Showing posts with label Brunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brunch. Show all posts

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dim Sum at Jing Fong

As you’ll remember from my post last May, I never realized that a true “dim sum” meal was only served between the hours of 11am and 4pm on weekends. I literally thought it was a style of dining that could happen on any day at any hour, and Patrick and I learned the hard way that this wasn’t so. Over the long President’s Day Weekend two weeks ago, 7 friends, Patrick and I ventured down to China Town at an appropriate hour (1pm) to enjoy some Dim Sum at Jing Fong on an appropriate day (Sunday.) Boy were we in for an adventure.

Thanks to a good friend from home, I had been out until about 5am the night before this dim sum adventure, so needless to say, I was running a few minutes late for our 1pm meeting time. Since I have such punctual friends, some of them were right on time and were able to put our name in for a table. When Patrick and I rounded the corner onto Elizabeth Street, we saw a small mob assembled on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. I panicked for a moment because I was getting what my friends and I like to call “hangry,” a combination of hungry and angry, the later being mainly caused by the former. Once we met up with our friends, we were told the wait wouldn’t be too long, and it really wasn’t.
I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly large parties were being called into the restaurant, and then I became skeptical. I mean, how could they possibly seat THAT many people THAT quickly? I would soon learn the answer to my question. When our table was called, I did a little yelp of joy and followed my friends inside.

What I wasn’t expecting was a very long escalator that we had to ride underneath a beautiful crystal chandelier.

An escalator in a restaurant? Hm, okay. There’s a first time for everything.

Nothing could prepare me for the room we were about to walk into. The only thing that makes me happier than a real football field is a restaurant the size of a football field, which Jing Fong is. Hundreds of people sat in the room as tables of varying sizes pulling food off of carts as they rolled by How glorious this dim sum idea was! I couldn’t believe the eating adventure I was about to embark upon.

The 9 of us sat at our table and almost immediately, about 12 plates of food were placed in front of us. They just kept pulling dishes off the cart and we just kept shaking our heads yes. More food, please! I squealed with excitement, pulled apart my chopsticks, poured myself a huge glass of water and a cup of tea and off I went.

I can’t really explain in detail every single thing I ate, but there were shumai (my favorite), dumplings, spring rolls, vegetables, chicken feet (Patrick’s fave):

and lots of other things filled with various kinds of meat (shrimp, pork, chicken, beef).  I absolutely loved the shrimp shumai:

and the Taro Cake:

A Taro Cake is a slightly spongy dish that my friend Kat encouraged me to try. It was a flavor unlike anything I’d ever had before, earthy and full of flavor. I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself out for dim sum.

Every time a cart rolled by, we shook our heads yes for more plates to be placed on our table.

The more we ate, the more water we gulped to offset the intense amount of sodium we were consuming and I was sure this meal was going to cost me a pretty penny based solely on how much food we had. When we couldn’t possibly eat another bite, we requested our check and I prepared myself for what I was sure would be a lot of damage. Not so. It came out to exactly $15 per person INCLUDING tax and tip. In New York City? For that much food? Surely there must have been a mistake.

I left Jing Fong with both a tummy and a wallet that were full and happy. We climbed back onto the escalator to go back out into the street and even though I was the thirstiest I had ever been in my entire life, I considered our meal to be a great success.

Have you ever done a dim sum brunch? What are some of your favorite dishes you’ve had?

Let’s Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

Friday, January 27, 2012

Did You Say Pepperoni Soup?!

Only 7 short months ago, I told a tale (over 3 blog posts) of my insane eating vacation in Austin, TX while I was there for the IACP conference. I ate so much BBQ that I was afraid I'd turn into a whole hog and I gave you every last fattening detail.

As luck would have it, Patrick's cousin lives in Austin and was getting married, so I got to go back for the week between Christmas and New Year's. I won't torture you with the details of every single thing I ate, but a few meals are necessary to highlight. Boy oh boy, Austin is quite the foodie town!

Our first meal was lunch right after checking into our hotel. A bunch of us went to a place on South Congress called Hopdoddy Burger Bar. You are right if you think the name is a little odd, so here is what it means: Hopdoddy was created to express the perfect union of burgers and beer: handcrafted beer (hop) + (doddy), the nickname given to the native cow in Aberdeen, Scotland. You learn something new every day!

The line was nearly out the door (usually a good sign) and as soon as I saw the frosty chalices of beer being held by many of the patrons in line, I knew the wait wouldn't be too difficult for us to endure. We all jumped into the line and, even though I don't usually love beer, I couldn't pass up an icy glass of Real Ale Fireman's #4.

We only had to wait about 20 minutes, and they had a great policy where the table is ready for you as soon as you order your food. I went for the burger called The Goodnight, which was Angus Beef, Tillamook Cheddar, Hickory BBQ Sauce and Sassy Sauce. What the heck is Sassy Sauce?! That's a great question, and I don't entirely know the answer to that, but I think it was some kind of mix of mayo and mustard. Whatever it was, it was delicious!

Here I am with my refreshing chalice of beer.

And here is my awesome burger, The Goodnight. 

It was a great burger, perfectly cooked (medium rare, of course), juicy, flavorful and awesome toppings. The bun was great and the sauces were very tasty. Best of all, it was about 65 degrees and sunny, so we got to sit outside and enjoy our food in the sun. Perfect!

The other meal that I have to mention was our lunch at Second Bar + Kitchen on the corner of Second Street and Congress. My friend Rev (better known as Burger Conquest) introduced me to his amazing friend Julie down in Austin, and Julie is engaged to Second Bar + Kitchen's Chef de Cuisine, Ethan Holmes. Julie and Ethan are both totally awesome people, and I wanted Pat to try the Buffalo Frickles I had last time I was in Austin. To my great surprise, Ethan was in the kitchen, so we got to say hi to him as well.

We, of course, started with the aforementioned Buffalo Frickles with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce.I can't say enough good things about them. Spicy, tangy, pickle-y and honestly just downright amazing. Pat was a huge fan of them, as I knew he would be, and we finished the plate off in no time at all.

Next up, and another thing I must give credit to Rev for telling me about, the Pepperoni Soup, truly one of the most unique soups I have ever tasted.

An amazing bowl of San Marzano Tomato Soup with Pepperoni, Melted Mozzarella and Garlic Croutons, you would swear you were biting into a slice of pepperoni pizza with every taste. Ethan, I don't know how you do it, but keep doing it!

Finally, another repeat visit, I had to take Pat to Juan in a Million for the Don Juan Taco, "A secret combination of potato, egg, bacon and cheese in a deliciously hot tortilla" for only $3.80!

I think Pat likes it, don't you?!

We did eat a lot of other great things, like BBQ for Pat's cousin's Rehearsal Dinner, Fish Tacos at the Turf N Surf Po' Boys Food Cart (you have to try the Blue Marlin Taco!) and so much more. Austin is an awesome city with incredible food. I'm going back in March for South by Southwest, and I can't wait for lots of new eating adventures.

What are some of your favorite spots in Austin? I'm looking forward to checking out Congress next time I'm there.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

Monday, January 10, 2011

Brunch Spots: good restaurant

Weekend brunch is one of my favorite things about New York City. For me, combining two meals into one means I can pretty much go wild and eat whatever I want. Such was the case this past weekend with brunch at good restaurant in the West Village.

Patrick and I originally wanted to go to Cafeteria for some Mac & Cheese, but even at noon the wait was 1/2 hour. We were way too hungry for that, so I suggested we try good. I'd only ever been for drinks, and Jill had been telling me the brunch was awesome, so we decided to give it a try. We walked to the restaurant and saw that it was fairly busy, but they told us the wait would only be about 15 minutes. Then two seats opened at the bar, so we took our name off the list and sat there. Thus began one of the very best brunches I have ever had.

On the bar sat a tower of amazing-looking pastries including Cheddar Cornbread, Pumpkin Spice Bread, Buttermilk Biscuits, Orange Sour Cream Doughnuts and several others. We ordered cappuccinos and decided to order the basket of 3 pastries for $10 to try a few of them. We got the Cornbread, the Pumpkin Bread & the Doughnuts and sat sipping our drinks while we waited.In the meantime, the bartender/our waiter told us about the brunch special: Baked Eggs served with Sausage in Tomato Sauce, Pecorino, Mushrooms & Creamy Polenta. While all the items on the menu looked incredible (Lemon Ricotta pancakes, Banana-Stuffed French Toast, Breakfast Burrito, etc.) Patrick and I both chose the brunch special.

Our basket of goodies came to the table and it was a LOT of food. We began to go to work, and started with the doughnuts, which were served drizzled with glaze and piping hot. These doughnuts were amazing. Rich, moist and bursting with the flavor of oranges, I enjoyed every bite. The doughnuts weren't overly sweet at all, so for me, they were just perfect. I finished my doughnut and moved onto the Pumpkin Spice Bread which was also served warm and was also very yummy. Patrick agreed with me, and we both saved our Cornbread for our main courses.The enormous plates were set down in front of us, and the smell was intoxicating. We both went in for a bite and agreed on the dish with a collective "mmmm!" The eggs were perfectly runny, the sausage was tasty and well-seasoned, the cheese was (of course) delicious and the polenta was creamy. Each bite was better than the one before it, and when the dish was paired with the Cheddar Cornbread, it honestly blew my mind. I had never had one single brunch dish that tasted better than this, and both of us completely cleaned our plates.To add to the experience, my water glass was always kept filled, the staff was very friendly, the decor was charming and the prices were reasonable. While we were eating, Jill was leaving the Equinox next door so she stopped in to say hi, and I let her know that she had made a wonderful suggestion.

If you're looking for a better than "good" brunch option on the weekend, try good restaurant in the West Village. They don't take reservations, but you can always try to get a seat in the bar area, and even if you can't, the food is well worth the wait.

I still want to hear about your favorite brunch spots! I'm also curious about what time you typically head to brunch. I usually go around noon-1pm, but have definitely gone much later if the night before was a late one. I'm lucky to live in NYC where acceptable brunch hours are 11am to as late as 5pm.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brunch Spots: Stanton Social

To write about brunch spots in NYC and not include Chris Santos' Lower East Side gem Stanton Social would be a crime. Stanton Social is a beautiful restaurant and bar that I first knew as the place to get an awesome dirty martini amid beautiful people on a Saturday night. The first time I tried it for brunch, my life was forever changed.

The first thing that sets Stanton Social apart from other brunch spots is the fact that the menu is tapas-style. Tapas? For brunch? Oh yes.

If you're anything like me, you'll order eggs for brunch and when they come, you'll wish you ordered pancakes, and vice versa. Or, you'll go all out and order the special that has eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and waffles, eat everything and then need to lie down to take a 100-hour nap. (And if you're a Dane Cook fan, you'll note that this is also called "taking a coma.")

But not at Stanton Social. Here you can order a stack of Silver Dollar Pancakes, 1 small Bacon, Egg & Cheese Slider, a tiny plate of Huevos Rancheros and an order of Pumpkin Mini-Muffins and still have room for the famous French Onion Soup Dumplings. This concept is brilliant, and I went for brunch this past Sunday with Patrick, Caroline and two of Pat's friends from Baltimore. Here is what we had.

Caroline and I started with the Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Butter. Seasonal, moist and absolutely delicious. Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors, so if there is a pumpkin item on the menu, I will usually order it. These muffins didn't disappoint. Patrick got the Ricotta Fritters with Raspberry Jam, and they were sweet with a wonderful ricotta flavor. We all know I'm not one for sweet, but if there is any kind of cheese, I'm in.
The next dishes to come out were the Huevos Rancheros, Red Snapper Mini Tacos and Spicy Lobster Benedict. The Huevos Rancheros are the perfect minature portion of the classic dish with scrambled chorizo & eggs, black beans, 'salsa fresca' & aged cheddar.
The Snapper Tacos were a delight, although I thought they were a little too tiny, and I didn't try the Lobster Benedict, but Caroline & Pat seemed very pleased with it.
One of my favorite items on the menu is the Double Smoked Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a Buttermilk Biscuit. This comes with a side of crispy salt & vinegar chips, and I have to say, this version of the classic blows away every other I've ever had. The biscuit is buttery (stomachache alert!), the bacon is smokey and the cheese is oozy. This is the point in the meal when I've stopped trying to make conversation with my friends and am just sitting there in awe of the delicious food I'm eating.

Another item that my friends ordered that I didn't try was the 'Kobe Philly' with Truffle & Goat Cheese Fondue. Those who did have it said it was their favorite thing they had. Sounds like I missed out, but there's always next time!

We rounded out the meal with the Spicy Lamb Souvlakis with Tzatziki, Lime & Harissa Aioli, the Social Mac & Cheese with Chorizo & Ovendried Tomato and the aforementioned famous French Onion Soup Dumplings.
The Lamb Souvlaki is delicious and is one of Pat's favorites, the Mac & Cheese was very good, although a bit heavy for me, especially after everything I'd already had, and the French Onion Soup Dumplings were, as always, incredible. A beautiful dumpling filled with piping hot French Onion Soup on a toothpick topped with a crouton and tons of ooey gooey cheese make for Stanton Social's top brunch item and my personal favorite. I'm not kidding when I tell you, if you try nothing else on the entire menu, go to Stanton Social and order yourself these dumplings. You won't be disappointed.

All 5 of us ended our meal absolutely stuffed, and the ONLY bite left on the table was the end of the Mac & Cheese. We were all too full to take the last bite. This is a brunch that I will recommend every New Yorker try at least once, go with a good group and share everything on the menu. The food is incredible.

Chris Santos has just opened another restaurant called Beauty & Essex around the corner form Stanton Social. I have dinner reservations there next week, and I can't wait to try it and write about it.

Well done, Mr. Santos. Well done.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brunch Spots: Cafeteria

Cafeteria, a popular 24-hour restaurant in Chelsea, has a motto: You Are. You Eat. If that's true, I'm 3 amazing little bowls of the best Mac & Cheese I've ever had, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

When my friend Jill and I wanted to get brunch one Saturday afternoon, we chose Cafeteria because we'd both eaten there before and remembered the food being delicious. We had both never been for brunch, so we decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad we did!

At first, I was a little intimidated by how many people were waiting for tables, but the hostess told us it would only be about 25-30 minutes, so we decided to belly up to the bar and order some mimosas to kick off our Saturday afternoon. At only $10 a pop, I had a delicious grapefruit mimosa while Jill had an equally yummy OJ mimosa.

When our table was ready, the two of us agreed on one thing: We HAD to try the Mac & Cheese. Several orders of the ooey gooey deliciousness had passed by while we waited at the bar, and we just had to have it for ourselves. We ordered one "Mac Attack" while we looked over the rest of the menu. The Mac Attack consists of a taste of each of their 3 Mac & Cheese flavors:
-Cheddar & Fontina
-Smoked Gouda & Bacon
-Truffle Oil
All 3 were incredibly good, but my personal favorite was the Smoked Gouda and Bacon. I highly recommend the Mac Attack if you're planning a visit to Cafeteria.

Although the portions of Mac & Cheese look small, they were very filling, but we still went ahead and ordered brunch main courses. Jill opted for the BLT with chips while I got cheesy egg whites, turkey bacon, side salad and a biscuit.

When the BLT came out, we were both shocked about how huge it was. Jill knew right away that she'd only be able to finish half of her sandwich, if even that much, and that she'd be taking the other half home to eat later. The portions at Cefeteria are definitely very good for the price.
My scrambled egg whites were perfectly fluffy and cheesy, the biscuit was delicious, the side salad had a great-tasting balsamic dressing and the turkey bacon was very tasty.
Neither one of us did much damage to our meals because we were quite full from our appetizer, but regardless, all the food was very good, and I can't wait to go back to Cafeteria for brunch again.

Mac & Cheese, in its purest form, comes out of a blue box, but a lot of restaurants love putting their own spin on it. What is the best Mac & Cheese dish you've ever had? Do you prefer it as a gourmet dish, or as Kraft originally intended? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brunch Spots: The Bluebell Cafe

When I wake up on the weekends, the only thing I can think of is a big plate of eggs, potatoes & bacon. I like The Bluebell Cafe because it feels like home, and the food tastes like home.
The staff is friendly, the decor is very comfortable & inviting and the food is really good. When Patrick and I went a few weekends ago, I ordered the Bluebell Breakfast for $13.00.
It comes with two eggs any way (I got them sunny-side up), bacon, Cumberland sausage, buttermilk biscuit and potatoes. I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for biscuits, and the one at Bluebell doesn't disappoint. My eggs were perfectly runny, the bacon was crispy and the french fry-like potatoes were delicious. The breakfast also comes with a few pieces of fresh fruit, which makes quite a lot of food for $13. The breakfast also comes with a fresh-squeezed OJ.

Strangely enough, while we were sitting eating our food, a man ran into the restaurant, went into the kitchen, and ran out a few seconds later with the fire extinguisher. It turns out that awning over the store next door had caught on fire, and this man was just walking by when he noticed the fire. Acting quickly, he ran into our restaurant to get the fire extinguisher, and then went and put the fire out before the fire department arrived. That day I had my eggs with a side of excitement!

Has anything exciting or unusual ever happened while you've been out at a restaurant?

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

Monday, August 30, 2010

Brunch Spots: Tavern on Jane

Before moving to New York City, I never knew how serious the art of "brunching" was. In Boston, we'd often eat eggs & pancakes in the afternoon because that was when we rolled out of bed, but I never knew that brunch was considered an art form until I became a New Yorker.

When I woke up yesterday, all I could think of was how badly I wanted some eggs & a good cup of coffee. A few of my friends just moved to the West Village, so we knew that was the neighborhood we wanted to eat in. We wandered around near their apartment and stopped into Cafe Cluny, but the wait for five was 20 minutes, so we decided to keep walking. I have heard great things about Cafe Cluny though, so I intend to go back.

That was when we happened upon Tavern on Jane, a cute little spot on the corner of Jane Street & 8th Ave.
While I hadn't ever eaten there, I heard they had a great menu and I'd always wanted to try it. After checking out the brunch list, we decided there were tons of great options, and since there was no wait for the five of us, we were sold.

Upon sitting down, we were greeted with a friendly welcome from our waiter as he handed out the menus. We were all starving and knew what we wanted, so all five of us immediately ordered the Tavern Breakfast Burrito that had eggs, chorizo, peppers, onions & sour cream. The waiter brought us our basket of (warm) pastries, as well the coffee & drinks included in the $14 breakfast special. I had a grapefruit juice mimosa that was delicious, while my friends had bloody marys & regular OJ mimosas.

The coffee was good, the water glasses were kept full (the waiter even brought us our own pitcher!) and then our food came out. The burritos smelled amazing, and they tasted even better. Each meal came with home fries and a fruit salad, so after all was said and done, we each got warm croissants & muffins, coffee, an alcoholic beverage, a burrito, home fries and fruit salad for just $14. The restaurant was quite empty for a Sunday afternoon, but we were happy to have a corner to ourselves, and all five of us cleaned our plates. I will be back to Tavern on Jane for brunch again.

What are you favorite brunch spots in NYC? What is the longest you've ever had to wait for a table for brunch? Was it worth it? I look forward to hearing about your favorite places so I can try them out myself.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie