Tag Archives: Lower East Side

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

This year was another crazy ride. And while politics and breaking news stories often drifted into my anxious psyche, food still played an important role. And this year was full of surprising dishes that were nourishing, pleasurable, and a much-needed distraction. Here now are the top 10 dishes – the list includes an exciting mix of hearty classics like burgers and lasagna, along with some brilliant vegetable concoctions.

NUMBER 10: SPICY FISH STEW at HAO NOODLE AND TEA BY MADAM ZHU

When a dish comes out of the kitchen glowing red and spiked with peppercorns, I’m expecting some heat. The only thing that hinted at the spice level for this clear green fish soup was the name “spicy” and the two pepper symbols on the menu. This fish stew had a unique floral, numbing spice and was one of the most exciting dishes I’ve tasted at a Chinese restaurant – ever. Price: $25

HAO NOODLE AND TEA BY MADAM ZHU
401 Sixth Avenue (between Waverly Place and Greenwich Avenue)
Greenwich Village
(212) 633-8900
madamzhu.com

NUMBER 9: SURPRISE TRIP at THE UP & UP

I float toward cocktails that are unusual and surprising and the Surprise Trip is certainly that. It’s a gin based tipple with a syrup made from black trumpet mushrooms and a slew of “corns”. Szechuan peppercorn, pink peppercorn, black peppercorn, and unicorn (an herbal plum liqueur). It had a rich earthy flavor from the mushroom with a bracing spice throughout The gin was incredibly smooth as it played with all the other flavors (earthy, sweet, bracing, complex). It doesn’t get more (pleasantly) surprising. Price: $15

THE UP & UP
116 Macdougal Street (between Bleecker Street and Minetta Lane),
Greenwich Village
(212) 260-3000
upandupnyc.com

NUMBER 8: THE EDITH at ORCHARD GROCER

It’s pretty ballsy to hawk a bagel with vegan cream cheese and carrot lox in the Lower East Side. Despite the changing demographics of the neighborhood, the breakfast sandwich is still associated with the historic Jewish immigrants that once lived here. Yet the familiar combination works beautifully even when no seafood or dairy is involved. A soft chewy bagel is the vessel for cream cheese made out of cashew and smoked salmon made out of thinly sliced, cured, and smoked carrots. The masterminds behind this vegan deli would have made bubbe and zayde proud.  Price: $8

ORCHARD GROCER
78 Orchard Street (between Broome and Grand Street)
Lower East Side
(646) 757-9910
orchardgrocer.com

NUMBER 7: MAITAKE MUSHROOMS at FIFTY

Mushrooms don’t need much and Chef Luis Jaramillo from the somewhat under-the-radar modern American restaurant Fifty seems to know that. The meaty earth candy was nestled under some watercress and above a rich aromatic celery root-truffle puree. The only other addition was sweet sliced grapes that acted as a foil to all the earthy richness on the plate. But it was the chef’s deft hand with the mushrooms themselves that left a lasting impression. Each bite was crisp and tender leaving a lasting woodsy buttery flavor on my lips. Price: $16

FIFTY
50 Commerce Street (between Barrow and Bedford Street),
West Village
(212) 524-4104
fiftyrestaurantnyc.com

NUMBER 6: BANANA & WALNUT BREAD at TWO HANDS

This Banana & Walnut Bread was a bit of a sensation when Two Hands first opened and I totally see why. The bread itself was both impossibly moist and nicely crisped around the edges. On its own, it would have been perfect. But they go even further by schmearing a frosted espresso-laced mascarpone, garnishing it with toasted bits of buckwheat, and drizzling honey on top. This went from being perfect to off the charts. Price $8

TWO HANDS RESTAURANT & BAR
251 Church Street (between Leonard and Franklin Street),
Tribeca
twohandsnyc.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

It used to be whenever I was in the Times Square area and I was feeling under the weather, I would stop by Cafe Edison and after slurping up their matzo ball soup, I was cured. Sadly Cafe Edison has closed and I rarely find myself in Times Square. This fall I had a stuffy nose and I was in the Lower East Side and I thought maybe Russ & Daughters would have a similar healing elixir. I was right. The warming soup and hearty matzo ball are like grandmother used to make and the bits of chicken throughout fill you up while healing. I felt better immediately. Price: $8

RUSS & DAUGHTERS CAFÉ
127 Orchard Street (between Delancey and Rivington Street),
Lower East Side
(212) 475-4880
russanddaughterscafe.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

There are so many ice cream trends in this city. Shaved snow, Thai rolled ice cream, ice cream cooked into a brioche. We have it all. Including the Hong Kong-style egg waffle which is more than just a pretty face. The cold ice cream (I got cookies and cream) makes total sense nestled into the hot-off-the-griddle soft egg waffle (I got the coffee flavor). Throw some extras like mochi, strawberries, and pocky on there and you have an Instagram sensation that happens to taste pretty darn good. Price: $9

WOWFULLS
3009 East Houston Street (between Clinton and Attorney Street),
Lower East Side
(646) 639-9988
wowfulls.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

Not sure why nobody thought of this earlier, but Trapizzino is a company from Rome that invented this sandwich-pizza hybrid. Using leavened pizza dough to create pockets, Chef Stefano Callegari can fill it with whatever he sees fit. I truly loved the classic chicken cacciatora cooked down with white wine, garlic, and aromatic rosemary. Price: $6.50

TRAPIZZINO
144 Orchard Street (at Rivington Street),
Lower East Side
(212) 475-2555
trapizzinousa.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

Much like the Shark Eye at Mother of Pearl and a Bloody Mary (or Red Snapper) at Old King Cole Bar, the Sakagura Martini has become the stuff of NYC cocktail legend and in just a matter of a year. While it is very visual and Instagram-ready (if you can find the right light and angle), the drink is simplicity itself. Except you might not have thought of combining gin, sake, and maraschino liqueur for a smooth subtle martini twist. And garnished with a preserved cherry blossom, you’ll completely forget olives ever existed. Price: $16

BAR GOTO
245 Eldridge Street (between East Houston and Stanton Street),
Lower East Side
(212) 475-4411
bargoto.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

You may have seen cans of Rise Coffee in local grocery stores around New York, but they actually have a little storefront in the Lower East Side. When I say little, I mean it’s basically just a stand that is very easy to miss. But it would be a shame because they serve their nitro cold brew on tap which pours a rich creamy coffee that has less acidity and a smooth sweetness. Price: $4-$5

RISE COFFEE
85 Stanton Street (between Allen and Orchard Street),
Lower East Side
(646) 370-6962
risebrewingco.com

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