In a food culture that constantly seeks out the rare and arcane, insects constitute the final frontier. Though you can readily find pig ears, fiddleheads, sea urchins, foie gras, and truffles on menus all over town, season permitting, where would you go to find bugs?
Fork in the Road has bitched before about how Dunkin' Donuts has invaded Brooklyn, and the deleterious effects suffered by the borough as a result: independent coffee shops forestalling or even closing; the gobbling up of choice food-permitted retail property, resulting in a decline of such businesses as neighborhood pizza parlors and delis; and, of course, the propensity of national franchises for paying low wages, siphoning up local cash and sending it out of state. Well, there's another nasty Dunkin' Donuts effect, too: putting local donut makers out of business.More »
One of the most popular methods of dining in India is grazing a smorgasbord of small dishes on a tray called a thali.More »
Even those of us who generally object to brunch (long waits, mediocre eggs) are occasionally obliged to participate in the weekend ritual, and when we do, the food had better be good. This Sunday afternoon, Brooklyn Star warmed us up with its wood-burning oven and a satisfying bowl of shrimp and grits.
Brooklyn Star's shrimp and grits
After a perfectly fine omelet at Cornelia Street Cafe this Saturday, eaten while watching the costumes go by, you might have been surprised to note that your bill included a mandatory 18-percent gratuity, regardless of the size of your party. Was it because the servers were Halloweened-up in some very creative 80s garb? A call to owner Robin Hirsch got to the bottom of the mystery.
Singaporean Nasi Lemak
The only problem with brunch at Fatty Crab is that it's expensive. (Around $16 per plate.) Other than that, it's pretty much perfect. Southeast Asians really know how to breakfast.
Nasi Lemak is coconutty rice served with a variety of accompaniments, usually including dried anchovies, and spicy sambal. Fatty Crab's version comes with a nice pile of the dried anchovies, salt-and-pepper fried chicken wings, peanuts, coconut shreds, cucumber, sprouts, and a barely cooked egg jiggling on top of the rice. We broke the yolk into the rice, and mixed everything together. (Ask for extra sambal on the side! It's the dark, savory, belacan-based sort, and it's extremely delicious.) All together, it's rich and spicy, and salty-fishy in a good way. Beats waffles any day of the week.
Singaporean/Malaysian style oyster omelet also makes a good brunching dish. It doesn't much resemble a Western omelet, as it's made from eggs mixed with tapioca and rice flour, along with a bunch of small oysters. The mixture is fried into a bubbly pancake, and topped with scallions, cilantro and hot sauce. Fatty Crab's isn't the best we've had (especially for $17) but it was still awfully good. It could have used more oysters, but what else is new?
643 Hudson St, New York
2170 Broadway, New York
Smith's may have give up the ghost, but The Smith is still going strong. (The two restaurants opened roughly around the same time and were often confused, despite being quite different from each other.) Fork in the Road hit the latter for Sunday brunch recently, where a Southern take on Eggs Benedict -- chicken sausage and poached eggs on spicy corn bread with black pepper gravy and home fries -- was kicked up with a dash or two of the restaurant's homemade hot sauce. Huevos Rancheros (available only on Sundays), smothered in a roasted tomato and roasted chili sauce and topped with fresh avocado, also benefited from a squirt of the secret sauce. Other than vinegar and habanero peppers, manager Josh Bidwell was pretty tight-lipped about what was in the hot sauce. But, really, who cares? At $8 a pop during the week and $14 plus complimentary blood orange mimosas on weekends, it's a pretty sweet deal.
The Smith, 55 Third Avenue, 212-420-9800
Ah, brunch--the weekend ritual marred by overpriced eggs and long lines. When we find a brunch spot that whips up interesting, tasty food without a long wait, we feel duty-bound to point it out.
The Clerkenwell, a newish British gastropub on the LES, serves the usual eggs Benedict, but it also offers more interesting stuff, like a hefty full English breakfast (sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom, two fried eggs, toast and tea), soft boiled eggs and soldiers (toasted fingers of bread to dip in the yolk), and bubble and squeak.
Bubble and squeak is a British invention, and like many good things it originated as a way to stretch leftovers. Equal parts cold mashed potatoes and cooked green cabbage are formed into cakes and pan-fried. The name is said to come from the sound the potato and cabbage make as they cook. The resulting bubble and squeak is often served with sausage or leftover boiled beef, but at the Clerkenwell, it's served with two fried eggs.
We wished the potato-cabbage cake had sported a browned crust, but still, it made a simple, scrumptious dish, especially with a horseradish-heavy Bloody Mary on the side.
49 Clinton Street
Oh, brunching. I find that it often sucks. But I'm trying to be less of a curmudgeon and participate in the city-wide egg-eating ritual every now and then. And it's so pleasant when you find a place that takes real care with its brunch offerings. Brunch at Beacon is expensive--dishes average around $25. The entrees are not limited to cliche-brunchy fare, ranging from fried egg and arugula pizza, a burger, a smoked salmon omelet, shrimp-arugula salad and challah french toast. Included in the price of your dish is access to a little baked-good buffet. Yesterday it happened to feature some crack-like mini apple muffins. Best of all, since Beacon is known for its wood-burning oven, many of the brunch dishes also spend time over the flames.
This brings us to Beacon's Bloody Mary, which is one of the best I've ever had. The mix is made with tomatoes that have been roasted in the oven, rendering them sweet and concentrated. Add tons of horseradish, black pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar, plus a generous amount of vodka, and that's a tasty eye-opener.
The strawberries on top of the challah French toast had also been roasted in the oven, making them into a darkly sweet, faintly woodsy compote.
25 West 56th Street
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