A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City

Filet Mignon
2011/03/20 23:51:19
I haven't been active too much on Roadfood in terms of posting as of late.  Life seems to happen when I'm making plans to post a trip report or work on a review.  However, I have been taking the camera with me from time to time and doing some reconnaissance to scope out some possible stops for a spring tour of Manhattan and the other boroughs.  I hope to make this an ongoing thread about good eats in the 5 boroughs.  I do have to give thanks to the city based food blogs, especially SeriousEatsNY.com, that has put me on to many of these great places. 
I've been reading about the The Meatball Shop on Stanton Street on the Lower East Side for some time and my girlfriend and I finally went to check it out.  I was a bit leery as I had heard that the wait to get in can be up to an hour!  We walked up and it was packed but being there was just the two of us, we were able to snag a table in five minutes.  

The laminated menu is at each table along with a marker.  You just mark what you want t=and give it to the waiter/waitress.  As you can probably tell from the "naked balls" and "family jewels", the owners have an offbeat/off-color sense of humor and it is definitely reflected on their website.  I snickered like an 11 year old listening to George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" for the first time!

We split a salad of mixed greens, roasted parsnips, walnuts and a sherry vinaigrette.  It was very fresh and good but the walnuts were missing and I would have liked the crunch for some added texture.  I didn't say anything as I didn't think it a big deal.  

Dayna had the vegetable balls with classic tomato sauce over mashed potatoes.  I'm not sure what they were made of but they were delicious.  It helps not to think of them as meatballs and to not have the expectation that they will taste like meatballs.  The tomato sauce was really fresh tasting and I could have eaten those mashed potatoes all night long!

I had the classic beef meatballs with a parmesan cream sauce over fresh-milled polenta.  Wow!  Talk about stick to your ribs!  The meatballs were juicy and had lots of great beef flavor (I wish I had written down the other flavors in them as well).  The sauce was very decadent and that polenta was creamy as could be.  I do wish the focaccia they give with each meal was thicker and more pillowy as opposed to a strip of bread as it would provide more surface area for picking up any sauce at the end.  A minor point though.  This was one heckuva meal.

And a close-up.

I spied another table having an ice cream cookie sandwich for dessert and when I saw the size of it and this menu, well, there really was no question.   

We split one filled with fresh mint ice cream and here's the kicker, you can choose two different cookies as your bookends.  You can't really tell from this picture but we went with the chocolate chip and the brownie cookie.  So, so big and so, so good!!

The 411
The Meatball Shop
84 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone# 212-982-8895
Website: http://www.themeatballshop.com/
They don't take reservations
More to come...!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/21 03:31:13
I'll leave the commentary and photos to you, but a couple of suggestions for places to try if you haven't already:
- Sripraphai (Woodside, Queens) - Thai
- Ippudo (65 4th Ave., Manhattan) - Ramen etc
- Roberto (603 Crescent Ave., Bronx) - Arthur Ave Italian
- Brick Lane Curry House (235 E. 53rd/306 E. 6th, Manhattan) - HOT curry
- 2nd Ave. Deli (33rd st between 2nd and 3rd Ave, Manhattan) - you know
These are places I've really enjoyed enough to go back to in NYC in recent years.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/21 10:09:50
billy, when I ever do get around to visiting NYC, how on earth am I supposed to pick where to eat from your trip reports?  Everything looks amazing!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/21 10:45:46
Wow! I think I'd have the spicy pork with the parmesan cream sauce over those amazing looking mashed potatoes!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/21 14:08:14
@BT, I made it to Sripraphai in 2008 when my friends Doug & Marisa took me there for my birthday.  We ended the meal with ice cream sundaes at Eddie's Sweet Shop on Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills, Queens.  Loved both places.  Here's the thread:  http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=400169&high=sripraphai
I've read so many good things about Ippudo that I really must get there soon. 
I checked out Roberto's site today and it sounds really good.  Would you believe I've lived in NYC for 7.5 years and have never been to Arrthur Avenue? 
I've been to many of the Indian restaurants along "Curry Row" but never to Brick Lane.  My girlfriend and a friend of hers did try the super hot "phaal" curry a while back and loved it.  I can't handle vindaloo so it's probably out of my league. Still, I'm sure there is lots of other great food there. 
I have been to the new 2nd Avenue Deli the day they opened (at 2:30am.  I was working the swing shift and thought I'd check it out).  haven't been back since.  Just don't get over that way anymore and don't eat that kind of food as often.  Wouldn't you know it though, I received an email from Wanderingjew and he invited me to join him and a friend for a meal there next month but I'll be at a (gasp!) chain for a friend's birthday.  Happy to see the friend, not thrilled about the venue but we do what we must.  Maybe he'll change the date...
@Nancy, if you come up to the city just drop me a line and I'd totally welcome the chance to show you around the city.  If I'm not around or if you have other plans, I'd be more than happy to help you narrow down the list, answer any questions, etc...
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/22 00:57:58
Once again, SeriousEatsNY.com shone the spotlight on a place that had me at hello!  Lulu Cake Boutique is located on 8th Avenue near 14th Street in Manhattan.  They had mentioned in a posting on their site that Lulu's has a few different kinds of homemade Twinkies.  Yes, go on...  My curiosity was piqued.  I browsed Lulu's website and found that they also make Yodels, Devil Dogs, Chocodiles, Snowballs, Whoopie Pies and MY personal, sentimental and hard to find favorite, Funny Bones.    My apologies for not getting a picture of the exterior as it was dark outside and I couldn't take a good shot worth posting.  
Which brings me to a segment I like to call "Free Advice".  Tip #1 - When Roadfooding at a bakery, it is most often wise to frequent the establishment during daylight hours, preferably in the morning as going after work increases the chance of all the Funny Bones being gone as was the case on this evening.  I feel like I was "Travelin' Manned" even though they weren't closed.  Sort of like going pout for drinks with your buddies and being hungover the next morning but not having felt any of the good times the night before.  Anyway...  I consoled myself with this Red Velvet Twinkie filled with sweet whipped cream cheese and a white chocolate coating.  Moist, not too sweet and great with a cold glass of milk.

And the cross-section.  Actually, to me, the shape of this more closely resembled a loaf of bread or a mini meatloaf than a Twinkie.

The Yodel. 

This may be billed as a Yodel but between you and me I think this is a rogue pastry that hid out in the case until closing time, snuck out and scarfed down a few packages of Drake's Yodels at the bodega around the corner.  I tried to work a confession out of him but he wouldn't talk so I brought him to Benson and Stabler down at the SVU Precinct but he lawyered up.  

I had no choice but to head over to the market in my building and get an actual box of Drake's Yodels for comparison.  Lulu's was just amazing.  Dark chocolate on the outside? Fresh cream filling?  Moist cake?  Every time I look at a Drake's Yodel now, all I see is the 98lb weakling on the beach with his girl getting sand kicked in his face by the muscle-bound, comically large homemade Yodel.  Yet I find myself rooting for the big guy.  Are you writing all of this down, Drake's?  

The 411
Lulu Cake Boutique
112 8th Avenue (bet. 15th & 16th Streets)
New York, NY 10011
Phone # 212-242-LULU (5858)
Website:  http://chelsea.everything...e.asp?content_id=23526
Stay tuned...!!
ann peeples
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/22 12:34:21
All I have to say, Billyboy, is YUM!!!
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/22 12:46:19
OMG, the pastries, the pastries (my homage to Apocalypse Now.....)!
Billyboy, I should not read your posts when I am eating my lunch -- anything I am eating just pales in comparison.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/22 22:51:41
As I have learned from Professors Chris & Amy, it is usually a wise choice to consult a local paper to find good eats a in particular area.  On my way to the bus one morning for my freakishly long commute to work, I picked up one of the free papers (Metro NY) and as I scanned through such thought provoking stories as "Lindsey Lohan Shows Up To Court In Dolce & Gabbana" and "Which Unnecessary Gadget You Simply MUST Have This Year" I found a small write-up about a Boston North Shore-style roast beef sandwich shop on the Bowery in Manhattan.  Visions of Kelly's and Nick's danced in my head and I made plans to check it out and soon!  Bowery Beef happens to be housed in the front of the Bowery Poetry Club & Cafe.  This East Village institution has been around just under ten years and hosts poetry slams, open mic nights and Bingo Nite on Mondays (aka Tranny Bingo) hosted by a drag queen and drag king.  Bowery Beef just opened there in the past month or so.  I made it there on the first or second day.

I'm digging the "found items" decor in here.

And the Pablo Neruda staircase!  Honestly, I don't know what it means but for some reason it just speaks to me and I really like the non-traditional presentation.

The roast beef sandwich as it is presented.  They do have a few seats and tables in here so I snagged one and set about to chow down.  

Good thing this was wrapped up as it was one sloppy, delicious mess!  I had mine with cheese (American, I think), BBQ sauce and horseradish.  I'm pretty sure the sauce was a commercial kind as I saw a big jug of it under the prep table but it was tasty nonetheless.  The beef was pink, warm and moist and the dude who prepared it was liberal with the horseradish, which gave my sinuses quite a jolt and I loved it.  The bun/roll was a standard hamburger type you'd find in any grocery store.  I didn't get the impression while I was there that they were selling the North Shore angle so it may have been something that the writer of the newspaper article had played up.  While not as big or true to the North Shore of Boston style, at $5 it was pretty good.  Maybe not a destination, but I'd go back for some sweet poetry and tasty sandwich.  Oh, the black mark on the top of the bun are the letters "BB" (Bowery Beef) branded into it.

A Bosco chocolate soda.  Not a big fan. I discovered on this day that I just don't like Bosco.  I've tried it out at restaurants and at home and really feel that it has a somewhat chemical/processed taste to it.  While I'm sure other syrups are just as full of additives/preservatives, Bosco's flavor really has it at the forefront to my taste buds. 

The 411
Bowery Beef (at the Bowery Poetry Club & Cafe)
308 Bowery (btw. Houston St. & Bleecker St.)
New York, NY 
Phone # 212-614-0505 (Bowery Poetry Club)
              212-260-3300 (Bowery Beef)
Website:  http://www.bowerypoetry.com/?#Home
And back to some more sweet stuff in the next entry...!
post edited by billyboy - 2011/03/22 22:56:43
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/23 13:36:33
Love your reports buddy , read them all the time , keep up the good work and next time I'm in the Big Apple  , you will be the first to know
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/24 14:27:15

I had Presidents' Day off from work on Monday February 21st, so with camera in hand and a list in my back pocket I had mapped out a few places to check out as potential RF and maybe even as stops on the next NYC tour.  I seemed to be having difficulty locating a new pretzel shop and rightly so as the gates were down over the sign and it turned out they were closed on Mondays.  TRAVELIN MAN, dost thou feel my pain??!!  As I walked dejectedly down the street like a member of the Little Rascals whose plan to stage a musical didn't work I approached the corner of Clinton & Houston Streets when a twinge of familiarity rushed over me.  SOMETHING is on Clinton St., but what?  Wait a minute!  I read somewhere that the Dessert Truck had a brick & mortar location on Clinton St.  Lo and behold, I came upon this sign.  There was joy in Mudville!  Billyboy did not strike out (entirely)!

Dessert Truck Works on the Lower East Side has been around for a couple of years in addition to the ongoing, roving Dessert Truck.  Founded by a Columbia University business student and a pastry chef, their goal was to make fairly higher end desserts at a reasonable price for the masses.  You don't need a reservation at Le Cirque to enjoy these and I think the highest price reaches $5-$6.

The menu.  They won a Throwndown with Bobby Flay using their Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding, which I love, but my favorite is the Warm Molten Chocolate Cake.  However on this evening I spied the Warm Brioche Donut Squares and was smitten.

When I ordered the guy at the counter said it would take about 10 minutes and to make myself comfortable and he'd bring them out to me.  They come two to an order and at $6 an order not the cheapest donuts I've ever had but I so wanted to try them!  I had a choice of fillings and I asked if I could have one of each (vanilla cream & Nutella).  Sure! 

I watched him make these and the great thing is they are only fried after you order them.  Rolled in granulated sugar and then filled, they looked like two very sexy pillows!  Warm, soft and yeasty these were very comforting like a bedtime story in edible form.  I fought the urge to inhale them and was rewarded with multiple bites of crunchy sugar coating followed by light pull-apart insides and finally at turns fresh creamy goodness and rich, gooey hazelnutty filling.  I tried to remember cutting them in half for a shot but my willpower was gone.  Apologies for the bitten-into donut.  I did try to clean the edges a bit but who am I fooling?

It was a pretty quiet night with just a few other people enjoying their desserts and conversation.  I imagine this place would be hoppin' moreso on the weekends.  And TTM, it's just a few blocks from Katz's!  I like the bench seating and the back pillows on rollers for adjustability.

Pudding BEFORE meat?  Clever way to save money but I wholeheartedly approve of this method for entirely different reasons, especially if it involves lots of pie!!

The 411
Dessert Truck Works
6 Clinton Street (near Houston Street)
New York, NY 10000
Phone # 212-228-0701
Website:  http://www.dt-works.net/

Keepin' it real on the savory tip with some Porchetta next...!

Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/25 00:46:32
East 7th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A in the East Village has slowly become a hot spot for good eats in NYC.  With Luke's Lobster, Butter Lane Cupcakes, Caracas Arepas Bar and now Porchetta, one can have quite a feast in that one little block.  The first time I had tried a porchetta sandwich was at their tent at the Brooklyn Flea (market) and I was hooked and vowed to make a trip to their storefront to dig in to their menu a bit further.  Porchetta is basically roasted pork with a mix of crispy skin, fatty belly and lean loin seasoned with various herbs and spices.  This is just a tiny closet of a place and those red stools in the photo are they only seating in the place and there aren't any tables, just shelving on the walls.

A small menu that I still need to work through.  The crispy potatoes with burnt ends (in this case I'm pretty sure they mean of pork, not the Kansas City classic from brisket) are next on my "to try" list!

And a look at the cross section of the porchetta.

Love that crispy scored skin!

I went with the platter.  Now $14 may seem steep but I really thought this was worth it.  The beans were creamy yet still retained some bite. I was conflicted about the cooking greens and they looked great but weren't cooked down as much as I could have liked. Somewhere halfway between crunchy salad greens and collards is the best way I can describe them.  I think this was intentional but while I loved the flavor the texture was not my thing.  The porchetta was a revelation!  Packed with flavor, each bite was at turns, crispy, meaty and fatty.  Normally, I'm turned off by fat in the end product of any mea that I am eating as it usually winds up being gristly.  This was the first time I understood fat having a place on my plate.  It literally melted in my mouth and had so much flavor.  This was a perfect dish on the very cold, blustery day that I visited.  As an added bonus I had two very nice conversations with some of the customers.  One with a woman who was visiting from L.A and her friend was taking her to try the good eats in NYC.  Naturally I told them about Roadfood and talked their ears off (hopefully I wasn't too bad!) about places to go.   About 10 minutes after they had left a man came in with his father who was visiting from Italy and his son brought him here to see how it measured up to what they grew up eating in the old country.  I think he really enjoyed it.  Good food really does bring people together and get them talking.

The 411
110 East 7th Street (btw. 1st Avenue & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
Phone # 212-777-2151
Website:  http://www.porchettanyc.com/index.html
Don't touch that Bat-Dial!  Doughnut Plant (Redux) is coming your way!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/25 10:36:07
How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?   That porchetta looks insane, and the brioche donut holes--NUM.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/25 14:01:47
Nancy, "You!  Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddie!"
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/25 17:16:31
Good Lord, it all looks so fantastic, great pics, reports Billy!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/26 13:10:01

As soon as I heard the Doughnut Plant had finally opened up their new location on 23rd Street in Chelsea I hightailed it over there to check out the space and some of the new doughnuts they would have to offer.

I wish I had the words to describe this set-up but the best I can say is that the counter reminds me of a ticket counter at an old train station (in a good way).  They have a series of TV screens on the wall in the back of the shop that have a rotating display of Food Network shows that have highlighted the Doughnut Plant.

Even the chairs have a doughnut theme.  The first time I went I ended up switching tables as a couple from the Upper West Side had brought their extended out of town family and I got to watch their young daughter, Zoe, eat her first Doughnut Plant doughnut.  Very cool.  Start 'em early!  This shop is much bigger and more of a place to hang out for coffee and doughnut with your friends whereas the original location is really a to-go spot.  It does get crowded very quickly though (yeah, like THAT would stop ME!)  Disclaimer: while enjoying my doughnuts last night I overheard a customer ask if the doughnuts are made on-site and the guy at the counter said no, that they are made at the LES location and driven over.  I think they are working through some red tape regarding their fryers but hope to have  them made on-site very soon.  

The also incorporated the doughnut tiles on the wall (same as in the original LES Plant) and a design on the small counter where I ate a couple rings of fried goodness last night!

What I really dig though are the doughnut shaped and themed pillows on the walls...coconut cream, strawberry, peanut butter & jelly, Meyer lemon, Valrhona chocolate, take your pick!

The TVs in back also display old photos and I think this one is of owner Mark Isreal's grandfather or great grandfather, whose recipes Mark used to start the Plant.

I was really surprised this shot of the menu came out!  I have to give high marks to the chai (creamy, slightly perfumed and very comforting) and the churros (crispy and sugary on the outside and creamy, almost caramel-like on the inside).  A word to the wise (which would not be me), I have come here three times all after work and once they were closed two hours before the posted schedule as they had run out of doughnuts.  The other two times they had already run out of newest flavors, chocolate chip, salted peanut and oatmeal.  So, the lesson here is : GO EARLY!  One of these days, they will be mine.  Oh yes, they will be mine!

Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jelly yeast doughnut.  Probably my all-time favorite.  Lots a fresh crunchy peanuts and a rich homemade jelly inside surrounded by a light, slightly chewy dough.  Mmmmmmm!

Pistachio cake doughnut.  I really loved this one. Not only were there fresh, crunchy pistachios in the glaze but they were studded throughout the cake as well!

Fresh Strawberry glazed yeast doughnut.  Every time I eat one of these I am still blown away by how fresh the strawberry tastes.  I made a few furtive glances around the room last night and then proceeded to lick the "glaze paper" in which it had been wrapped.  Don't want any of that flavor to go to waste.

Pistachio glazed yeast doughnut.  Excellent, though I think I like the cake version more as this one didn't have pistachios throughout.

The 411
Doughnut Plant
220 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone# 212-505-3700 (Lower East Side number-not sure if the new digs have a phone yet)
Website:  http://www.doughnutplant.com/

Just up around the bend, some burrito love (Anna's Taqueria style) in NYC!!

Ahi Mpls.
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/26 13:47:53
 When I tried to google "Family Jewels" absolutely nothing meatball related popped up. 
 Any idea what they may be?
  I must have that red velveteen twinkie! 
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/26 14:04:46
billyboy, I would need a bicycle to keep up with you.   Nobody, NOBODY covers NYC like you
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/26 14:07:46
When I tried to google "Family Jewels" absolutely nothing meatball related popped up. 
 Any idea what they may be?

That one is just hangin over the plate.  But I'm not going to swing.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/26 14:37:27
Dawn, just make sure you don't order the "twig & berries" if it appears any restaurant menu!  
Joe, thanks so much but there are a few people that come to mind who I have much to learn from!  If/when you come back for a visit, let me know and we'll find some great places.  Maybe some Brooklyn Italian I think you would really like and a Brooklyn roast beef sandwich.  We'll skip the desserts!
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/27 02:47:01
No Fair Billyboy!
You're just a short Subway ride from all the greatest food in the World. The rest of us have to spend $1000 for a plane ticket - Maybe more if fuel prices keep going up.
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/28 12:05:28
Wow, what a great list of places.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/03/28 17:04:43
<<Brooklyn roast beef sandwich>>
I think I know where you're heading for that (well, one of two places).
Great reports Billyboy, even if I don't always comment, I love reading them. I've been wanting to try Porchetta for quite a while, thanks for the review.
As far as places to suggest, My wife and I "did" Arthur Avenue in the Bronx a few weeks ago. Ooh boy, there's some great eatin' (and take-home goodies)  to be done up there. It would make a great day trip by Subway for you & Dayna. If you need some suggestions let me know.
If you decide to do Brooklyn Italian (and/or Roast Beef), please post about it  in advance. I grew up there and love to go back (it's only an hour away for me).
Thanks again for all your Trip reports.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Second Helping of the Tastes of New York City 2011/04/05 15:50:34

Having lived in Allston and Brookline, Massachusetts for a combined six years, I had become quite acquainted with Anna's Taqueria, a mini chain in the Boston area.  I must have eaten from there 2-3 nights a week!  After I moved to NYC, I would find myself walking the streets of Gotham, craving a carnitas super burrito or quesadilla from Anna's and despite how many times I would check out a new place, nothing ever seemed to measure up.  Until now...  Dos Toros Taqueria is located in Union Square and has finally fulfilled my Anna's cravings without having to risk my life on a Chinatown bus!
Dos Toros brings a sense of whimsy to their tip cup at the register!  When the rapper Nate Dogg passed away, the sign read, "T.I.P. Nate Dogg".  When the San Francisco Giants were in the World Series, it read "Tip Lincecup" (in honor of ace pitcher Tim Lincecum).  

I haven't tried the cider yet but the Mexican Coke was pretty good.

My favorite Jarritos flavor, Mandarin orange.

All of the burritos come wrapped in foil for easy eating with minimum spillage.

Of course, I had to disrobe mine for the "tasteful" camera shot.  The burrito asks that you not judge as it's working its way through college!  This is the carnitas burrito with slow roasted pork, pinto beans, rice, cheese, sour cream and guacamole.  I could eat one of these every day.  Tender, juicy, tons of flavor and they really nailed both the flavor and texture of the rice & beans.  

My carne asada taco with grilled steak, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole.  I think the steak was simply seasoned with salt and pepper, had a great char and was incredibly juicy and tender. Their salsa is really bright and fresh tasting ands the guac is thick and chunky, just as I like it!

Dos Toros is a tiny place that fills up quickly and they use recycled materials from old barns and try to use local ingredients whenever possible.

T-shirts for sale.  Don't mess with the bull!

The 411
Dos Toros Taqueria
137 4th Avenue (btw. 13th & 14th Street)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 677-7300
Website:  http://www.dostoros.com/