Never has it been so easy to get recipes. Type any ingredient and "recipe" into Google and you'll get enough results to keep you busy for weeks. But most of them will be crap. It's no secret in the food publishing world that recipe testing varies wildly from publisher to publisher, even from author to author. There are no clear, agreed-upon standards and the unwary cook gets burned. That's the milieu that made it possibly for homely, humble Cook's Illustrated to become a mega-force in the cooking world: recipes that worked. Every time.
One mark of an outstanding vegetable burger is that carnivores will actually scarf it down happily. Hillstone, the overachieving chain eatery that used to be Houston's, passes that test with a hound-acclaimed veggie burger seasoned with Worcestershire and topped with melted jack.
Vegetarian restaurant Quantum Leap has a spicy version that pleases the meat-eating MinhLikesFood. And the burger joint Stand makes a veggie burger from quinoa, mushrooms, and zucchini that's actually better than its above-average beef burger, uwsister says.
At Five Napkin Burger, the secret ingredient is beets. OK, it's not a closely held secret; LNG212's server spilled it when asked. "Be forewarned: it's huge and it's messy," LNG212 adds.
SouthWest NY also has a way with veggie burgers, and it leans Latin. The black bean patty comes between two arepalike corn cakes. fm1963 suggests adding sautéed mushrooms and a side of maduros or corn pudding.
Some other hound-endorsed veg burgers can be had at Film Center Cafe and Zaitzeff, both enriched with avocado; Dojo, whose soy burger comes in a whole-wheat pita; and Shake Shack, a destination for conventional burgers, whose portobello 'shroom burger is a deep-fried, cheese-stuffed thing of beauty.
378 Park Avenue South (at E. 27th Street), Manhattan
Quantum Leap [East Village]
203 First Avenue (between E. 12th and 13th streets), Manhattan
Stand [East Village]
24 E. 12th Street (between Fifth Avenue and University Place), Manhattan
Five Napkin Burger [Hell's Kitchen]
630 Ninth Avenue (between W. 44th and 45th streets), Manhattan
SouthWest NY [Battery Park City]
225 Liberty Street (in 2 World Financial Center), Manhattan
Film Center Cafe [Hell's Kitchen]
635 Ninth Avenue (between W. 44th and 45th streets), Manhattan
Zaitzeff [Financial District]
72 Nassau Street (at John Street), Manhattan
Dojo [East Village]
14 W. Fourth Street (between Broadway and Lafayette Street), Manhattan
Shake Shack [Flatiron]
In Madison Square Park (near Madison Avenue and E. 23rd Street), Manhattan
USA Today reported late last week one of the most frightening new stories in our brave new era of industrial food. No, it's not about Monsanto crushing independent farmers under their big corporate thumb. No, it's not about Frankenstein-like hamburgers assembled from numerous cows from around the world. It's the new $2 Taco Bell combo meal.
The best Central Asian kebabs no one's talked about lately come off the grill at Tandoori Bukharian Bakery in Rego Park. They're moist, powerfully seasoned, and better than anything at the other Bukharian kebab houses of "Regostan"—including the usual suspects Cafe Arzu and Cheburechnaya, Greg promises.
Samsas are awesome baked pastries, cousins of the Indian samosa, the size of a fist and stuffed with savory ground meat. Steamed dumplings are equally hefty and filled with meat or minced potato. Salads are tasty and, like everything else here, robustly seasoned. And it's all pretty cheap: Greg's group of four got more than enough food for around $50. Service is better than the norm, he adds: "Less gruff than at Arzu and capable enough with English to get the order mostly correct."
Tandoori Bukharian Bakery [Rego Park]
99-04 63rd Road (at 99th Street), Rego Park, Queens
Looks aren't everything. The namesake dish at Bunny Chow, a South African–style bread bowl filled with curry, is a homely thing, big o says. But it's also a wonderful thing, heartily seasoned and "really, really tasty." It's made with chicken, lamb, or shrimp.
Shrimp peri peri, pan-roasted in the shell with herbs and a potent dose of chile, is also delicious. So are the fries, known here as slap chips: big wedges of potato, crispy outside and fluffy inside, served with a yogurt, feta, and cucumber dip. Malva pudding is a fine way to finish up, a cakelike, slightly fruity sweet served warm.
Traffic was notably sparse during big o's visit, and the space was being shopped earlier this year, so you might want to try it sooner rather than later.
Bunny Chow [Lower East Side]
74 Orchard Street (between Grand and Broome streets), Manhattan
Discuss: Review -- Bunny Chow, LES
The namesake pastry at House of Silvanas is the Filipino answer to the macaron: two cashew-meringue wafers sandwiching a layer of buttercream, all coated with cookie crumbs. Since the buttercream filling wouldn't hold up at room temperature, silvanas are always eaten frozen, or nearly so. There are seven flavors: buko-pandan (coconut and panda leaf), ube, mocha, and mango are the best, says pilinut, in that order. Even frozen, the buttercream is pleasantly light and creamy against the crunchiness of the cookies, says hhc.
"The sans rival is pretty good, too," adds pilinut, "just plain old buttercream sandwiched between thin, crisp layers of meringue, and sprinkled with nuts."
House of Silvanas [Peninsula]
2055 Gellert Boulevard, Daly City
If you tried to think of all the places you'd go to get a pizza, Mi Rancho Mexican Market probably wouldn't make the list. But no joke, the thin-crust pizza is really good, says yimster.
Most pizzas are $10 and made to order, with the dough hand-tossed, the sauce house-made, and the basil fresh. But of course there are also toppings you'd never get at Pizza My Heart or New York Pizza (where the chef used to work); request chorizo, carnitas, or anything else that takes your fancy from the Mexican place next door.
Mi Rancho Market [Peninsula]
137 Roosevelt Avenue, Redwood City