Tag Archives: Murray Hill
Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City
SADLY, RESTO IS NOW CLOSED.
A Belgian restaurant doesn’t strike me as the place to get a nicely composed vegetable dish. Unless that vegetable is a potato, cut into strips, and thrice-fried. And while I love my Belgian frites, Resto’s more nutritious vegetable options sounded even more intriguing.
A once in a lifetime occurence happens this year as Thanksgiving and Chanukkah fall on the same day. To celebrate both holidays at the exact same moment, I bring my friend Jonathan to explore the culinary holiday possibilities at Ess-a-Bagel.
My search for the best hot dog in New York continues….
I sure hope in some twisted, alternate universe there is not a bar called The Cannibal where pigs and lambs are eating human flesh, while guzzling beer and checking in on Foursquare. But I suppose it would be what we deserve for being so carnivorous.
For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…
I’m not sure if it’s the usually high salt content or the endless crunch that makes crispy chips so addicting. Doesn’t matter if the chips are made from potatoes, soy, veggies, or rice. If they’re salty and crunchy, I’ll keep munching.
It’s no surprise that I’m equally addicted to the Indian street food known as chaat. It’s sold at very few (that I know of) food carts here in New York, but is pretty common at most Indian restaurants along Lexington Avenue in the area known as Curry Hill.
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.
For the first few years I lived in New York, I’d often hang out at pubs (usually the Irish variety) for an after work drink or to meet up with some friends. These are the places we would go because they were cheap (by NY standards), plentiful (there’s really one on every corner in this city), and allowed us to talk without competing with loud dance music. And often I’d order something to eat (since I like to eat) like chicken wings, sliders, or nachos.
But now it’s been years since I’ve been to this sort of pub. I don’t usually go out for drinks much anymore and if I do, it’s to one of the hip, much more expensive cocktail dens in the city. And of course, my food snobbery has overtaken any possibility of a dinner comprised of bar food.
So it was strange, yet somehow refreshing to step into Waterfront Ale House on Second Avenue (they have a sister – or brother – location in Brooklyn). We were here to get the Venison Nachos before a movie next door. So it was ironic when we were offered a bowl of complimentary popcorn. If only I could have taken it to go.
We had come specifically for the nachos and had dinner plans after the movie, so I didn’t examine the menu too closely. I did notice they had quite a beer selection consisting of interesting local and craft ales. I also noticed that the nachos with venison chili cost a whopping $17.95! I’m sure venison meat is a little pricey, but that’s quite expensive for an appetizer and quite expensive for nachos.
Well, I must say when the order came, we got our money’s worth. This was a giant platter of tortilla chips! They were topped with a mound of the usual: sour cream, melted yellow and white cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions. But the classic bar snack is updated and slightly refined with the addition of plump black olives and a venison chili. The chili wasn’t quite as gamey as I had hoped, although there were some really nice earthy bites of venison meat. Yet it had deep earthy flavors with notes of cloves, cinnamon, and chili. It was warming and unique. And worked quite well on top of nachos.
Somehow we managed to finish the entire platter between two of us (so you can imagine we skipped the popcorn at the movie). I’m not quite sure I’d spend this much on nachos again, but I can probably say these are definitely some of the best I’ve ever had.
And everything about Waterfront Ale House was surprisingly warm and refreshing – the service was good, the menu was interesting, and the bar food was far from tired. Does this mean I’m going to start hanging out at pubs for dinner again? That might be a whole different food blog.
Would Waterfront Ale House’s Venison Nachos make my Top 100? They’re great nachos, don’t get me wrong, but they only get a 7 out of 10 since they didn’t quite have that wow factor.
|WATERFRONT ALE HOUSE|
|540 Second Avenue (at 30th Street)
My search for the best bagels in New York continues….
The argument over the best bagels in New York is a much heated debate – just like pizza, pastrami, and dumplings. But more than any of those foods, most people’s favorite bagel happens to be the shop closest to them. I think that’s true for a number of reasons. First off, bagels are definitely freshest and most delicious when they have less travel time. So if you’re taking them home to enjoy, only the closest bagel shop will do. Serious Eats wrote a piece a few years ago about this very issue.
Secondly, bagels aren’t something most people will travel for. There really aren’t any destination bagel shop and so you learn to love the place that is closest. And, of course, a good bagel shop should give off a relaxing, welcoming, neighborly vibe. Sort of like the bar on the TV show Cheers where everybody knows your name. Except there’s no alcohol and nobody’s bearing a mullet (at least we hope not).
My good friend and fellow food blogger Jason Feirman has been raving to me about Ess-a-Bagel since I began this journey. It’s located on First Avenue and 21st Street. And while I believe Jason truly loves their product, guess where he lives? Just a few blocks away.
However Jason isn’t the only one who loves Ess-a-Bagel. When I arrived at the original location (there’s a second larger store on Third Avenue in midtown), I could tell why the neighbors flock here. It’s been open since 1976, but feels like it’s been around much longer with quaint tables and chairs in the back. Up front, you get to peruse all the cream cheese and bagel options (I do feel like the former outweighs the latter). Strangely, the more I taste on this journey the more I realize the correlation between bagel shops and ice cream parlors.
As I ate my bagel, I watched a mother give her babbling baby girl a bagel to chew on. The little tyke didn’t enunciate many words, but the one the baby said perfectly was “bagel.” My guess is this kid lives in the neighborhood and perhaps her first word was here at Ess-a-Bagel.
With Ess-A-Bagel, I started a new strategy. I asked the guy behind the counter which bagels (if any) just came out of the oven. He touched all the different options to feel which was warm (not to worry, he was wearing a glove) and gave me three choices. Unfortunately, my go-to Plain bagel was not one of those. So I guess I had to order two: the Plain and another favorite of mine, raisin, since that was one of the naturally (sans toasting) warm bagels.
The raisin bagel wasn’t really hot and felt a little smaller and denser than the other bagel. Granted, that’s not a bad thing. And without toasting this guy, it had a very crunchy bottom and a soft warm interior. It’s the perfect argument for not toasting bagels (the guys behind the counter won’t do it for you even if you ask). I tasted maybe a dusting of cinnamon in the bread, but it was mainly a raisin heavy bagel with dark yeasty overtones.
The plain bagel was a bit more swollen and had a much more erratic shape. I really enjoyed this one with its salty notes and perfect texture, although it was less crunchy than the raisin option. The cream cheese on both was absolutely heavenly – fluffy, creamy, and magical. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to try all the creative cream cheese and tofu options here, like Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese and Jalapeño Cream Cheese. I guess that means I’ll just have to move into the neighborhood.
Does Ess-a-Bagel have the best bagels in NY? Certainly if you live in the neighborhood. But even for someone traveling from elsewhere, it’s worth a 9 out of 10 for the wonderful textures and amazing cream cheese.
|329 First Avenue (between 20th and 21st Street)
|831 Third Avenue (between 50th and 51st Street)