Tag Archives: Clover Club

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2016…

You wouldn’t expect one of Brooklyn’s best cocktail bars to have a killer brunch. But Clover Club puts as much effort into their morning meal as they do into their well-thought out libations. It’s evidenced in their Bloody Marys, their bacon tasting, and their fluffy omlette stuffed with seasonal cheeses, meats, and vegetables. Price: $11
CLOVER CLUB
210 Smith Street (between Baltic and Butler Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 855-7939
cloverclubny.com

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 45: SORACHI ACE from BROOKLYN BREWERY

Ok, so this is not a drinking blog, but I’ve spent much time searching for the best beer in the city (come on, it’s liquid bread) and what do you do while you eat? Drink! And I’ve found some deliciously quaffable concoctions along my journeys.

Named for the rare Sorachi Ace hops that was developed in Japan, Brooklyn Brewery initially released this unique saison beer as a 750 ml bottle feremented beer and this year started offering it as a draft option. It stretches the imagination of what beer can be with a spicy citrus/lemongrass flavor followed by  a clean champagne yeast finish. It’s endlessly drinkable and pairs brilliantly with all types of food. Sparkling wine better watch its back. Price Varies

BROOKLYN BREWERY
79 North 11th Street (between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue),
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(718) 486-7422
brooklynbrewery.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. 

NUMBER 85: EGG-IN-A-NEST at TRAIF

I’ve been cooking “eggs in a hole” for many many years. It’s rather simple: butter a piece of bread, cut a hole, and while frying the bread, break an egg in the hole. Flip, and after a few minutes, there you have it. Simple.

Traif takes that simple idea, but turns it up a notch… or three. Chef Jason Marcus takes two pieces of rich brioche toast, stuffs it with brie, béchamel, truffle cream, and meaty portobello mushrooms. All of that is topped with a perfect fried egg that once broken adds another layer of richness. And while all that decadence sounds like it could be too much, it’s incredibly balanced and you’re left craving more. Thankfully it’s served with the actual bread hole on the side (stuffed with more earthy, cheesy goodness). Price: $11

TRAIF
229 South 4th Street (between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(347) 844-9578
traifny.com

NUMBER 84: MARIA SIN SANGRE at CLOVER CLUB

While I love the flavor of Bloody Marys, I usually think it’s like drinking a thick spicy tomato sauce. I’d be happy to pour it on some pasta, but I can’t usually swallow an entire glass of it. Mixologist Julie Reiner of Clover Club serves four versions of Bloody Marys at brunch. And I’m so relieved I took the plunge and tried one.

The one I chose, the Maria Sin Sangre, translates to Mary without the Blood. And that’s partly why I liked it so much. It’s a subtle mixture of muddled cherry tomatoes, basil, silver tequila, sherry, and lemon juice. The drink exhibited the perfect balance of sweetness, herbaceousness, and spice. This is a brunch cocktail that Bloody Mary lovers and haters can agree on. And you’d have to be crazy to confuse this light, complex cocktail with something that goes on pizza. It’s meant to be sipped and savored. Price: $10

CLOVER CLUB
210 Smith Street (between Baltic Street and Butler Street)
Cobble Hill
(718) 865-7939
cloverclubny.com

NUMBER 83: CHICKPEA FRIES at PEACEFOOD CAFE

Ok, so technically this was not something I ate at breakfast – although I believe this vegan restaurant on the Upper West Side serves these in the morning. They’re a healthier, more interesting version of french fries. And they reminded me of a wonderfully savory take on french toast.

Imagine the logs of fried chickpeas are the toast (they’re gluten-free) and the tangy, earthy tahini dipping sauce is the maple syrup. They’re seasoned with aromatic Indian spices (cumin, cardamom, chili powder, and cinnamon) that give it a complimentary sweet and spicy flavor. They’re somehow crispy without any excess grease and they give way to a warm, soft center. Combine the concept of falafel, french fries, and french toast and you have a delicious creation any time of the day. Now if only they’d serve it with a side of bacon! Price: $7

PEACEFOOD CAFE
460 Amsterdam Avenue (between 82nd and 83rd Street)
Upper West Side
(212) 362-2266
peacefoodcafe.com

NUMBER 82: CACIO E PEPE at MAIALINO

The brunch at Danny Meyer’s Maialino was the most memorable breakfast I’ve had in a long time. Time Out brought us here to try their take on lox and cream cheese (they use swordfish and robiolina cheese), but every dish we tasted was stellar. I could have included any of them on this list.

But the stand-out was the Cacio e Pepe, which translates to cheese and pepper. This combination is traditionally served on pasta (and Maialino does a version of that at dinner), but it made for one of the most memorable egg dishes I’ve ever had. The porridge-like dish was quite simple, but Chef Nick Anderer’s refined hand and technique was evident in the revelation of textures and flavors. The soft scrambled eggs were creamy and tender, with the rich pecorino cheese and generous fresh cracked black pepper playing up the earthy, spice qualities. I haven’t stopped dreaming about this since.

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

NUMBER 81: EGG BAGEL at ABSOLUTE BAGELS

I devoured a lot of bagels this year, but only one was life changing. And it wasn’t at one of the old school Jewish bagelries across the city, but rather at a Thai-owned neighborhood spot near Columbia University.

Sam Thongkrieng, who has worked at classic spots like Ess-a-Bagel, has trained his staff at Absolute Bagels very well. He wasn’t there the day I tried one of their famous egg bagels with a sweet shmear of strawberry cream cheese. The hot out-of-the-oven bagel was life changing. The yellow-hued dough pulls apart so easily and melts in your mouth as you chew. The rich bread has a sweet and savory flavor that is the perfect foil to the cream cheese. And the fact that they bake their bagels throughout the day means you can have this transcendent experience whenever you want. You just got to get yourself up to 107th Street. Trust me, it’s worth the trip. Price: $1 (without cream cheese)

ABSOLUTE BAGELS
2788 Broadway (between 107th and 108th Street)
Upper West Side
(212) 932-2052

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.

54. MUDDLED GRAPES at THOM BAR

The only reason I even walked into Thom Bar, which is the ultra-swanky, slightly dated lounge attached to the lobby of the Thompson Hotel is because one of my New York-born scenester friends brought me here with a group. It’s totally not my scene. Everybody is checking everybody out and I’m amazed they even let me in wearing my jeans and sneakers.

But on that fateful night, I studied the cocktail menu and found a surprisingly spectacular drink. And since then, I’ve often returned but only to re-taste the Muddled Grapes (and usually to try to impress a girl with it).

It never worked on the girls, but it still works on me. A generous helping of sweet muddled red grapes are submerged in a blend of vodka, champagne, and young coconut. The cocktail has a sweet rich flavor that gives way to a bready, mellow finish. It’s well-balanced and frighteningly drinkable. And the best part is after all the liquid is gone, you still get to chew on the freshly spiked grape pulp.

It goes to show you can find a gem in the last possible place you’d have looked. Price: $14

THOM BAR
60 Thompson Street (between Spring and Broome Street)
Inside the Thompson Hotel
Soho
(212) 219-2000
thompsonhotels.com/hotels/nyc/60-thompson/drink/thom-bar

53. THE NTH DEGREE at CLOVER CLUB

I’ve been to Clover Club (a really comfortable and affordable psuedo-speakeasy in Brooklyn) twice and both times was to get a drink on Time Out’s list. This year the cocktail they recommended was not listed on the menu. It was a special cocktail that had to be asked for, like a secret password leading to a concoction of deliciousness.

The Nth Degree is a combination of applejack, aged rum, and Green chartreuse.  Very simple, very boozy, and very delicious.  Sitting in the glass was one humongous ice cube and a bright duo of an orange and lemon twist

The drink was slightly sweet, a little vegetal, and even a bit spicy.  It was a prefect combination and I’m surprised that the new Time Out list doesn’t feature any cocktails from Clover Club. Guess I’ll have to return on my own and find something else just as complex and delicious. Price: $12

CLOVER CLUB
210 Smith Street (between Baltic Street and Butler Street)
Cobble Hill
(718) 865-7939
cloverclubny.com

52. DR. KLANKENSTEIN from SIXPOINT CRAFT ALES

This is one of those dishes I tried this year that is no longer available. And I never got a picture of it. But I found this short video on the making of the beer instead:

So in case you skipped the video, the Dr. Klankenstein is a stein ale that was made by Sixpoint Brewery (one of the 3 breweries in Brooklyn) exclusively for The Modern restaurant. It was very exciting when it was unveiled and it got lots of press and people coming in to taste the brew. I got front seats for the entire thing because I worked at The Modern as a server at the time. Which means I got to taste it just about any time I wanted.

A stein ale is an archaic process of making beer that involves heating up the water with hot rocks. Of course, it’s obvious why nobody does it anymore since we now have easier and safer methods of heating up water. But Sixpoint decided to take the time and labor to re-create an old-fashioned flavor of beer using actual hot basalt in the wort.

The idea is intriguing and makes for a unique and delicious beer. I’m not a huge fan of Sixpoint beers because I think they tend to taste rather the same. It’s a good flavor, but I do like some variety from beer to beer. This could come from the fact that they use the same yeast (named 007) in all the beers.

To my knowledge, Dr. Klankenstein used that same yeast, but the final product had a sweeter, richer flavor than most of their beers. The stones gave the beer a caramel flavor and imparted a bit of minerality which was unusual but pleasing. It was well-balanced and addictingly drinkable.

It paired really well with the rich, earthy flavors of The Modern’s Alasatian dishes. The only problem is, a limited amount of the stuff was brewed and the kegs have all been tapped. And considering what a difficult process the re-creation of stein beer is, odds are Sixpoint won’t be repeating it anytime soon.

My apologies to those who didn’t get to taste it, but if you ever see a proper stein beer anywhere else in the world, I urge you to give it a chug.

SIXPOINT CRAFT ALES
40 Van Dyke Street (between Dwight Street and Richards Street)
Red Hook, Brooklyn
(917) 696-0438
sixpoint.com

51. DEVIL IN WHITE at THE MODERN

You know those blank white canvases that some people call art and others call a sham? Think Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings.

Well, the equivalent in the cocktail world can be found at the Modern, which fittingly, is the restaurant attached the the Museum of Modern Art (and my former employer). It’s called The Devil in White. And it looks like just some clear liquor in a martini glass, with a sleek brandied cherry garnished on the bottom.

But when you sip it, it’s so much more. I liked to call it a “clear Manhattan”. It’s a brilliant concoction of Death’s Door White Whiskey, Dolin Blanc Dry Vermouth, and A.B. Smeby’s Black & White Bitters.

The bitters are made by Louis Smeby, who is a captain in the dining room and has a really amazing line of craft bitters. This particular one is made from cocoa bean and vanilla bean. And it helps bring out all the rich flavors of the unaged whiskey – it’s not sweet but has hints of chocolate, vanilla, cherry, and smoke.

It’s a complex, strong libation that doesn’t look like much, but is actually a work of art. Price: $14

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

Photo Courtesy of: culinarytypes.blogspot.com

50.THE CORTADO at DEATH & COMPANY

I couldn’t decide which cocktail to order at the dark, romantic Death & Co. The drinks are all rather expensive (in the $14 price range) so I knew I’d only be ordering one. And the list was pretty massive. I asked the waitresses for recommendations and ended up with one of the most amazing and unforgettable cocktails I’ve ever tasted.

The Cortado refers to a shot of espresso cut with a small amount of warm milk (it’s of Spanish origin). So it was fitting that the drink would contain a coffee flavor. But I wasn’t expecting the depth and complexity of flavors I was about to embark on.

The rum was both Pampero Aniversario and Lemon Hart 151. Antica Vermouth was infused with coffee beans, a little white créme de Cacao, Angostura Bitters, some cane sugar, and molé bitters.

When I tasted it, the first thought was it was good. But then as the concoctions played on my tongue, I experienced so many different flavors. A little coffee, sweetness, spiciness, smokiness, medicinal qualities. It had a long finish that kept playing games with my mind and pleasing my tastebuds.

And before I knew it, the high alcohol level snuck up on me and I was stumbling out the door. So now I understood the price tag was for a flavor roller coaster that left you with a mighty buzz. I can’t wait to ride it again.  Price: $13

DEATH & COMPANY
433 East 6th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
East Village
(212) 388-0882
deathandcompany.com

Photo courtesy of: thespeakista.com


Clover Club is another of those repeat spots from last year.  I sometimes think Time Out picks the hippest bars and restaurants first and then tries to find an item that might qualify for the Best 100.

And Clover Club is definitely one those hip bars.  I came here last year (thanks to the previous list) and really fell in love.  They have a huge cocktail list, a really helpful and genuine staff, and reasonable prices.  It was also really empty when I came here on a weekday night last year and it felt like my own personal psuedo-speakeasy.

This year we showed up on a Friday night and it was definitely much more crowded than my former visit, but I was still amazed that we were sat right away.  I realize it’s because the big difference between this and all the similar romantic old school-style school bars in Manhattan is because this place is fairly large.  No long lines outside in the freezing cold.  No claustrophobic tables.  No over-priced cocktails.  No bumping up against people to make your way to the bar or the bathroom.  We were a long way from Manhattan (if not for the F train).

The list item is a drink that is not actually on the menu.  I felt very cool ordering The Nth Degree.  It was almost like a secret password to a special concoction of deliciousness.

And that’s what it tasted like.  It was a combination of applejack, aged rum, and Green chartreuse.  Very simply, very boozy, and very delicious.  Sitting in the glass was one humongous ice cube and a bright duo of an orange and lemon twist.

The drink was slightly sweet, a little vegetal, and even a bit spicy.  It was a prefect combination and it was just a little too easy for me to drink.  And then when the liquid was all gone, I tried to gnaw on the ice cube to get any last remnant of flavor.  I won’t be surprised when the list for 2010 is published and Time Out once again directs us to this spot.  By that time, I might be a regular.

Would Clover Club’s The Nth Degree  make my Top 100 of the year?  It was both exciting ordering an exclusive off-the-menu drink and it was exhilarating to taste a simple and perfect combination of alcohol flavors, so it wins a  9 out of 10 from me.


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