Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of a burger that I perceive fussy or fancy. That is to say that any burger going beyond properly cooked beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard or mayo on a decent bun is likely gonna be lost on me before the words on the menu make it past my eyeballs and into the old frontal lobe. (Notice I deleted ketchup? That’s on purpose. I hate ketchup.) So on a trip to Edi and the Wolf yesterday for brunch, it surprised me that there was an audible ding ding ding ding ding in my head when I saw their burger being delivered to another guest on a thin slab of black slate with roasted potatoes and pickled cucumbers. It looked a little swanky…but something told me I had to go for it.And, oh my, was I delighted I did. First of all, this thing is just frickin’ gorgeous. But looks, as we all know, aren’t everything. However, the minute you chomp down on this baby, your taste buds are doing backflips over the perfect sextuple of flavors working together to leave you smiling in contented bliss. Let’s start with the meat. Pat La Frieda, grass-fed Black Angus hanger cooked perfectly medium with just the right amount of salt. Off to a good start! The cheese is Gruyère melted dreamily over the previously mentioned mouth-wateringly-mighty meat. On top of this is a manageable pinch of pickled and caramelized onions with a nice little mound of baby arugula dressed with Edi’s chipotle-mayo based special sauce which adds just the right amount of zing to this already-over-achieving take on an American classic. Cram all of this in between the delicious brioche bun and you have, my very good friends, my favorite burger in New York City. Yeah, I just said that. And it took a lot. I seriously can’t think of one that beats it. Shake Shack? Love. But, no. BareBurger? Not. Corner Bistro? Not even close. Minetta? Great, but uh-huh. The Wolf Burger at Edi and the Wolf takes it, folks. It surprised the hell out of me too, because burgers are not what proprietor and Iron Chef champ Eduard Frauneder and co-chef/owner Wolfgang Ban are known for, but these guys have entered the ring here with some of New York’s best and are going toe to toe in one helluva bout. I highly recommend you put a weekend brunch trip to Edi and the Wolf on the calendar now, because you can only get the Wolf Burger on Saturday or Sunday from 11:30 to 3:30 at this Avenue C insta-classic establishment.
After a long ass day of rain yesterday, we’re getting a wee bit of much-needed sunshine today. I’ll take it! And it’s going to get up into the 50’s as well. Good stuff. Unfortunately, weather.com has us in the 30’s and 40’s for at least the next ten days. Ick! Shitty weather calls for fantastic food and there is almost nothing better right now than the Patty Melt at Parish Hall in Williamsburg. Everything at Parish Hall is really good to excellent, but the Patty Melt is positively transporting. For starters, the meat in this gooey slab of hell yes! is a combination of grass-fed beef and lamb bacon, oh, glorious lamb bacon.To go with this duo of ground carne are perfectly caramelized onions and delicious melted Landaff cheese which is produced in the foothills of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. All of this gets hugged and skillet-grilled between two traditional slices of Rye bread. On the side is Parish Hall’s version of Thousand Island dressing for dipping and your choice salad or fries. I’ve had many a patty melt in my day, but this one kicks the living crap out of all of them. The addition of the lamb bacon to the ground beef gives this incarnation of the classic an amazingly tender and satisfying bite while the silky and mild Landaff cheese allows its smoky hue to come perfectly through on the finish. It’s just so damn mouth-wateringly A++, especially if enjoyed with a glass of Pinot Noir. The best part is that you don’t have to wait for weekend brunch to devour one of these delectable delights. Parish Hall is open at 11am weekdays, 10am on weekends and, and, annnnnnd…they take reservations. The Patty Melt is on Parish Hall’s lunch, brunch and dinner menus. It’s just that good. Go get one. Now, please.
We’ve been fascinated for several months about the strange entrepreneurial magic that’s been brewing on Third Avenue in Gowanus. Formerly a sleepy crawl of vacant storefronts and assorted social clubs; of late, there have been several really excellent restaurants, cafes and small shops that have taken root up and down the strip. The latest place is called Runner & Stone. I had to look it up, but the name’s origin refers to the two stones used to grind grain in a traditional mill, the runner stone and the base stone. Wikipedia aside, what’s more interesting is that the kitchen is manned by a fairly dynamic duo: the former chef de cuisine at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn and the head baker from Per Se. I knew I wanted to try it but I’ll admit to being confused: What the hell is it? A bakery? A restaurant? A café? We went last weekend for brunch, and as it happens Runner & Stone is all those things. The interior of the restaurant is bright and minimalist, which is perfect because there’s little to distract you from the first thing you see when you walk in: the baked goods. Jesus, dude. I’m not a big sweets guy but what was on display looked so over-the-top we decided to be fatties and order what we decided to call a “pastry course.” We had an apple turnover, an almond croissant, and a cheese danish. They were honestly all varying degrees of perfection, but the almond croissant was hands down the most ridiculous thing ever. Please order that. But we expected them to be good, so no surprise. The surprise was the remainder of the brunch. I had the eggs Benedict over fish cake wrapped in pancetta. Take a gander at this plate. The eggs were perfectly cooked, the hollandaise was light and frothy and the fish cake/pancetta thing was crispy, salty and amazing. I sopped it all up with their fresh baguettes and creamy house-cultured butter. Pure friggin’ breakfast joy. One other note– get their hash browns. Courtney had them with her fluffy omelette, but I coveted them. Go ahead and double order them. And three cheers for Runner & Stone, we’ll be back next time for dinner!
I don’t know why, but The Cardinal and I have been like two opposing magnets since it opened a while back on East 4th Street near Avenue B. Every time we planned to go, something else got in the way and a down-home southern meal at this simple and warm charmer got thwarted. Well, we finally connected late last week.Lesa and I headed there early with one of the kids and bellied up to the window seat that looks out over the neighborhood’s minions coming home from a long day’s work. It’s a great seat if you can get it. To start we tried the Pimento Cheese on crispy toast and Blue Crab Hush Puppies. They were both insanely good and plentiful. Between the three of us, we were basically full when we got done with those, not knowing what was in store. Just as we were all mentally cramming our downed food into the corners of our bellies, the massive main courses arrived with the oh-shit-we-over-ordered sides. The 10-year-old had a damn good lookin’ cheeseburger with hand-cut fries and bubbly mac and cheese in front of him. Lesa had a smoked-last-night pulled pork sandwich with a pile of creamy slaw on top and a bowl of swiney greens on the side. Both served perfectly…on a Martin’s Potato Roll. Delectable!I just about got cow shock when my plate arrived. The Strip Steak was perfectly cooked medium rare with a fabulously crunchy and tasty dark crust on the outside. I’m guessing it was about 24 ounces. I ordered the mashed potatoes and corn and tomato succotash for my sides and both were just as they should be at a joint like this one…straight up, simple and wonderful. We rolled out of the Cardinal after about an hour of stuffing ourselves figuring we over-ordered by about $75. Oh well, it was worth it. Next time we’ll skip lunch before we go.
Before kids, before meaningful responsibilities and certainly before this forum of ours moved from infancy to toddlerdom, there was a cozy and rustic tavern tucked away in a nook at the crossroads of Little Italy and the Lower East Side. Many long afternoons were spent at the perfectly worn zinc bar with great friends and loves nibbling on Devils on Horseback and Smoked Trout, sipping on French 75’s. Sadly, that tavern was too long forgotten by this writer and unfairly so.Freemans at the end of Freeman Alley just off Rivington is back on the radar and it’s as great as it has ever been. No matter how many times you’ve been, Freemans always feels like a find…like you really have to know the underground byways and secret handshakes of this town. When you enter the blue door at the end of the graffiti adorned lane, you are greeted with what they describe as this “rugged clandestine Colonial American tavern” with walls loaded with peeling paint and vintage taxidermy. The menu follows the same mantra, “simple, rustic and inspired by early American traditions.”For brunch, the Piedmontese Cheeseburger is amazing and the Smoked Trout is second only to the ones I smoke at home…but, I digress. The Roast Pork Sandwich is one that also must be tried with its blanket of thinly sliced pickled zucchini and garlic mayonnaise piled between two slices of grilled peasant bread. Dinner brings other fantastic goodies. To start, go for the House Made Country Paté, the Hot Artichoke Dip or Steamed PEI Mussels. For the main, their Whole Grilled Brook Trout is always a winner as is whatever their Daily Market Fish happens to be. Or for something a little meatier, go for the Grilled Pork Loin or Colorado Lamb Stew.Whichever your culinary poison, wash it all down with one of their classic cocktails or traditional old-world wines. If you’ve never been to Freemans, go now. If it’s been a while, let this serve as your reminder. If you go all the time, call me an idiot and have a nice day.
I don’t know if it’s the all about the adventure, the amazingly rustic atmosphere, the incredibly friendly (and good-looking) staff or just the down right cravable food, but we have been finding ourselves waking up on Saturday mornings with Roberta’s on the brain. You see, their brunch simply wins every single time.
Behind an unassuming glass storefront on Atlantic Avenue just off the corner of Henry is one fine eating and drinking establishment that we hope continues being so roundly superb for years to come. I was first introduced to Colonie for brunch by friends who live in the neighborhood. The staff is so unbelievably friendly even when you show up on a crowded morning with a couple of strollers. The room is so incredibly warm and inviting with casual furnishings, a healthy dose reclaimed wood and a wall of green fauna welcoming you to the back room with chef’s bar surrounding the bustling kitchen. On the several occasions I have been, each meal has been perfect. Start off with their basket of baked goods. Their shrimp and grits are to die for, the duck hash rocks and they make a seriously fine cheeseburger. Jesse and Courtney have been for dinner and Lesa and I finally followed suit last week. We started off with a dozen of Thomas Keller’s favorite oysters…Island Creeks from Massachusetts. Plump, briny, perfect. We washed them down with a couple of Cool Hand Cukes which makes for one super sweet earth and sea combination. Moving on, we had their freakishly good grilled octopus, Pate de Campagne and Ricotta Gnudi which are little balls of aged ricotta lightly boiled and served with ever-so-gently warmed sweet 100 tomatos…killer…like Colonie’s take on the caprese salad. By the time we got around to thinking about the main course, we were so full that we opted for a cheese and salame plate. My only regret is that we didn’t leave enough room for the pork chop which is brined for three hours and then lovingly pan seared and basted for what looked like a perfect crust over what I hear is the most tender inside you’ll find anywhere. I was weeping as I watched the chef cook and servers deliver each one to their lucky patrons. I’m ordering it for an appetizer next time I go.
I have no idea what made us order sticky buns at Roberta’s. I don’t particularly like them. They’re usually cheaply and overly sugared on the outside and dry on the inside. Not at Roberta’s! The sticky bun here is one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth.I’m not sure, but I think they’re cooked in Roberta’s wood fired oven like all of their other bread, but this bun has the most amazing swirl of cinnamon coated into the perfectly soft and chewy brioche roll coated with a tear-inducing caramel and maple goo sprinkled with a few key granules of sea salt. Whether you go for brunch, lunch or dinner, get one or four. They’ll rock your world.
I moved to Alphabet City about a decade ago and there was one of the crappiest Chinese take-out joints this city has ever seen right across the street from me on Avenue C. Finally, that place closed and construction began. A few months later, a crappy Italian restaurant opened. Like, I’ll-pay-for-the-damn-food-just-get-me-out-of-here crappy. I always felt terrible for the owners who would assemble all of their friends at the front of the restaurant just behind the newly installed glassed-panelled garage door to try to attract unsuspecting patrons into the otherwise empty room. PEOPLE! You cannot open a crappy Italian restaurant in the East Village and expect success. WAY too much great competition. But then something wonderful happened. The Italian place closed and a couple of supremely talented restauranteurs took over the lease and began to transform the space into what is now Edi & the Wolf.
Edi and his good buddy Wolf have created one of the best rooms in the city in which to enjoy a meal with an aim to “recreate tradition with a feast of rustic Austrian cuisine and a carefully curated European wine list” and they manage to do just that. Today, the aforementioned garage door feels as if it has been there for a hundred years with a happy mess of herbs and vines invite you to venture through a barn wood shack that leads into this amazingly warm and creative display of cozy genius. Your attention is drawn to many curiosities scattered throughout and the much written about thick coiled rope above the bar. I have no idea why it is there, but it doesn’t rally matter because it looks amazing hanging there from the wide-planked ceiling with candle wax dripping down its side. It’s a warm addition to just the sort of room that makes you want to curl up on one of their banquets and enjoy an amazing meal with a big bottle of red wine.
And speaking of food, the friendly folks at Edi & the Wolf nail it every time. Small plates like the Hamachi, Pork Belly, and Liptaurer & Herb Gervais are served perfectly arranged on black slabs of slate. If you’re into sharing or being so full that you’ll have to be rolled out of the place, the Spätzle is a must. It is one of the finest examples of culinary comfort love I have experienced in my few short years on this earth. And if that’s not enough, the main courses are incredible. I usually get the Pork Weiner Schnitzel which is perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with refreshingly prepared potato salad with cucumber and lingonberry jam. On my last trip, however, I stepped outside the box and went for the Shell Steak. Oh, my! Divinity! Perfect char on the outside and uniformly pink in the middle, every bite was a short trip to heaven. Served up with parsley root, mustard greens, wild mushrooms and nugget potatoes, I was in no mood for my meal to end even when my attention was required by the three-year-old whose IPad’s juice had just run dry. So if you haven’t already, go to Edi & the Wolf on Avenue C between 6th and 7th Streets. It’ll be well worth the trip.
Recently opened in the former Belcourt space at the corner of East 4th Street and Second Avenue, Calliope is a welcome addition to the neighborhood for dinner every evening and brunchon weekends. For us, managing bunches of appointments during the day and wrangling rug-rats at night tends to put a damper on eating out most evenings, so we brought a 2.8 year old guinea pig with us on Saturday for brunch.
We started out with a glass of Rose and a dozen cold and briney oysters. Six East Coast. Six West. All delicious. Lesa had some of the best looking Eggs Benedict I have ever seen and I had the Rabbit and Pork Terrine (above). Yum! Lu shared ours along with a plate of buttered toast and apricot jam that looked as if it jumped onto our table from the pages of a what-to-eat-while-in-France travel guide. The husband and wife team of Eric Korsh (formerly of Waverly Inn) and Ginevra Iverson (formerly of Prune) did a fantastic job of making our mouths water (even at the end of our meal) imagining our next date night there for dinner. They also made sure they put a super friendly staff in place for an overall winning experience. It’ll be a go-to neighborhood spot for us for sure.