It’s been our own version of restaurant week in this household lately! Starting things off was dinner at Juniors Cheesecake, an institution in Brooklyn famous for, obviously, their cheesecake. But let me tell you…the portions were anything but junior!
We arrived with our wonderful cousin, a regular at this restaurant. When seated, you are served a plate of really moist cornbread, rolls, and the traditional fixings of a good Jewish style diner…coleslaw, beets, and pickles. We started with a bowl of pea soup, and by bowl I mean a ginormous bucket sized bowl of the thickest pea soup I’ve ever eaten. It was quite good but I was already full…with a main course and cheesecake still on it’s way!
I was actually pleasantly surprised with my meal, the salmon was perfectly cooked and the collard greens were soaked in so much butter…which was not a bad thing in this situation. By the end, it looked like Adam hadn’t eaten any of the eggplant! This dinner actually gave us 3 full meals!
The star of the show, really was the best cheesecake I’ve ever had (yes, it was featured on my fave show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate) and definitely topped another cheesecake restaurant that shall remain nameless. Perfectly creamy, dense, and surprisingly light…this portion of the meal we had no problem polishing off!
On Thursday, our very good friends, Lauren and Lorne arrived in NY. I promised to show them the best food this city has to offer, and I think I succeeded! (minus one chocolate cookie episode that we won’t speak of ever again!) To start things off, we went for dinner with another couple friend to Caracas Arepas in the LES. After waiting an hour to be seated, we were hungry and ready for Arepas…which are basically corncake sandwiches.
We started with the fried plantains with cheese and guacamole with homemade chips. The plantains were so good…kind of like sweet, fried bananas with salty cheese, it was quite a good combo. And the chips were addictive!
Adam and I shared three vegetarian arepas…our favorite was definitely La Muleta: Spicy cheese, beans, jalapenos, and plantains. But all were so good! Very unique and affordable dinner, enjoyed by our whole group! Another excellent thing about this restaurant is its convenient location right next to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop! On my last visit I went with the Salty Pimp and this time, the Bea Arthur. Vanilla cone, covered with dulche de leche and topped with vanilla wafer cookies. The best part were the cookies at the bottom of the cone… a very nice surprise!
Dinner #2 started with happy hour at The Vanderbilt. A friend had introduced me to the worlds best bar snack…brussels sprouts! I know what you’re thinking…but trust me when I say, these will dispel any of your brussels sprouts fear. If you could only see Lauren’s face when she had her first bite!
Lightly fried and topped with a mixture of siracha, honey, sesame seeds, cilantro, garlic, and lime…as Lorne said, they’d make the perfect football watching snack! The main event for the evening was pizza at Pauli Gee’s in Greenpoint. We were all expecting a very casual restaurant with a 2 hour wait, but were pleasantly surprised when we were seated right away in a very cozy booth.
We started things off with a fabulous salad filled with pears, candied walnuts, dried cherries, and gorgonzola. After perusing the very long and interesting sounding pizza menu and staring at the huge brick oven, Lauren and I decided to make the most of this dining experience and share two pizzas.
Now I’m normally all about the green pizzas…and don’t get me wrong, the arugula pizza was very good. But honestly, the hellboy (love the name!) was, dare I say, the best pizza I’ve ever had. It was all about the combination of salty fiore di latte cheese, sweet tomato sauce, spicy and fatty sopressata, and Mike’s Hot Honey (sweet honey with chilis and vinegar). Lorne also ordered this pizza and also agreed it was the best pie he’s ever had.
Adam is a more traditional man and went with the tried and true margarita. It was good, but definitely the thing to get at Pauli Gee’s is one of the very interesting pizza’s with the amazing honey on it. Pauli Gee himself even told us he was not such a fan of the traditionals.
You would probably think after eating our weight in pizza we would be full. But there was another ice cream place I had to take my friends too. I’ve already blogged about Ample Hill Creamery and with new seasonal flavors, they again did not disappoint. I went with the pumpkin ice cream filled with graham cracker crust pieces and marshmallow. Lauren’s cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal cookie dough pieces was also delicious. Lorne went the more classic route with cookies and cream and Adam chose a family favorite, butter cake. A perfect end to a pizza dinner!
With one dinner left, dare I say, we saved the best for last. I had never heard of Yerba Buena, a Spanish/Latin/Brazillian restaurant recommended by Lauren’s brother. Lorne’s sister and husband joined us on our last eating adventure and we all enjoyed the guacamole to start.
It had a nice smokey kick from the chipotle peppers, something I will definitely be adding to my tried and true guac recipe. Adam and I shared two apps:
Wow! The fish tacos were perfectly fried and topped with a creamy, spicy sauce. The ceviche had the freshest hamachi mixed with citrus, onions, coconut milk and crunchy corn chips that definitely made this dish. Another app shared at the table was blue cornmeal crusted, fried calamari which my friends kindly let me try…trust me, if you ordered this dish, you would have been reluctant to share!
Once I saw the cod go by our table, I knew that was what I was ordering. My favorite new ingredient is this hominy…basically corn on steroids it has such a nice chewy texture.
YB’s take on paella was also a table favorite. Mixed with coconut milk, plenty of fresh seafood, okra and rice, you can see why it is a house specialty. Now…being in the LES, we felt we really would be missing out if we didn’t head back to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop just one more time. And thank g-d we did because I discovered my new favorite food item in the world…The Biscoff Spread. Now, like you, I had no idea what this was. But the friendly staff at Big Gay raved about this and even gave me a giant spoonful to try. After one lick, Lauren and I looked at eachother, and we wanted just a tub and giant spoon of this sweet, caramelized, spread that is actually made out of the same ingredients in graham crackers. I took the staff’s advice and went for the traditional salty pimp lined with Biscoff…I now want to put Biscoff spread on everything (you may see some Biscoff coated chicken in the future!)
Wooweee…I think that was the best weekend of eating I’ve had since moving here. And so happy to be able to share it with Lauren and Lorne, who were amazing guests and can hold their own when it comes to eating through NYC!!! Come back and visit us soon PLEASE! I think we are all thinking we need some good home-cooking and fresh vegetables in the near future! This morning I went on my last long run before the marathon (we’re 2 weeks away!) and it went pretty well…must be all that ice cream!