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

Singular Sweets, Uptown to Downtown

Anneliese's, a neighborhood spot uptown, gets little hound attention. "It's a nice clean local shop that nobody seems aware of—the anti–Magnolia," omnidora says. It deserves a sniff, she suggests, for homey sweets like its pumpkin tart, whose filling is faultless, just sweet enough. Strawberry shortcake is satisfying and served with real cream. Oatmeal raisin cookies are another good bet. Macadamia and peanut butter cookies, however, are too sweet for omnidora's taste.

Nut-lovers with a sweet tooth should seek out Güllüoglu's must-try chestnut baklava, buttertart reports: "The chestnuts are fresh and moist and the pastry gilding on the rose. Utterly divine." This Midtown shop—the newish Manhattan outpost of an Istanbul confectioner that has already come ashore in Brooklyn—also makes hazelnut baklava that fm1963 pronounces "astounding." Pistachio and cherry versions are excellent, too, as are savory bites like su böregi, a cheese pastry that Striver finds addictively delicious.

Another recent arrival, L.A. Burdick, bakes a beautiful raspberry tart with a jammy filling loaded with fruit yet also piquant enough to cut the buttery richness of the crust, wew says. This new Manhattan location of the New England chocolatier also makes a fine gugelhupf, a Viennese-style marbled pound cake.

The Doughnut Plant is no newcomer, but guttergourmet only recently caught up with its tres leches doughnut (“I was too busy trying every other kind"). It turns out to be heavenly, and he thinks he's figured out doughnut master Mark Isreal's secret: "he must be using mother's milk ;)."

Anneliese's [Upper East Side]
1516 First Avenue (near E. 79th Street), Manhattan

Güllüoglu [Midtown East]
982 Second Avenue (between E. 51st and 52nd streets), Manhattan

L.A. Burdick [Flatiron]
5 E. 20th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Broadway), Manhattan

Doughnut Plant [Lower East Side]
379 Grand Street (between Clinton and Rutgers streets), Manhattan

Board Links: Upper East Side, unhyped pastries, snacks...
A little bite of heaven: chestnut baklava from Gulloglu 2nd Ave between 51st and 52nd
L.A. Burdick Cafe
Tres leches donut...mother$#%&ing good

Windsor Terrace Cheers Its New Bistro

Windsor Terrace hounds have been hungering for a restaurant like the new Le P'tit Paris. Its hanger steak is first-rate: flavorful, tender, and cooked to a spot-on medium rare, jinx says. A duck entrée boasts perfectly roasted breast meat, crispy (if slightly salty) confit, and, perhaps best of all, a knockout timbale of roasted potato, mushroom, and garlic; "amazing ... I could have eaten a full dish of it," jinx sighs.

elecsheep9 recommends tuna tartare, punched up with caviar; hearty, satisfying coq au vin; and the Sacre Coeur salad (mesclun, leek, haricots verts, blue cheese, walnuts, and beets with Dijon dressing). Others like the bouillabaisse (a Friday special) and the mushroom and goat cheese crêpe. Prices are moderate, with no entrée over $20; oysters on the half shell are an especially good deal.

Not everyone is sold on this place, which was opened a month ago by the chefs from the Manhattan bistros Citron and Cassis. imsohungry's moules frites featured overcooked mussels and fries that seemed to have been frozen; "frankly, fairly inedible." "It breaks my heart to write this," she says. "We have been waiting for a good restaurant in WT for ages."

Le P'tit Paris [Windsor Terrace]
256 Prospect Park West (at Prospect Avenue), Brooklyn

Board Links: Le P'tit Paris Bistro-Looks like we've got a winner!
Best Steak Frites in Brooklyn

Overheard on the New York Boards

"They made me understand the love of scones. Never understood why someone would waste so many calories on a lump of flour and butter. ... Trois Pommes scones are amazing (I'm eating a pumpkin one as I type)."

"It started with the samosas, which were crisp and light, not at all heavy like the ones you get everywhere else. It was the kind of meal where you can't stop eating because you can't decide which flavor you want in your mouth last."

"[I]t took a moment of reflection and a lot of imagination to realize that there was indeed a hint of lemongrass and chili oil, the kind of hint one would expect from the vermouth in a very dry martini."
-Peter Cherches

Real-Deal Memphis ’Cue

Tomm's BBQ recently opened in Oakland, and "it's the real, smokier than hell itself, sauce-slathered, meat falling off the bone, Memphis deal," says South Carolina-bred dls999. "I spent the rest of the day irritating my spouse with exclamations like, 'Dude, I've been waiting 20 years for this' and 'Did we just have real bbq or am I having that dream again?' "

The meat is "delicious, tender, almost buttery," says Agent 510, who had the pork shoulder. It's excellent even without the sauce, thanks to a dry rub that Glencora describes as "quite spicy, salty and smoky."

Hounds give thumbs-up to the brisket, pork shoulder, and beef ribs (which come Flintstones-style, in one huge, uncut slab), but PegS found the pork ribs "a tad but not unacceptably dry in parts."

Tomm's BBQ & Deli [East Bay]
3446 Market Street, Oakland

Board Links: Finally, finally, finally — real bbq in Northern CA
Oakland: Tomm's BBQ of Memphis opens "Where friends meat"—BBQ rag bologna and Broasted chicken too

Chicken-y Comfort in a Bowl

The closing of Singaporean restaurant Kopitiam in Lafayette has hounds wondering where to go for rich, chicken-y Hainan chicken and rice.

Robert Lauriston
says he's always preferred the version at Singapore Malaysian Restaurant, where the chicken and rice may not be cooked together in the traditional way, but "the rice is really rich with chicken fat and juices." abstractpoet likes the Hainan chicken at Cafe Salina, preferably with their excellent fried rice. For his part, david de berkeley says the HCR at ABC in Chinatown is deliciously comforting, and "the ginger-garlic sauce is pretty much spot-on to the places I've been to Singapore."

And as for the Thai version, khao man gai, twocents says the one at Sa Wooei is particularly flavorful.

Singapore Malaysian Restaurant [Richmond District]
836 Clement Street, San Francisco

Cafe Salina [Peninsula]
235 Broadway, Millbrae

ABC [Chinatown]
650 Jackson Street

Sa Wooei [East Bay]
10621 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

Board Links: Kopitiam in Lafayette Closing
Hainan Chicken Rice or Khao Man Gai Recommendations in the Bay Area?
Thai - Khao Man Gai (Chicken and Rice) in the Bay Area?

Ambitious Indian at Madhuban

"Madhuban is part of a great local trend toward Indian restaurants with more adventurous menus, better decor, better service, and better food quality," says mdg.

The usual complimentary pappadum come with "a much better than usual tamarind chutney," and the chickpea salad that comes with ragda (potato) patties is intriguingly flavored. Achari goat is flavored with actual pickles (achar), unlike the version at Hyderabad House that just uses the pickling spices. "The goat flavor was just wonderful; perhaps the best I've had in a year of fine goat dishes," mdg says. It goes great with jeera pulao, basmati rice flavored with onion, cumin, and other spices.

There's a nice beer and wine selection, and the Madhuban lassi is an unusual variation on the yogurt drink, with mango and rose syrup.

Madhuban [South Bay]
50 Skyport Drive, San Jose

Madhuban [South Bay]
544 Lawrence Expressway, Sunnyvale

Board Link: Madhuban—Sunnyvale and San Jose

Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"Very thin, well-browned, deep-fried and crunchy pancake layer encasing a custardy filling, two to an order. These were doused with floral scented honey syrup and dusted with pistachio nuts. In the running for one of the best things I've put in my mouth this year."
-Melanie Wong

"The center of the croissant was still warm when I got to it, a buttery, layered, slightly toothsome contrast to the crackly exterior."

"One of my favorite things I ordered was the turkey breast. It came from the rotisserie and just seemed so perfectly cooked. It came with a pumpkin mole."

Sneaking Food into Movies

Sneaking Food into Movies

Is it wrong to bring your own popcorn? READ MORE

Does Fresh Pumpkin Beat Canned?

Is it worthwhile to roast fresh pumpkin for pie and other baked goods or ravioli filling? Absolutely, say many Chowhounds. The difference between roasted fresh pumpkin and canned is subtle, says Procrastibaker, but "fresh pumpkin is slightly more earthy. It has a 'meaty' flavor that I personally really like." "I prefer the richness of the flavor after roasting and the texture to that of canned purée," agrees Normandie.

"In my experience," says another_adam, "it's definitely possible to get a sweeter and 'richer' purée when roasting one yourself—but it all depends on the pumpkin, and frequently you won't come out ahead." This is because, even from the same field, some pumpkins simply aren't as sweet as others. However, he adds, one way "to guarantee good results from home-roasted pumpkin is to go with kabocha, which will definitely give you a deeper color and creamier flesh than the sugar pumpkins one typically finds in the grocery store."

"It's a small project to prepare the purée," says Nyleve, "but you can do a whole whack of it at once and freeze it in recipe-size containers." To roast pumpkin, split in half, scoop out the seeds, and place it face-down on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour a small amount of water into the pan around the pumpkin and roast it at 400°F until you can easily dent it with a finger. Turn the pumpkin halves over and roast another 10 to 15 minutes to dry out the flesh slightly. Scoop the flesh out and purée in a food processor or food mill. "Now here's the important part," says Nyleve: Place the purée in a coffee filter-lined strainer set over a bowl and let it drain at least an hour to get rid of excess moisture.

"The hardest part of this is splitting the pumpkin open," says tsktsk, "but it is worth it."

Board Link: Traditional Pumpkin Pie with Real Pumpkin

What America Does to Ethnic Food

If we could trace the evolution of every cuisine that has ever been imported to the United States, what would it reveal about American taste? What happens to a cuisine when it becomes Americanized?

Sam Fujisaka notices that "more meat, fewer organs and heads, reduced spices in some cases, less fat, no blood, 'sanitized' fish, few or no small mammals, and no rodents large or small" are characteristic changes cuisines undergo during the process of Americanization. The idea is "is to make food look less like the animal it came from, such as removing bones, heads, and skin," says Dio Seijuro.

"Chinese food relies on texture as well as flavor, but most American palates tend to minimize texture. That's why you won't see something like sea cucumber on an Americanized Chinese menu," says raytamsgv. Paulustrious notes that as foods Americanize, they become sweeter, heat is reduced, bitter components of a dish are removed, portions get larger, and the proportional amount of meat gets much larger.

danieljdwyer thinks all of the above isn't exclusively a U.S. thing, but instead reflects how cuisines adapt to industrialization in general. "I have not been to an industrialized nation where the process of 'Americanization' has not become common," he says. "Where it is less common, this seems to be a function of poverty, rurality, nationalist pride, or severe governmental restriction of commerce. I don't see taste as a factor. Crappy fast food and takeout are as common in Tokyo as in New York—just as good, authentic fast food and takeout are just as common in either city."

Board Link: Elements of Americanization?