Monday, December 1, 2008

I Heart New York Food: Final Day

After the marathon day before, Diane and I slept in by mistake and got a bit of a late start. Darryl had already been out and had a bagel, but we didn't eat until after 10 so we were raring to go to Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side.

Brunch: Barney Greengrass

I saw this place on a Tony Bourdain show. They must have cleared out the restaurant when they shot the show because it was crazy crowded. We got lucky and were seated almost immediately because the people in line ahead of us didn't have their entire parties there. We were squished into a small table for two, but it was totally worth it.

Barney Greengrass specializes in smoked fish like sturgeon, whitefish, sable, and salmon. The menu was enormous, so I just asked to waiter for whatever was the best. He said the lox scrambled with eggs and onions, so that's what I had. With it, you could have a bagel or a bialy. I'd never heard of bialies before. It's like a bagel, but smaller and with English muffin qualities. I loved it. The eggs were hearty and delicious. The lox was in chunks instead of sliced and the onions were so caramelized and sweet. Yum.

A different waiter brought a plate of potato pancakes out of the kitchen and was going around the room showing them to everyone saying they weren't on the menu and there were only a few left. It true; they're not on the menu, so we had to have them. You can't really have too many potato pancakes in one weekend. They came with generous bowls of sour cream and applesauce. I love potato pancakes.

The service at busy restaurants and cafes in NYC is incredible. The waiters move fast and plates are whisked away as soon as they're empty. They never leave you waiting for the cheque and at Barney Greengrass they call you "doll". I thought that was cute.

They have a large, mouthwatering takeout counter with huge slabs of smoked fish, salads, chopped liver, and other goodies. If only I could get it across the border.

Zabars: Food Heaven

So, embarassingly, most of what I know about Manhattan comes from Sex and the City. Carrie mentioned Zabar's in the episode when she was dating the short story writer whose mother was Valerie Harper. Since we were in the neighbourhood, we snuck in for a peek.

Oh. My. Lord. It was incredible. I have never seen that much gourmet food in one place in my entire life. The cheese alone was enough to make you pass out. The cheese section looked to me like the size of my apartment. They have the same size bread section, gorgeous prepared food, a whole counter dedicated to smoked fish, they roast their own coffee, plus all of the non-perishables. I'd never seen anything like it and I was amazed. If you like food at all, GO!

Darryl overheard a cheeky conversation between the man behind the counter and a lady ordering lots of food. He said that she must be having a party and she said she was. Then he said, "You know, when I have a party I cook."

Outside there were a few tour buses parked and when they opened their hatches, we saw that every single person on the bus had a huge cooler down there. People were coming out of Zabar's with bags of stuff and loading up these coolers. I'm not sure where they were from, but I think it's a kind of long distance Zabar's shuttle bus. I'd do it to if I lived within driving distance.

Snack: Last cupcake at Magnolia Bakery

Another day, another cupcake. This time I got the Hummingbird cupcake, which is banana and pineapple with cream cheese icing and pecans. I guess it is based on a classic southern cake. It was delicious. And the young server was so sweet. He said it was a really good flavour and that he hoped I enjoyed it.

Dinner: Last supper in Little Italy

We ended up in Little Italy later in the afternoon, but we didn't already have a restaurant picked out. The main street in Little Italy, Mulberry Street, is almost entirely made up of Italian restaurants, each with someone outside trying to lure people in. It reminds me of Old Montreal in that way and I think they're both tourist traps. We went to Buona Notte because there wasn't anyone standing outside and there were a lot of people inside. But, I think the person standing outside was just on break because he was there later on.

The food was decent, but not outstanding. I had a spicy, seafood pasta dish that was good and the portion was a nice medium size. Service was excellent.

Miscellaneous Food Sights

Early in the evening and we walked past a different restaurant on Mulberry Street where the waiters, cooks, and busboys were having their staff dinner. It looked so cool with them all dressed in their uniforms and chef's coats digging into food together. And they were eating with such voracity. It was quite a site to see.

Also in Little Italy, we walked past Di Palo's Fine Foods that had a magnificent display of cheese in the window. Upon Googling on my return I see that it's a very popular place. Again, too bad I couldn't get any of it across the border.

One of the last things I saw was a cluster of little Japanese girls buying hotdogs from a cart and giggling. It was cute.

Thank you, New York. We love you!


mad scientist said...

I am so jealous right now....I miss NY and all of its fantastic food!

Shell said...

Please, please, PLEASE take me with you when you go back! I love, love, LOVE NYC and I am desperate to go on an eating adventure with you

gesmith said...

Ha I had to laugh at your Barney Greengrass experience because it was almost exactly like mine, right down to ordering what the waiter recommended (same dish). The staff are characters, I wasn't sure if they were hamming it up a bit for us tourists, though. We love eating in NYC: sure Toronto is cool but there's something about NY that is hard to match.