On March 21, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:It feels like at least one new restaurant opens up every week in New York, and this past month has been no different. Based on what I have sampled so far, these three top my list as the best new restaurants to try right now.
1. Pearl & Ash: Chef Richard Kuo, formally of the popular pop-up Frej, has lived and traveled all over the world, and you can see his exploits in the inventive ingredient pairings at this new small plates restaurant in NoLita. There, while seated at the community table or one of the wooden banquettes, try the raw hanger steak with rich cocoa nibs and egg yolk; it’s fresh, earthy, sweet, and there is a pleasant bite at the end. Make sure you also order the long beans, they might sound average, but Kuo coats them with buttery uni, which gives them a velvety richness I couldn’t stop sampling. The wine list shines too, and, helmed by the adorably nerdy sommelier Patrick Cappiello, it’s worth going again and again to see what he might be offering.
2. Nightingale 9: After exploring the food in Vietnam, chef Rob Newton of Seersucker came back to Brooklyn and decided to open his first Asian joint in Carroll Gardens, right near his southern food space. Given that the Arkansas-raised Newton gives his pho and fried rice a southern kick with collard greens, Berkshire pork, and catfish, the dishes aren’t 100 percent traditional, but that’s totally fine. Plus, Newton works at sourcing all his ingredients from local farms, so, the dishes become a southern-meets-Vietnamese-meets-Brooklyn sort of deal. It’s as if he discovered the best of both worlds, married them, and they live happily ever after on the plate and in your mind. Take a seat at one of the community tables, dose your pho with homemade hot sauce or Red Boat fish sauce, and enjoy.
3. Le Philosophe: This French restaurant recently opened in NoHo under the tutelage of Matthew Aita, formally the sous at Jean Georges and a corporate chef at Sullivan Street Bakery. Here, you can order classic dishes with a modern snap like the butter-steamed lobster thermidor, a lightly glazed duck a l’orange, and sliced trotters stuffed with truffles and an array of luscious meats including foie gras, chicken liver, and pork belly. Dine under the watchful eyes of dozens of French philosophers, hence the name, and if someone asks you to dissect your feelings over a certain dish, the correct response is, “C'est délicieux.”
On March 17, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:There are so many great bars in the city that you can’t throw a penny without hitting one. Of course, some truly shine whether for their innovative cocktails, old-school vibe, or pure cheap fun. Here are four unique places that satisfy my thirst depending on my mood.
1. The Levee: Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where lots of fun and tasty things reside, The Levee is a great place to go for their Sportsman Special with a can of Black Lable and a shot of Evan Williams. After a few rounds of those and Big Buck Hunter or pinball, you won’t mind delving into a bowl of their gratis cheese balls. Or, go the personal route and order vegetarian Frito pie and French onion dip.
2. Apotheke: For a craft cocktail made with some of the freshest ingredients around, the Chinatown-based Apotheke is a great place to go. There they serve tasty “prescriptions” like the Harvest of Mexico with roasted corn and mezcal, and the Pigmy Gimlet with kiwi, vodka, cracked pepper, and eucalyptus. Aside from the taste, another great thing about all these drinks is that they are made with herbs and plants grown on their rooftop garden.
3. Fulton Grand: When I am in the mood for a good beer, usually Fulton Grand in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn has what I need. They have over a dozen taps, tons of bottles, and their craft beer selection is constantly changing. The friendly bartenders there will gladly pour you a sample of any of the draft beers, plus, they have numerous whiskey, scotch, and bourbon bottles for you to pair with your brew.
4. Bar Jamon: For a fishbowl-sized glass of Spanish wine, this intimate wine bar in Flatiron is worth heading to. I love getting a glass of a rich tinto and a plate of charcuterie, though, if you ask for pairing suggestions their Argentinean sommelier is more than happy to assist.
On March 15, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Brunch is the sort of meal that rules New York, and some places have a cult following and lines two hours deep. Of course, there are plenty of under the radar places you can get your weekend grub on too, so, here is a list that combines them both.
1. Prune: At author and chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s East Village eatery, brunch is queen, and the lines here can run into the two-hour range. For most, the decadent Bloody Mary menu and food options like handmade lamb sausage with oysters, fresh ricotta with sun-dried figs, and fluffy Dutch-style pancakes, keep brining them back.
2. Clinton Hill Baking Co. & Restaurant: This is another brunch spot that has a lot of hype and a long line, but for a good reason. Namely, their pancakes, of which they serve with warm maple butter and, in February, they offer different flavors every day, all day.
3. Molyvos: In Midtown, close to the park, this large Greek restaurant has reinvented the idea of brunch and given it a Mediterranean twist with ouzo-cured salmon on their version of a bagel, a hearty egg casserole with feta, and a heaping plate of lamb and eggs. Their version of Bloody Mary is made with Mastic, a unique liquor made from tree bark that gives the Bloody Cretan a special kick. Also, since they don’t carry the buildup of some of the downtown locations, you don’t have to wait for a table.
4. Buttermilk Channel: In Brooklyn, this delightful Carroll Gardens café offers one of the best brunches around, and based on the lines that form after 11am on the weekends, other people agree. They serve classic southern-style brunch fair like fried pork chops over cheddar-waffles and pecan pie French toast, you will want to get both.
5. Parish Hall: Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this simple eatery is the calmer, less busy sister to George Weld’s bustling Egg nearby. That doesn’t’ mean their brunch, filled with red flannel hash and Johnny cakes, is any less good, it just has a shorter line, which means you get to eat sooner.
On March 12, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Shopping for artisan food gifts in the city reminds me of traveling to little towns around the country, and sampling the best products they have to offer. The difference, however, is the plethora of delicious things being made and sold here, especially in Brooklyn.
Head to Marlow & Daughters to pick up an array of homemade charcuterie, house-cured bacon, and special local products. This cute shop is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and while you are over there, make sure to stop in the flagship shop for Mast Brothers Chocolate. There, they sell bars of their hand-crafted chocolate bars single-origin style, or in flavors including chili peppers, and Stumptown Coffee.
One great product that I can't her enough of is McClure's Pickles, a local producer who makes the best spicy pickles that I have ever had. On that note, local purveyor Rick's Picks, does a pickled okra with paprika that they call Smokra, which is one bright, spicy and smoky bite you don't want to miss.
New York also has many craft distillers, so, as long as you are driving here or checking luggage, be sure to check out one of the city’s tasty brands. One of my favorite spirits is Dorothy Parker gin, which comes from the New York Distilling Company. I am also keen on Widow Jane, a small batch bourbon from Cacao Prieto in Red Hook.
In Manhattan, head to the Essex Street Market for some foodie gifts, from whole coffee beans from the Porto Rico Importing Co., or a bag of “Pig Candy,” Roni-Sue’s chocolate-covered bacon. No matter what you bring, these tokens are sure to leave a good taste in your mouth.
On March 5, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Finding vegan food in New York isn’t as hard as you may think, plus, a lot of the meals you hit upon are crave worthy, even for this carnivore. The Butcher’s Daughter, which opened at the end of last year in NoLita, is one such place. There you can get an array of fresh, artisanal fruit juices and smoothies, a kale salad with avocado and green apple, and sandwiches including the roasted caprese with cashew mozzarella and fresh basil pesto.
For a fine dining establishment, I love heading to Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy. There, they specialize in raw, vegan fare, and use ingredients like thinly sliced zucchini and macadamia-pumpkin-seed ricotta in their lasagna; and sweet corn and cashew sour cream in their tamales. Of course, the wine list proves excellent too, and by the end of my last meal there, I had licked the plate and glass clean.
Candle 79 is another first-rate place to go for a special occasion, or any time for that matter. It’s close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so for a great day, I like to go there first, and then head to the restaurant for their guacamole timbale, a dish comprised of jicama-cucumber salsa, caramelized onions, black beans, and served with plantain chips. The pomegranate chipotle tempeh is tasty too, and pairs well with one of their eco-cocktails like the La Vie en Rose Hip, a drink made with prosecco, rose hip liquor, blood orange, and cinnamon.
On the lowbrow end of things, of my favorite places to go when I have a hankering for vegan junk food is Food Swings in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At this cafeteria-meets-dive eatery, they have an array of scrumptious fake-meat dishes including buffalo or southern-fried drumsticks, Butterfinger soy shakes, soy cheese grilled cheese, and something called the Vegan Heart Attack, which is their homemade burger with soy bacon, soy cheese, and vegan mayo.
On February 28, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:In a stroke of luck, Terrior, one of my favorite wine bars, has locations in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. The original spot opened in the East Village, and it was there I found my love for Riesling. Of course, they have many other options, which you can read about in their textbook-like menu. Or, if that proves too daunting, the staff has always been super friendly and knowledgeable, so you can ask them for recommendations based on your palate.
Another wine bar I am partial to is Corkbuzz Wine Studio, which also offers education to their guests on what they are drinking, both at the bar and through their classes. The classes range from themed, blind tastings, to exploring wine from different regions, to your basic wine 101. If you don’t want to take a course, just going this wine bar is worth it, as they offer dozens of premium vinos from around the world.
For a dose of natural and organic wines, The Ten Bells in the Lower East Side is great place to try them. Plus, they have $1 oyster happy hour from opening until 7pm, and tasty bites to go with the wine. The space is cozy, rustic, and comfortable with a fashionable twist that makes it a hot spot for those who want to be seen, and/or for those interested in grape varietals.
In Brooklyn, I like to hit up Mauzac in Fort Greene on a quite night. This wine bar is directly across from the park and, while the menu is small, they pour hefty glasses from carefully chosen vintages. The Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg is also worth going to. For one, they make their own wine, and two, they have a dynamic atmosphere and often, live bands, which goes against what most people think a wine bar should be like.
On February 27, 2013Linnea Covington answered the question:Pizza is king in New York, and no matter where you are, some form of this dish exists. From by-the-slice places, to gourmet pies, gluten free, Neapolitan, and Sicilian, there are tons of ways to have your pizza and eat it too. Here are five options of styles, and the best place to get them.
1. By the slice: Ever since I moved her in 2002, my favorite place to get a slice of pizza is at Stromboli in the East Village. Something about their crisp, yet pliable crust, fresh toppings, not too much cheese, and the perfect amount of sauce has me visiting that place every time I am in the area. Plus, even when you get a slice with everything imaginable on it, it’s always under $4.
2. Neapolitan: Funny enough, one of the best places to get this small pie, thin crust, and wood-fired pizza is in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. At Saraghina, the owners hale from Italy and know how to make a mean dish, one that you will crave and want to have again. It helps that the restaurant itself is comfortable and classy, with a large backyard that fills up with locals and travelers alike in the summer.
3. Gluten-free: A friend with gluten allergies once told me she had all but given up pizza once she found out she couldn’t have bread, so I was happy to tell her about Keste in the West Village. At this darling shop, they offer gluten-free and vegan pies, as well as the normal slew of Italian dishes and regular pizzas.
4. Classic pies: Most people coming to the city have heard about Grimaldi’s pizza. Well, Pat Grimaldi hasn’t owned this now mini pizza chain for years, but now, the pizza master is back and making headway with his new, and only shop, Juliana’s. Located in the original Grimaldi’s spot in DUMBO, Brooklyn, Juliana’s brings the same great pizza, but with a smaller line and less hype—for now.
5. Funky, fun, and gourmet: It’s no secret, Roberta’s pizza in Bushwick, Brooklyn churns out a great pie. They offer exciting, innovative flavors like their breakfast creation The Bee Sting with honey, chili, sopressata, and tomato, and The Sound & The Fiore, with mozzarella, fiore, kabocha squash, sage, chilies, onion, and garlic. Not matter what you choose, it’s going to be good, just don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line for a table.