Location: 85 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 11211
The problem with enjoying food too much and talking about the great places to eat all the time is that it can come back to bite you sometimes. I’ve had a few situations where people were bitter that what I recommended was not that great or that I suggest a restaurant that I cherish and they come back to tell me that it was sub-par. So, I’ve come to love nights when a friend suggests a spot to eat that’s on my “places to eat” list and I have no pressure but, to show up and enjoy my personal meal. In the case of Diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that was exactly the case. My roommate, the last person I would think to suggest such a place invited me out to dinner with couple of other friends to this classic restaurant Under the Williamsburg bridge.
To preface, I’ve been keeping track of the best meals I’ve had each year I’ve been in NYC and it goes as follows:
2008- Momofuku Ko
2009- Blue Hill at Stone Barns
I have to say as of now for 2010, my best meal is at Diner. Don’t worry this is not some crappy diner you find in NJ or Queens but, the name only comes from the fact that they’ve converted an old Diner car into a restaurant which alone made the dining experience unique. Other interesting things about the restaurant is that they have a rotating menu depending on what the in season ingredients are and the staff will come over to scribble the menu items and specials directly on the table. The website has a full list of the specials for those guilty of needing to know exactly what they want to order before they go to the restaurant.
Our meal started off with some microbrews and cocktails and we didn’t feel any pressure to order quickly even though the restaurant was starting to fill up. Our appetizer of spinach salad tasted fresh and some unique flavors to the dressing. For the main courses we ordered a grilled salmon, the house burger, and my favorite the curry mussels. Everything was great and flavorful but, SERIOUSLY my curry mussels were out of this world. I never really associated curry with seafood but, the fact that they made this seafood concoction with these ingredients made my taste buds rejoice with joy that it was there that day eating that dish.
I didn’t leave a single drop in that bowl and I could’ve eaten so much more but, I was in a good place. We ended with a magnificent strawberry rhubarb cobbler w/ vanilla whipped cream a great topping to one of the best dishes/meals I’ve had in a while.
It sounds almost too simple to be the best meal of 2010 but, I think the music playing in the background helped and of course the good conversation at the table makes any meal a little bit better. Let me see if my hungry stomach leads me to a better meal than this for this year.
Location: 116 East 16th Street (Btw Park Ave & Irving Pl.)
Price: $13 for burger & beer combo
So the quest for perfect burger never seems to stop in this crazy city. Seems like there’s a new great burger waiting to come out every other month to reign supreme. Although I have yet to claim my personal thoughts on the best burger in the city and yet still many more burger to try (Luger’s, Bill’s, Little Owl, etc etc) I had to knock off one place on my list: Irving Mill. I heard about their Monday $13 burger & beer combo a while back and was waiting to go on a particularly miserable Monday to cheer me up. The restaurant is very nice on the inside with dim lights, nice interior finishes, & ample seating everywhere. There is bar seating which is bonus for quick bite and the bar had a nice selection of draft beer for our combo. Mike, they have Palm Ale. I got the mother’s milk stout beer which was like a “better” Guinness.
When the burger came out, I was particularly distraught by the small size of the burger but, the patty did look fairly thick. I was warned that their burgers come out a littler rarer than what you order but, I still stuck with medium. The burger in its first bite was delightful flavor that I expect in any quality burger and was quite juicy. The flavors were not too heavy and not too overpowering but, just right for the burger that it is. The potato roll bun was simple but, perfect to bring out the subtle flavors of the burger… a great choice. The fries were nothing to celebrate over but, it did get the job done. Overall, a great package, nice meal for the price, & considering Irving Mill’s proximity to my apartment, its going to make my Mondays something to look forward to.
Location: 366 Columbus Ave & Madison Sq. Park
Sometimes we’re so accustomed to getting the same thing at a food joint we overlook the fact there may be something far greater and tastier on the menu. For example, my experience at a Mediterranean restaurant called Pita Inn located on the Northside of Chicago. I had gotten the combo meal every time from high school to early college. It wasn’t until my higher education kicked in and decided to try the chicken shawarma that my life swiftly changed with each bite of that yellow chicken…well sort of changed. I never looked back and I’ve been getting the same crazy yellow chicken shawarma everytime I go back to Pita Inn.
I feel like this could be the case at Shake Shack, the darling burger joint to which every New Yorker gladly will wait 30mins to an hour in line to get their food. I recently realize that people over often go for the Shack burger and overlook the mutated shack burger which births a portabella mushroom deep fried and injected with cheese called the Shack Stack. This burger which recently changed its name from the former name “Double Stack”, adds an entirely different dimension (size & flavor) to the burger experience at Shake Shack. If you’ve tried both then, you know what I’m talking about…but, if you have not then, please deviate from your routine and try it out. Your life might change…sort of.
Random last note: The delicious Cranberry Cinnamon frozen custard almost tastes like strawberry flavor.