over with richness, but this was just a great way to end brunch.

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Cupcake Trio

It doesn’t take much to make me happy when it comes to cupcakes, but these were just so-so for me. I didn’t think the cake portion of the red velvet one was moist enough, but the cream cheese icing with its bits of cake topping was incredible. The coconut cupcake was fine but not memorable. I loved the peanut butter cake of the chocolate-peanut butter cupcake, but the icing was like eating straight shortening. Peanut butter and chocolate are two of my very favourite flavors in the world, but this was my least-favourite cupcake.

La Silhouette NYC Brunch
Cookie Plate

Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the cookies, either. I’ve been thinking about blondies for a couple of weeks now, so you can imagine my pleasure at receiving these. Only they were waaaay too dry for me. The double chocolate chip cookie crumbled in my mouth, as well. The coconut macaroon was the best part of the plate with its chewy interior and chocolate-dipped exterior.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarZero Stars

La Silhouette was such a nice departure from the overcrowded, two-hour-long wait you get at the usual brunch places in the city. The sunken dining room was filled with natural light highlighted by a wall of electric candles, the noise level was low enough that we could enjoy quiet conversation, and our server was kind, professional, and impeccably dressed. I would certainly order the croque madame, eggs Benedict again, and even the $18 bagel with smoked salmon seemed like a deal when we saw how much fish was on the plate. I would skip the cookies and cupcakes, though, and order two of the La Silhouette Sundae instead.

La Silhouette
362 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019 (map)

»  Admin   »  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa and Katie Ett