RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Dough | Brooklyn, NY

Dough (Facebook / @doughbrooklyn)
305 Franklin Ave. (map it!)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(347) 533-7544
Open daily, 7a-5p
Accepts cash only

Date of Visit: Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.

As we were saying good-bye to New York, we still managed to sneak in some delicious eats. Before we even hopped in the car, we walked with our friends down the street to Dough, a corner shop in the neighborhood serving big donuts to a steady line of regulars.

The shop seemed empty when we first arrived, but within seconds it was crowded with folks nabbing fresh donuts and coffee, then sneaking back out the door. The customer area is fairly small, with just a small counter and a couple seats if you want to stay. But the retail front is surrounded by big glass walls that let you see into the back and side rooms, where a small army of bakers is busy at work.

We managed to find some room to stand and nibble on donuts, and watch one baker roughly chopping chocolate.

Despite the small size, their output is clearly enormous, as evidenced by the loaded carts and vans parked out front.

Dough specializes in one type of donut: large yeast donuts with a variety of very creative toppings. There’s no simple sprinkles or vanilla icing here; they dowse these bad boys with chocolate, fruit, nuts, even flowers.

Let’s take a look in their display cases. Example one: a cafe au lait donut topped with strussel.

Example two: a pumpkin donut with a light glaze and pepitas.

We attacked our box of donuts with gusto. Our selection included (clockwise from upper right) coconut, hibiscus, chocolate with cocoa nibs, and blood orange. These donuts back a punch flavor, so these aren’t easy coffee-and-a-donut type donuts. These are “I’ll slice a small piece off each one” donuts. The chocolate was rich with a slight bitter edge, the coconut nice and toasty, the bloody orange very strong, citrusy, and a tad sour from the acid in the actual slices of orange. And the hibiscus? Well, I don’t know how else to describe it but sweet and floral. All four were really delicious and fascinating types of donuts – like nothing I’ve had before. I like that they seem to use a base recipe for the yeast donut, and then use the toppings to really distinguish them.

As we were headed out of town, we didn’t linger too long over the donuts, but I’d love to go back and try even more.

Sullivan Street Bakery | New York, NY

Sullivan Street Bakery (Facebook / @SullivanBakery)
533 W. 47th St. (map it!)
New York, NY 100
(212) 265-5580
Open Mon-Sat, 7:30a-7p; Sun, 7:30a-4pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.

In the middle of a busy day of trekking all over Manhattan, we stopped for a mid-afternoon snack in Hell’s Kitchen. While doing our NYC research, we had come across multiple references to Sullivan Street Bakery, and the descriptions of their breads, rolls, pizzas, and pastries were simply too enticing to pass up.

We were at the perfect point in our day to enjoy a treat (or three or four) at Sullivan Street. We had had an early breakfast, strolled through Central Park, hit up the Garment District, and even traveled to the bottom of Manhattan to see the World Trade Center site. We wanted snacks (both sweet and savory), we wanted some caffeine, and we wanted a place to sit.

The front of the space is tall and bright, with a full wall of windows and one long, thin counter with four or five seats. You’re certainly not out of place sitting in the bakery, but I’m sure more of their business comes from takeaway or wholesale customers.

Ah, but enjoying a cup of coffee in the bakery allows you to gaze at (and eventually buy) the sweet and savory treats. We ordered some iced coffees and then began working our way through the menu.

On one plate, we started with the bomboloni (upper left) and a slice of fruit canotto. The bomboloni is a delicious little yeast donut filled with sweet vanilla cream. The fruit canotto is made with brioche dough, mascarpone, and seasonal fruit. It was layers of moist, crumbly, rich pastry. We got two.

And then we got savory. They had a selection of pizzas, each of which was sliced into generous portions and abundant in toppings. First up: the pizza funghi, covered in cremini mushrooms and onions. Earthy and salty.

Then there was the pizza patate, which was a little lighter than the mushroom pizza but still sang sweetly with the potatoes, onions, and herbs.

One of the real stand-outs – in a list of standouts – were the strecci, long toasted pieces embedded with different ingredients like garlic, olives, or tomatoes. They were simply delightful: light crust on top, seasoned with salt and herbs, with plump little tomatoes baked inside. After we took a bite, the rows and rows of them lined up on the shelves looked like some glorious nirvana to us.

 

Sullivan Street Bakery is a very worthy NYC stop, early or late in the day. Even though we watched a regular flow of customers stopping in and out, the overall vibe is still quiet and relaxing. The gang behind the counter is incredibly nice. They started laughing at me as I kept coming up to the counter to sample more strecci and canotto and pizza. But we loved everything we had, from the baked goods to the iced coffee. The bright, well-designed, delicious-smelling spot is a welcome respite in the middle of busy New York City.

Sullivan Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Dine Originals Week in review

Dine Originals Week has wrapped up! Did anyone make any good discoveries? We managed to try three places, which is saying something considering our busy schedules and the kids! For one of the first nights, we hit up our family-favorite Katalina’s Cafe Corner. There we were able to try both their lunch and dinner specialties. The lunch item was a nice, fresh fall salad. It was loaded with figs, baby onions, cheese, and roasted acorn squash. Like a big, leafy pile of autumn.

We also split their dinner special: a skirt steak with skillet potatoes and a side of the fall salad. The steak was medium rare and sliced into thin strips. While it was a little chewy, the crust was packed with flavor: smokey, sweet, spicy all at once. Nice crispy side potatoes, again with a little bit of heat, plus a helping of the salad on the side. For dessert we devoured their pumpkin custard in seconds. I wasn’t even quick enough to get a picture.

Later in the week we visited Katzinger’s Deli to try their special. It’s been too long since we last visited, and we were in the mood for some reuben sandwiches, so we ordered their corned beef and turkey reubens. Both were quite good – the meats and sauces were spot-on, although the bread was a little hard. They came with different sides, both decent but not notable: a roasted squash soup and potato salad. They tossed in some chocolate chunk cookies, too.

Our last visit was a Friday morning breakfast at Pistacia Vera. I’ve had Pistacia Vera’s baked goods many times before, but never had the pleasure of sitting down to one of their delightful breakfasts. My wife ordered their DO Week special of a thick slice of mushroom quiche with a side salad and a cup of coffee. The quiche was big and moist and loaded with mushrooms – really superb. I ordered their baked eggs, but you’ll just have to wait to read more about those!

What about you? Did you try any new places last week?

Dine Originals Week giveaway!

Dine Originals Week is off and running! Some of Columbus’ most creative restaurants are busy offering fixed-price lunch and dinner menus (with the occasional brunch, yes) from November 12-18, allowing customers to easily sample the soups, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, salads, desserts, cocktails, and more from around the city.

During this week, you can enter to win a $50 gift certificate from Dine Originals (for use after this week)! To enter, you need to read through the Dine Originals Week menus here, then comment on this post with an answer to this question: as the weather is turning colder this week, we think of more warm, comfort food to get us through chilly days. Which two menu items from the week sound the most warm and comforting to you, and why? Comment by the end of Dine Originals Week (midnight on Sunday, November 18) to enter!

Breakfast Barn | Columbus, OH

Breakfast Barn
1275 Brown Rd. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43223
(614) 308-0173
Open Mon, 5a-3:30p; Tues-Sat, 5a-7p; Sun, 5a-5p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

I need to come up with a new category for restaurants like the Breakfast Barn. It’s not quite a diner, with decades of tradition and a long counter for conversation, but they do serve monster portions of inexpensive comfort food. It’s not a casual cafe, although there’s plenty that’s casual about it, but it doesn’t have the polish of the small chains or the neighborhood corner cafe. It’s certainly not a fancy brunch spot, although you can order breakfast at odd hours of the day. Places like the breakfast Barn are hard to pin down but instantly recognizable. They tend to exist in the middle of residential areas, on semi-busy streets, but away from the more high profile neighborhoods. In Columbus, many of them are grouped on the southwest or southern part of town. I’m thinking of spots like Ohio Deli or the now-closed Mel’s Kitchen. So what do we call restaurants like this? The casual diner? The diner cafe? Maybe “breakfast barn” is the most fitting title.

Regardless of how we call it, this type of restaurant flourishes around Columbus and around the country. This southwest-side  eatery sports a simple interior with a funny mix of decorations: part country kitsch, part old kitchen, part… well, everything. Tiny political signs mix with electronic gambling games and country shelves and different table decorations.

I decided to go all the way on my visit and try the Breakfast Barn Platter. The server, who was also the owner, suggested it. She whipped it up in no time at all: eggs, home fries, sausage links, plenty of sausage gravy, and believe it or not, there are biscuits under there. As a breakfast dish it was easy to like. All well made, and seasoned fairly well. But nothing fancy.

Again, there’s nothing at all really complex about spots like the Breakfast Barn. But their charm and continued popularity is in the simple food and the regular community that gravitates toward it.

Breakfast Barn on Urbanspoon

Barney Greengrass | New York, NY

Barney Greengrass (Facebook / @Real_Barney_G)
541 Amsterdam Ave. (map it!)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 724-4704
Open Tues-Fri, 8:30a-4p; Sat & Sun, 8:30a-4p
Accepts cash only
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

Saturday morning. Our one big morning in New York City. There’s lots of pressure on what we choose for breakfast – we have to make it count. Fortunately, our reading and research let us to the New York gem Barney Greengrass. Nicknamed “The Sturgeon King,” Barney Greengrass is a 104-year-old Upper West Side deli, serving all of the true deli classics: smoked and cured fish, caviar, bagels, fresh roasted coffee – lots of prepared foods alongside fish and meats by the pound and other grocery items.

If you grew up in New York or are more experienced eaters than us, maybe you’re used to establishments like Barney Greengrass. I’ve experienced more simplified local delis or the imitation ones that dot America (excepting more unique finds like Katzinger’s in Columbus or Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor). But Barney Greengrass is the real deal. As suave as we think we are as travelers, we stood out like sore thumbs. We stepped right into the middle of a busy Saturday morning rush, and while we were warmly welcomed, we definitely felt that we should keep a low profile amongst all the regulars.

The space was crammed and busy, but we didn’t wait long before being given a seat close to the door. The busy crew at Barney’s seemed to know everyone, and there were a lot of families with kids. The design is delightfully outdated: small, old counters and shelves, lots of mirrored doors, display cases loaded with goods, tables and chairs positioned back-to-back. It the front window is a list of all the famous movie and television scenes filmed in the restaurant.

Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is a big fan of smoked salmon and lox. That, plus knowing that we were dining with the Sturgeon King, meant that we were both in mood for some fish. Our eyes were draw to the list of specialties, which features different salmon and sturgeon preparations. The platters below include more of those, plus whitefish and sable.

We started with coffee, served in small green and white cups. It was strong, hot, and delicious, and they kept it filled.

At the suggestion of our server (who was the best – more on that soon), we started with an order of latkas. We noticed, however, that he referred to them as “potato pancakes” to us. Again, despite our efforts to blend in, we were clearly outsiders.

Expectations were high on these, and they delivered. I’m by no means the latka king, but these easily top my list. They’re thick and chunky. Shredded potatoes inside are moist and well-seasoned, and wonderfully crisped on the outside. Served with the sides of sour cream and applesauce.

Like I said earlier, Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is a big fan of smoked and salted salmon, so she naturally ordered the lox platter. Her request, though, was met with a simple, “It’s too salty for you” from our server. Plain as that. When she tried requesting it again, he just repeated, “No, it’s too salty for you.” He wasn’t mean about it, just honest. I’m sure they’ve had so many tourists try the lox, find it too salty, and try sending it back.  I loved it. The server and the restaurant are so true to their DNA that they won’t let you order something they know you won’t like. After the server “lox-blocked” her (Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s term), she asked for the gravlax salmon platter instead, which he let her order. Gravlax (spelled “gravlox” on their menu) is a preparation using dill and other spaces. She gave it rave reviews. Super fresh, delicate, and flavorful. Notice the small bite of salmon next to her coffee cup. She caught her server later and asked if she could just try a sample of the lox. He gave her a small slice. Turns out he was right: it was really salty. Amazing, but salty.

As we were in the land of the Sturgeon King, I ordered the sturgeon cooked with eggs and onions. It was a dense plate of protein, salty and a bit smokey. The eggs were cooked just right, the sturgeon flaked apart, the onions offered a nice little punch of flavor. I took each bite slowly, savoring the wonderful flavors.

Each meal came with their house-made bagels. I asked our server which bagel we should order, and he replied “the everything bagel” without hesitation. They were terrific. Big, mostly crispy, a bit chewy, very salty. Served with a tiny slab of cream cheese. It was simply delightful to pair with the fish and eggs.

My seat gave me a direct view of the bagel case. I heard that simple clicking sound of the plastic doors opening and closing pretty much constantly. If we hadn’t had a day of wandering Manhattan ahead of us, we would have taken a dozen home.

We loved our experience at Barney Greengrass, so much so that we kept geeking out about it throughout the day. I felt that we discovered a New York institution and got to join the crowd of regulars enjoying their Saturday breakfast. The food was delightful: authentic, house-made, packed with flavor. A little expensive, too: our meals were about $15-19 each, but a.) we were in New York, and b.) it was well worth it and speaks to their 100-year-old tradition of excellence.

Barney Greengrass on Urbanspoon

Wafels & Dinges | New York, NY

Wafels & Dinges (Facebook / @waffletruck)
Various locations around NYC
Follow their website or Twitter feed

Waffles at midnight? Yes, please! On our previous trip to New York, we were left with some great culinary suggestions for our next visit. One of these came from Jean-Francois Flechet, owner of Taste of Belgium in Columbus and Cincinnati. He told us about a little food truck serving authentic Belgian waffles around Manhattan. So on our recent trip, as the Mrs. and I were sans kids for the weekend, we sought out Wafels & Dinges after catching a Broadway show. Off the hook, right? We used #nokidznorulznyc as our hashtag.

Once we got off the subway, it look a little searching to find the Astor Place wafel truck, but the bright yellow paint job and eager lines of NYU students helped us spot it. Wafels & Dinges has clearly been busy over the years. They have two five or six trucks in operation; we visited the Kostar, the smaller one, while the original truck Momma was operating elsewhere. Since our visit, they also opened a small permanent stand at Bryant Park.

The concept is simple: the truck serves two styles of wafels – Liege style and Brussels style. Liege style uses a batter infused with some type of sugar, so you get a compact, circular waffle that’s marbled with caramelized sugar. The Brussels style is more rectangular and more reminiscent of what most Americans think of when you say “waffles.”

You choose your base, your wafel, and then you choose the dinges, or toppings. You can customize your waffle with individual dinges, or you can choose from their menu of sweet or savory arrangements. Savory versions include ones topped with BBQ pulled pork, corn chili, or even bacon. As it was late night and we had already had dinner, we were both in a dessert mood. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick chose de Throwdown wafel, with their spekuloos spread and whipped cream.

Spekuloos is like Biscoff; it’s a glorious cookie spread similar in consistency to peanut butter or Nutella, and it’s so delicious you should put it on everything. Everything, do you hear me? Everything in the world.

I was eying the evening’s specialty: de Big Apple pi. It was everything I wanted to finish off the night.

Unfortunately, they had run out of the apples from Sarabeth’s, but they were fine with substituting  bananas instead. We both chose the Liege waffles as our base; we prefer the chewier, sweeter, denser waffle than the lighter Brussels one. So my snack consisted of: Liege waffle + bananas + dulce de leche + whipped cream + cinnamon sugar. Need I say any more? It was delicious, sweet, filling, perfect as a late night snack. No wonder Wafels & Dinges was named Best Food Truck in the country by the Travel Channel.

If you’re searching for a Wafels & Dinges truck, it’s best to keep an eye on their website. The two trucks switch locations between morning and night. In the mornings, you can typically find one in Central Park and one near Grand Central Station; in the evenings, you’ll find one near Astor Place and another on Christopher Street.

The next time you’re in New York, go find one of their trucks. For me, it’ll easily become a favorite stop in the city during every visit. And did I mention the spekuloos spread…?

Wafels & Dinges (MOBILE CART) on Urbanspoon

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 273 other followers