09 October 2013

New York Nibbles Part I: Brunch, BBQ, Brunch

OK, this is my penultimate New York post for now, I promise. We discovered quite a few new restaurants in NYC, and I've included mini-reviews of four of them here (three more will come tomorrow). Unfortunately, the lighting seemed to decrease with each meal we took, so the photograph quality isn't always great, especially at Diner, where we were essentially sitting outside in the dark.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. On our first morning, our reward for a good run was brunch at Lafayette. You can go to Lafayette to grab a croissant or macaron from the bakery, or you can enjoy a leisurely brunch or dinner at one of the comfy booths or at one of the sidewalk tables. As the sun was shining we sat outside, snagging one of the last tables. I ordered a jardin vert (apple, kale, ginger and cucumber juice), which was, er, very green and very healthy. The pamplemousse cocktail looked a lot tastier. As the burger comes with raclette and as the omelette du jour contained zucchini, I ordered the lemon pancakes with fresh berries. Yes, American pancakes, not crèpes, and they were delicious. It's the kind of brunch menu that allows you to decide whether you are still in breakfast mode or are ready for brunch. I love all-day dining places like this, which take you from morning coffee to late-night aperitif. Service non-stop, as they say.

By dinnertime, we were hungry again and in the mood for something rather less healthy than brunch. Southern barbecue. Our hotel was just around the corner from Georgia's East Side BBQ, and although the tables were fully booked (all three of them), we managed to get a couple of seats at the counter. Georgia's is small and dark and has an authentic feel. Well, maybe they're trying a little hard with the US flags and guns on the walls and chequered tablecloths, but it worked for us Brits. They serve sandwiches with pulled pork, fried chicken, and so on, for about $8, but for between $15 and $19 you can bag a main course of ribs, fried chicken or pulled pork, along with two sides. Georgia's is supposed to make particularly good fried chicken, so I happily obliged, and it was perfect: juicy meat and flavoursome, crispy skin. I could hardly manage any of my fries or my side of baked beans, but everything was delicious. Go hungry. It doesn't matter that they only do one pudding; you won't have room.

Working our way around the cuisines meant that it was time for Mexican food when we got to Sunday brunch. We went to Hecho en Dumbo, which is, in fact, now based in NoHo rather than Dumbo. I loved the décor, from the beautifully decorated chairs to the crockery (especially the water jug, which I wanted to steal). I ordered the huevos rancheros Benedictos, which were definitely more Benedict than rancheros, and a more manageable portion size than I'm used to in the US. The eggs are served on a corn bread biscuit, with a slice of smoked ham. Also on offer are pancakes and hamburgers, as well as more traditional Mexican fare. The food was all very good quality and it's a friendly, buzzy place for a low-key brunch. Oh, and the cocktails are pretty strong — just in case your body is a little disoriented from being in the wrong time zone!

On Sunday night, we went for dinner at Motorino in the East Village. This place is supposed to be one of the city's best pizzerias and it's been on my to-try list for quite a while. When we saw a huge group of cyclists outside, we thought we might be out of luck, but it turned out they were just part of the delivery team, waiting to dispatch orders, and we managed to get the last table for two. The pizza here is Neapolitan: thin and crispy, with a puffy crust. In the same way I use the double skinny macchiato as a testbed for new coffee shops, I like to stick to margheritas when I try out a new pizzeria: it's a good way to test the quality of the ingredients. Motorino performed admirably, with creamy mozzarella and a yummy tomato sauce. The lighting was lowered progressively while we ate, making it pretty difficult to take any decent photos, but it's a great little place.

Lafayette. 380 Lafayette Street nr Great Jones St (NoHo). Website. Twitter.
Georgia's East Side BBQ. 192 Orchard Street bet. Houston & Stanton (Lower East Side). Website. Twitter.
Hecho en Dumbo. 354 Bowery bet. Great Jones & East 4th St (NoHo). Website. Twitter.
Motorino. 349 East 12th Street nr 1st Ave (East Village). WebsiteTwitter.

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