We like April Bloomfield. My favorite burger in the city is the blue cheese burger at The Spotted Pig and The Breslin reigns as one of ATO’s favorite places to chill and grub in the city. But we might actually like April Bloomfield a little bit less after trying her self-admittedly unauthentic new taqueria in Murray Hill, Salvation Taco (so named because the space previously housed a Salvation Army store). You’ll definitely find no salvation in these tacos…. or any of the food for that matter.
The only saving grace: the food is pretty cheap. Not like taco truck cheap (not like taco truck good either), but definitely a step down price-wise from her other joints. Here’s a spin through a majority of the menu:
Chips and guacamole. Only standard in taste but hard on the wallet at $9 a serving!
Crispy chicken feet. Stingy on substance, full of cartilage and overly-aggressive in flavor.
Tomatillo and jicama salad - simple, bright and fresh. A pleasant break from the abuses of the other dishes.
Crispy pig ears. Appeared to be the same mix used on the crispy chicken feet, but these pig ears were gummier, chewier and quite a mouthful (which ATO preferred to the chicken feet). Expect to find pig ear stuck in your teeth hours after consuming….
Al pastor quesadilla. Tasty and nicely grilled, but nothing to write home about.
Kimchi pork belly pozole. In my opinion, this was the best dish on the menu. Hearty and complex, savory and addictive. The lime added a great crisp finish.
The tacos! From left to right: roasted cauliflower with curried crema, skirt steak with pecan and chipotle and Moroccan lamb on naan. The roasted cauliflower was my personal favorite. The rest were OK but not great.
The torta sandwiches, which all in all were disappointing and suffered from excessive salt, a want of texture and bad bread. Above is the grilled lamb tongue torta. The texture of this sandwich was especially off-putting.
Braised short rib torta. Mushy short ribs and mushy avocado = mushy sandwich.
Confit chicken thigh. Weirdly sweet, but not so bad in the end.
As is readily apparent, it wasn’t for lack of effort that we couldn’t find something on the menu that we really liked. Oh well, checked the box; now off the list forever!
After an exhausting afternoon of rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, EW, JS, ATO and I headed straight to Dale Talde’s Pork Slope to satisfy our hunger pangs with some pub food done right. This place is solid - nothing fancy and nothing mind blowing - but just good ol’ greasy spoon grub, better than what you’ll find at any typical pub. All in all, it’ll fill you up, your hands might need a wipe-down afterwards and you might even feel a little sick…. in a good, “I was a glutton and couldn’t control myself and ate too much” way. This place would be a ridiculously good drunk food spot!
Here’s what we sampled:
Half a rack of St. Louis ribs. Now that’s something pretty.
Tater tots! Like really, really good tater tots.
Crispy mac and cheese, burnt edges and all!
Onion strings. Good on just about anything. Finished with a surprising nice kick!
Frickles! We cleared the entire table but for two frickles. They were good for frickles, but frickles always seem to be a better concept than they are a reality.
Brisket sandwich. Loved the toasted white bread.
Motherporker. WTF. That’s a lot of pork. And an egg for more richness. Cos we obviously needed more richness.
Shrimp po’ boy. Impossible to eat without dropping shrimp in your lap or smearing mayo all over your face. Delicious nonetheless.
The NoMad (for brunch)
Since it opened last year, I’ve loved The NoMad for dinner (see prior post: http://photo-hungry.com/post/21274114610/the-nomad) and for cocktails and bar snacks. But I only recently discovered that I also really love The NoMad for brunch. While the space is dark and hip and sexy by night, it’s nice and bright and happy by day. I kinda prefer the latter. The vibe is definitely slower and more relaxed - I felt like I could sit back (the big cushy chairs are super comfy), take a deep breath, do my own thing and enjoy the wonderful food and drink coming my way. New favorite brunch spot? Perhaps.
If you’re feeling too hungover to “hair-of-the-dog” it, start with one of their non-alcoholic “soft cocktails.” They are delicious! Above is my Orange Julius, which is apparently a real thing and not just a made-up word in a Modest Mouse lyric to fit the rhythm of the song, as I had previously believed. Orange juice with cream -what a smart and tasty idea - and of course The Nomad had to one-up it with orange blossom water as well!
Basil-fennel soda with lemon and sparkling mineral water. It’s like drinking a refreshing and invigorating hike. Ahhhhh…..
We all went for the “lunch” portion of the brunch menu (i.e., the non eggs and pancakes). Above is TC’s scallops seared with acorn squash, brown butter and sage. “Ohhh, a fall harvest!” he exclaimed as he gulped it all down. We sure do love The NoMad’s scallops… always cooked to perfection.
ATO ordered the duck roasted with cranberries, celery and orange. Definitely reminiscent of a Thanksgiving feast. The duck was expertly cooked to medium rare - I’m totally drooling again just looking at that pretty blushing pink hue!
I went for the ultimate gut bomb: the chicken sandwich on brioche with black truffles and foie gras. The NoMad is known for the chicken for two on their dinner menu, and this is their lunch version. It’s like all of the most decadent flavors in life, piled high onto one naughty, indulgent sandwich. It’s almost too much…. almost. Both JC and I ordered this dish. She finished about 1/4th of her sandwich (granted she was hungover), but I finish my whole thing with minimal assistance from ATO. Food coma can be so sweet…
The chicken sandwich also comes with a little crunch and freshness on the side: a beautiful and bright raddichio salad with crispy crackly chicken skin. Totally great side to balance the rich chicken sandwich.
Oh and of course we ordered a side of shoe string fries! After all, brunch is not brunch without some form of fried potatoes. These were particularly delightful: garnished and elevated with fried herbs and lemon rind. Zesty!
Aska might be the hottest ticket in town right now (it’s been at or near the top of Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings for weeks now). Chef Fredrik Berselius, formerly of the pop-up restaurant Frej (which we loved, check out our prior post: http://photo-hungry.com/post/23044904789/frej), recently opened this modern Scandinavian venture in the same Kinfolk Studio space that formerly housed Frej. The scene: industrial meets magical forest/Atera-like setting (an Atera alum, Eamon Rockey, is also involved in this partnership). It’s a very casual, chill-laxing, semi-hipster vibe. I liked it.
Unfortunately, given the hype and how much we loved Frej, the food was underwhelming. Inventive and intriguing? Yes. At times brilliant? Definitely. Best butter in town? Might be. A great deal? $65 for 7 courses, yo! But despite all of this, my overall reaction was that it fell a bit flat. I was hoping for much more.
Ah, the bread and butter, of which we each had about 3 normal servings. Our waiter even noted how impressed he was with our butter intake. RP exclaimed after one bite of this flavorful, fresh goodness - “This butter needs to be mentioned in the blog!” Well, it’s being mentioned, and worshipped. This was truly amazing butter. We all took down reckless, copious amounts; enough to clog our hearts on the spot. It was worth the risk.
Time for our starter snacks! Dried pig’s blood crisps dotted with sea-buckthorn jam. I couldn’t get past the very distinct iron blood flavor that clung to my tongue and wouldn’t let go - I’m no vampire, I have no taste for blood!
A much tastier snack in my opinion, the scallop crisps with dill sour cream. Uh… how did they fit my scallop into the shape of this crisp? Seriously though, this crisp reaaalllly tasted just like a fresh scallop. Bewitching.
Finally, a little cheese plate and sweetness to end our progression of snacks: the molasses shortbread with smoked cheese. YUM.
We started with a very light and enjoyable dish of oysters with cucumber, dill and tallow. So everyone has seen a white fish paired with cucumber and dill, but an oyster? A brilliant idea; the more pronounced oceanic and musky qualities of the oyster brought a depth to this plate that’s missing with fish.
Next up, the herring with anchovies and new potatoes. Very clever presentation. There was no chance I was going to eat this, but my companions really enjoyed the dish. ATO decided early on that the fish head was the best part and was ecstatic that he got two. When RL tried his, he enthusiastically concurred, “The head is where all the juice and flavor is!”, to which I quipped: “That’s what she said!” I’m always happy when presented with the opportunity to use my favorite catch phrase.
The next dish was a variety of salsify, lichen, turnip and celery root, bathed in a winter leaf broth. While I love root vegetables and recognized the satisfying hearty qualities of this dish, these particular veggies were a bit too par cooked for me, and the broth was too salty (to the point where you couldn’t just take a spoonful of broth on its own).
Our fourth course: pork trotters with shaved apples and sunchokes. WTF. This was not good. Conceptually I get it, but the dish set in front of us was frightfully dreary in execution. The pork was distractingly bad (I think my pork was only 1/10th edible - most of it was pure fat), the apples were too sweet and the sunchokes were sliced too thin and tasted like paper. FAIL.
Our next dish was an improvement: a white, tender hunk of monkfish with an accompanying monkfish liver served atop savoy cabbage. While I preferred the more mild monkfish itself, RP and ATO favored the monkfish liver, which was much more powerful in flavor. While neither were really great, at least we all agreed: the savoy cabbage was delicious!
Our last savory course: flank steak and brisket cooked in hay and served with parsnips, thistle and caramelized butter (picture of the butter below). Finally, a dish worth all the hype! The meat was perfectly cooked and the undertones of earthy and smoky goodness from the hay really peeked through. The parsnips and thistle countered well with crisp herbaceous notes. And the butter…….
Caramelized butter! And we thought the butter served with our bread was good….this was insane! I slathered it onto each forkful of already decadent beef. Super intense, super awesome. This one dish may have been worth the trip alone.
Our palate cleanser: Frozen whey with oat crisp. A bit nutty, a bit oat-y and a bit cold and tart.
We ended our meal with cardamom ice cream with brown butter mousse and hazelnuts. A lovely combination. The brown butter mousse (of course, it’s more butter!) was our collective favorite component. The nuts added a nice textural contrast.
The moral of this story is: don’t go with your expectations set too high, and take advantage of the BUTTER!
I was recovering from the flu, but I was a supportive wife and trekked it out to Brooklyn to watch ATO play in a soccer match. As my incentive, he promised we could grub on hot, savory bowls of ramen at Dassara after the game. The PERFECT recovering-from-being-sick food!
I’ve blogged Dassara before. I liked the ramen I got last time. But I have to blog it again, because the ramen we tried on this visit was absolutely incredible (and although ATO will disagree, better than the first visit)!
ATO wasn’t craving a hot soup right after his big soccer workout, so he ordered the sesame Szechuan noodles. These are served cold, in a creamy (but not heavy) sesame sauce, with Szechuan dressing, kimchi pickled vegetables and smoked tofu. Result: it’s rich, smoky, tangy, tart and has a bit of a kick. Yum. A nice change from the hot versions.
I wasn’t sure my stomach could handle indulging in a super rich pork- or chicken-based broth tonight, but the vegetarian mushroom ramen was calling my name. This ain’t no usual vegetarian ramen - one that’s entirely too light on flavor or substance - just placed on the menu to appease the vegetarians who are dragged into a ramen shop. This is some very savory hearty-a$$, satisfying umami-inspired mushroom broth. It is served with mixed wild mushrooms, nori, wilted greens, bamboo shoots (my favorite) and chopped scallions. Variety is the spice of life, and I love that each twirl of the chopsticks contained so many veggie delicacies. The flavors in this bowl are immense and intense and amazing. It is the best vegetarian ramen I’ve ever tasted, and definitely gives any ramen (vegetarian or not) a run for its money. I’m totally infatuated. I’ve been seriously obsessing over this ramen night and day (especially in this crazy cold weather). I want, I want, I want!!!
On a sad note, the lamb ramen (see post from last time: http://photo-hungry.com/post/34183359648/dassara-brooklyn-ramen) is currently unavailable. Apparently their lamb purveyor was dislocated by Sandy, and they haven’t found a good replacement. ATO was dejected when he heard the news. And while I truly do hope that their supplier can get their business up and running again soon, I personally won’t be affected, cos from here on out, I’ll be ordering the mushroom ramen every time anyway!