Archive for May, 2012
Why Come Here? Great Asian style wings, see what a drinking vinegar is
Pok Pok Wing is the first foray into New York by Portland-based chef Andy Ricker (also of Pok Pok NY, some of NY’s best Thai). It may also be the definition of doing one thing right (actually three). It’s a dingy, hole-in-the-wall further east on the lower east side than you would generally venture. They play strange Thai versions of classic American songs. There’s no alcohol (I know, wings without beer seems wrong), but the flavored drinking vinegars are a more enjoyable substitute than you’d expect. The menu consists of 5 things: Wings, Papaya Salad, Coconut Rice, Sticky Rice and Red Peanuts. And if that’s what you want, Pok Pok is hard to be. I sampled the first 3 on my visit and my thoughts are below:
Pok Pok Wing
137 Rivington St. (Norfolk & Suffolk Sts.)
New York, NY
Why Come Here? Sample Daniel Humm’s without dropping Eleven Madison Park money
The NoMad is the second restaurant from Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and is located in a hotel of the same name. After a great meal at Eleven Madison for Valentine’s Day, I was excited to put myself back in Chef Humm’s hand for Katherine’s birthday dinner. While the food lives up to the high standards set by the original, the scene in the hotel makes for a somewhat less enjoyable dining experience.
My biggest issue is the layout of the restaurant. You enter what’s known as “The Atrium” (where we ate), which is located directly off the hotel’s lobby with the hotel’s bar located on the opposite side. The tables are on the small side and densely packed – enough so that when I initially entered I thought this might be an extension of the bar seating area. It wasn’t, but it did lead to an unpleasant amount of foot traffic and noise, particularly for a place where you’re dropping $150+/person. The room itself is reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century grand living room- draped in mahogany and a giant skylight overhead. The service was good, if a bit cold and slow for the price (except for the very helpful sommelier).
Overall, I’m not sure how to describe the vibe. The ornate space calls for a quaint, fine dining experience, but then why all the buzz and loud music? So maybe it’s trendy hot spot then, but why it somehow feels too upscale for that, particularly with the older, out-of-town hotel crowd filling many of the tables. Once The NoMad can figure out what it wants to be and match the ambiance to the food, it can be a great New York restaurant.
Until then, you can still have a great meal at The NoMad if you don’t mind dropping $20+ on entrees and $30+ on entrees (or have someone elsepicking up the tab) on a place with some kinks to work out. As I mentioned, the food is spectacular and slightly less fancy and pricey than Eleven Madison Park. Below is what we had:
Sweetbreads I’m not really into the whole offal thing, but these are still delicious. They are basically thin spring rolls stuffed with sweetbreads and parsely that taste nothing like sweetbreads and instead are a great salty snack
Foie Gras The radishes were actually the most impressive part of this dish (probably best I’ve eaten). The foie gras was of course rich, decadent and delicous, but not in a way that totally blew my mind.
Tagliatelle (w/ King Crab) As soon as I put my fork on the tagliatlle, I knew it was going to be mind blowing. Slippery but al dente with a buttery, lemony sauce and a little peppery. It’s simple but so perfect.
Asparagus (w black truffle & bread salad) The asparagus is firm without being hard and gets a great earthiness from the potato and truffle. The crisp bread on adds a nice texture. Highly recommend if you want some veggies
Why Come Here? A spot to please foodies and non-foodies alike, great food in a casual setting
Gwynnett St. is in up-and-coming East Williamsburg and, contrary to what you may expect, is located on Graham Ave (not Gwynnett Street, which no longer exists). In many ways, it epitomizes what’s hot in the New York (and particularly Brooklyn) dining scene today. The service is upscale and welcoming but the setting remains casual (think exposed brick walls and wooden tables). Lighting is on the dimmer side (which is why I made the executive decision not to take photos). Dishes are interesting enough for hardcore foodies, but classic enough to satisfy most palates. Everything we ate was at least very good and while prices aren’t cheap, they’re good for the quality of food served. The menu is set to change seasonally so check DishEnvy for updates, but here’s a rundown of what we had:
Whiskey Bread I’ve probably never been this excited about bread. It’s cooked in an old pizza oven (the space used to be a pizzeria) and is similar to a rum cake, though not as sweet and therefore an acceptable/required way to start the meal.
Duck Breast The duck was juicy and well cooked, but I was expecting to be blown away based on other reviews. It was very good, but the rice and berries seemed like a fairly traditional pairing than didn’t amaze.
312 Graham Ave. (Ainslie & DeVoe Sts.)