Mike and I have been back from NYC for a couple of days now and I’ve got to say, as much as the city was a ton of fun, I’m happy to be home. My tummy is happy to be home too – I think I stuffed it past the point of reason! We walked everywhere (even across the Williamsburg Bridge a couple of times), visited a couple of our old haunts and even found some new favorites.
A Shake Shack burger, the first time you have one, is indescribable. The char on the patty, the squish of the yellow Martin’s potato roll, the addictiveness of the Shack Sauce. The thing about the Shack though, is that it’s incredibly inconsistent. They’ve expanded rapidly and it shows. Sometimes the crinkle cut fries are crispy, sometimes not. Sometimes the patties are charred and pink in the middle, sometimes they’re overcooked and strangely lacking a good crust. I still stand by the fact that Shake Shack has upped the burger game. If, after renovations, the original Madison Square location is just as good as it used to be, I’ll be a loyal fan. Plus, the crinkle cut fries get me every time. I love a good crinkle cut!
I went to RedFarm with a girlfriend and it was hands-down, one of the most fun nights I had in NYC. We had the shrimp stuffed crispy boneless chicken wings, pan-fried pork buns, and a peking duck. The duck was a special from Decoy, their duck based sister restaurant downstairs. It was pretty darn delicious. The duck skin was a burnished, deep dark mahogany, crispy and full of flavor, the pancakes were thin, and it came with three different sauces for you to mix and match at your pleasure. The pan-fried pork buns were good too!
Mike and I stopped in for a quick takeout meatball parm and I was utterly delighted. The meatball was giant, tender and nicely flavored, the cheese was hot and gooey, and tomato sauce was rich and plentiful without being too saucy. Surprisingly it wasn’t that messy to eat, which is always a plus in my books. Parm is supposed to be an old school style casual place with classic, well done Italian American food and I think it hits all the right spots for quick and easy eats.
This bbq joint is located in the depths of Brooklyn. It’s not in Williamsburg, or even Green Point – no, Arrogant Swine is in the industrial part of Bushwick, neighbor to corn chip factories and plastic bag manufacturers. It’s a North Carolina style whole hog joint that serves up all it’s sides in waffle format. The waffled cornbread was crisp and sweet and the mac and cheese waffle was everything I dreamed it would be. It was a trek, but it was fun trying out whole hog style bbq. It kind of got me itching to visit the serious bbq joints down South.
Chalait and Big Gay Ice Cream
I was so happy that Izy agreed to meet me at Chalait, a cute light-filled little spot that’s on the cozy side. I ordered a matcha latte and avocado toast. It was a lovely spot to chat in. And bonus, a couple of doors down is Big Gay Ice Cream. Of course we stopped in to get our ice cream on. I’m always super indecisive when ice cream places have big menus, but Big Gay Ice Cream is known for their Salty Pimps, so thankfully it was a no-brainer. I loved it! Creamy vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche, chocolate dip, and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.
Dough Doughnuts and Doughnut Plant
I picked up a lemon poppy seed doughnut from Dough and I wasn’t disappointed. Light, fluffy, and chewy with a lot of lemon flavor and delightfully crunchy poppy seeds. But, if I had to choose between the lemon poppy seed from Dough and the creme brûlée doughnut from Doughnut Plant, the creme brûlée doughnut wins. It’s filled with actual creme brûlée and the top is torched to boot.
If you’re in NYC on the weekend, I’d definitely recommend checking out Smorgasburg. If you’ve ever been to night markets in Asia, you’ve got the right idea: Smorgasburg is basically a big outdoor food court with a beer garden on the side. A lot of popular NYC vendors were there and I enjoyed walking around and seeing what everyone was lining up for. The ramen burger is still super popular, as were giant ribs. I really wanted to try the Scotch eggs, but the lines were kind of insane so we only ended up eating deep-fried cheese curds. Despite the crowd, it was still a super-fun experience. Definitely one of the better food truck gatherings I’ve been to.
Ramen Lab is where the makers of Sun Noodles (arguably the most popular manufactured ramen noodle in the States) run an experimental kitchen. Different chefs are rotated through and given a chance to run a pop-up ramen shop. The week we were there was the last week of an incredibly delicious vegetarian XO miso ramen. It was one of the best bowls I’ve had outside of Japan: thick, rich, and full of umami. The noodles were perfectly chewy and well suited to the oolong tea-miso broth. It was a good bowl.
Dominique Ansel Kitchen + Cronuts
When I was in NYC, Dominique Ansel Kitchen just opened up so I dragged Mike along with me to try out the matcha beignets. I was excited, but ultimately disappointed. The beignets themselves were hot and hollow (they’re made to order), but the matcha on top seemed like an afterthought, just dusted on with wanton abandon. We ended up abandoning the bunch. To be honest, I am going to put myself out on a limb here and say that I’m not the biggest fan of Mr. Ansel. I managed to preorder some cronuts and, in a similar vein to the beignets, I was disappointed. It’s probable that I built them up in my mind. They were good, but they weren’t mind-blowing.
Victory Garden and Morgenstern’s
It was hot while we were visiting and hot weather plus vacation is an excuse to step into every frozen treat place there is. Victory Garden and Morgenstern’s were two that stood out. Victory Garden serves up fresh goat milk soft serve with daily flavors. I had the halvah which was creamy, cool, and delicious. I love the texture of a good soft serve and Victory Garden didn’t disappoint. Morgenstern’s was good too: I had a scoop of the green tea pistachio on a sugar cone. The green tea flavor wasn’t super prominent, but I loved the crunch of the whole pistachios.
We went to a bunch of other places too (Russ and Daughters was superb!), but this was getting a little long as is. If you made it through, you’re a trooper! Have a virtual meatball parm, on me!
Until next time NYC!