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Report back on Manhattan trip - the sweet and the savory

Went to Manhattan for the weekend and, after hours of research on this board, ate at many frequently recommended spots. Here's my personal take on what I had:

Sweets report
Donut Plant – big disappointment, perhaps because my expectations were very high given all the accolades on this board. Yes, there’s a great variety of interesting flavors, but in the end, I just don’t think the donuts tasted that good. I got a tres leche (cake) donut, a carrot cake (cake) donut, a coconut cream square (yeast) donut and the cinnamon bun. The bun was very, very dry and absolutely not worth eating. The carrot cake tasted like deep fried overly sweet carrot cake. The tres leche’s flavor did not seem to me at all like what tres leche should taste like and the interior texture was mealy. The coconut cream was the only donut I thought had a nice flavor because of the cream, but somehow the dough part of the donut, which was probably quite good when it was hot out of the fryer, was sort of tasteless and a little too chewy at room temperature.

I went over to Donut Pub (203 W. 14th Ave), having heard that they had great apple fritters. The apple fritters were, in fact, not particularly good because the exterior was not crunchy. But, I thought Donut Pub had excellent old-fashioned glazed donuts. Exactly as a donut should be – crispy outside with lots of glaze, and a fluffy, moist cake interior that had a nice sweet taste apart from the glaze. To me, these donuts were MUCH better than Donut Plant and a lot less expensive (I think they were about $1.70 each). Another delicious surprise was something I’d never seen or heard of before called a Pom Pom – a glazed marble cake donut in the shape of those pull-apart monkey breads with a dollop of jam on top. I’m not a big fan of jam so I scraped it off, but the donut itself was yummy.

The chocolate chip walnut cookies at Levain Bakery met the hype. It was delicious – warm, soft, moist melty center and nicely crunchy on the outside. Also got the oatmeal raisin cookie, which was good but slightly bland. The cookies are extra thick - about 2 inches high. Be prepared, though, it’s a $4 cookie.

Savory

We went to dinner at Café Asean (117 W. 10th). The Sotong (salt and pepper fried calamari appetizer) was delicious. Perfectly crispy, made from fresh, tender, sweet squid. The Asian dipping sauce was delicious (probably fish sauce, lime, sugar, hot pepper among the ingredients). My main dish - monkfish and scallop in a coconut sauce - was pretty good but a little bland. My friend’s Panang curry clay pot special was delicious – the sauce had bold flavors complimenting the creaminess of the coconut milk. My other friend got the slow braised ribs, the sauce on which was also delicious. My sister got the chicken sautéed with vegetables, lemongrass and chilies. The sauce was very tasty but somehow the chicken itself didn’t absorb much of it and become that flavorful.

R.U.B. – Ordered burnt ends for take out at noon. Ate some of them outside the restaurant on the sidewalk while they were hot. Very tasty – smoky, rich, fatty. I preferred them plain rather than dipped in the BBQ sauce. A day later heated up in the toaster oven, they tasted still quite good.

Murray’s cheese shop’s egg sandwich melt was delicious. Smoky, greasy goodness. My only minor complaint is that the bacon (which tasted fantastic) was a little soggy/fatty. My sister’s bacon was crispy, so it seems like luck of the draw. I would have specified in my order to make it crispy had I known. The melts are only take out, as there’s nowhere to sit.

Whitefish salad – based on the board’s recommendations, I went to Barney Greengrass for whitefish salad. I found it to be good but not great. The fish was mild, almost sweet (in a good way) but the mayonaisey stuff surrounding it was flavored in a way that reminded me of sweet relish. Again, not bad but hard to believe it’s the best NYC has to offer. Since we were close to Zabars, I tried their “chunky whitefish salad” as well. The fish in this salad was smokier than BG’s and tasty, but the mayonnaise was not good. It was really, really heavy and had a taste that didn’t appeal. Perhaps I’m being too harsh because I’m comparing it to a fantastic whitefish salad in the Boston area (Maxie’s Deli in Stoughton. If you go, they get the fish from NYC on Fridays, then make it in house, and usually run out by Monday).

Bagels – my sister’s favorite bagels in the city are Brooklyn Bagel (286 8th Ave). I can’t say I’ve tried enough in the city to compare, but I agree they are fantastic. They have that perfect leathery exterior and dense (but not too dense) chewy interior. Our favorite flavor is the multigrain, which isn’t a usual favorite of mine elsewhere, but at Brooklyn Bagel, this flavor is absolutely delicious. The bagels are insanely and unnecessarily huge, but who’s complaining since the size does not detract from the quality.

Dec 18, 2012
debo in Manhattan

3 quick shout outs

I never noticed the seeds, but I do like the crust and feel it suits the toppings. Their verdure pizza with grilled baby artichokes, sautéed mushrooms of various varieties, and carmelized onions is also superb. They also have a salad with an excellent, unusual vinaigrette.

I agree it's expensive.. I wonder if the business can sustain those prices given that it's in Allston.
Karen

Sep 25, 2012
debo in Greater Boston Area

3 quick shout outs

I've been meaning to post about 3 fantastic items I've eaten recently.

1. The Uova pizza at Ecco pizzaria in Boston (http://eccopizzeria.com/). I got it as a 6' breakfast pizza and it was truly fantastic. A sunnyside up farm egg, fruitwood smoked uncured bacon (extraordinary) and some white sauce, all on a really good, chewy thin crust. The smell alone was intoxicating. It had people's head turning as I walked by.

2. The miso soup at Shiki in Coolidge Corner (http://shikibrookline.com/) Subtle, complex flavors and yet pure in it's simplicity. Delicious.

3. The corn bread with sweet butter at Trina's Starlight Lounge (http://trinastarlitelounge.com/). Until I tasted this, I had yet to find the perfect cornbread. It is so moist, the perfect degree of dense, the perfect amount of sweet (just a little). It's served warm with an ice cream scoop of melting sweet butter. While it is quite large, I had to have two. I wish I could get this recipe.

Enjoy!
Karen

Sep 25, 2012
debo in Greater Boston Area

Large group (35) seeking dinner in Chinatown (may need private room)

After a conference in downtown crossing, about 35 people hope to walk to chinatown for dinner.

We'll be having a speaker at dinner, so we'd like to have a space (private room?) where that person can be heard while also not bothering other patrons.

We are also seeking to keep costs down, so we're looking for mid-priced restaurants, and we're thinking a pre-set buffet might be easier than folks' ordering individually.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Karen

Oct 03, 2011
debo in Greater Boston Area

Anywhere in Boston to get a hamburger where they grind their own beef?

Four Burgers in Central Square. Excellent - great grilled flavor with a nice slightly salty exterior.

Feb 04, 2010
debo in Greater Boston Area

Great Cantonese in Palo Alto or Menlo Park?

Thanks to all of you for your helpful recommendations. I will direct them to my good friend on whose behalf I posted this question (she didn't yet have an account). In Boston, I'm a big fan of the Taiwan Cafe should any of you come to visit.
A quick reply to Melanie Wong that I have enjoyed the pleasure of contributing to the Boston board on numerous occasions.

Dec 20, 2009
debo in San Francisco Bay Area

Great Cantonese in Palo Alto or Menlo Park?

We're new to this area from the East Coast where Chinese food is amazing. Please help me find a great Cantonese restaurant in either Palo Alto or Menlo Park. A big plus if the Wanton soup is fantastic. Thanks.

Dec 19, 2009
debo in San Francisco Bay Area

Seeking fantastic boneless pork spareribs!

Folks, you all know how good - and bad - boneless pork spareribs can be. The great ones IMO are well coated with glaze and burnt/crispy. If I could, I'd get all end pieces.

I've also had terrible ones that are barely glazed and flabby.

Please direct me to fantastic boneless pork spareribs. I work near Chinatown, so that's more convenient, but I'll travel if they're worth it.

Thanks!
Karen

Sep 08, 2009
debo in Greater Boston Area

Dinner for 20 in Quincy? - preferably Buffet

I'm trying to find a place in Quincy to have dinner for a group of about 20 people (a few are vegetarians).

It'd be easiest if we could find a place that has a dinner buffet. A lot of the Chinese and Indian places mentioned on Chowhound have buffets only at lunchtime.

I did find Terra Brasil Steakhouse, which has a dinner buffet/BBQ. Has anyone eaten there and liked the food and atmosphere?

Your suggestions would be very helpful.

Thanks,
Karen

Apr 23, 2009
debo in Greater Boston Area

fabulous spiral ham?

Thanks for the suggestions. Since I won't be making it to a Costco/BJ/Sam's club anytime soon, I went online to check out Nueske and New Braunfels. Nueske was $50 for a 3-4 lbs petite ham (including shipping) while New Braunfels had a 32% off special - a 6-7lb half-ham for $50 (incl. shipping).

I decided to buy the New Braunfel. It's supposed to arrive Thursday, so I'll let you all know how it is.

Feb 16, 2009
debo in Greater Boston Area

fabulous spiral ham?

I love that spiral sliced, bone-in ham with the sweet glaze and smoked, lean quality meat. The only place I know that sells such hams is HoneyBaked Ham. Where else sells really good ones?

One time I went to Harvest Co-op in Cambridge and they had a great one in the prepared food section, but I've never seen it since. (This was ideal because I could buy the slices by the pound. I'd prefer not to buy a whole one because my husband is a vegetarian I could never finish it myself.)

Thanks.

Feb 16, 2009
debo in Greater Boston Area

Seeking nice cafe/breakfast near New Bedford

I'm meeting my friend from Providence along I-195 between Providence and Cape Cod. Anyone have suggestions for a good cafe/breakfast spot about halfway between? Towns around there are New Bedford, Mattapoisett, Fairhaven, Dartmouth. We'd like good food, but also care about the ambiance (no dives, thanks).

Jul 09, 2008
debo in All New England Archive

Fabulous Reuben at Johnnie's on the Side

I'm a big reuben fan and this was one of the best I've had. Thick cut, lean but not too lean corned beef with a nicely understated hint of clove on well-grilled but not too greasy dark rye. The flavors were great. If I could have changed one thing it would have been to make it messier by a little extra sauce and sauerkraut. Otherwise great. And, frankly, much better than Pops, which looked great but had a strange flavor - almost floral, like they added some odd spices that didn't work for me at all.

Jun 15, 2008
debo in Greater Boston Area

Phenomenal Bread Pudding at Oleanna

Apparently it's new-ish to the menu. Everyone always raves about the baked alaska, which I personally don't love. But the bread pudding was warm, creamy, and soft except a delectible butter generated crisp on the edges of the bread at the top. There was a caramel sauce over it, which seems like it would make it too sweet, but didn't. It came with mulberries, but to me they we mainly a distraction. My first bite of the pudding sent my taste buds in a tail spin and elicited a reflexive groan. $13 for a 3-inch diameter piece was pretty steep. But it was definitely the finest bread pudding I've ever tasted.

On a side note, the filet of sole entree was also absolutely delicious.

Mar 21, 2008
debo in Greater Boston Area

Help! Norwalk restaurant for Bridal luncheon?

I searched chowhound postings for Norwalk and found almost nothing suitable for a bridal luncheon (about 15 people). Meigas and Barcelona are a little too over-the-top for lunch. Is there a place with decent atmosphere and food in Norwalk?

Please help!

Jul 05, 2007
debo in General Tristate Archive

Decent chow for group near Bethesda Metro

We're a 15 person group looking for a decent meal walking distance from the Bethesda metro stop (at the Bethesda Hyatt). Entrees should be under $15. For this price, I'm not expecting excellence, but aren't there places with good food? Ethnic, American, anything.

Thanks!

Anybody like Beauty pizza in Cambridge?

We're tired of our local place and Beauty delivers. What do hounds think of it? If not Beauty, what pizza (other than Emmas) do folks like that delivers to Cambridgeport?

Jul 12, 2006
debo in Greater Boston Area