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Tag: LES

Alder

More casual-ish offshoot of WD-50, located in the Lower East Side.

What We Had

Like WD-50, the menu at Alder is arranged from smaller dishes to larger dishes and sharing is encouraged.

Smaller Dishes

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Foie gras with pumpkin pie taste, pomegranate jam, maple flakes and cookie crostini — This dish was the first we had and really kicked the meal off properly. Just rich and luxurious enough for foie, with pretty much the essence of fall right there.

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Scotch quail eggs with onion marmalade and arugula — And now I’m spoiled on Scotch eggs forever. Yum.

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Pigs in a blanket – Chinese style duck and pork sausage with Japanese wasabi mustard and sweet chili sauce — I, for some unknown reason, wasn’t expecting much from this dish. I’m happy to say that I was woefully wrong.

Pickled Beets with clouds of coconut ricotta and crunchy Thai basil — Holy wtf. Fan. Freakin. Tastic, and the perfect mid-meal veggie.

Larger Dishes

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Day boat scallops with delicate little hushpuppies, Swiss chard wrap, and fresh kimchi — prefect scallops, little puppie pillows, and some nice little texture going on there.

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Tongue with smoked yucca fritter, pickled cippolini onions, and chimichurri dashi — if tongue could ever be considered sexy, it would be because of this dish. Luxurious and velvety meat tangle with some nice back bone from the fritter and a delicate broth.

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Root beer pudding with smoked cashews — this was so good it made me angry. I kind of had my way with it.

Our food was unreasonably good. I could be redundant and say each and every dish was Amazeballs, but suffice it to say – they all were, and sadly it’s unreasonable to expect every meal to be this fabulous.

My DH had the Reserve Special Black Ale and I had the Doc something to drink. Both very tasty.

Decor

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Modern and cool with slates and woods.

Service

Stellar.

Overall Impressions

There was no doubt that we were going to love this place. We love WD-50, and Alder was no disappointment.

Rating

5 out of 5 for unreasonably good food in a great atmosphere.

Umami Burger

NYC outcrop of a popular California chain.

What We Had

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I had The Original – Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions & house ketchup – cooked medium-rare with no bun.

I also had an order of sweet potato fries with signature sweet salt (brown sugar salt).

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My DH had the Manly Burger – Beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked salt onion rings, house ketchup & mustard spread cooked medium-rare on a bun.

He also had thin fries (plain).

OMFG amazing. Definitely in our top 5 favorite burgers ever.. And that sweet salt … That sweet salt on the sweet potato fries with the diablo or jalapeƱo ranch sauce – I heard a heavenly chorus. The meat was great – the burger had a perfect hard sear while retaining lots of juice and perfect doneness – and the toppings were all placed in service to umami. Truly fantastic.

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Decor

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Built for mass traffic with durable slate floors, commercial seating and an open floor plan.

Service

We visited on a Saturday around lunch and there was a 10-15 minute wait presided over by an iPad equipped hostess who seemed to be on top of things.

Our server seemed to be operating in a general state of confusion, but still managed to deliver our meals quickly.

Overall Impressions

Zomfg, where have you been all my life? We need to go back soon and often.

Rating

5 out of 5 for a nearly perfect meal. It’s not cheap as burgers go, but it’s worth it – and has officially unseated shake shack as my DH’s favorite burger place burger.

Yuji Ramen Test Kitchen – Whole Foods

Inside Whole Foods Bowery

What We Had

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I had the bacon & egg mazeman (no broth) ramen with smoky bacon, poached egg & kale. This dish was fantastic. Chewy thick noodles, high quality bacon, crispy kale and silky egg. Crazy good.

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My DH had the daily Shoyu ramen with pork confit – also fabulous. Rich and luxurious beef broth with nice pork and chewy thin noodles.

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Both came with with pickled market vegetables and barley tea.

Decor

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Nice counter but you’re still inside Whole Foods.

Service

Order at the counter service from friendly staff.

Overall Impressions

A great find. I had eaten a few bites of Yuji Ramen at Smorgasburg, and it was delicious. It’s nice to know this little popup is delicious as well. I can’t wait until the permanent shop opens. In the meantime, Yuji does Omikase tasting nights for a reasonable price. More information can be had if you sign up for the email list.

Rating

4 to 4.5 out of 5, but only because its in a grocery store food court. The food was really stellar.

Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue

Long-awaited brick and mortar location of a Smorgasburg favorite.

What We Had

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Brisket – Quite possibly the best in town.
Pulled Pork – Also fantastic.
Vinegar-based Slaw – Great crunch; nice and fresh bite to cut the smoke and fat.
Pickled Chilies & Onions – Genius accompaniment.
Pea & Edamame Salad – Nice bright refresher and the perfect Spring side.
Burnt End Baked Beans – Smoky, velvety and full of meat – just how beans should be.

Decor

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Open & breezy with lots of blacks, metal and wood. Great music.

Service

Order at the counter.

Overall Impressions

Fantastic. Stellar meat, really great sides, beer, *and* they’ll be adding fries to the menu soon. Win.

Rating

5 out of 5 for outstanding BBQ.

The current BBQ ranking lineup: The brisket here surpasses Fletcher’s, making it our favorite in town. The pork is almost as good as Fette Sau. If you figure in the killer sides & pickled veg, Mighty Quinn edges it out to become our favorite overall BBQ joint. Fette Sau is still, technically, our favorite pork place – if only for the vinegar-based sauce.

Mission Chinese

Much lauded by chefs American Chinese restaurant in the LES.

What We Had

Thrice Cooked Bacon – This dish was bizarre. We’re not sure what to make of it – mouths felt buzzy from spice, like pop rocks. Crazy salty.

Our palates were bewildered. Strangest dish either of us had ever had, and that’s saying something.

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Ma Po Tofu – The tofu was silky and luxurious. Weird layer after layer thing going on with the Sichuan peppercorns and pork nibblins.

Leaves mouth watering ridiculously. Odd – not sure if we liked it – bite in, don’t like – too peppery. And then you eat more… Kind of like a drug. Feel like if we eat enough, might trip out.

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Chili Pickled Long Beans – Crazy salty, loads of taste.

Sweet corn tea

Brooklyn lager

Decor

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Racuous party atmosphere in the tiny dining room. Good music and lots of reds with as much seating as is humanly possible in the small space.

Service

Strangely good, and very friendly. You get the feeling they’re used to bewildered first-timers. Our server said we did end up jumping in with both feet and to maybe try 1 dish with the Sichuan peppercorns and 1 without next time for some respite from the buzz.

Overall Impressions

Crazy busy – 45 minute wait for people lined up outside 10 minutes before dinner service opening on a cold rainy night. We came back a few minutes early for our table, and people were being turned away – at 6:45, the wait was already 3 hours, and the list wasn’t opening back up until 9.

But, these guys are well organized and seem to know how to handle the craziness.

Rating

I can’t honestly rate this place. We are completely unsure if we loved it, hated it, or if we’ll be back on the regular like addicts. I can tell you that in the week+ since our visit, neither of us has stopped thinking about that MaPo Tofu.

I will throw out words of caution about the odd quality of the spice and the daunting amount of salt in each dish.

Momofuku Ssam Bar

Small plates-focused offering from David Chang of Noodlebar fame.

What We Had

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Honey Crisp Apple Kimchi with Maple Labane, Jowl Bacon, and Arugula – Good balance of sweet/salt/acid/heat. Crazy good bacon. Goat cheese like yogurt – a great addition.

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Fried Duck Dumplings with Romanesco and Sriracha Mayo – Really tasty little flavor bombs, but a touch salty. Nutty, rich, ducky nuggets of love.

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Veal Sweetbreads with Goat Cheese, Watermelon, and Almond – Perfectly fried sweetbreads; silky, velvety goat cheese; I want a bucket of the almond brittle; best watermelon I’ve had all year (compressed with lemon).

Decor

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Minimal with warm dark woods and natural light.

Service

Good, even though we snuck just under the quittin’ time wire.

Overall Impressions

Great flavors, an inventive menu, and a relaxed atmosphere make this a great spot for a quick bite or long meal with friends.

Rating

4.5 out of 5 for no other reason than we love noodle bar just a tick more

The Masala Wala

We stumbled upon this place by pure happenstance. We happened to be on the Lower East Side to see a movie; the sky happened to look like it was going to start spitting demons; and we happened to duck down a side street or two looking for something either really tasty or really healthy to eat. Right before the bottom fell out of the sky, amid leaf and street trash tornadoes, we spotted a sign proclaiming South Asian Roadside Food. We love Asian and we love road food, so we ducked in.

What We Had

We did a few light dishes rather than getting large entrees or one of their really good looking custom bowls.

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Chicken Tikka Roll with Egg – Richly spiced, succulent and delicious chicken wrapped in a roti burrito with fried egg layered in between the rolls. Yum. Really yum.

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Pani Puri – Fun, nicely spiced potato and chickpeas in a hollow cup of crispy fried dough with tamarind dipping sauce.

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Dal (black lentil) – Comforting velvety pool of dal with, again, rich deep spices. I could wrap myself into a bowl of this any day.

Fluffy and perfect basmati rice – This was the good stuff.

Decor

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Edison bulbs and dark cherry wood in a modern chocolate and cream decor scheme. New tech in place like waitresses ordering on iPads.

Service

The staff was supremely welcoming and the owner checked personally after the meal to assure it was up to standard.

Overall Impressions

I am really glad we rolled the dice on this place. Sometimes you roll the hard six and win.

Rating

4.5 out of 5 for crazy good food and really top notch service. Well worth a special trip to the area just for the food.