Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Lobster Joint on the Lower East Side

Oh, seafood, how I love thee so !  I grew up in a household where we had "fish summers," which involved regular family fishing trips in the summer and then proceeding to eat the catches in every meal of the day (breakfast, lunch and dinner!).  I miss those times !

In the Northeast, we have the luxury of having so many seafood places, but it's still exciting when a new lobster spot opens up offering all sorts of lobstery dishes like lobster huevos rancheros, lobster mac 'n cheese and others, like with the Lobster Joint !

Fried oysters were served on a coleslawed halfshell, with a golden, crunchy batter, and was a promising starter.

The Connecticut lobster roll was stuffed thick, but the lobster meat lacked much flavor outside of the butter and was a bit stringy.

The fries were plain and fine.  The dish also comes with a huge, fat pickle, which my meal-mate acknowledged was surprisingly tasty.

The lobster shepherd's pie was probably the most exciting thing we ordered, served in a mini cast-iron skillet, and topped with the most buttery layer of mashed potatoes.

Beneath the mashed potatoes were bits of spinach, chunks of lobster (still not flavorful, also a touch overcooked), and mushrooms.  It'd make quite the comforting dish on a cold day, if only it just tasted better!

The service here is low-key.  Order at the register, they staff will bring you the food.  If you get any sort of iced tea or soft drink, do note that when they ask you if you want a refill, you will pay by the glass.  Strange !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: The type of food being served here is C-food, as in they are serving C-level food.  Best to get your lobster fix elsewhere, but it's fine if you are absolutely stuck on the LES.

201 E Houston
New York, NY

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Decadence and Pure Fat for Breakfast: M Wells Dinette

Thanan and I have been mourning the loss of M Wells over the last year, remembering how we met up one cheery morning, ate bowls of fat, and then each went home to our respective boroughs to pass out.  It was a great meal.

Well quite excitedly, M Wells is back ! Now as a Dinette operating out of MOMA PS1 in Long Island City. The whole space is bright, warm, and looks like a classroom.

The full menu is displayed on a green chalkboard.

It's hard to read when giant obnoxious Thai heads are in the way (instantly brings me back to memories of elementary school again).

Although there are a few community type tables, most of the seating is in desk form, complete with pad and crayons in the desk drawer for you to act all studious while waiting for your food to be served.

There are loose leaf teas served in glass cups promoting life.

Matcha is mixed tableside by waitresses in leather hotpants.  


Now, all of the entrees seem small, but they are understandably so - there should be Occupy Wall St. picketers out front, because these dishes were rich beyond belief.  (This is what happens when you get a foodie who works in financial services...I'll be here all night, folks!)

Yulee ordered the potato and uni, doused in a light, citrusy yuzu sabayon, and topped with a poached egg.

The violet potatoes were tender and earthy, the uni delicate, and the yuzu sauce just brilliant in lightening the whole dish.

I went for the bone marrow and escargot tart - M Wells typically serves bone marrow and escargot in the cow bones itself, but now given the choice of having a surefire heart attack for breakfast by putting pure fat on a buttery crust, sign me up !

I'd probably recommend most people not to eat this as an entree, and share this ridiculously decadent dish to feel better about oneself and just not die.  The roasted onion jam spread added nice tang to the rich chunks of bone marrow, and the chewy bits of escargot and porcini mushrooms help break things up a bit also.

The surprise best dish at the table was the foie gras and oats.  Simply put, it's oatmeal with nuts, currants, apricots and a fat wallop of foie gras on top.

I would eat oatmeal everyday if it tasted like this.  Creamy, nutty and just magical - especially when combined with the ever so succulent foie gras.

We asked the waitress how the oatmeal was cooked, because it's startlingly tasty, and she said, "Well, I'd imagine it tastes good because of all the maple sugar and...butter...lots of butter."  Yes, I'd imagine so indeed!

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Foie-get about your diet ! It's winter ! Your arteries need a fresh coat of fun, indulgent fat !  

M Wells Dinette
MoMA PS1 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101
M. Wells Dinette on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So Stoop: The Stoop Brunch at Scratchbread

One of my favorite brunches in the city has to be the Stoop Brunch at Scratchbread in Bed-Stuy.  For most, it's a hike, but there's something fantastic about milling around the sidewalks outside the ordering window, eavesdropping on other Brooklynites discussing how their Twin Peaks tattoos were misconstrued as conspiracy theories, and enjoying smashingly unique breakfast treats. All while getting to say the word Stoop over and over, because we know that's endless amounts of fun, right (especially sung to Salt 'n Pepa's ol' tune)?

Pardon the abnormally large head shadow, I promise it's not mine (but easily could be).
The Stoop Brunch is serviced outside from a window, with a couple of wooden benches on the sidewalk, and if you get lucky, someone is throwing away a conference table at the nearby dumpster that you can also use to eat your meal.  It's best to go on a nice day !

Breakfast is served all week beginning at 6, and menu items will vary.  There is usually pizza bread, which is thick and delicious with layers of rich tomato sauce, bits of cheese, drizzles of olive oil and red pepper flakes on light, fluffy bread.

I love the charred edges.

We ordered the Ben, which is usually served on a beautiful looking savory jalapeno muffin, but it proved too popular, so ours was made with a hollowed out parmesan loaf that was just as delightful, with a perfectly soft-boiled egg, thick slop of "stinky cheese" (that was actually not that stinky), kale for health and added bacon for pure joy.

This is one sumptuous shot.

Coming from the South, I should have a natural affinity for grits, but I never have, until now.  Scratchbread's brilliant version can be dressed up to the nines with kale pesto, wood-charred jalapeno sauce, soft egg, and bacon.  You should guss up your grits the whole way too !  It's spectacularly spicy, creamy and just so gosh darn good.

And this is where we shared their truffley buttercream brownie, but you should opt for the whole thing, because we all know you deserve it !

Armed with just a spork, the whole meal may prove to be a messy affair, but affairs are usually messy, but at least with this one, you'll walk away with true unadulterated satisfaction !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: It'd be too stoop to pass this one up ! It's ridiculously Brooklyn, and ridiculously good. 

1069 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY
SCRATCHbread on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Noodles for Your Noodle: The Stamina Dipping Soba at Cocoron

Cocoron is Japanese for "heartwarming," and indeed, this tiny spot on the LES offers just the uplifting that your winter-depressed heart so direly needs.

This soba restaurant is cozy beyond belief, seating 14 people tops, with most seats around the bar.  The kitchen is just as cramped, but each dish is still made with diligent care.

Mr. FaP and I both opted for stamina soba noodles, his version is the warm style, with the noodles served inside the premium bonito broth soup,

while mine was served as a dipping style, with a stone pot propped above a small bunsen burner, and the plate of noodles served alongside.

The stamina style comes with one chicken meatball (so tender and moist), a few strips of pork meat, and one particularly meaty and succulent shitake mushroom.

The broth was absolutely delectable, silky and savory from tiny little bits of pork fat.  

To eat the soba with the dipping style, one takes the al dente soba noodles

and drops it into the broth.  Swirl it a bit, then transfer the noodles to the small saucer plate to hold the warmed noodles as you slurp them into your lovely mouth.  Repeat. Swoon. Enjoy!  

Then, after all the noodles are complete, the chef gives you a red pot with hot, starchy water to dilute the broth for you to drink and enjoy the soup to its beautiful end.

Cocoron also has a dessert menu, with homemade mochi, and specials that included the one shown below - mixed berries with tapioca and coconut milk.  It's a rather nice dessert, light and delicate, however the berries are heavily frozen and are a bit too cold to really enjoy after such a comforting meal.  Best to skip this one if you see it !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: I used to think soba was so-bad, but it's honestly because I haven't had it here, where the broths are delicious, the noodles are tasty and the chicken meatballs make me feel plucky !  Definite recommend !

61 Delancey
New York, NY
(cash only!)
Cocoron on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Marlow & Sons: The Bacon Breakfast Biscuit

Today is such a dreary day.  Let's face it.  There's really nothing worth leaving your home for today.  It's drizzly outside.  Cold.  Gross.  Just get back into your pajamas and wait for things to get better (hopefully tomorrow, but who knows!  Maybe you'll be stuck in your apartment forever ! Egad !).

I was out in the elements earlier, and I can assure you that you are not missing on much.

Except maybe this breakfast I had at Marlow & Sons.  It's a real sight for those woefully sore eyes of yours, a shining beacon in this goshdarn wintry mix of ultimate sadness.

Scrambled egg.

Melted cheese. 

(Maybe it's just me, but the sandwich looks like it's smiling at me in the picture below.  It's just as excited to see me as I am it !)

I could not ba-con to describe how tasty this simple little breakfast sammich was to my literally dampened soul.  Slighty sweet, slightly crumbly biscuit with a brilliant buttercrunched top, tangy white cheddar cheese melted over a mound of scrambled eggcellence, and the ol' reliable salty goodness of bacon come together to create a most exquisite breakfast ditty in my mouth.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: For a quick and dirty breakfast, you can't do much butter than this South Billyburg spot.

Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
Marlow & Sons on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Providence ! Nick's on Broadway, and I want you to meet him !

You know what's nice?  

You know what's better?
Brunch in the fall.
In Providence !
(Yeah, I'm a wee bit behind :)

Of course, we needed to fuel up properly in order to effectively enjoy all of Mother Nature's seasonal wonders.  And so we met Diana's friends for brunch at one of Providence's top breakfast hotspots, Nick's on Broadway.

Her friends noshed on fishcakes, made from the fresh catch of the day, corn and cheddar polenta and ahi tuna,

while Diana and I shared the eggs benedict style with two plump poached eggs, bacon, housemade biscuits and homefries

(uhm.  so good),

in addition to buttermilk hotcakes served with a warm fruit compote that was divine - like-directly-smeared-from-the-grace-of-God-and-put-on-these-soft,-lovely-pancakes-divine,

aaand a cassoulet of local meats (beef, lamb, pork), beans, two more perfectly poached eggs and grilled bread.

I bean meaning to tell you about this dish, because it was remarkably, and quite unexpectedly, delicious - ultimate comfort food, savory to the core, and just fantastic.

We also ordered a side of home fries because we had no idea that this would come with our eggs benedict, and who can really have enough home fries, especially when it comes as a medley of potatoes, including the much underappreciated sweet potato?

The restaurant filled up fast while we spooned beans, eggs and hotcakes into our pretty mouths, so come early or just wait a little at the bar to devise your brunch strategy - you know you'll want to eat a lot !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: The faces are friendly, the food is delicious, and all I can think about is just how com-potent that pancake topping was.  Definite recommend !

500 Broadway
Providence, RI

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dallas ! Hop to It! Hopdoddy's Brrrrgggrrrr Brrrrr

Dear Dallas,

When did you get so cute and start becoming a little foodie town?

Love, Han & Diana

Everytime we come home to Texas, we are noticing some changes on the culinary front ! Hopdaddy's is a newish spot in the Park Cities area, and originates from Austin (where all delicious things are born).  The burger bar is not shy about how self-sufficient it is, grinding its own meats, baking its own buns, and handcutting its own delectable fries.

The restaurant is bright and spacious, with lots of large wooden tables and hightop seating.  Customers line up in a queue, order at the register, and tables are held for each party by the hostesses.  

There are a dozen hamburger options, half which feature Angus beef, and others that include bison, turkey, lamb and sushi-grade tuna.  Something for everyone !

Drinks are tasty.  Natural fountain sodas from Maine Root Company are available here (the blueberry is most exquisite) in addition to delicious shakes and rain water !

The salted caramel is remarkably light and creamy with a subtle salty aftertaste.  So good.

Diana and I shared a classic burger with thick-cut bacon, cheddar and added fried egg on top (don't yolk around - always seize the moment of getting eggy with anything!).

We were told by our server that nearly all the Asians that frequent Hopdoddy's gets an egg on top, and we were definitely reinforcing that stereotype.  I mean who does not want to see this luscious waterfall dribbling down?

The burger was delicious - the patty was meaty and flavorful, the bun soft and pliant.  If I had to ding them for anything, it'd be that it was slightly overcooked (medium shown below), but the hamburger was still juicy, so we didn't really mind.

Fries are thin, crisp and addictive here.  We ordered a couple batches to eat with the chili con carne, however, our server hooked us up with a complimentary cup of their green chile queso, simply because we were Asian.  We couldn't help but be thankful for our heritage at that moment as both made a satisfying dip for the fries.  They're both different (the chili hearty while the green chile is more mellow but with pep), and you really couldn't go wrong with either.

Lines remained consistently out the door while we feasted, but the waits still appeared minimal, and everyone was still having a merry time !  Worth the small wait !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Hopdoddy's, you're pretty irresistible with those beautiful buns and that sumptuous shake.  Mmmhmm!

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
6030 Luther Ln
Dallas, TX
Hopdoddy Burger Bar on Urbanspoon