Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Leske's Bakery

So you find yourself trudging through the Bay Ridge Century 21 and your blood sugar is dropping. You are about to just freak out and smack somebody with an overstock camouflage pair of Sketchers. Walk away. Go two blocks and get yo self something sweet.

Leske's is just filled with great looking pastries. The black and white cookie is cake-like and uses a soft creamy frosting as opposed to the more firm ganache-style some bakeries use.

Cream puff was dreamy.

Info:7612 Fifth Ave.


If you've ever spent extended time in Los Angeles and then moved away, there might not be much you miss. But if you are a sentient, self-aware being, I bet I can name at least one thing you long for: Zankou chicken garlic sauce.

I have found the closest thing to it in NY and it is at Karam, an insanely affordable Lebanese joint in Bay Ridge.

Look at this huge fucking pile of garlic sauce!

Jeez it is so good. Sharp, tangy, sinus-clearing, I'm happy to say this sauce hangs with Zankou.
The scent of garlic will ooze from your pores for hours, or days if you coat your food as I do.

Your first choice shall center on Rotisserie Chicken or Shawerma (this is not a choice for me as I shun chicken at nearly all opportunities for meat with actual flavor). Second choice is platter or pita sandwich.

You are provided with fuchsia-colored pickled radish and spicy little hot peppers, just as in LA. The shawerma is top notch. Oh my god, I want some right now.

Another bowl of extra sauce and homemade sweet lemonade:

Oregano saturated cheese bread:

Fantastic and uber-cheap. Go!
Info: 8519 4th Avenue

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Along Roosevelt Ave, extending two blocks to both the north and the south, and stretching from Woodside to Corona, exists the greatest density of delicious dens of food that has ever clustered along a single block. It arguably represents the Ideal of ethnic eating in NY. Fuck the stuffed bear; this is Teddy's greatest legacy. Two blocks of this treasure, between Woodside and Jackson Heights, are dedicated to Filipino restaurants and grocers.

With little to help us select which tasty store to visit, we started with Ihawan, which has been touted for it's barbecued meats.

Of course, no Filipino meal should begin with anything other than Lumpia. Fried pork is always the best way to build up your appetite. Ihawan's were suitable.

Various fruit shakes are here for you including avocado and durian if you dare. Sadly, they were out of Sisig.

Now to the bbq. It was fine. But really, Filipino food is about two things pork and pork. I mean pork and adobo (pork). I'm all about Pata and Sisig and Lumpia and all those great things. The desire to follow the recommendations toward charcoal grilled chicken proved to be foolhardy.
What Ihawan served us was good - some was very good. But it wasn't memorable. You can certainly do worse and I am willing to go back and continue my ordering. But next time walking Ol' Roosey's Ave, and feel like some Filipino, another of the spots will be selected. And when that time comes, I'll report back here (which I've been meaning to do more often).

Info: 2nd floor by the tracks.
4006 70th St. Also, I think there is an Ihawan 2 in Long Island City.

Katz's Delicatessen

You know it, you love it, we might as well post on it here. Katz's. Way back before the Food Network, etc., brought every tourist to your local "Best __ Sandwich" spot via their food porn, every slack jawed yokel knew a visit to Katz's for historic pastrami was in order. It has always been known.

And so, it remains. If you are looking to spend $16 on a sandwich, this is one way to do it. And the truth is, what you are paying for is not just a pile of brined meat, but the experience of dining in an institution and one heavily reliant on nostalgia. I consistently find myself grinning and satisfied when I'm there. Just don't lose your ticket or act the rube.
As far as I've found, what you order at Katz's is the pastrami. When your personal slicer offers a sample, take, eat, nod in approval and then tip the man. Mustard on rye with the half-sour pickles is how I do. It is a monster pile of meat and overflows with saltiness and umami. Splitting one is reasonable. Finishing one will force you to waddle out the door. Only once did I eat one and then go eating more, but I was drunk and with a large, hungry man who had never tried a halal kart.

Also, via some food writing that is now several years old, I had read that the hot dog here is fantastic. Not so. At least the skin popped a bit with the first bite, but the bun and all else is mediocre. Save your, hopefully, limited hot dog dining for one of the variety of other spots that focus on the dog as a specialty.

Just to note, fries are big thick steak-cut and potato salad is super-mayonnaisey. Brisket is much fattier than the pastrami, as it should be. Also, you can get Cel-ray soda here. If you have ever gotten one of their copyrighted-slogan salamis, let me know how that shit be.

Info: Open everyday. Fri and Sat until 2:45 AM.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Flushing Mall

There are two major food courts in Flushing - the Golden Mall and the Flushing Mall. Each have their charms, but for today, we are concerned with the Flushing Mall.
This is a modern food court experience compared with the rabbit warren-like den that is the Golden Mall. Plenty of seating, cleanliness, bathrooms, I can see why some prefer this spot. But really, the Gua Bao is the single most important reason to visit. I'll get to this in a moment.
Lamb Noodle Soup, Dan-dan Noodles, and Boiled spare rib:
The Flushing Mall contains about a dozen food stalls in the main area and an additional Korean Dumpling stall upstairs. Some common favorites are present including the amazing and famous X'ian Famous Foods, which also has it's original stall in Golden Mall and outposts on St. Marks St and Chinatown. There is Korean, Japanese, Hand-pulled noodles, Szechuan, Taiwanese, etc. We settled in with some surefire hits. Everything I am about to describe was, simply, fantastic.
From the far right of the court, we started with the only Szechuan stall, Chengdu Snacks. From here we chose some Dan-dan noodles and boiled spare ribs. The problem with ordering spicy foods from many ethnic places is that proprietors rarely believe your delicate palettes can handle the heat. Even though these were ordered by an Asian-American who insisted he could handle it, the Dan-dan noodles were not hot in the slightest. Somewhat of a disappointment. Insist on the heat. The boiled spare ribs were breaded, although the breading was mushed by the cooking, and incredibly tender. Very juicy pieces of meat.
Next, Stan and Beth ordered some hand-pulled noodles (also in the right side of the court). They are completely fine and comparable to any of the good Chinatown noodle joints.
We were sure to hit up the western Chinese cuisine of X'ian Famous Foods. This is pure food - it is focused on several major ingredients. Our choices were all centered on two ingredients: lamb and cumin. It is serious cumin. Below are short, flat lamb noodles in a spicy broth.
This is the lamb burger. It rules and is probably their most cited dish amongst western eaters. Again, cumin.

And now this brings me to the Gua Bao. This is basically the hamburger/sandwich of Taiwan. A squishy dough pocket filled with pork belly, pickled veggies, cilantro, scallion and a great crushed peanut-sugar mixture. The Gua Bao here blows away those served at Baohaus and I can't say exactly why (and I love Baohaus). They are certainly cheaper and much larger. Can't say the ingredients are any nicer. The setting sure is more authentic. Something about these things is just so overwhelmingly satisfying. For me, it is the combo of big meaty chunks of pork belly and a great peanut-sugar combo. Just really fantastic stuff.

I'm amazed:
Tim basically cleaned up our mess. He finished every morsel left over from our order, which was much larger than our stomachs could handle. And after eating it all, he still had a smile on his face.

Finally, Tim purchased a totally superfluous kimchi roll - he basically took the thing down himself: Dudes, Flushing Mall: GO NOW.

Eisenberg's Sandwich

How many Jewish-American delis are there in NY? What would you say - 300? 400? Eisenberg's is an old and trusted one - dating from the early 20th century and stationed right next to the Flatiron Building and Madison Sq. Park. And it absolutely has it's share of boosters and adherents. I rank it with a meh-y shoulder shrug. It's fine, just fine. Not at all amazing. But you know, if you are in the neighborhood and need something, it will do.

On a recent visit, Stan and I got a Chicken Salad with Bacon and a Brisket. The chicken salad was the better of the two, but still lacking. Compared with a delicious chicken salad club I had at Lexington Ave Candy Shop several weeks ago, this thing was way overpriced, small and bland. The brisket I found dry, overcooked and, compared to places like Katz' or David's Brisket, totally underwhelming. During other visits, the egg salad with bacon has left me smiling but slightly unsatisfied. So, basically you have $10 versions of all the classic NY deli sandwiches, done small but serviceable. Surely, if you need lunch in the area, this is a suitable option and certainly better than you're run-of-the-mill quick bite. But if what you are craving is a ___-salad sandwich in a soda fountain/deli atmosphere, you can do better.

Info: 174 5th Ave., Closes early on weekends.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Saltie provides Williamsburg with something it greatly needs: a lunch-focused gourmet sandwich. It is a cleanly designed, take away-centric spot, with a few counter stools for eating in. The entire menu looks fabulous. In addition to sandwiches, they also serve pastries and ice cream.

Most everything here is served on sea salt topped Focaccia, with a good ratio of oil to crispness. The salt adds a strong crunch that is appreciated.

My recent purchase was a "Little Chef": Mortadella, Pecorino, Green Olive and Parsley. Very basic, very salty. The olive is chopped up in a muffaleta-like olive salad. Over extremely large parsley leaves, some olive oil is drizzled. The mortadella and pecorino brought a wonderful salt-nutty, combination. It is a great sandwich. This should be your go-to for daytime Williamsburg eats.
From the Saltie website:Info: 378 Metropolitan Avenue. 10am-6pm, closed Mondays.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paulie Gee's

I love how hungry Julia looks here.

Open since March of this year, Paulie Gee's has made it's way into my circle of favorite pizzas. I even made it my pick for this year's birthday dinner. When Paulie himself discovered this news, a shot of homemade Limencello promptly arrived.
Paulie is likely to amble up to your table on most nights. He gave us the brief run-down on his deal. Briefly, former Wall St-oriented IT specialist is looking for something he's more passionate about to spend his time on, builds a killer pizza oven in his backyard (he showed us pics on his phone), spends some years practicing recipes and finally decides to take the plunge into starting his own restaurant. It is a fabulous space - lot's of great wood, interesting fixtures, base-less lamp shades, a gloriously beautiful pizza oven and piles of chopped wood. It can feel Twin Peaksian with the right Badalamenti-ish music.

So, we ordered 4 pies - all off of the special menu:

The Hellboy: Fior di Latte, Italian Tomatoes, Sopressata Picanten, Parmigiano Reggiano and Hot Honey
Red, White and Greenberg - Fior di Latte, Berkshire Guanciale, Pickled Red Onions and a Baby Arugula Garnish

Cherry Jones - Fior di Latte, Gorgonzola Cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, Dried Bing Cherries and Orange Blossom Honey

Anise and Anephew - Fior di Latte, Braised Fennel, Anisette Crème Drizzle, Berkshire Guanciale and Fennel Fronds
All four were fantastic, as were both salads - a Fennel/Orange and the Gates of Eden: Seasonal Greens, Gorgonzola Cheese, House Candied Walnuts, Red Onions, Dried Cherries, Bosc Pear and Red Wine Vinaigrette. The ingredients on Paulie's menu show up over and over again. I think they are still working on combinations, while knowing the individual tastes they like - Fennel, nice pork cuts, dried cherry, etc. There is a trend of blending sweet and savory - both the Hellboy and Cherry Jones had this going on.

The Hellboy and the Anise and Anephew were my two favorites. On the Red White and Greenberg, the pickled onions really stood out, almost overpowering the pork jowl...and I love pickled onions. Cherry Jones had the most satisfying first bites, but the sweetness of the dessicated cherries and orange blossom honey got a bit sickly after a slice. I would happily eat it again, but would likely order something else.
The hot honey was wonderful with the Sopresseta. This was the only pie with tomato that we ordered and the savoriness of tomato/meat/honey was incredibly satisfying. The Anise and Anephew is ruled by the creme. I'm not necessarily a fennel/anise fan, but the braised fennel is very mellow. Just a really rich slice.

Info: 60 Greenpoint Avenue. Closed Mons. Dinner only.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Donut Plant

It's designer Donuts. One time I went there and there were fangirls from Japan - I think they saw it on a food show. So, yeah, this place has been featured on tv and print a bunch. I'm thankful this shit isn't a huge trend, so I still can gush about this and Portland's Voodoo Donuts because they still are a novelty and quite good. This is a bit more upscale than Voodoo - but sorely lacks the bacon-maple beauty of that spot. What you get here is good donuts made with great ingredients. Expect weekend lines. Loved: vanilla, orange, peanut butter and jelly, tres leches, sunflower, strawberry and dark chocolate. Basically, they are all good.
Sunflower seed donut:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Donut:Eatin':

Dessert Truck Works

About a year ago, the Dessert Truck opened a storefront in the LES. I typically have trouble paying for restaurant desserts, which is strange because I have a serious need to eat desserts on a daily basis. Basically, my shit is dark chocolate and peanut butter. If those two are present, I'm smothering my face in it.

So, here we have a really good dessert place. A couple times a year, I am willing to say, "You know what, let's get a $6 dollar dessert". And, as you can see on the menu, that is what we have here.

So here we are, drinking coffees and staring at three options, from left to right, the chocolate bread pudding with bacon custard sauce, the molten choc cake and a pistachio bar of some sort.

The bread pudding was a tad out there, due, of course, to bacon flavored custard. I am definitely down with bacon in my dessert. I'd get it again in a sec. I however enjoyed it the most.

This is the molten chocolate cake. You can't fuck this up, really. You know what you are getting.
And a nice silhouette of pistachio thing. Sorry, no chocolate, it's gonna be hard to get my lovin'.

Hey, it's $6 desserts. If it strikes you, I can't think of many places I'd recommend before this.
The END: