Not all of our time in New York was spent marveling at the largesse of things. Plenty of time was dedicated to pursuits and food that had a bit of style.
There was the Kandinsky exhibition at the Guggenheim
The Bauhaus collection
Some extraordinary modern and contemporary art at MoMA
And of course, some great food. New York has long been famous for its pizza. What gets served has changed quite a bit over recent times with a bit of a pizza revolution occurring and a strong focus on the traditional styles and methods.
After reading an article about it I decided we had to go to Keste.
The name means ‘this is it’, and if they were referring to good pizza then they were on the money. Its a small place in the West Village and doesn’t take bookings. Fortunately the day we went for lunch we were able to get a table with no wait. The place is small and a little cramped, but you get used to that in New York.
Still recovering from some of our ‘big’ dining experiences we thought we’d take it easy and shared a salad, Insalata Fresca, for entree. I wasn’t able to find out what balsamic they used, but it was a perfect balance between sweet and sharp.
And a pizza for main.
Padrino – tomatoes, caciocavallo ragusano, soppressata, gaeta olives, basil, extra virgin olive oil.
This was a great example of a Neapolitan style pizza (and yes, I have been to Naples). The crust was crispy on the outside and maintained a slightly chewy texture on the inside. It held the ingredients well. The cheese – caciocavallo ragusano – is a spun curd raw cow’s milk cheese that will compare well against any good mozzarella.
Now, I should correct myself. An entree isn’t called an entree in the USA. Its called an Appetiser. An Entree is actually a Main. Yes. I know. Confusing.
One of our favourite finds was a hotdog place. No confusion about entrees or appetisers here! However, these are not your average hotdogs by any means, they are ‘a gourmet sausage system’.
Dogmatic is located just off bustling Union Square and is basically a street vendor inside a small shop front. The interior is well designed, bright and airy with loads of New York style and has a large communal table as the central fixture. It makes staying in to eat your dog a comfortable option. What is great about them is the produce and the way it is all packaged. Sustainable farms provide the grass-fed or free range meat that makes up these tasty snags which are grilled to order and served in deliciously chewy artisanal bread rolls that are toasted from the inside out on long metal spikes.
First you choose your sausage ($4.50):
Beef, Chicken, Pork, Turkey, Lamb or Asparagus (clearly not a sausage as they point out on the menu)
Then you choose your homemade sauce:
Cheddar Jalapeno, Horseradish Mustard, Truffle Gruyere, Chimichurri, Sun Dried Tomato Feta, or Mint Yoghurt
Then you pick a side and choose a flavour for the home made organic soda.
I had pork with cheddar jalapeno and the beloved had beef with truffle gruyere, mac & cheese and a grape soda. They took under 5 minutes to be served to us, with the sausages in cute heat-saving bags.
We both loved our sausages and the mac & cheese was a nice change from the typical side of fries. The grape soda was a bit of a let down, it just didn’t have a good flavour or fizz. I don’t eat a lot of hotdogs or sausages but I would love these guys to open in Australia.
Not all of our dining was done during the day of course, we had some lovely dinners during our time here.
One of those was at Asia de Cuba, at the Morgan Hotel on Madison Ave, and apparently once one of New York’s most ‘perennially hip’ restaurants (according to nymag). The uber cool staff that greeted us at the door (made me wonder if we were walking into a fashion show not a restaurant), Phillippe Starck interior, and a club-like feel showed the reasons why it earned that moniker but these days its gets some mixed reviews. Notwithstanding, we enjoyed our dining experience there. The music could be considered too loud for some, it’s not the sort of place to go if you want a quiet romantic dinner, but it didn’t bother us. The service was friendly, knowledgable and professional. The food is a fusion of Asian and Latin and is geared around sharing. There were quite a lot of things on the menu that we would have been happy to eat but, still wary of the size of serves, we went with two appetisers, on entree and a side. It ended up being about right.
BEEF DUMPLINGS TWO WAYS
Crispy with plum sauce and Steamed with coconut rice and mango ponzu 19.50
I loved the texture of the steamed dumpling but the beloved was taken by the crispy.
Jicama, mango, green apple and mirin infused slaw, roasted red pepper remoulade, chilli ponzu dipping sauce 27.00
This was a really nice appetiser. The combination of croqueta, slaw and remoulade produced great flavours. Very filling though.
MISO CURED ALASKAN BLACK COD
Cuban black bean and edamame salad, tempura shisito peppers 38.00
PLANTAIN FRIED RICE WITH AVOCADO SALAD 12.00
The lighting is very very low here so I didn’t take many photos, and what I did take required significant adjustment. Only the miso cured cod has made it – and I still offer profuse apologies for the poor quality.
We also had a really enjoyable Italian dinner at a small trattoria in Greenwich Village and a gilt with gold Chinese banquet at an over the top Art Deco Chinese restaurant. No photos from either occasion I am sorry to say. I was too busy eating when we had Italian (I still remember the sensational stuffed mushrooms) and was a bit too scared to at Mr K’s Chinese. I am sure they would have frowned upon it. Their food was not too bad, but the night was soured when they told up we didn’t leave a big enough gratuity. We had settled the bill (or as they would say, check) and were literally on our way out when the Maitre d’ came and most ungraciously and abruptly stopped us. According to him anything under 20% is just not enough these days. We disagreed. Particularly since had spoken to them a few times throughout the meal about the level and type of service we were receiving. To avoid what was fast becoming an ugly scene we begrudgingly gave in.
It is one place that could learn a thing or two about style.