10 October 2013

New York Nibbles Part II: Burgers and Scandi Fun

By Monday last week, I was facing a burger crisis: I'd been in New York for over three days and hadn't had one yet. We had hoped to go to The Marrow after our High Line stroll, but they only do their burger at brunch, it turned out. After some searching — of souls and of the New York Times Scoop app — we ended up at Monument Lane in the West Village. I must have walked past this place dozens of times, but never looked in, which is a shame as it's a lovely, old-fashioned neighbourhood tavern. As luck would have it, it was Monday and Monday is burger night, which means you can get a bacon cheeseburger and a beer or glass of wine for $15. Um, yes please. The burger was excellent — juicy and perfectly medium rare, and with lovely crispy bacon. It slipped down nicely with a refreshing Youth on Fire (vodka, lavender tea and pink peppercorn). I was impossibly full but as soon as the waiter mentioned the chocolate and peanut butter cup with caramel popcorn, I couldn't say no. I only ate about half, but it was as amazing as it sounds. The brunch menu looks great too, so I'm sure I'll be back. It's such a cosy, intimate place, that it would be lovely in winter.

Burgers are, it turns out, just like buses: after Monday's indulgence, I had a second on Tuesday night at Diner. Well, I could hardly say no to white cheddar, could I? The burger wasn't quite as good as at Monument Lane — it was more medium-well than medium rare — but still tasty, and the experience was great. The restaurant is inside an old diner car near the bottom of the Williamsburg Bridge. As it was such a hot evening, we sat outside, which had fewer trimmings but just as many hipsters. It's the kind of place where instead of a menu, the waitress tells you what they have and makes notes on the tablecloth for you. As well as the burger (which, thanks to the darkness, didn't look good in any of my photos), we shared a salad to start. I say salad, but really I mean duck confit with toasted baguette and duck fat, plums and rocket. It was delicious. The cocktails were of the blokey persuasion — I had the Saint Sebastian, with tequila, hibiscus, lime and chartreuse. Diner is a very cool place with that wonderful casual-chic Brooklyn vibe.

The final stop on this mini culinary tour was to Acme in NoHo. It's so close to the hotel we've stayed in twice that we've walked past it a bunch of times, and thought about eating there almost as many. Don't be put off by the quirky blue and red sign talking about cajun cooking: inside, it's very classy, and the menu is more New American with a large squeeze of Scandi. Having raved about New York tacos all week, I persuaded my partner in crime to share the fish tacos to start and we were both bemused when they turned up encased in a grassy taco holder. Served with dill and smoked salmon, they were good, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the quirky presentation. For my main course, I ordered the chicken, roast potato and egg, which showed up in a giant tagine. The chicken was so tender and juicy, but the eggs were the real winner. It seemed like they had been gently poached and then flash fried for a few seconds. Either way, they tasted great. The cocktails were pretty good too — with a few girl-friendly gin-based offerings, unusually for this trip.

Normal, London-based blogging service will resume soon, but first I'm going to Cannes for a long weekend with my parents. My life isn't usually anywhere near this glamorous, I swear.

Monument Lane. 103 Greenwich Avenue @ West 12th St (West Village). Website. Twitter.
Diner. 85 Broadway @ Berry (Williamsburg). Website.
Acme. 9 Great Jones Street nr Lafayette (NoHo). Website.

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