My gf sent me out to get her a caffeine fix from the local Starbucks today. I eagerly agreed to do it as I knew the one I was going to was right next to the Jianetto's pizza truck that I reported on further down in this thread. So I stopped there and ordered a chicken parmigiana sandwich ($6.00). I also picked up a slice to eat while he heated up my parm. The slice was okay, but not as good as before. The crust was seemed to be more brittle and cracker-like than before and didn't have as much of the crispy-chewy balance that I loved about it. I'd go back for it again though. Sorry I didn't take a pic of the pizza this time. Here is the shot of my chicken parm sandwich. It really looks more like chicken roll to me.
Here it is cut in half...
And a close-up cut in half. This was good, not the best chicken parm I've ever had (and I've had plenty, trust me!). They used the plastic wrapped mozzarella instead of the fresh and I've been converted to the fresh for a few years now, so it lost points for that. The chicken was good, but I do like mine somewhat crispy (it is from a truck, so I probably had my expectations set a bit high). The roll was okay, but had a bit of a doughy flavor to it. The tomato sauce on the side was sweet with some nice tomato chunks in it and I really liked that. All in all, I wouldn't get it again, but I'm glad I tried it. Sorry, Lexi, no arancini on this one. That's for my next trip!
The real surprise today came when I went into Starbucks. I scoped out the pastry/sweets counter (as I do, but know I shouldn't) and saw a sign that said they sell Top Pot donuts. Well, I MUST have one of those!! I went for the Old-Fashioned glazed cake donut ($1.25). I'm guessing some of you may recognize the shape of this donut. I've never been myself, but I recognized this from the website as soon as I saw it.
It was mighty tasty, but didn't have the crunch that Michael Stern describes in the Top Pot review. Not that I was expecting it being sold at Starbucks in NYC. This was one wickedly good donut though. The glaze was sweet and...excuse me while I run down the street for a couple more!! Okay, I'm back. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the glaze was just right and the texture of this donut was so soft inside. I'm very happy that I can experience just a part of Top Pot here in the city. I hope one day to make it to Seattle to taste the full-on greatness of these tasty cakes!
I've had a few really good food experiences here in the city
recently. Rather than make them into numerous trip reports, I
decided to borrow a page from The Travelin Man's playbook and
condense them into one.
5/8/08-I finally made it to a place that I know buffetbuster has been
eager to hear about, S'MAC (short for Sarita's Mac & Cheese). It's
located in Manhattan's East Village, at 345 East 12th Street, between
1st and 2nd Avenues. Website www.smacnyc.com
and the phone number is
212-358-7912. It's one of the newest places in NYC to be based on a
singular theme and their main trade is, you guessed it...mac &
cheese!!! The weather in NYC has been spotty as of late, but I've
been taking advantage of the few really beautiful, sunny days to walk
around and a 40 minute walk later, I found myself in front of this
little shop, ready to indulge in some cheesy, gooey goodness.
Love these funky light fixtures!
The bright sunlight and beautifully blooming tree in front of the
window both conspired to make it difficult to get a good camera angle
for this shot.
The counter guy gave me this #83 ticket for my order. I love how the
ticket is in the shape of the cast-iron skillet the mac & cheese
Pick your portion. I think that this would be a great stop on a
future NYC RF tour. Grab a few Major Munches and everyone gets to
The Menu-Part 1. So many choices... It can get a bit pricey, but I
am sweet on the whole "take and bake" concept. Bring it home, bake it
when YOU'RE ready. It reminds me of the "u-bake" pizzas my family
and I had in Vancouver, WA while visiting my aunt in the mid 1980s.
I wonder if those are still around?
The Menu-Part 2. I think I'll try the Alpine, Parisienne and Garden
The Menu-Part 3. I went for the 4 Cheese Nosh sized. I figured I'd
start with a classic and work my way up.
Really dug these yellow high chairs. My dad had one at his drafting
table as home and he'd let me sit there and watch him while he
worked. Good memories...
Love these 70s style lights. They look like something from Woody
Allen's film, "Sleeper".
My 4 Cheese mac & cheese. The counter guy brought this to my table
piping hot and bubbly. I was a little worried at first as upon the
first couple of spoonfuls, it seemed a bit oily. As I soldiered on
through this rib sticking dish, it firmed up a bit as it cooled.
Honestly, I make mac & cheese at home and the same happens to mine
when I first pull it from the oven. The flavors of all the cheeses
came through at different points: the stringiness of the muenster,
the tanginess of the gruyere, the sharpness of the cheddar and the
saltiness of the pecorino. This just got better and better with each
bite! Creamy, gooey, stringy, with a nice crust on top, my belly was
all warm and satisfied when it was over! They did offer an
option of bread crumbs on top, but I wanted to get the pure flavor
for my first experience.
A wider shot of the mac & cheese to show the serving dish.
My bottle of Fizzy Lizzy. It's a fruit juice and fizzy water drink
(sans HFCS). This one was the Pacific Raspberry Lemon. Very tasty
and not the overly sweet flavor that accompanies drink with high
fructose corn syrup. Their website is www.fizzylizzy.com
lists their other flavors such as Costa Rican Pineapple and Gulf
A close up of my drink.
5/9/08-I was really craving a chicken parmesan sandwich today for
some reason and unfortunately, there aren't any good places that make
one on my neighborhood. I was out running some errands and I ended
up walking by my favorite local Italian place, Carmine's Italian
Seafood Restaurant at 140 Beekman Street phone number 212-962-8606 (reviewed here on RF). I thought, why not? So I
walked up to the bar and asked "Would you be able to make me a
chicken parm sandwich?" The barman slapped his hand on the bar and
said "I can do that!" He did let me know it would be a bit pricey,
but it was worth it. Now they have a pretty good chicken parm, but
they don't have any sandwiches on the menu, so I was thrilled. I
bellied up to the bar and ordered a Bass Ale while I waited. Looking
around, the place was almost empty. One of the waiters was at a two
top eating some fish and sauteed escarole (or as the bartender affectionately
called them, "guinea greens". I hope it's okay posting that as he
didn't say it in a mean spirited sense, but rather a self-deprecating
one. At the bar were two guys who struck up a conversation with me
and Tommy about local real estate, the mafia and we debated the
possibility of finding a decent cheesesteak in Gotham. There really
is a great local feel to this place and I always feel at home when I
walk in. My whole bill came to $17.90, which seems like a lot, but
wait...I got home and inside was my sandwich, a loaf of bread and a
big salad. The sandwich and loaf of bread.
This is a really tasty sandwich. I know it looks a bit flat, but the
bread is crusty and the chicken is moist. If I had to find fault
with it, they don't use fresh mootz on it and that's a preference of
mine. It could have benefitted from some more sauce, perhaps on the
side to apply as necessary, but all in all it was pretty good.
I've been a salad frowner most of my life having grown up eating
boring iceberg with dried out carrots and gluey french dressing in
the standard bamboo bowls. The salad at Carmine's is one of my
favorites, mostly iceberg with some other greens mixed in and a bit
of red/purple cabbage and some carrots. What really sets this salad
apart though is the dressing. A shallot pepper combination that has
a sharp vinegar tang that really permeates everything in the bowl and
is great sopped up with that loaf of bread. A perfect foil to the
5/14/08-I was on a quest today to try the new Burger Shoppe near the
Financial District in Lower Manhattan. Happy accidents sometimes
happen and I stumbled upon some other good eats today as well. I was
walking down Front Street, a few blocks south of the South Street
Seaport. Now, in this area during the day there are lots of street
carts, halal food, fruit/smoothie carts, hot dogs, a Caribbean cart and
the pizza truck. I had heard good things about the pizza truck
before, so I HAD to grab a slice since I was there. I got there
around 1:30 pm and most of the other carts were gone and the truck
was getting ready to close. Most of the carts do their business
between 11 am and 2 pm. When I asked for a slice, he was going to
re-heat it in the oven, but I said I'll take it as is. I'm not one
that enjoys reheated pizza. I just think that it changes for the
worse and I've always felt that room temp can be pretty tasty.
The menu. I'll have to try the arancini (rice ball) and the chicken
parm next time.
Located on the corner of Front and Wall Streets. There are also a
ton of carts on Wall Street between Front and Broadway. Just about
any kind of food you want and they do a huge business with the New
York Stock Exchange employees. A really great area to people watch at
My "Grandma's Pizza" slice. It always amazes me how just a few
simple ingredients can be transformed into something magical. This
is one of the best slices I've had in recent memory. Crispy crust,
with a slight chew in the middle. The only things on top were a
couple of basil leaves (wouldn't have minded a couple more) some
mozzarella (although it seemed more like parmesan to me, texturally
speaking, which really worked for me) and some of the freshest
tasting tomato sauce! Honestly, I almost did this a disservice and
inhaled it, but I restrained myself about halfway through and took my
time. Probably because I became self-conscious of the sauce around
my lips and the crust on my fingers. This was very reminiscent for
me of the tomato sheet pies that the Italian bakeries (and
Hemstrought's) would make and that so many mothers bought for their
children's birthday parties in my youth. This pie doesn't have the
all-around doughy chewiness of those pies, but I think has improved
upon it by striking a perfect balance of crispiness and chewiness.
The reason for my trip today was here, the Burger Shoppe at 30 Water Street phone number 212-425-1000. I'd walked
by this place countless times, but as I usually work the graveyard
shift, it was either at midnight or 8 am. They have a separate space
upstair with an upscale bar menu. The website is www.burgershoppenyc.com
Interestingly, the bar menu has a $150
burger (I guess to go along with the $1000 pizza at Nino's, the $1000
omelet at Norma's and the $1000 sundae at Serendipity 3). It's
called the RICHARD NOUVEAU BURGER. $150 Prime Kobe beef, grilled and
topped with aged gruyere, shaved
black truffles, foie gras and golden truffle mayonnaise. Sounds too
trendy for my taste, I'll stick to my under $10 burgers.
Some interesting signs.
The menu. Yes, the "Party Monster" is $365.00 (for 100 burgers).
Becky Quick and Joe Kernen are two TV personalities on CNBC's "Squawk
Box". The Burger Shoppe catered an event for them and these two
burgers became their favorites. I think Becky looks like a cross
between Diane Neal from "Law & Order: SVU" and Patricia Heaton from
"Everybody Loves Raymond".
My Kahuna Burger ($6.00) with fries and onion rings. The Kahuna
Burger is described as a char-grilled beef burger with meunster,
avocado, bacon and Shoppe sauce. It came with shredded lettuce too.
This is one of the best burgers I've had of late. Every single
ingredient in this burger had a personality that shone through. I
asked for it medium and it came with just the right amount of pink on
the inside and had a fantastic crust and the outside, yet was still
very juicy. The bacon had a wickedly delicious chew to it, the
slices and avocado were rich and creamy, the muenster was nice and
stringy and the "Shoppe" sauce was reminiscent of the "Shack" sauce
at the Shake Shack and lent a slightly tangy flavor the eliminated
the need for any ketchup. The bun was sturdy, yet soft and had a
great texture and flavor to it. I can't exactly place it, but I
loved it! My only complaint about this burger was that it was fairly
small. I really was expecting something larger. Still, the flavor
really did explode for me and I wouldn't hesitate to get it again.
My fries and onion rings ($3.00). I like that they offered a half
and half option so I could try both. Unfortunately, I can't say
anything good about either of these. The fries were lackluster and
tasted more of the oil than the potato and the rings were breaded,
yet had wilted and weren't crunchy and the onion slid out when I bit
and pulled on it.
The name is shake, Guinness Shake. I don't usually go in for sweet
drinks when I eat out, but if a place has a specialty (white birch
beer, Moxie, etc...), I'm all for it. The minute I put this up to my
nose, I could get the heady aroma of Guinness coming off of it. As I
took a sip, there was a nice chocolatey taste at the beginning and
the flavor of the beer swelled up towards the end. The jury is still
out for me on this one. I like the concept as the bitter qualities
of the beer seem like a natural pairing with chocolate in the same
vein as coffee and chocolate. I'm not a huge Guinness fan to begin
with and I guess I would have liked it more if the chocolate flavor
was more assertive and the beer flavor had been somewhat subdued.
I love the interior of this place: the white tiles, the stools and
the retro outfitted counter.
Outside the Burger Shoppe. This building is part of a block of
building with a long history in NYC going back as far as 1686. For
more info, check out the website at www.frauncestavernmuseum.org
The south end of Stone Street. On this one end there is from left to
right: Burger Burger, Terrace Fish & Chips, New Golden Chopsticks,
My Daddy's Pizza, Ruben's Empanadas and Million Gourmet Deli. I
haven't eaten at any of these place, so I'm not sure as to the
quality of them. It is a nice place to hang out and people watch as
you can see just about every NYC archetype on a typical day.
Stone Street. This is in the heart of the Financial District and it
has recently had a revival as a place to go after work for good food
and drinks. This street is closed off to auto traffic and is packed
every night in the nice weather. adrienne's pizzabar, the very first
place I ever photographed and wrote about on RF, is on this block.
To finish off my trip today, I stopped at Leonidas (the Famous
Belgian Chocolates). Website: www.leonidas-chocolate.com
I picked up a few bars too. A dark chocolate with orange, dark with
cocoa nibs and a milk chocolate. I've been nibbling on them the past few days and they're pretty good, not the best I've ever had. I'd buy them again, but I'm not sure I would make a special trip for them.
I picked up from left to right: Irresistible (strawberry butter
cream), Delice (coconut butter cream), Louise (caramel flavored
praline), Manon Cafe (coffee butter cream with hazelnut) and a
Princesse (enrobed soft praline). I haven't tried them yet, but they
A write-up of Leonidas posted in the store
The price menu.
After leaving the chocolate shop, I decided to make my way towards the Borders bookstore on Broadway as i know they have a Dean & Deluca inside that sells the Doughnut Plant's goods. I stumbled upon this signs and thought it was an interesting piece of NYC history.
A shot of the Federal Reserve building. This place is so mammoth, it was difficult to get this much into the camera frame. Like many things, I relate it to the acting world. This was a key part of the plot in Die Hard 3 when Jeremy Irons' character was planning to rob it.
A cool hall between Maiden Lane and John Street in Lower Manhattan. A nice place to relax on a hot day and enjoy lunch.
And the doughnuts!! I picked up a Mango (on the left) and a Banana Pecan. The Banana Pecan was ok. The pecans had a nice crunch to them, but I didn't pick up any banana flavor. A rare misfire. However, as I was staging these at home on my cutting board, I picked up some of the mango glaze on my fingers. Upon tasting it, I experienced an amazingly intense mango flavor. Total winner here! Each bite filled my mouth with the flavor of ripe mango. A must try!!
Next up...my friends visit from San Jose and Rochester, NY and we do a culinary tour of NYC (Chinatown-Little Italy-Times Square-East Village-Seaport District. etc...)!!