Tag Archives: Gramercy Park Hotel

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

Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

I’ve been eating a lot of brunch lately. It’s sort of a cliched meal in this town and not one I’m usually attracted to. The lines can be out of control and I’m not willing to wait an hour or more for some eggs and pancakes. Yet in the last few weeks, we’ve discovered going to brunch later (like after 2 or 3) is easier and some modest places out there make tasty, worthy versions of bacon and eggs.

I wouldn’t call Maialino one of those modest places, but I still love it. I had been here a few times for dinner and feel a connection to it since it’s run by Danny Meyer (who owns The Modern, where I used to work). And I’ve read good things about their brunch, but considering they’re a hot spot and attached to a fancy hotel, I figure the odds of getting in speedily for brunch were next to none.

So we made a reservation for a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was a little slow (it was a holiday weekend) and we were quickly brought to a table in the well-lit back dining room.

The decision was tough, but we erred on the side of having too much food. We started with an incredibly moist Olive Oil muffin, while barely  resisting all the other pastry options.

For eggs, I got the Cacio e Pepe, which is a play on a cheese and pepper pasta dish and these eggs were awesome. They were soft scrambled so they resembled a porridge, with pecorino cheese and loads of fresh cracked black pepper. It was creamy and rich with a wonderful earthy spice. I’m not a big fan of eggs in general, but these are game changing.

The side of bacon is what I always hope bacon to be. It was crispy, salty, and smoky. There was a good layer of fat that added tons of porky flavor, but it wasn’t unctuous in any way. It was like candy. The ricotta pancakes were also a standout. Incredibly fluffy and not too sweet, the ricotta cheese and strawberry rhubarb jam were a perfect complement.

Sadly, our least favorite dish was the Time Out list item. That doesn’t mean it was bad, but it just didn’t live up to the previous masterpieces. The Pesce Spada Affumicato was Chef Nick Anderer’s take on a classic NY breakfast: lox and cream cheese. Instead of the usual salmon or smoked white fish, he used slices of smoked swordfish with some nice crusty bread points and a scoop of creamy robiolina cheese, which puts any cream cheese to shame. The fish (which was lighter than lox) had a mild smoky flavor. The components were all fresh and light, but I thought the fish was sliced a little too thin. It was hard to get much sense of the flavor, especially when loading everything else on the toast.

Regardless, brunch at Maialino was a huge success – just as good, if not better, than the hearty Italian dinners I’ve had there. This is a special afternoon out that is affordable enough to be a habit. No wonder I’ve been eating so much brunch lately. I’ve discovered the best spots.

Would Maialino’s Pesce Spada Affumicato make my Top 100 of the year? Other brunch items most definitely would, but this was an interesting version of smoked fish and cream cheese that just fell short of all the other masterpieces on the table, so it gets a 7 out of 10.

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

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