Smitten with a breakfast burger

My wah-wah-wah-I-miss-Italy pity party is OVER. You hear me? O-VER. Because who has time for all that misty eyed reminiscing, all that longing for meals past, all that pining away for something an ocean away when there are things like the breakfast burger at Mile End Sandwich to be had right here and now in New York City where I am oh-so-lucky to find myself? (Those of you not in the city, sorry, you should probably book a ticket.)

Mile End’s breakfast burger: it might be love

Seriously, Italy who? I have a new love, and with its unabashed, carefree sloppiness and finger-licking deliciousness (totally not just a phrase but an actual truth in this situation), the Mile End breakfast burger just snaked its way into my heart, leaving behind a trail of egg yolk and English muffin crumbs. And happiness.

It’s sloppy, but really. WHO. CARES?

Served every day but only until 4pm (which is a shame cause I would eat this bad boy for dinner ANY day), the breakfast burger is a handsome, juicy veal sausage patty, topped with an over easy egg and further perfected with melted Quebec cheddar, warm apple butter and the sweet touch of maple syrup, all of that— yes, ALL of that— between two soft, perfectly crumbly English muffin halves. There’s no way to eat this without ending up a complete gooey, sticky, crumby mess, but it’s worth it. So worth it.

I mean really,  you and me, breakfast burger, we could have a good thing here.

Pumped

While having dinner at the too-cool-for-my-own-good Pump Room at the swanky Public Chicago hotel, I came to a realization: I’d love to be one of those travelers that just seems to hang out all day, lounging around the lobby of their plush hotel, requesting 11am wake-up calls and then worrying only about when their in-room massage is scheduled or what time dinner is.

If I was one of those travelers, which time and money constraints keep me from being, I’d check in to a place like the Public, and just bask in the awesomeness of it all. More precisely, I would eat three square meals a day at The Pump Room, and sip cocktails in between (and during) meals in the uber chic bar or the stylish lobby. (This would also all take place during winter so I wouldn’t have to leave the hotel. )

Alas, I’m not that kind of traveler. But during an awesome dinner at the Pump Room during my recent jaunt with the beau, I pretended to be, at least for the duration of dinner. The Jean-Georges restaurant seems to have borrowed lots of menu items from another JG restaurant, the always-without-fail delicious ABC Kitchen in New York, which was more than fine by me since that pretty much guaranteed the food would be amazing. And it was.

Lessons in deliciousness: coating calamari in pretzel crumbs.

The boy and I started out with an order of pretzel dusted calamari, something I’d already had (and loved) at ABC. With both a tangy, sweet marinara sauce and a creamy, spicy mustard aioli, this was just more of a good thing. Every city in the world should have a place to get this dish.

It’s always a good time for flatbread, especially if it involves truffles.

And because I don’t believe in holding back while on vacation, we also got one of Pump Room’s whole wheat flatbreads, the one with black truffle, fontina and frisee salad. It was just the right amount of doughy, cheesy and truffley (yea, I know, not a real word).

Fried chicken on a bed of spinach, wait for it, in spicy butter. Mind blown, huh?

For the entree, I went with fried organic chicken cause really, is there anything harder to resist than good fried chicken? This one came with spinach and a velvety, fiery homemade hot sauce butter. Crunchy skin, tender, juicy meat, and spinach to make you understand Popeye a million times over. Heaven on a dish, no lie, people.

Short rib and pureed potatoes. YES please.

Flaneur ordered the glazed beef short rib with potato puree and a crunchy, cheddar garnish.The spicy peppers gave a tasty heat to the hearty, delicious meat. I’m never a huge fan of short ribs, but this could make a believer out of anyone.

Dessert

And finally, because I wouldn’t dare leave a restaurant like this without dessert, we split the creme fraiche cheesecake with blood orange sorbet, fennel crisps and kumquat marmalade. With its creamy consistency and fresh, clean fruity flavors, it was a nice, subtle note to end the dinner on. I could have eaten four more though, just for the record.

Lucky No. 7

Roasted pork sub at No. 7 Subs

I’m all about weird combinations when it comes to food, and I’m especially into food that mixes sweet and savory. I dig chocolate and bacon, pineapple on pizza, and I even thought olive oil on ice cream wasn’t half-bad the time I tried it. So when I heard about No. 7 Sub, a small sub shop at the Ace Hotel known for its unusual ingredients and crazy combos, I felt like it was calling my name.

With pairings that included fried oysters with pickled strawberries, zucchini parmesan with BBQ potato chips (inside the sub, not with it), and brie with plantain chips, the indecisive side of me was out in full force. I went back and forth between all of them but in the end I decided I was in a pork kind of mood (really, when am I not?) so I went with the roast pork sub, featuring cheddar cheese, melon, shishito peppers, and Chinese mustard in addition to the piggy.

Inside the roasted pork sub.... mmmm...

Subs like this really make me wonder how some people eat turkey, swiss, tomatos, lettuce and vinagrette on whole wheat day in and day out. BORING. The roast pork at No. 7 was everything that a regular ol’ Subway (or similar) sub is not. It was tasty and bright, interesting and unpredictable. One bite had the spicy, horseradish-like heat of the chinese mustard, while another had the refreshing sweetness of the melon (one of my favorite fruits, too) and some had that sour spiciness of the shishito peppers.  The cheese gave it a sense of familiarity and the pork, which was more subtle compared to the other flavors, was a good taste to tie everything together.

This sub and I hit it off right away, and with nine other subs to try on the menu, I’m looking forward to all the other strange (and probably delicious)  combinations in store for me there.

No. 7 Sub on Urbanspoon

A meatloaf change of heart

I can count the foods I don’t like on one hand: lentil soup, cow’s tongue, boiled peanuts and meatloaf.  Try as I might, I just can’t come around to these. Their smell, texture, taste.  Just none of it. Which is why yesterday when the beau and I stood in front of the menu at Fredi Sandwich Bar near Union Square and he ordered a meatloaf sandwich, I turned with a face of disgust, bordering on betrayal.

“Meatloaf?” I groaned. “Really? Ick. Why’d you order that?”

But when our sandwiches came out, my three cheese-bacon-and-plum-tomato-on-focaccia next to his fat meatloaf on ciabatta, I couldn’t help it. I had to try it. It just looked so good.

Seeing meatloaf in a whole new and delicious light

So putting my meatloaf prejudice aside, I bit into half off the warm bread and one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve had in recent memory. Sensory overload in the best way. Meatloaf like I’d never experienced it before. Soft, flavorful meat, so juicy it had runaway drops streaking through my fingers and down my arms. This was not the grayish brown loaf of goopy, gravy covered, dry meat I’d seen in the past. This was something wholly different. Sure, the sharp tang of the cheddar, the slight bite of spicy mustard and roasted peppers and onions on that warm, doughy and slightly crunchy bread helped make this delicious, but really the star of the sandwich, was far and away the meatloaf. Continue reading

In search of burgers and happiness

Cheddar cheeseburger and sweet potato fries

For me, the pursuit of the perfect hamburger is a lot like the pursuit of happiness. It’s a constant work in progress.  On any given day I might think I’ve found one or both, happiness and/or the perfect burger, but the search is never over. Just because you’ve found what makes you happy—maybe the love of your life or a great apartment or a dream job—doesn’t mean you stop, right?

Well same goes with burgers. Especially in New York. Why stop looking just because you’ve found the softest bun or the juiciest patty or the crispiest fries to complement your burger (because a burger with no fries just isn’t complete)? The burger with the tangiest pickles or the thickest melted cheese might still be waiting to be found. Continue reading

Which came first, the heart attack or the Scotch egg?

Every once in a while you have to throw caution to the wind and say to yourself, “I don’t care how ridiculous this is. I don’t care how fattening it might be. I don’t care if I know good and well I shouldn’t eat this. I want it and dammit, I’m going to eat it.”

Granted I say this more often than is probably healthy, it’s what first came to mind when I flipped to the food side of the menu at West Village bar Wilfie & Nell and read the description for a Scotch egg: a hard boiled egg wrapped in sage pork sausage, breaded and deep fried.

Behold, a Scotch egg!

WOA! What in the name of all things fun, fried and fatty is this about? Who cares! I’ll take one! And why stop there, when there’s grilled cheese sandwiches on the pub grub list? Add one of those too, with Irish cheddar, please.

In my own defense, I was splitting this with the boyfriend, and we were with a group of friends who were all eating the same thing. One guy even ordered two meat pies. See, I’m not the only one with a healthy appetite.

When the waitress came back with baskets of Scotch eggs and several plates of grilled cheese sandwiches, meat pies and other bar fare, I was egg-cited. (Get it? Scotch egg? Egg- cited? Meh, never mind.)

Grilled cheese sandwich: a classic for the ages

I love eating things I’ve never had before, especially if they’re foreign or weird and unusual, and on top of that I love, love, looooove grilled cheese sandwiches. Here I was, about to get both!

The egg, which came cut in quarters and with a small side of thick, wholegrain mustard, was in a word, phenomenal. How something so small could pack so much loud, unique flavor is mind-boggling to me. A little smear of the mustard on each bite, and that egg was gone in a matter of minutes, perhaps even seconds.

Mmmm warm cheesy goodness

The grilled cheese sandwich, which also came with a side of the thick, slightly spicy mustard, was great too. The cheddar, from Dublin, Ireland according to the menu, was a creamy white and not the school bus yellow most often associated with this cheese. The bread was toasted to a deep golden perfection and pressed just enough so that it wasn’t squished flat. It was hot without being scorching, just enough that it melted the cheese, making it ooze out in delicious gooey strings. Even the few pickle slices on the plate were tasty, and since they were just a little on the spicy side, Flaneur let me have them all. Win!

I had been to Wilfie & Nell before, but it was a super-packed weekend night and everyone I was with kept their consumption to the liquid variety. Actually, it was so busy that I never even saw a menu. I was just handed a beer without even knowing what this bar was capable of feeding me.  But now that I know there’s a menu and what’s found opposite of the beers and the liquors, I might have to make this a regular spot. That Scotch egg just demands to be eaten more often, no matter how ridiculous it is.