April 28, 2011

London Calling!!!!!! (and Paris, too!)

Stuff I Ate is going global! I am heading out to jolly Old England (just in time for a certain little wedding) to visit ABF. He's working there for a bit, and he just happens to have some days off this week. I'm going to wave at William & Catherine, eat some scones, drink some cider, and soak in all the awesomeness. Then ABF & I are heading to Paris. Oh, Paris. I don't care if it's cliché, I don't care if it's predictable: I can't possibly tell you how much I love that city. Have you ever set foot somewhere, just one foot, and already you knew that you would forever love this place? Yeah, I got that in Paris. And London. And New York. Holy cow I am one blessed chick. So expect lots of great eats from overseas (sorry Britney, my trips to Canada do NOT count as overseas)........SOON!

April 26, 2011

Albert Hall Tavern: Hits & Misses

Albert Hall Tavern is quite possibly THE favorite restaurant of my friend and fellow foodie, Sara. She has raved and raved about it, so when I saw a LivingSocial deal for a prix fixe dinner for 2, I snagged it. I took my friend Kwame there before we saw a play.

We arrived on a seasonably warm afternoon and walked right in to the open area. We were seated immediately (we had a reservation) at a booth, nicely appointed with glassware and silverware and small floral.

Someone came and welcomed us—a manager? I’m not sure. I should have just asked for his name. He was nice, took our coupon without making a face (unlike Bocca!) and left to get our wine (included in said coupon).

I knew from Sara’s previous experiences that we had to order the artichoke dip and the mussels. Kwame ordered the dip, I got the mussels, and we sat back and waited. And waited. And waited some more. We even almost got the next party’s entrees..but no apps. About 30 minutes later, that same man came by and asked if we’d had our apps yet. No, we had not. He disappeared and about 10 minutes later we had our apps. Did I mention we were going to a show? Tick tock,people!

The artichoke dip was good, but I wasn’t over the moon for it. I guess I’m just an artichoke liker, not an artichoke lover. The potato chips on top gave it a good crunch. Kwame really liked this.

The mussels, however, shut me up for a good 15 minutes. Not a single bit of grit in there—always a plus for me. The broth was wicked peppery. My word was it peppery. Like, make you cough peppery. And yet, I kept going back for more. I told Kwame to share some, and he agreed—the broth was fantastic. We asked for more bread just to get more of the broth!

Entrees came a short while later—Fish & Chips for Kwame, Bangers & Mash for me. I was leaving in a few days for England to visit ABF, so I figured I’d get in the right frame of mind. Kwame really liked his fish and chips. I was starting to get really full, so I didn’t share any of his, but I was glad he liked it.

My bangers and mash were.. um.. different. I don’t know exactly why I wasn’t crazy about it. Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough. The mashed potatoes were almost whipped—I do prefer mine with a little more heft. Again, pepper OVERLOAD. What is with the pepper? I like some pepper, but they must have gotten it on special at Costco or something..it was all I could taste.

I don't normally bother writing about places that don't warrant a visit--why waste my time and yours? But I want to like this place, I really do. When we actually got people to come to our table, they were always friendly--they were just hard to find. We must have waited another 20 minutes for someone to bring us the check (after asking 2 people), and yet we watched them visiting with other patrons, making small talk, etc. And yes, we told the man at the beginning it was our first trip, and that we were visiting on friends' recommendations. Grrr. Overall, a very bad, flat, disappointing experience. But the mussels (presuming they go easier on the pepper next time) and Sara's insistence on the place's awesomeness might convince me to give Albert Hall a second chance.

Albert Hall Tavern
508 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
(646) 490-4803

April 22, 2011


I usually try very hard NOT to go to places that have just opened--I like to give places a few weeks/months to work out their kinks. It was quite by accident that I met a friend, HRB, for lunch at Melt just 2 days after it opened in Midtown East. (We almost missed it--you can't see it from the street--take the stairs down into the outdoor seating at the Citigroup building!) They start delivery in a few weeks--if you use it, let me know how well those sammiches travel!

We came at the end of the lunch rush, but there was still a line of about 12 people ahead of us. Melt is just a storefront, so people filed up to the window to place their order, then stepped aside to wait for the cheesy goodness. Despite the line, and at least 2 people who came with 3-4 separate orders (sigh), we moved quickly and placed our orders in minutes.

I was torn between the buttermilk fried chicken with pepperjack (my favorite!) cheese, and the smoked ham & gruyere with grainy mustard and rye (FOUR of my favorites!) I asked the busy but friendly young man at the register, and he suggested the ham. Done. I also ordered the snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich, and the server chuckled "That's my exact order every day." Good sign!

We didn't have to wait long--those grills must be super duper hot. They come in these paper bags with helpful handles. (HRB commented that one bag was a lot of packaging for a single sandwich--perhaps they'll come up with smaller/single-serving size bags? Just a thought on this Earth Day!)

Speaking of grills, check out the raised 'griddle lines' on the box! I'm sure they're meant to keep the bread from getting too soggy too soon--some thought went into this!

My friend HRB ordered the cheddar and glazed bacon--bacon is extra but it's almost always worth it. If you have to ask if this was good, you need some glazed bacon in your life. : )

We grabbed an outdoor seat, as the weather was finally starting to turn almost springlike, and shared our sandwiches. H is a good sport--this is her first time going to lunch with me, and she gamely let me snap my pix and share sammiches.

I couldn't wait for the ice cream sandwich. It's little but more than enough. The snickerdoodle cookie had a perfect balance of sweet and salty, and while I didn't really notice the ice cream flavor as much, it was a great way to make the cookies last a lot longer. This was really, REALLY good.

The sandwiches were pretty good, soothing my doubts that 'grilled cheese' was worth a trip. The service was friendly and fast: no glitches at all, which surprised me considering they just opened a few days ago! It's not going to be an everyday treat for me, but I would absolutely go back to Melt Shop. An ooey-gooey grilled cheese is just the perfect food some days. In the hot weather, I'll be picking up one of those cracktastic ice cream sandwiches! They also serve Stumptown coffee and even Stumptown Coffee Shakes (I resisted, but Imma come back for that one!) Just remember to go down the stairs into the public seating area and look over in the corner--you'll see the line and smell the melted cheese. mmmm..cheese....

Melt Shop
601 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(212)759-MELT (6358)

April 20, 2011

Petey's Burger

I went to visit a friend in Queens this week. While we visited and caught up, she treated me to lunch at one of her favorite burger spots: Petey's Burger in Astoria. She likened it to In-N-Out Burgers (the famous California chain) and that was good enough for me!

Petey's makes their name by specializing in 3 things and those 3 things only: burgers, fries, and shakes. We each ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and split a strawberry shake.

My burger was sooo good--juicy but well-done, pickles, onions, and a tomato so fresh that I actually opened my burger to get a closer look. It's not really tomato season yet, so I usually remove the yellowish, mealy specimens called 'tomatoes' right now--but this one was beautiful.

The fries are tasty--not heavy or too starchy, just enough crunch to them, and I ate far more than I planned to-always the sign of a good fry.

The strawberry shake was surprisingly fresh, with bits of real, fresh strawberries. Not the gloppy, gooey strawberries you get in jams, but honest to goodness fresh pieces of berry. Win!

I give Petey's a definite 'visit' tip if you're in Astoria--fresh, solid American classics!

Petey's Burgers
30-17 30th Avenue
NY 11102
(718) 267-6300

April 19, 2011

Little Thai Kitchen

A friend & I tried in vain to hit up Angelo Sosa's Social Eatz restaurant on a rainy afternoon, only to find it was closed to prepare for dinner--there went our plans for a late lunch! Across the street, we saw a teeny-tiny Thai place and opted for that. Patty remembered going there ages ago.

They aren't kidding with the 'little' part. A total of 4 or 5 tables, a max of 10-12 people, fit in the narrow space. We grabbed a two-top closer to the window and got the lunch special: $11 for an appetizer and entrée!

I start almost every visit to a Thai place with my favorite: Thai iced coffee. This is super-charged coffee with sweetened condensed milk. Not low-cal, but such a good, cooling treat with your spicy dishes!

I adore Tom Yum soup, a sweet-sour combo that warms the belly and clears the sinuses. This version had shrimp. It was more sweet than sour, so it was a bit too much for me. I ate all the onions, though. :)

Patty started with the vegetarian dumplings. Nicely presented, tasty, she enjoyed them.

I ordered shrimp pad thai, and was shocked to see an ENORMOUS bowl o' noodles set before me. This was at LEAST a pound of cooked pasta. Holy oversized portion. The lemon instead of lime wasn't doing it for me. This whole dish wasn't doing it for me.

The winner of that day was Patty's dish, the beef with ginger. It smelled heavenly and was a lovely mix of beef, carrots, baby corn, and peppers. I'd go back for this just because she loved it so much, but I'd skip the pad thai, and the shrimp in general.

Little Thai Kitchen
231 E 53rd St # 1
New York, NY 10022-4820
(212) 644-5353

April 11, 2011

Get the Pastrami! (2nd Ave Deli)

I have had the pastrami of my dreams, and you should, too. Succulent, buttery pastrami that damn near melts in your mouth. Humina humina!

As you may recall, we have a generous boss who takes the whole crew out once a quarter for a free lunch. It's always at a great place--some of our trips have been to Turkish Kitchen, Victor's, Ammos, and Artisanal. This trip, however, took us to the 2nd Avenue Deli (which is on 3rd avenue now, long story). I sat down at our table, ordered a diet cream soda (!!), and tore into that expansive menu.

First up was an order of kasha, hulled buckwheat and onions with noodles. This is a favorite of some of the folks at the table, but I wasn't a fan. I think buckwheat just isn't my thing. A little too nutty for me.

They brought us copious amounts of cole slaw and pickles, all delicious. Even the cole slaw! Which I normally hate! I liked their version because it was vinegary, not creamy. I like tangy. :)

Our boss also ordered some fried kreplach for everyone. These were chewy, dumpling-like packets of seasoned beef--powerfully flavorful. I ate TWO.

Several people there ordered the mushroom barley soup, which was a very generous serving of a very delicious soup. It was more my style--I'm a barley girl. I tried a bit of a neighbor's and found it extremely satisfying, especially in this stubbornly cold weather.

My boss & I opted to split the ginormous sandwich platter: a whole sandwich of pastrami and a whole sandwich of corned beef (we'd each take a half of each flavor). The corned beef was fine, especially with a slathering of spicy mustard (I heart it!) but ZOH MAH GAH THE PASTRAMI. It was amazingly tender, almost like butter, and my teeth just sank right into it and through it. I could have eaten this for days and it wouldn't be enough. I will go back just for this sandwich...so help me!

Another coworker opted for the egg salad, and she took a little ribbing for it. Egg salad at a deli place? But listen up--this egg salad was amazing. I swiped a small sample (with a-permission and b-a clean fork) and I was awestruck at how fluffly and flavorful this was. Holy cow--forget everything you know about egg salad--this place has written a whole new book on it. It was very simple but so good.

And the food kept on coming....finally we closed in on the home stretch with a shared piece of their noodle kugel--a sweet noodle dish that varies enormously from place to place. This was a hearty, toothsome dish with a bright burst of orange flavor. It was nice, it was really nice, but I don't know that I'd get it again. I liked that they served it warm.

They also brought us a platter of cookies, rugelach and more to nibble on with our coffee. I embarrassed myself by asking for half and half, but the second the words left my mouth I tried to take them right back! The deli is kosher, so there is no mixing meat and milk. Only non-dairy creamer at this place! Not my favorite option but by this point my body was in food shock, so it didn't really matter! The cookies were okay but I could (and should) have skipped them.

The final touch, and a complementary close to every meal at 2nd Avenue Deli, is the chocolate soda. It comes in a small shot-type glass, and it's just the right end to the meal--a little sweet, a little pop from the selter, and a little nostalgic flavor all in one. Skip the desserts if you go and just close with this little baby.

They are open often, they are open late, and there is never a bad time to go. Trust me--half a pastrami sandwich and a chocolate soda later, and you'll be happier for it.

2nd Avenue Deli
162 East 33rd Street
New York, NY
(212) 689-9000

April 10, 2011

Krisch's (aka Bunnyland!)

The blogging word is a delicious place sometimes! Through it (and our awesome mutual friend Hoosh) I met Halcyon (her blog is here) and she told me about LilyHydrangea's site (go here!) THAT's how I heard about Krisch's! ABF & I finally made it there last night for dinner...and ice cream! As it turns out, Krisch's started in Bay Ridge! Fulllll circle, baby!

This is "Bunnyland" season at Krisch's, meaning a whole side room at the restaurant is chock full of chocolate bunnies, chicks, eggs, and more! No kids or strollers in bunnyland (or walkers or wheelchairs! tight quarters)--they are not kidding around with their chocolate supply! I took a walk through here while we waited for our seat. It was packed but we really didn't have to wait long--maybe 15-20 minutes.

While we waited, I admired the 30-lb bunny that's up for grabs (the photo featured previously on LilyHydrangea's site, that first put Krisch on my radar!) That's a lotta chocolate. They don't just do Easter chocolates, though--more pics at the end of this post!

Almost the second we sat down, ABF ordered the mozzarella sticks. These were pretty good--seasoned and melty, with a zesty (but not spicy) dipping sauce.

I knew the second I got there I'd be getting the cheeseburger, and I subbed sweet potato fries. It was more well-done than the medium I requested, but somehow it was still juicy. There's no onions on the burger, but there is definitely onion powder or something like that in the seasonings--this was a juicy, flavorful, mouth-watering burger. I ate every bite of it.

ABF ordered the bacon cheeseburger, and we each shared a bite of our burgers. The bacon added a smoky crunch to his burger, but I was very happy with mine, too. Both sets of fries were delicious, but the sweet potato by far outranked the regular potato fries.

Let's get real here, though--I was here for the ice cream. I tried a sample of their black raspberry, as that is one of my favorite ice cream flavors EVAH, but when I saw they offer marshmallow topping, I went for vanilla. Black raspberry is best enjoyed in its pure state--on a cone, no toppings, nothing interfering with its awesomeness.

The dessert menu is overwhelming--so many options, from ice cream to pies to puddings. I hemmed and hawed and ultimately went with my first instinct: the Massapequa Special--2 scoops of ice cream with hot fudge AND marshmallow. Awww yeah.

The real winner of the night, though, was ABF's choice: the Just Peachy sundae. 2 scoops of fresh peach ice cream, melba sauce (raspberries, currants, etc), and fresh whipped cream. I think we almost devoured this one. Each bite was almost like biting into a fresh, juicy peach. Mamma mia, this was good.

Overall, we loved every bite of Krisch's. The portions are insanely huge--next time I'll opt for a single scoop, as we didn't even finish 1/3 of my sundae, and we scooped a lot of the whipped cream off our sundaes (so much cream--and I love it, just too much after all that food). The servers are all young but they were great--our server checked in on us a few times (that seems to happen less and less as we go out), and she was friendly and helpful, even as the room was crazy busy and hectic. I absolutely recommend stopping by Krisch's, no matter what the season!

Krisch's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor
11 Central Ave, Massapequa, NY 11758
(516) 797-3149

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