The CHOW Blog rss

Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Starbucks: Left Bitter

Haw haw! Take that, you blow-dried, doppio-sipping, clove-cigarette smoking, black-leather-jacket wearing urban hipster types! Interested in a new crop of coffee offerings at fast food joints—pitched to compete with coffeehouse bevvies—the impartial judges at Consumer Reports have found that McDonald’s house coffee beats the swill served up by Starbucks.

As The New York Daily New reports in a piece called “Joltin’ Joe!”, the panel at Consumer Reports found that at $1.35, McDonald’s coffee was the cheapest and best, noting, “Although it lacked the subtle top notes needed to make it rise and shine, it had no flaws.” Compare that with Starbucks, which produced a brew so nasty that it was “bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open.”

Ouch! Burn on you, Starbucks. CR also tried coffees from Burger King (“looked like coffee but tasted more like hot water”) and Dunkin’ Donuts (“weak, watery and pricier than Starbucks”), but McDonald’s Premium Roast Coffee was the winner. OK, so I give you permission to drink the joe from Mickey D’s. But avoid the food. That stuff is death.

Gregoire in Piedmont Is the Best Deal in Town

If you’re seeking cuisine featuring grass-fed meat, organic produce, and sustainable fish and poultry, Gregoire is the best deal in town, says Morton the Mousse. Gregoire makes delicious food from organic ingredients at a very reasonable price–around $25 per person for dinner.

Australian lamb chops, served with garlic and herb vinaigrette, are incredible–very fresh, with a clean flavor, and none of the gamy qualities associated with less-than-perfect meat. Order them rare and hey, they actually cook them rare. Moroccan-style braised short ribs are perfect comfort food; falling-off-the-bone tender meat with enough substance to make for an enjoyable chew. The meat used is very high-quality grass-fed beef from Montana, and you won’t find many cuts with such a well-balanced flavor profile.

Finally, don’t miss the potatoes that Gregoire does so well, and check out the banana bread pudding for dessert.


Gregoire [Piedmont]
4001 B Piedmont Ave, at 40th St., Oakland
510-547-3555
Map

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Gregoire in Piedmont–Still Doing Things Right

Ariana – Glorious Grilled Lamb in Hell’s Kitchen

Lamb, beautifully seasoned and broiled over charcoal, is a smart order at Ariana, the best of the Afghan places in Hell’s Kitchen. Lamb tikka kebab (marinated chunks of thigh meat) is a standout–and even better with a squeeze of lemon, says Pan. You can order it with good Kabuli palow (rice with vegetables and nuts). Lamb also comes in chops or ground in kofta kebabs. Beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp round out the kebab lineup.

Off the broiler, hounds recommend pumpkin or eggplant curries, aushak (boiled leek dumplings), bolanee qandana (fried meat-and-leek turnovers), and kadoo bolanee (fried pumpkin turnovers with yogurt sauce), among other things.

Ariana also bakes good, crusty flatbread, sprinkled with nigella seeds, and serves it warm. Entrees come with a salad; order it without dressing (which the kitchen tends to apply with a heavy hand) and instead use the bright, fresh green hot sauce on the tables. For dessert, try firnee, a rice pudding with cardamom and crumbled pistachios and almonds.


Ariana Afghan Kabab Restaurant [Clinton]
787 9th Ave., between W. 52nd and 53rd Sts., Manhattan
212-262-2323
Locater

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Wanna try Afghan….
Best of 9th Avenue

Stellar Coconut Cake at Fort Greene’s Five Spot

They bake unbeatable coconut cake at Fort Greene’s Five Spot Supper Club, says BGRose. Red velvet cake is also worth saving room for. We’ve heard little about the rest of the somewhat upscale Southern menu, but mrs. jones endorses the fried chicken and lemonade.


Five Spot [Fort Greene]
459 Myrtle Ave., between Washington and Waverly, Brooklyn
718-852-0202
Locater

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fabulous red velvet and coconut cake
Clinton Hill/Wallabout: Where’s It Good?

Cafe Grumpy – Java Mastery in Chelsea

They pour seriously great coffee at Cafe Grumpy, the tiny new Manhattan outpost of a hound-endorsed java joint in Brooklyn.

iraform reports faultlessly pulled espresso, rich and strong, “with that heavy mouthfeel you get only from good espresso.” Drip coffee is made with equal care, precisely extracted from a daily-changing selection of beans (recent choices have included Red Mountain from Papua New Guinea and Yirgacheffe Ambessa from Ethiopia).

Coffee geeks inclined to peek under the hood will appreciate the state-of-the-art hardware, which includes Clover machines for drip coffee and a Synesso for espresso.


Cafe Grumpy [Chelsea]
224 W. 20th St., between 7th and 8th Aves., Manhattan
212-255-5511
Map

Cafe Grumpy [Greenpoint]
193 Meserole Ave., at Diamond St., Brooklyn
718-349-7623
Locater

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Coffee to go around 10th Ave. & 23rd St.

Royale Burger Is a Real Showstopper

You’ll find a grand item of slow-food/fast-food at B&R, says kevin: the Royale burger. It’s like a Fatburger in heaven. We’re talking two half-pound burgers of well-seasoned beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, house-made beef chili, a fried egg, relish, other condiments, and a few slices of bacon (or is that pastrami?). You’ll need a knife and fork.

The menu’s motto is, “Our fresh meat and produce purchased daily.”

It’s an excellent burger for just $5.


B & R Old Fashion Burgers [South Bay]
3512 W. Rosecrans Ave., Hawthorne
310-679-4774
Locater

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B&R’s burgers the old fashioned way

Howzabout a Fish Taco Face-Off?

Determined to pit the kings of the fish taco against each other, Das Ubergeek arranged a face-off between Tacos Baja Ensenada and El Taco Nazo.

The fish in tacos from both places was a bit dry (but they’d traveled a bit to the face-off), but Tacos Baja Ensenada came out the winner. TBE’s cabbage was shredded more finely, and the crema was fresher. TBE’s fried hot peppers also have a tangier seasoning.

El Taco Nazo, though, takes the crown for shrimp tacos. Shrimp are juicy and wonderful, fried in a tempura-like batter. Salsa is good (better than the crema), but all it really needs is a hit of lime.


Tacos Baja Ensenada [East LA-ish]
5385 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles
323-887-1980
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
121 S. Beach Blvd., La Habra
562-690-8078
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
9611 Garvey Ave. # 105, El Monte

626-442-5671
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
13032 Valley Blvd., La Puente
626-333-1166
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
163 N. Azusa Ave., Azusa

626-969-3664
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
14676 Pipeline Ave., Chino Hills
909-606-2100
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
5250 Philadelphia St. # P, Chino
909-590-7664
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
635 E. Bonita Ave., San Dimas
909-599-3712
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
1620 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland
909-946-2848
Locater

El Taco Nazo [South OC]
701 S. Weir Canyon Rd., Anaheim

714-974-8760
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
320 E. Foothill Blvd., Pomona

909-593-9926
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
18013 Valley Blvd., City Of Industry

626-810-6145
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
356 S. Glendora Ave., West Covina

626-917-8182
Locater

El Taco Nazo [Inland of LA]
14343 Ramona Blvd., Baldwin Park

626-338-6420
Locater

El Taco Nazo [East LA-ish]
13128 Telegraph Rd. # A, Santa Fe Springs

562-777-0991
Locater

El Taco Nazo [East LA-ish]
8713 Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera
562-949-5200
Locater

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El Taco Nazo vs. Tacos Baja Ensenada

Super Recipe Search Engine

Wondering what to do with the ingredients in your fridge or looking for Tunisian recipes? Foodie View searches a host of popular recipe web sites and food blogs for recipes that match the criteria you enter, including sets of ingredients, cuisines, and chefs, among others. You can also simply browse by categories. If you register, you can save recipes you’re interested in to a recipe box on the site.

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What is your favorite cooking magazine

Chartreuse

Chartreuse liqueur is made from a long and secret recipe of herbs and flowers. The bright green version is most common; it is strongly herbaceous, and quite potent (it’s 110 proof). There’s also a yellow Chartreuse that is milder in flavor and lower in alcohol, at 80 proof–and flavored with honey, according to fafner.

Green Chartreuse combines surprisingly well with chocolate, say hounds. Bob Brooks adds a good slug to brownies, and dct says it makes an excellent flavoring for truffles that intrigues many who can’t place the flavor.

fafner offers a cocktail recipe for each color Chartreuse:

The Last Word:

1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. maraschino
1/2 oz. Chartreuse
1/2 oz. lime juice

Shake, serve up.

The Amber Dream:

1 1/2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash bitters

Stir over ice, serve up.

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Chartreuse Liqueur as ingredient

Salchicha

If you order salchicha in Latin America, don’t expect something exotic; what you’ll get is a hot dog.

In Latin America, you’ll find dogs in rice, sandwiches, and omelets. laylag has ordered papas fritas (french fries) and got french fries topped with hot dog. anonimo contributes this photo of fries, with sliced hot dogs in a bowl, in the background.

This is good info to have when traveling with the kiddies!

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Salchichas–What’s the Deal