Eating in America (continued) — Budget Vegetarian Dining Adventures
New York cuisine proved to be far more interesting than Chicago’s, although I am certain this isn’t at all a rule. This is probably because I saw more friends, ate less at my sister’s place, and was generally “on vacation.” Here are the places, some exceptional, some pretty mediocre, that I patronized.
Popover Café – typical yuppie breakfast place with a specialty in super-inflated-fluffy popover buns (if you can call them that). We got in early-ish (before 10:30) and didn’t have to wait for a table. Lots of interesting egg dishes. Funny rule in NYC – no alcohol served before 12 noon on Sundays. I really wanted my bloody mary or mimosa. I really did. Finally stateside in a proper decent breakfast place, and no booze to take the edge off the weekend. Goodness. I made up for it that night, though.
- Landmarc. Ick. Ick. Overpriced ick. Besides a salad or something, close to no veg options of interest on the menu. There are daily pasta specials, and one was agreed to be made for me sans meet. The waitress went on and on about how todays risotto was great. And I love risotto. Better than fetuccini alfredo any day as a veg option. And you know what I got? Pretty much fettuccini Alfredo. No risotto. We were in a hurry and I was really hungry. I didn’t say anything. So I’m saying something now. First of all, if you’re a tourist in NYC – don’t go to TriBeCa besides the World Trade Center site. Seriously, there’s nothing to see. I really don’t want to put people down, but only wealthy artists and yuppies live seem to live there. It’s not too pretty either. Second, if you live there or are visiting someone who lives there, I wouldn’t go to this restaurant, especially if you don’t eat meat. There’s a perfectly charming bakery down the block on Duane. They’re way famous and overpriced, too, but at least you can’t mess up a cupcake or croissant too badly, and their mint tea really hit the spot when I was stuck in a huge downpour. Just don’t eat in TriBeCa unless you do your homework. Ugh. At least the wine was good, and they had plenty of half-bottles. Getting pleasantly sloshed took some of the frustration off of the crappy pasta.
- Better Being Underground – yes that’s the name – awesomeness in a paper bag. Tzaziki egg salad sandwich. Incredible gourmet soup with pears and I can’t remember what else. Not cheap but not expensive, given the amazing ingredients and speed. It’s one of those sit-down-break-open-a-bottle-of-bubbly-just-because kind of lunches except it’s in a tiny basement without any seating and you grab what you want or wait a couple minutes while they make it for you. Yes. At least al fresco dining was to be had at a sweet little park across the street.
- Food Exchange Café – At least it might be. It could be the Oxford Café. I can’t remember the name, so I’ve googled the entire (59th and Lexington) area, and these two seemed the likeliest candidate. The only two options on the block, and both sound like delis. Honestly I was only there for a few minutes. I’m writing about it because it seemed like a typical office-worker-lunch. Very NYC. A hurried lunch if I’ve ever seen one. A counter. All the diverse, delicious sandwiches already made. You point, they grill or not, according to what you want. You pay somewhere else. It comes out to you. You stand and eat. Or you go to a tiny park facing some giant bridge and noisy intersection on 59th. It’s all good. My three-cheese caprese was just that. I miss Italy.
- Pomme Café Astoria – it’s nice that people realize that they’ll get more business if their décor is just right. It helps if it’s all in the right neighborhood. And Astoria seems to be just that. Really hip. Lots of cool looking restaurants. If not for the lack of high buildings and slightly shabbier look, it could be the Upper East Side, not Queens. The food was very pretty on the plate. My mushroom truffle risotto was perhaps the best thing I ate in NYC all week, miniscule as it was (as it should be, say I). Again, yes, maybe I should give them a break because it is a French place, but there was nothing veg on the menu besides that risotto (an appetizer), the onion soup, and two salads. And it was a beautiful authentic upscale French bistro menu. Great, great, creamy, crisp crème brulee. Just as it needed to be. This place I would recommend. Great drinks list. I had Talisker and Johnny Walker Green.
Brooklyn Label Cafe – Organic tofu and cheese and potato scrambler. Oh yeah. My friend always gets the scrambled eggs that come with a huge side of roasted beets. It’s delicious. Lots of creative veg. Lots of creative non veg. It’s a rocking joint. A raving recommendation from me. It’s such a hipster spot. Really warm and welcoming. The food is just interesting, flavorful, and comforting. Yay for Greenpoint!
- Café Grumpy – Awesome green tea. Great to work at. Quiet. Funky. Yes, yes, yes. I wish we had cafes like this in Israel. Hip and quiet and tasty and so internet friendly you’d think it was the Skokie Public Library. Gotta love Brooklyn!