Archive for the ‘UES’ Category

Doughnuts with Danny: Morning Meals in Mr. Meyer’s Neighborhood

July 11, 2011

For a man who spent little time serving breakfast in his first quarter century in the New York restaurant business, Danny Meyer has really stepped up his game in the last few years.  From Untitled to Maialino, he’s finally setting the table for the most important meal of the day.  Today I focus on two of my favorite breakfast items: coffee and doughnuts.

1. Blue Smoke Chocolate Frosted and a Cup of Americano:  Unblogged, untouted and undeniably delicious.  These stealth numbers are available only on Saturday and Sunday, and in only two flavors, dark chocolate frosted and honey glazed.   They are the best yeast doughnuts in the City.  Yes, the best.  There’s a grownup earthiness and substance to the dough that you rarely find these days.  The bitter edge to the chocolate frosting is equally appealing.  Note: Blue Smoke coffee isn’t as memorable as elsewhere in Dannyland, but it’s a necessary add on for intincting your doughnuts, unless you prefer to dunk in a glass of milk.

2. Coffee and Doughnuts Frozen Custard at Shake Shack UES:  A Saturday flavor of the day, this mini-concrete tastes like its name suggests it would–cake doughnuts, still soft and flavorful, plus creamy coffee.  A welcome eye opener when your night ends a little too close to morning.

3. Double Espresso and Slice of Apple Pie at Untitled: Beats Sant Ambroeus, Sicaffé, Café Sabarsky and all the other UES stalwarts.  Meyer’s Platonic ideal of a diner is serving the Platonic ideal of coffee.  Stumptown beans, top notch barista work and no outer borough attitude.  No doughnuts here most days, but a slice of the Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie of the day will set you up right for the morning.  I’m partial to the salted caramel apple variety.

4. Bombolini con crema and a Latte at Maialino: This is coffee and doughnuts in all its Roman splendor.  Is Maialino’s breakfast menu an Italianized American idyll of pastry and pork delights or an Americanized Italian one?  Is it authentic?  I don’t care; it’s one of my favorite breakfasts in the City.

5. After the Coffee: You have to get the bacon at Maialino and the bacon and cheese home fries at Untitled.  Of these, the bacon at Maialino is my sentimental favorite.   It’s thick and flavorful and spicy and rich and a meal in and of itself.  The fat has a complexity I’ve only ever experienced with Hill Country’s brisket on a good day, and the meat is a good deal more rewarding on the palate.  Okay, the home fries with cheese and bacon at Untitled are pretty solid, too.  They taste like the Johnny’s Luncheonette Waban Frittata (Newton, MA) without giving you the fat coma spins an hour later.


Mad Mocha: A Week on the Stumptown Trail

January 13, 2011

1. Stumptown at the Ace Hotel:  This is Joe Baum food theater for the PoMO set. Baristas look like a Greenpoint drama class doing a read through of a “Deadwood” spec script.  Fortunately, they have a few more practical skills to go with the props and costumes.  Oh, and the lattes are flawless.

2. Café Pedlar LES: Yes, I’m on the Stump this week, and it’s not a bad way to get your bean juice. However, Café Pedlar’s rumpled ersatz emo rocker staff is a bit too inconsistent with the pull.  I’ve had some good espressos here, but this time, the result was a bit on the burnt popcorn side.  A followup latte was just as bitter but also frothy and fat laden.  In short, Stumptown beans are not quite getting the treatment they deserve.

3-4. World Bean at LGA: Who would have expected some of the country’s best coffee in the putzy part of the Delta terminal at LaGuardia?  Color me a convert. High end machine, well trained staff and cherry picked beans made for my best pair of lattes of the week. As good outbound as it was inbound four days later.

5. Whitney Museum finally worth visiting:  Hipster coffee, the city’s current top espresso machine, and the crema that is Danny Meyer hospitality make this the most impressive cup of coffee I’ve ever had in a Brutalist building. It’s still an awful space, and I have my doubts about how much the forthcoming USHG restaurant can warm it up, but for now, this is the best place to get caffeinated on the UES.

Honorable mention:

Lattes from Kato’s jerry-rigged coffee setup in the “Green Hornet.”  I haven’t tasted one, but they sure look great in 3D.