Tag Archives: Apiary

For the fourth year in a row, I present the 100 most exciting dishes I’ve consumed during my food adventures around the five boroughs. Look for another five dishes every few days.

While an occupation as a fisherman is not in my future, I owe much of my enjoyment to those hard workers. I’ll devour seafood in just about any form – raw, poached, smoked, fried, etc. The variety of flavors and textures from the ocean is immense and these five fish dishes just skims the surface.

NUMBER 75: SMOKED TROUT & WILD MUSHROOM SALAD at VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOP

Smoked Trout & Wild Mushroom Salad at VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOPWho’d have guessed that a Brooklyn restaurant known for their fried chicken and pulled pork sandwiches would make a healthy and flavorful salad? Amidst frisée and red cress lettuce are chunks of smoky, salty trout and warm marinated wild mushrooms. Some toasted hazelnuts are added for texture and a sweet ginger molasses dressing tops things off. This is the pescatarian’s version of surf and turf and it’s every bit as meaty and umami-loaded as one would hope. Price: $11

VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOP
231 Court Street (between Baltic and Warren Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 596-9707
vanhornbrooklyn.com

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Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.

NUMBER 15: OYSTERS at UPSTATE

Believe it or not, New York’s biggest resource at one time was seafood. I’m talking seafood straight from the East River! Sadly, centuries later any fish you might find in Manhattan’s waters also comes with a serious flavor of contaminant. While these five seafood dishes are all prepared in NYC, thankfully the fish comes from waters elsewhere.

Historically, one of the most famous river-dwellers in New York Harbor was the oyster. The awesome craft beer bar Upstate specializes in a rotating list of varieties from the west and east coast (not NYC). Always fresh (this place doesn’t even have a freezer), the oysters are plump and clean (whether they’re briny, creamy, or cucumbery) and pair nicely with well-made beer. The best part is every day they offer a Happy Hour which snags you 6 oysters (your choice) and a pint of a local craft brew for $12. Those prices also make me think of old New York. Price: $2-$2.25 (Happy Hour 5-7)

UPSTATE
95 First Avenue (between East 5th and East 6th Street),
East Village
(917) 408-3395
upstatenyc.com

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I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

25. TRES HOMBRES at DINOSAUR BARBEQUE

It’s quite a statement that we took this barbecue platter to go from the ultra-busy BBQ joint up in Harlem and by the time we found our picnic area on a holiday weekend, the meat was still so tender and full of flavor.

I can never decide what to eat at a BBQ joint (or anywhere for that matter) because I want a little taste of everything. The Tres Hombres combines my favorite smoked meat staples: pulled pork, beef brisket, and 1/4 rack of ribs. There’s more than enough food and all of the meat is incredibly tender and loaded with sweet, charred flavors. Served with sweet cornbread and a choice of sides, it’s a testament as to why Dinosaur BBQ is my favorite in the city. Price: $19.50

DINOSAUR BARBEQUE
700 West 125th Street (between 12th Avenue and West Riverside Drive)
Harlem
(212) 694-1777
dinosaurbarbeque.com

24. PORK CHOP at APIARY

SADLY, APIARY IS NOW CLOSED.

I’ve been working as a server at Apiary for about a year now and in that time, I’ve had the honor to learn of the culinary genius of Chef Scott Bryan. Many in the food industry know him (there’s even an entire chapter about him in one of Anthony Bourdain’s books), but he tends to fly under the radar. His food is simple, but with powerful, rich flavors that make you question whether something as plain as chicken should be allowed to taste this good.

This year I’ve been pretty obsessed with his pork chop. It’s a thick cut of Berkshire pork that’s pan roasted to a soft, tender texture. On its own, it’s full of deep, moist flavors but the chef pairs it with a rotating group of accompaniments. Currently, the hearty mascarpone polenta, sweet braised escarole. Price: $26

APIARY
60 Third Avenue (between 10th and 11th Street)
East Village
(212) 254-0888
apiarynyc.com

23. STEAK TARTARE at BRINDLE ROOM

Our first trip to Brindle Room was sort of lackluster. Nothing was bad, but nothing blew me away. That changed on the second visit when I got some tastes of amazingly flavorful dishes and was taken care of like I was part of the family.

The dishes this time around, including a nice kale salad and a thick juicy pork chop, were much more memorable, but it was their version of steak tartare that really got me excited. It’s served with housemade potato chip crisps which are much preferable to a limp baguette. Chef Jeremy Spector’s raw chopped meat is fresh, flavorful, and kissed with some special hot sauce that gives it a surprisingly tangy, mustardy kick. Price: $9

BRINDLE ROOM
277 East 10th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
East Village
(212) 529-9702
brindleroom.com

22. OXTAIL TERRINE at SALT & FAT

I was frightened about eating at Salt & Fat. All the reviews, while raves, talked about how rich and fatty the dishes were. The “Crack and Cheese” (which was no longer on the menu when I finally made it out to Sunnyside) sounded like a heart attack. But I am pleased to announce I did not suffer a heart attack at Salt & Fat and I discovered dish after dish of deliciousness.

The Oxtail Terrine was my favorite dish. The presentation is rather dark and rough – it looks like a big, black brick. If this was dessert, I might have been more eager to dig into what looked like a brownie. Once I touched my fork to the terrine, it generously fell apart and revealed itself to be a meaty, umami delight. It’s been braised in a dashi and shiitake mushroom broth before being assembled and perched on some exotic mushrooms with a spread of  sweet, rich caramelized onion puree. Price: $10

SALT & FAT
41-16 Queens Boulevard (between 41st and 42nd Street)
Sunnyside, Queens
(718) 433-3702
saltandfatny.com

21. LECHON ASADO at EL NUEVO BOHIO

“Lechon asado” simply translates to roasted pig, but the version at old-time Puerto Rican restaurant El Nuevo Bohio is so much more than that. And the always crowded dining room is proof. I don’t know if I ever would have discovered this place if not for a summertime visit to the Bronx Zoo.

The chopped pork is a moist, meaty mess of flavors with crispy pork skin shards for texture. A wonderfully intense mojo sauce gives the meat an extra garlicky kick, while the side of tostones (fried green plantains) provide a sweet. starchiness that complements the meat. And even though it’s simply roasted pork, this dish makes the trip to the Bronx worthwhile. Price: $7

EL NUEVO BOHIO
791 East Tremont Avenue (between Prospect Avenue and Mapes Avenue)
East Tremont, Bronx
(718) 294-3905

If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.

20. ROASTED ORGANIC CHICKEN at APIARY

Unless it has some really interesting preparation, comes on top of a salad, or it’s on Time Out’s list, I won’t usually order chicken at a nice restaurant. It just seems like the boring choice and it’s like an overplayed record. How many times do I need to taste chicken?

I get the same incredulous reaction at my new restaurant, Apiary, when customers ask me for a recommendation and I tell them the chicken. But I assure them (and you) that this is no ordinary chicken.

Chef Scott Bryan’s techniques seem quite simple, but you realize his mastery when tasting the food. The chicken has a well-seasoned skin that tastes like its been battered and fried (without the actual oil), the meat inside is incredibly moist, juicy, and plump. It may be the most tender chicken I’ve ever tasted. And where do all those flavors come from?

The gigantic portion, rich and silky mascarpone polenta, peas and carrots, and a touch of thyme jus seal the deal. And make this homey, rustic chicken well worth ordering. Price: $22

APIARY
60 Third Avenue (between 10th and 11th Street)
East Village
(212) 254-0888
apiarynyc.com

19. CHICKEN PITA SANDWICH from TONY “THE DRAGON” DRAGONAS

I’ve eaten lots of chicken from street carts. Late night post-drinking binges, quick cheap lunches on the go, and as research for the Food Cart Tours I’ve been giving with Urban Oyster. That’s how I discovered the legendary Tony “the Dragon” Dragonas cart.

It’s parked on 62nd Street near Madison Avenue, which is a little off the path of our food cart tours. But you know me, I’m pretty thorough when it comes to food research. I had read about how juicy his chicken was, but I never expected anything quite like this.

The first clue that this is something special is that it actually looks like pieces of chicken breast. He doesn’t chop it up into indistinguishable meat chunks. It also must be marinated in some special crack sauce with garlic and peppers. It takes a few minutes for him to slice it up, plop it on a toasted pita or on top of some yellow rice, and before you know it, you’re experiencing the freshest, most tender, and delicious chicken you could possibly find on the street.

With its wonderful smoky, chargrilled flavor and succulent plump texture, it’s no wonder that local chefs have tried to get his recipe.  A squirt of tzatziki sauce and some crunchy onions and lettuce round out this perfect iconic New York food: the street meat. Price: $5

TONY “THE DRAGON” DRAGONAS
SW Corner of 62nd Street and Madison Avenue
Upper East Side

18. RAVIOLO AL UOVO at MAIALINO

Although I think he needs to slow down with the whole Shake Shack expansion, Danny Meyer continues to open wonderful restaurants with warm ambience, gracious service, and expertly prepared food. Maialino was a big opening this year and it was Danny’s first foreray into Italian food. And along with Chef Nick Anderer, he’s created a very comfortable and inviting Roman-style trattoria.

The word rustic is an understatement here and most of the food is really good. The most interesting and memorable dish I tasted is called the Raviolo al Uovo. And it basically means egg ravioli. And while we’ve all heard about egg pasta, this egg is stuffed inside one big ravioli.

The dish comes out and the first thing you want to do is break it open like a soup dumpling, let the yolk seep out the sides, and then soak up the perfectly tender ravioli with your newly made sauce. If that wasn’t enough, the plate (pre-egg explosion) features a rich brown butter ricotta sauce that brings out a bit of sweetness. The garnish of sage is perfect and shows some restraint. I however did not show any restraint when served this handsome and delicious appetizer. My apologies, Mr. Meyer. Price: $15

MAIALINO
2 Lexington Avenue (between North Gramercy Park and 22nd Street)
Inside the Gramercy Park Hotel
Gramercy
(212) 777-2410
maialinonyc.com

Photo Courtesy of: toastnjams.wordpress.com

17. DEVILED EGGS at FORT DEFIANCE

There’s a very funny moment on my Bar Mitzvah video where the camera catches me discovering an hors d’oeuvre that looks creamy and sweet. It was my first experience with deviled eggs and for whatever reason, at 13, I decided that they were gross.

I’ve tried them many times since and they’re still not my favorite. But after tasting the ones at Fort Defiance, I can safely say that they’re the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had. These were spicy and sweet with a delicious tangy bite and a fun poppy texture from mustard seeds. Each bite revealed something else. I loved discovering all the other ingredients: celery salt, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and greek yogurt (which I think makes these the smoothest, creamiest deviled eggs ever).

Fort Defiance in Red Hook is a colorful and warm neighborhood spot and they have converted a once discerning 13 year-old Bar Mitzvah boy into a deviled egg lover. Price: $3

FORT DEFIANCE
365 Van Brunt Street (between Sullivan Street and Wolcott Street)
Red Hook, Brooklyn
(347) 453-6672
fortdefiancebrooklyn.com

16. SLOW POACHED FARM EGG IN A JAR at THE MODERN

I used to work in the Bar Room at The Modern (the high end restaurant attached to the MoMA). And I truly loved the food there. I’ve never worked in a place where I could honestly say to customers, “Everything is good.” I think people are still skeptical of that response when asked for a waiter’s favorites, but here it’s really hard to choose favorites. Everything is great.

But one dish that I really could never get enough of was the slow poached farm egg in a jar. Now I’m not a huge fan of eggs (yolks especially) to begin with, but when you add butter poached lobster, sea urchin froth, and any number of rotating crunchy root vegetables (currently, it’s crosnes), you’ve made me a convert. And bonus points for presentation: the whole thing is served in a mason jar that made all the tables look over when somebody had it delivered.

I used to guarantee people that if they like eggs and lobster. there’s no way they wouldn’t like this. Only one person ever challenged me and it was because she was scared that the egg wasn’t scrambled. Here it’s slow poached and runny so it has a soup-like consistency (that’s why we always served it with a spoon), but better than any egg drop soup you could ever dream up. Price: $20

THE MODERN
9 West 53rd Street (between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue)
Inside the Museum of Modern Art
Midtown West
(212) 333-1220
themodernnyc.com

Photo Courtesy of: crumbs-nyc.blogspot.com


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