Duck meatloaf, pork galbi, and more
The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.
Chef Edie Ugot worked with April Bloomfield at the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, and it shows in her epic lamb burger at Sidney’s Five in the East Village, where she is also one of four partners. Cooked between rare and medium-rare, the meat shines with juice and flavor — you’ll know right away you’re eating lamb and not beef ($23). A very mild gouda sits meltingly on top along with red onions. There’s also a dab of mint jelly, but I’d ask the cook to skip it — the lamb burger is better without. Fries come alongside; they are good, too. 103 First Avenue, between East Sixth and Seventh streets, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
The owner of this Haitian restaurant in Crown Heights recommended I order the fried chicken, bobbing with bits of stewed okra and collagen (around $15). After spooning a few bites into my mouth, a diner to my left had another recommendation: The dish tastes better when heaped over the mound of rice with beans that comes with dinners here, he said. Not possible, I thought, before tasting the holy trinity of fried chicken and carbs with a dab of pikliz (a Scotch bonnet relish that’s not messing around). It set my taste buds aflame, and earned its place on our guide to the best restaurants in Crown Heights in the process. 294 Rogers Avenue, near Crown Street, Crown Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter
I recently got back to Pastis for a light bite at the bar. That is to say, I had a daiquiri, a few snails, a steak au poivre, and a chilled gin martini. The room glowed like a vintage photograph, filled with weekend revelers, and the kitchen sent out top notch brasserie fare. My steak au poivre ($51) was the expected highlight: a filet that exhibited a subtly caramelized char with a perfect medium-rare interior. The au poivre sauce, in turn, smacked of cream, cognac, and cracked peppercorns; it came in sufficient quantities to allow me to dredge every single golden fry I had at my disposal through it. After a long week, this was a very nice and indulgent little snack. 52 Gansevoort Street, near Greenwich Street, Meatpacking District — Ryan Sutton, chief critic
About once a year, usually around the time when falls edges closer to winter, I cobble together a Heinz ketchup-glazed meatloaf to pop into my oven. At the newly opened Jack and Charlie’s No. 188, chef Ed Cotton’s bone-in duck meatloaf ($38) is the complete opposite. It’s not economical or one of those classic quick-hit recipes that could feed several families and is great as leftovers. A single large orb that looks more like a meatball than a log of meatloaf arrives on a plate with fig jus and Chinese broccoli with a side of buttery, whipped mashed potatoes. It’s just as comforting as the humble home cook’s version, even if duck meat, which is perfectly tender, is swapped in for the pantry staples you could find in a recent college grad’s kitchen. I’ll leave this gourmet take on one of my favorite cold-weather dishes to the pros and come back this winter no doubt. 118 Greenwich Avenue, at West 13th Street, West Village — Bao Ong, editor
Co-owner Jee Kim told me that they waited for months to be able to get their hands on this pork for 8282’s opening menu, and, wow, was it worth the wait. The grilled slices of meat ($22) were melt-in-my-mouth tender, and pulled apart at the touch of a fork. I would have been happy with the pork alone, but the plate’s accompanying components — a thick dollop of spicy ssamjang and stalks of roasted broccolini drizzled in a red pepper vinaigrette — rounded out each forkful in a super satisfying way. My friend and I refused to let the dish be cleared until we had eaten every last bit of food on the plate. 84 Stanton Street, near Allen Street, Lower East Side — Erika Adams, deputy editor
I’m not super familiar with Persian cuisine, but I knew I wanted to explore it more after visiting Sofreh. At this cozy, welcoming spot in Prospect Heights, I feasted on incredible dishes like meaty kofteh with flavorful tomato saffron broth and roasted cauliflower on top of savory, shallot yogurt. But the standout of the night was their lamb shank ($36), a visually-striking hunk of meat with a bone attached. When I cut it open, the irresistible aroma of lamb hit my nose, and the meat fell off the bones with no effort. The lamb had a nice char outside, creating a slightly crispy texture, while the inside was incredibly tender. I layered all the components — dill and dried lime broth, butter beans, crisp shallots, and the meat — on top of their exceptional bread to create the best bite of the night. 75 St. Marks Avenue, near Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights — James Park, content strategist
I spent a lot of time in my home neighborhood this past week, eating my way across the sometimes-lackluster Prospect Heights in search of its best restaurants. On the recommendation of our friends at the Infatuation, I found myself standing toward the back of El Gran Castillo de Jagua, an unassuming Flatbush Avenue restaurant where lunch is as much a draw as the lunch crowd. Ogling steam trays of rotisserie chicken, a hipster to my left demanded another scoop of maduros; behind me, a woman shouted for a squeeze of lemon over her pernil, even though it wasn’t yet her turn. The employees pretended not to hear, but I listened, showering a portion of my takeout container — beans, yellow rice, extra plantains, and chicken ($9) — in lemon for a lunch that filled me up without weighing me down. 355 Flatbush Avenue, between Sterling and Park places, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter
We’ve been focusing our attention maybe too much on birria lately, considering that tacos al pastor are often even better and more apropos to the Pueblan immigrants who revitalized our Mexican food scene. The best I’ve had lately was from a cart parked right in front of Jackson Heights’s 74th Street subway and bus station. The tacos ($3 each, two for $5) are carved from a giant, red, downward-tapered vertical spit, and the pork is juicy and tasting of its pineapple marinade. In fact, shards of pineapple are tossed on top as the thing is assembled, also adding chopped onion and cilantro, taco guac (a thinner version made for squirting), and fiery salsa verde, which the taquera applies with a restrained hand unless you say otherwise. Roosevelt Avenue, between 74th and 75th Streets, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
One of my favorite Sutton Saturday traditions is to drop by a local bakery to scarf down three slices of pizza and a pastry before taking a long bike ride up the Hudson. Often, that bakery is Sullivan Street in Hell’s Kitchen, whose tomato slices I’ve waxed poetic about in years past. But so it happens that during the fall, Jim Lahey’s fine institution sells an excellent schiacciata d’uva, an Italian classic typically made during that country’s annual vendage, or grape harvest. Staffers bake focaccia with plump crushed grapes and a scattering of anise seeds, resulting in a slice that’s feathery and burnished in some parts, and soft and eggy in other parts, especially where the fruit has spilled its sweet, fragrant pulp. The anise seeds, in turn, imbue everything with a pleasant licorice perfume. If only this was available throughout the year. 533 West 47th Street, near 11th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic
I was late to the party to check out CheLi in the East Village after reading our senior critic Robert Sietsema’s first look earlier this year, but I fell for this Shanghainese restaurant the moment I walked in. The downtown location — which also received a glowing Times review last month — is often packed, so I made a point to check out the newly opened Flushing location for my second visit. It didn’t disappoint. Exhibit A: an eye-catching bowl of pu’erh tea-soaked rice topped with sea urchin ($16). There was nothing overpowering in this dish, even if it tasted like each grain of rice had been steeped with the fermented tea. My friend and I made sure each spoonful included some tea and a bite of uni or fish roe for a touch of salty ocean water. We would’ve ordered another serving if the other dishes, including a braised pork belly, weren’t so good. 133-42 39th Avenue, between Prince Street and College Point Boulevard, Flushing — Bao Ong, editor
Before stepping inside Cha Kee, I had already made up my mind that I needed to order the dan dan noodles— I’ve been thinking about it ever since a photo of the noodles ran at the top of our openings coverage — and it turned out to be the runaway hit of my meal there over the weekend. This bowl is full of fireworks: minced pork tossed in a tingly sesame sauce collide with ramen noodles and a softly poached Japanese onsen egg that we mixed into the dish at the table. Bathed in the yolk, the noodles turned rich and luscious, transforming into a worthy companion for the meaty bits of pork and mouth-numbing spicy sauce coating the bowl. 43 Mott Street, near Pell Street, Chinatown — Erika Adams, deputy editor
Named after her mother and grandmother, Ethel & Annie Mae’s was founded by veteran chef Danielle Moore in Crown Heights earlier this year. Besides a specialty in baked goods like pineapple upside down cake and banana pudding, she defines soul food as broadly as possible (her slogan is, “We bring soul to food.”). Sure, there’s an ample fried chicken sandwich, fried porgy, and chicken wings with a number of glazes and sauces, but you’ll also find on the rotating menu Jamaican coconut rice and peas, and a New Orleans shrimp po’ boy. The dish that really caught my attention was a lamb burger with a thick sear on either side of the patty, decorated with leaf lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickles, and a garlicky yogurt sauce that spilled over the sides. The burger ($15) was served with skin-on steak fries to be dipped in a choice of sauces. 497 Albany Avenue, at Lefferts Avenue, Crown Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
A single, exposed light bulb hangs from this Prospect Heights food cart, but most days it doesn’t get the chance to shine in the dark. Everything — tamales, empanadas, flan — sells out within a few hours, the cart’s owner tells me upon ordering. A few forkfuls of masa taught me why. The tamales, more cubic than I’m used to, were well-distributed with pulled chicken (right) and pork, kept moist with those meats’ red and green sauces ($3.50). Add a splash of fiery salsa verde, available in plastic cups upon request, and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t order more than two. The cart appears in front of Central Library, or thereabouts, around 1 p.m. on Sundays, and earlier on Saturdays to catch some of the crowds at the Prospect Park farmers market nearby. 10 Grand Army Plaza, or thereabouts, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter
This week, I checked out a new cocktail bar called Masquerade in the former Trophy Bar space. The lively spot offers cocktails — using ingredients like orange blossom, saffron, and lavashak — as well as Persian bar snacks such as marinated olives with pomegranate molasses, mint, and crushed walnuts and a beet yogurt dip with rose petals. My favorite bite was the kookoo ($12) — the menu’s most hearty option — made with parsley, fenugreek, coriander, dill, garlic, turmeric, onion, pomegranate molasses, barbaries, walnut, and egg, which is kind of like a super herbaceous frittata. 351 Broadway, at Keap Street, Williamsburg — Emma Orlow, reporter
Before the pandemic, one of my favorite activities involved Citibiking over to a bar, grabbing a Cuban sandwich or a burger, and watching the big game. Naturally, COVID-19 put a crimp on hanging out inside drinking establishments for a few hours at a time, and one of the top places for doing all of this, P.J. Clarke’s at Lincoln Center, was temporarily closed for much of the past year. But the good news is that P.J.’s is back open, albeit with more limited operating hours, and the televisions are back on. And venue’s famed Cadillac burger and fries are still a fantastic combo. The burger is everything one might expect: melty cheese, salty bacon, and a juicy, medium-rare patty. The fries, in turn, are golden and crisp. I devoured everything on a recent Friday while watching the Braves and the Astros battle it out in the World Series, and I’ll likely be there again if it goes to a game seven. 44 West 63rd Street, at Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic
I was prepared to have a solid-yet-predictable meal at Dagon, the new-ish UWS Mediterranean spot owned in part by the guy behind middle-of-the-road Midtown spots like L’Express and Five Napkin Burger. And then we ordered the chicken liver mousse ($10). It was smooth and creamy — non-negotiable requirements for a chicken liver mousse — but what really set this apart was the date syrup pooled in the bottom of the serving bowl. Mixed together, the rich mousse became sweet in an unexpected, highly enjoyable way. We didn’t stop dipping bread into it until the bowl was clean. 2454 Broadway, at West 91st Street, Upper West Side — Erika Adams, deputy editor
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