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

What’s Cooking in Hell’s Kitchen

Vintner Wine Market, a deli attached to a wine store, is making excellent sandwiches under the Chowhound radar, Jim Leff reports. His chipotle chicken sandwich with Swiss was "really REALLY good." Vintner also offers cheese, charcuterie, salads, and well-chosen beers (recent draft choice: a Belgian-style Trippel from Green Flash Brewing in California). "Nice people, nice hang," Jim says.

A couple blocks away, Film Center Cafe, a seldom-mentioned Hell's Kitchen fixture, appears to be taking care of business. TrishUntrapped's recent after-theater dinner was highlighted by hearty, generous entrées of short ribs and lamb shank, both tender, flavorful, and beautifully braised. For starters, she'd recommend the margherita pizza: basil, mozzarella, and fresh-tasting tomato sauce on a crisp, thin, pita-like crust. "It was delicious and hit all the right notes," Trish says. And making this post-matinee date even better, she and her husband were able to sink happily into a cozy leather booth where they "could actually sit next to each other and canoodle a little."

Unlike Trish, robertgoulet hasn't been feeling the love—at least when it comes to the neighborhood Indian options. So he was delighted by the chicken tikka masala and garlic naan he had delivered from Punjabi Tadka. "The naan was still steaming and that perfect combo of crispy/tender," he says, "and the tikka masala was rich, creamy—and spicy! It had a depth of flavor that I was not expecting."

Vintner Wine Market [Hell's Kitchen]
671 Ninth Avenue (between W. 46th and 47th streets), Manhattan
212-957-7500

Film Center Cafe [Hell's Kitchen]
635 Ninth Avenue (between W. 44th and 45th streets), Manhattan
212-262-2525

Punjabi Tadka [Hell's Kitchen]
688 10th Avenue (between W. 48th and 49th streets), Manhattan
212-956-0185

Discuss: Vintner Wine Market
Film Center Cafe, lovely short ribs, reasonable prices
Surprisingly good Hell's Kitchen punjabi delivery

North-of-the-Border Deli Meat in Brooklyn

New Yorkers think they know their cured brisket, and what they usually have in mind is pastrami from places like the venerable Katz's. Mile End in Brooklyn gives brisket a smokier, spicier spin in an equally venerable tradition from the delis of Montreal.

Hounds familiar with the style are glad to see it in New York. "Mile End fires up those neurons in me; the meat was smoky, moist, and tender," says JackS. "Well cured and smoked. Tender and delicious," seconds StheJ. "Numerous ahhs were heard." But those new to Montreal smoked meat may be in for a surprise. Pastrami King (who wears his cured-meat allegiance on his every post) found it "very spicy, almost too spicy—not for the faint of heart." Steve R doesn't object to the spicing—in fact, he finds the meat very good—but stands by the local champs: "I'll stick to Katz's or Mill Basin Deli or 2nd Ave Deli."

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Overheard on the New York Boards

"Their burger is REALLY BIG; mine was cooked perfectly to order (medium rare), and it came on a sturdy onion roll with a slice of tomato and a slice of raw onion, both on the side. I added bacon (I add bacon to everything) and cheddar cheese, and the result was something to make you swoon." - BrookBoy on City Hall

"I liked their liang pi, and the husband wife fai pian had well-sliced (thin and even) beef tongue and tendon. Basically their cold appetizer sauce is very savory, smoky, and flavorful, not overpowered by trying to be too spicy or too numbing. I respect that. " - HLing on Wu Liang Ye

"It is time for the White Lie. The day before the event email them that you or your boyfriend is beginning to come down with something—a bad cold, swine flu, scurvy, the bubonic plague. ... And sometime around noon the next day you'll start to hear reports of bad food and sky high prices. 'Oh, you're so lucky that you didn't go! It was awful!' If you can't save everybody, save yourself." - Bob Martinez on Sammy's Roumanian

This Literally IS Your Grandfather’s Whiskey

Are you a whiskey idiot with an absolute ton of money? Well, brace yourself: "The world's oldest malt whiskey has gone on sale with a price tag of up to £10,000 (about $15,000) a bottle," reports the Telegraph. Small bottles of Mortlach 70-year-old Speyside are available for a mere £2,500.

Asked about the way the whiskey tastes, one of the firm's managing directors reportedly said: "It's good, sure. £1,000 good? Eh, maybe. Is anything really worth £1,000 a bottle, though?" He then added: "£10,000 good, no bleedin' way. Think about it. Bottle of brown liquor or a new Honda Fit, which do you choose? Remember, it's a bottle of really delicious brown liquor. Yeah, the car, right."

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Up & Under Takes It Away

The Richmond prick is not that guy from the neighborhood who never called the next day, or even several days later. It's an appetizer of delicious beer-battered cactus with chipotle aioli at Up & Under, a great new pub in Point Richmond, says rworange.

With St. Patrick's Day over, you probably won't be seeing the incredibly flavorful corned beef and cabbage, but if the oyster, clam, and shrimp po' boy is offered as a special, pounce on it, says rworange. That excellent beer batter shows up on a big pile of seafood, with slaw to cut the fried richness. "I scarfed down every last magically delicious bite," she says.

The burger is a perfectly executed classic, not an artisan reboot: charbroiled as you like it, the bun lightly toasted, your choice of four cheeses plus red onion, lettuce, tomato slices, and dill pickle spear.

Creamy clam chowder breaks from tradition with a touch of cheddar, but it gets a New Englander's seal of approval from rworange.

Up & Under Pub and Grill [East Bay]
2 W. Richmond Avenue, Richmond
510-778-1313

Discuss: Point Richmond: Up & Under Pub and Grill – The Richmond prick and the BEST po'boy I've had in my life ... WOW

Naked Cowboy…the Restaurant?

At a casting call for NBC's upcoming food show to be hosted by Bobby Flay, "America's Next Great Restaurant," Feast New York caught up with the famous Times Square entertainer, the Naked Cowboy, who unbeknownst to us, appears to be an aspiring restaurateur.

His vision for "The Naked Cowboy Bar & Grill" includes appetizers such as "weggie wedges" and "cheesy balls." I mean, clearly people would line up to eat at a restaurant that may or may not have a man roaming around in his undies and features dishes that sound like health code violations.

"More on why food reality TV is disappearing down its own gullet," mused Kim Severson on Twitter.

Would you eat at The Naked Cowboy Bar & Grill?

Already voted? See results.

Image source: Flickr member plassen under Creative Commons

What Wine Goes With Douchiness?

This morning's business section of the New York Times had a cheery article about a new Web series called Pairings that matches up famous musicians with famous chefs to make a very special dinner.

The webisode of Pairings I watched features Chef John Besh, soft rocker Dave Matthews, and Director of Winemaking of Robert Mondavi Wines, Genevieve Janssens. If you are in a bad mood or hung over, do NOT watch this, as it may tip you over the edge. The premise is that these great artists are coming together to make a FABulous dinner together with wine, food, and music, because Mondavi and American Express want them to. Oh, sorry, I mean, because they're celebrating the creativity of life. It's not forced at all. Matthews: "Good food and good drink and good music tend to go together, almost wherever you are, it's almost a human quality to try and prepare your food and prepare your drink and prepare your music to go together. Almost.

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Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"The #1 banh mi at L'Amour des Baguettes on Story Road in San Jose is something worth savoring at a giveaway price." - Dave.Pitinga on the sandwich selections at L'Amour des Baguettes "The flavor starts sweet and clean, and as you chew—and I wanted to, to get all the flavor—a hint of briny sea comes out, followed by a mineral-rich finish." - SteveG, on Point Reyes Oyster Co. at the Alemany Farmers' Market "Rosenblum & Tucker's annual project is very good this time out as they used the Annette's Vineyard Reserve Zinfandel which has a lot more bright fruit and plays well off of the raspberry flavors and chocolate chips. (And no, the alcohol is not cooked out) Yuummmy!" - BigWoodenSpoon on Zinfandel ice cream at Tucker's

The Search for a Sandwich Under $7

If you want to go Vietnamese for your lunch sandwich, you can score a banh mi for just $3. So why is it, asks Mission, that deli sandwiches run $7 to $10 these days?

Ted's Market is "the most unsung sandwich place in the city," says chipman, and ML800 cites their great daily specials, including roast pork. With regular sandwiches around $5, it's packed at lunchtime but they move people through quickly.

"El Metate on Bryant Street has the best chicken sandwich on a roll," says sfpizzalover. Just $5, it comes with a side of housemade soup (usually tortilla) and could serve two people.

The couple who run Guerrero Market & Deli make "big, delicious, affordable sandwiches with lots of love," says vulber. The wild salmon BLT, at $8, is probably the priciest offering.

pauliface always stops at Courtney's for some of their creatively tasty, inexpensive sandwiches before getting on a plane, going on a hike or to the beach.

And Lee's Delis, ubiquitous in the FiDi, make good sandwiches with ingredients like freshly roasted, hand-cut turkey or real sliced roast beef, usually $5 or less.

Ted's Market & Deli [SOMA]
1530 Howard Street, San Francisco
415-552-0309

El Metate [Mission]
2406 Bryant Street, San Francisco
415-641-7209

Guerrero Market & Deli [Mission]
701 Guerrero Street, San Francisco
415-647-2530

Courtney's [Contra Costa County]
2190 Meridian Park Boulevard, Concord
925-827-1506

Lee's Deli [Financial District]
Multiple locations

Discuss: I'm getting tired of Deli Sandwiches that cost $7-10. in the Bay Area. Any great cheaper ones?

What to Do with Leftover Easter Eggs

What to Do with Leftover Easter Eggs

The hunt is over but the hard-boiled eggs remain. READ MORE