On the weekends, my usual ritual is to sleep in until noon (or later), drag myself out of bed, and head out for brunch. I love brunch because it’s casual but the food is usually really awesome (especially anything that has to do with eggs). Cookshop had been on my list of places-to-check-out-but-it’s-too-far-from-transportation, but I finally dragged myself to 10th Avenue (unheard of!) to sample their brunch. Chris and I headed in without a reservation (they can be made on opentable.com), but we only waited a couple minutes before being seated. When the waiter showed us to our seats, we looked around at the other tables and noticed that a lot of people ordered the burgers, so we decided to order a burger and something else. I noticed the huevos rancheros and decided to order it (did I mention that I’m a big fan of eggs?!).
My order of huevos rancheros:
The Cookshop version of huevos rancheros came with black beans, bacon, Monterey jack cheese, lime creme fraiche & red onion-jalapeÃ±o salsa. It was absolutely amazing, especially the lime creme fraiche. The eggs are baked (so the cheese and all of the flavors can melt together). Chris wasn’t as impressed, but I seriously couldn’t get over the fresh taste (the red onion-jalapeÃ±o salsa is also really good). I actually make a similar dish for breakfast, but instead of creme fraiche, I’ll put a little goat cheese in with my eggs (which is also awesome).
Chris ordered the Grass-fed burger with bacon:
The burger came with Vermont cheddar, twice smoked bacon, pickled red onion, chipotle ketchup, and fries. Vermont just makes the absolute best butter and cheddar cheese (fact, not opinion). Chris really liked his burger because it was really juicy, but I thought it was a tad on the salty side. Overall, I thought brunch was absolutely awesome (actually, much better than Five Points’ brunch, which is owned by the same person that owns Cookshop). It’s so good that I’d even say it’s worth walking to from Chris’ house (which is two avenues away!).
A lot of people randomly e-mail me about how much crap I eat. Some people think it’s awesome, but most people are telling me that I should be eating more vegetables instead of cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, and eggs. Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not the HEALTHIEST eater, but I get by because I only eat like crap one day a week (three meals on Saturday or Sunday of ANYTHING I WANT). On the other days (when I’m in New York), I usually end up ordering food from SeamlessWeb. There are a lot of great restaurants on the website and you don’t have to have to talk to anyone on the phone about taking your order (you just click on buttons and then if you have any special requests, type it into a nice little box before checking out). Some of my favorite places are Eva’s, The Pump, and 99 miles to Philly (Eva’s and The Pump have a lot of healthy options, 99 miles to Philly has CHEESESTEAKS). It’s online shopping with instant gratification!
A while back, I watched an episode of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” where Bobby challenges the owners of A Salt and Battery to a “fish and chips Throwdown”. The concept behind Throwdown is that Bobby Flay travels the country to challenge experts in a certain dish, but they don’t know they’re being challenged until halfway through the cooking process (Bobby Flay usually pops up and asks if they want to compete). Bobby usually has some sort of flare to add to the dish or he uses really great ingredients (lobster in the clam chowder Throwdown that he won!). Anyway, I watched the A Salt and Battery throwdown and was immediately in the mood for fish and chips from the small West Village restaurant. Since I watched around 11 at night, I was out of luck (nighttime is really the worst time to watch food shows because it always seems to make me hungry). In the morning, I headed to A Salt and Battery for a late breakfast to satisfy my craving.
On the episode of Throwdown, the cooks at A Salt and Battery prepare cod, but when I got to A Salt and Battery, they were out (so I settled for haddock):
The fish is freshly fried with a light batter right when you order it and comes with a little side of tartar sauce. I’m not a big fan of tartar sauce (sometimes it’s too chunky), but the tartar sauce that came with the fish completed the dish. The fish was crispy, flakey, and amazing.
I also ordered chips, which I were a little too fried and greasy, so I wasn’t a huge fan, but I did end up eating a big chunk of them because I was still a tad hungry after my fish.
A Salt and Battery also has a bunch of interesting drinks:
The place is very small and only has a couple of bar stools, but it’s definitely worth checking out. My friend, Justin, went there recently and loved it as well.
One sunny afternoon, I walked to Elephant and Castle by myself for a big, juicy burger (by the way, the Elephant and Castle in New York isn’t the same as the one I went to in Chicago). I’ve heard Elephant and Castle has a lot of great food, so I decided to try it myself before bringing Chris along. I ordered the elephant burger with bacon, cheese, and curry sour cream:
The combination of curry sour cream, bacon, and cheese may sound a little off-putting, but in reality, the burger is absolutely AMAZING. It also comes with red union and tomatoes (no ketchup or mustard). The sour cream curry also has chopped scallions and really gives the burger a wonderful kick. Also, I’m usually not a fan of bacon in my cheeseburgers (something about having TOO much fat in a burger), but I ate absolutely everything. A close-up shot of the burger:
The burgers at Elephant and Castle are pretty amazing (I’ve tried a couple others since this review and my favorite is still the Elephant burger). I tried ordering fries, but there was something wrong with their fryer (it had to do with Con Edison), and it was still broken when I took Chris there two weeks later. Elephant and Castle is a great place to eat by yourself (they don’t bother you that much) and their burgers AND desserts are amazing!
Chris and I are huge fans of Pearl Oyster Bar, but we decided to branch out and try Mermaid Inn’s lobster rolls to see whether or not they were any good. We didn’t have reservations, but the hostess said it would be 15 minutes (although we ended up waiting at least 45). Since we were already there, we decided to stick it out after the 30 minute mark. When we were finally seated, we told the waitress we were ready to order (she said she wasn’t ready to take our order and made us wait another 10 minutes before she came back). I ordered the lobster roll and Chris ordered the spaghetti with scallops, vegetables, and breadcrumbs.
The lobster roll is more of a lobster sandwich; it’s lobster with light mayo between a brioche bun:
The brioche bun made the lobster taste much sweeter, but the lobster chunks were tiny compared to the stuff they put in the lobster rolls at Pearl’s. The fries were thickly cut and crunchy that would’ve been great with a burger, but I would’ve preferred shoestring fries with the lobster sandwich (the regular fries were a little heavy).
Chris ordered the spaghetti with scallops, vegetables, and breadcrumbs:
The spaghetti was well cooked, the scallops were tender, and the vegetables were good, but we didn’t like the breadcrumbs (it made the dish too dry).
For dessert, the Mermaid Inn gives you a free cup of chocolate pudding with a miracle fish fortune teller:
I love free stuff, but the pudding hadn’t been made properly and we didn’t even bother finishing it because it was too chunky.
Overall, the Mermaid Inn didn’t impress me; the waitress that served us was rude, the lobster roll wasn’t that good, and the spaghetti was very forgettable. Pearl Oyster Bar is still the go-to place for lobster rolls in my book!