Monday, February 2, 2009

West Village Tour

Decided that on my free Saturday afternoon I would try to get done with a few items from the list. The six food items were beer, cupcake, pork pie, sliders, gelato, and sticky buns. Being that there were a number of dessert items, my friend and I began our journey at the Little Owl for our slider entrée. Having been told that the kitchen opens at 5:00pm, we decided to pick up a sticky bun for the road. To our disappointment, we were informed that sticky buns sell out at around noon. We tried calling the other Amy’s Bread locations and they told us the same thing. Looks like that’s one from the list we won’t be able to try. Time for a drink…

10. Blind Tiger Ale House
281 Bleecker St at Jones St

I had passed this bar constantly when I lived in the West Village but never went in for a drink. According to their website, Blind Tiger serves 28 different draught beers, over 50 bottled beers and a handful of cask beers. Looking over the draught list, I quickly realize that I’m not familiar with any of them, save for the Magic Hat # 9 and give them credit for hosting such a wide selection of unique beers. What I came here for though, was the Bloody Beer ($7.50), which is essentially a bloody mary with beer. Tomato juice, “secret spices”, and an ale that the bartender throws in are mixed together and garnished with celery, a pickle, a jalapeño and a cube of cheese from Murray’s across the street. I’m not a fan of bloody mary’s and was skeptical of the bloody beer but gave it a try. At first sip, I thought I liked it, as it was certainly not as tomato-y as a normal bloody mary and the malt from the beer gave the drink a nice finish. The problem for me was the spices. There was a lot going on already in the drink and the chunks of whatever spices they added floating created a pulp-like mixture that required a bit of chewing before going down. Despite my hesitance to leave some over considering I paid $7.50 for the drink, I left about half of it on the table. In all fairness, I think that if you like bloody mary’s and like them spicy, it is definitely worth looking into. If you don’t like it, Blind Tiger is ready with 28 draughts to keep you busy.

11. Sweet Revenge
62 Carmine Street between Bedford and 7th Ave

It was about 4:50pm and being that it was quite cold, we decided to stop by Sweet Revenge on the way back to the Little Owl. Sweet Revenge is a small bakery / lunch / breakfast spot with seating for 8-10 in café tables that are right on top of each other. I food menu is predominantly French, serving croque monsieur sandwiches, quiche and parisian sandwiches, but the cupcake display showcasing the freshly baked treats reminded us quickly why we came. We tried 3 different cupcakes (all $3.50 – not exactly a cheap snack).

The Crimson & Cream, suggested on the TONY list was by far my favorite. Raspberry red velvet cake topped with cream cheese frosting. I was skeptical at first since red velvet cake usually has a very heavy and intense flavor but the cake was moist and not too sweet. The cream cheese frosting was smooth, creamy and you could taste the cream cheese instead of just sugar like a lot of other places. The Dirty cupcake is chocolate cake with dark chocolate truffle frosting; moist with an intensely chocolate frosting. The Sweet Revenge signature cupcake is peanut butter cake, chocolate ganache filling and peanutbutter buttercream frosting. While the chocolate ganache didn’t really provide much of anything, the cupcake was by far the sweetest of the three and the peanutbutter buttercream was excellent. Other cupcakes to try include a Spice Islands Carrot and a Malaysian Coconut.

The one thing I will definitely mention is that service was incredibly slow. Granted that there were only 2 people working there and all of the tables were full, but the woman in line in front of us actually left before she could even order, complaining that she had waited long enough.

Further commentary on cupcakes vs. cakes

My belief is that a cupcake can be one of two things. Either it is its own dessert, with rules that define it as its own item, the texture of the cake and how it combines with the frosting, or it is a cake in cup shape. Crumbs, for example and for those who have been, is the latter type in that it is so complex in its fillings and toppings that it tastes like a slice of cake and in my head should be compared to other cakes. Magnolia is the former type, with a taste that is something different than just a slice of cake. Maybe I’m crazy, but cupcakes taste different than cakes (unless it’s just a cake in cup form). I have deemed that Sweet Revenge, despite its complexity is, in fact, a cupcake. Each of them was light, not too sweet and not messy at all. If in the area, I would have no reservations about coming here for dessert, despite the $3.50 price tag.

I would welcome any further commentary on the cake vs. cupcake question. I've received a few different perspectives from people at my office (they agree that cupcakes and cake are different) suggesting that Magnolia is more cake than cupcake (counter to my argument) and feel that cakes are moist and cupcakes have a firmer base. Thoughts?

12. the Little Owl
90 Bedford Street at Grove

5:10pm and we return to the Little Owl. Having told the wait staff what our plan was earlier, we were seated at the bar, tasked to sample one item only, the meatball sliders. Coming 3 or 4 to an order, the Gravy Meatball Sliders ($10 for 3) are meatballs made of beef, pork, and veal blended with pecorino cheese, topped with some marinara sauce, a slice of arugula and served on small buns freshly made in the restaurant’s oven. The meatballs are juicy and tender and the pecorino cheese adds a slight sharpness to each bite. For those eating dinner, I would say it’s a must have appetizer. Alternatively, I think that if you’re looking for a smaller dinner, just sit at the bar, order the sliders, have some bread at the table and you’ll be entirely satisfied. The restaurant has been given considerable accolades from restaurant critics and reservations are strongly suggested for lunch, brunch and dinner. Little Owl also serves a burger during lunch and brunch using La Frieda meat, which I will definitely be coming back to sample.

13. Myers of Keswick
634 Hudson Street between Horatio and Jane

Heading north, we ducked into Myers of Keswick, a British bakery and convenience store selling all different kinds of pies, snacks and packaged goods from England. They have a website where you can order items for delivery and have some pictures of the store to check out. We ordered some pork pies ($3.00) and a Scottish egg ($3.00) to go. The owner told us that most people eat the pies cold but we could heat them up and that the Scottish egg is eaten cold. The crust of the pork pie tasted like it was freshly made. The pork filling was basically ground pork sausage, which when eaten cold made me feel slightly disgusting since I could basically feel the fat filling my arteries. I had to heat it up. A few seconds in the microwave made all the difference for me. The warm crust and the sausage were excellent. It’s too big to be a snack and probably too small to be lunch, but splitting 3 of them is something I can definitely see myself doing. I was excited for the Scottish egg after having such a good experience at JoeDoe but it was just the same pork filling from the pork pie covering a hardboiled egg. Nothing special about it and since it’s the same price I’ll stick to the pork pies.

75 9th Avenue (Chelsea Market)

We were a bit confused about this one, as its part of the list and yet the people that work there claim that they don’t sell gelato. Perhaps this is a seasonal item? At any rate, we will definitely return when the weather gets nicer. Meanwhile, something to satisfy the craving for ice cream…

Ronnybrook Farms Dairy
75 9th Avenue (Chelsea Market)

Tucked away among a number of ice cream / gelato places in Chelsea Market is Ronnybrook Farms Dairy, the only permanent NYC outpost selling products from the farm. Ronnybrook sells yogurt, milk and other dairy products at a number of green markets throughout the city but for ice cream, you have to go to the store in Chelsea Market. I went for two scoops; one pistachio and one chocolate ($3.50), which is not cheap but they do sell a children’s size for much less if you ask for it and is plenty of ice cream. The ice cream is fresh, full of flavor and very refreshing (it surprisingly did not leave me incredibly thirsty as ice cream tends to do). If you're in the area, or just want to explore Chelsea Piers, I would make a point of trying Ronnybrook before leaving.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good afternoon. Post a review of Le Cirque!