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Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Damn Good Burger!

Does the quest ever really stop when trying to find the perfect burger in New York? I think not. After driving around on a below-freezing day, the car parked itself right in front of Kenn's Broome Street Bar.

(Established 1972 in the 'cast-iron district' of Soho)
My winter "coat" instincts kicked in and I ordered a bacon cheeseburger with a side of steak fries. To be perfectly honest, there was hope of a decent burger, but without high expectations. Kenn's ended up scoring high points. I didn't even look at the menu long enough to realize the burger was inside a pita and served with a salad. The thick circle of ground beef was seasoned, not heavily, with salt, pepper and a dash of garlic powder. What really made this burger were the short, crispy pieces of bacon and cheddar cheese. The thought of bacon on a burger is it's a supplement for underseasoned meat as opposed to an enhancer; but in this case, it worked well. It tasted so damn good, the meat/bacon/cheese combo could have been taken out of the pita and eaten on its own with the salad.

The salad had romaine, real button mushrooms and a light dill vinaigrette. Nix the oily fries...there's a reason they don't come with the burger.

Kenn's Broome Street Bar 365 W. Broadway @ Broome (212) 925-2086

Friday, February 19, 2010


There's not much to say about my last (as in, will not return again) brunch at Schiller's. Always a fan of the McNally dynasty whether it be for the food or ambiance, but Schiller's just dropped off the list. Far off.

It's shocking the scrambled eggs with lox and onion were even allowed to leave the kitchen! The underpart of the salmon was cooked into the mix as opposed to the pink portion. After stating it shouldn't look like that, the waiter looked at us with crazy eyes, but did bring out another omelet with herbs and cheese as a substitute.
(note the brown-ish/gray color)

The omelet was decent, but eggs were overcooked and home potatoes were sitting in a pool of oil.

Good thing they have Balthazar, Morandi and Minetta Tavern to fall back on cause they don't have much else.

Schiller's 131 Rivington Street (212) 260-4555

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SHUTTERED The New French

Nestled between two dark storefronts on Hudson lies a small bistro, The New French. The uninviting dark-wood paneled interior is balanced by glow of the mural painted by Maira Kalman, whom also happens to be the penman of the menus. We were seated almost immediately in green and white wicker bistro chairs overlooking the chalkboard of specials with our coffee press and sandtimer.

What seems to be a typical bistro with traditional Parisian breakfast, is anything but. The eggs with potatoes and greens, omelettes and crepes are all enjoyable enough, but the real stars here are the sandwiches. The intense flavors of the chili/beer-braised pulled pork on brioche with mustard riata and brisket on ciabatta with roasted peppers should win some sort of award.
The complex, ethnic seasoning (particularly that of the pork) leaves you begging for the next bite. The beautifully cooked french fries are an added bonus to a perfect meal. These are pommes frites a bistro in France would gladly call their own ~ crispy, with little flakes of salt.

At one point, I glance over and see the steaming bowl of TNF pho noodles with broccoli, carrots, scallions, shallots, and cilantro which looks like another appetizing dish. The former chef of Tabla produces a much more ethnic-inspired menu than French; but heck, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

The New French 522 Hudson Street @ 10th Street (212) 807-7357

Basta Pasta

It was a last-minute decision to head to Basta Pasta, an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant in Chelsea. Far more Japanese than Italian, this restaurant represents an interesting union between two cultures so passionate about their culture and cuisine. The industrial sized space favors Eastern minimalism, with the ambiance of a loud, Italian family gathered for dinner. Most patrons were Japanese (always a good sign in a Japanese restaurant) and the waitstaff was attentive and polite.

The bagna cauda appetizer was a simple crudite plate accompanied by a warm anchovy cream dip. The dip was a well-balanced blend of cream and anchovy; not too creamy and the right amount of anchovy that doesn't result in fishiness.

The spaghetti was the lighter of the two pastas served with the tobiko highlighted. Tobiko is versatile in cooking with its slightly sweet, salty flavor followed by crunchiness. The shiso leaf is such an underused ingredient; typically used as a garnish under the ginger and daikon in sushi restaurants (try it on a piece of tai, Japanese snapper, sushi with lemon and salt). It's pretty much used the way for the pasta, but with the shiso shredded on top, it actually has a chance of being consumed with each bite.

The uni linguine didn't sit for more than 20 seconds before I had to dig in, therefore, no photo was time. The brininess of the uni was lost in the pink sauce with basil, but the richness and creaminess was not. My tastebuds were overhyped and although it wasn't a letdown at all, I expected a little more.

The poached pears covered with vanilla ice cream and zabaglione were...if I may...a light way to end the meal. They somehow managed to play perfectly off one another in a dessert that could have been a sugar overload.

Basta Pasta 37 West 17th Street (212)366-0888