I try to keep this blog free of extensive quoting and writing about other people’s writing, but Jennifer Gonnerman‘s brilliant piece on the plight of the city’s food delivery people in this week’s New York Magazine gets a special exception.

If you haven’t read it I ask you to do so now — it’s riveting and you won’t want to put it down. We’ve all seen the protesters outside Saigon Grill. I, for one, have never bothered to look into the specifics of the dispute too much. I’m glad New York did, as it’s one of the most revealing and important situations we’ve recently faced in our food-obsessed city. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill labor dispute. These guys, and several others from several other restaurants around town, are routinely verbally abused, stiffed on their pay (some earning a shocking $1.70 per hour), forced to pay their own medical bills when they’re hit by cars, and forced to pay for their own meals while at work which takes a big cut out of their meager tips.

And yes, I know there’s not much you can personally do about these modern robber baron restaurant owners besides boycott the joints. That’s why I’m writing here today, to talk about what we can do, and that is to aggressively, immediately address the tipping situation.

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Stand
24 East 12th Street
(btw’n 5th Ave. and University Pl.)
Union Square
(212) 488-5900

 

 

 

When I think about the hamburger renaissance taking place in New York at the moment I get emotionally crumpled. On the one hand I want to send up a little smile of thanks to the Fates for bringing me back home at the exact moment my favorite kind of food is finally getting the treatment it deserves. On the other hand I wonder if this spotlight is just taking all the fun out of it.

I’m simultaneously intrigued and repulsed by all these trendy burger joints. (You know it’s bad when “trendy burger joint” becomes a real, commonly used phrase around town. And it has.) As much as I want to try a burger made by Laurent Tourendel or someone like him I also know that these guys are missing the whole point of the burger joint culture. It’s not that it’s no frills. It’s not that it’s your high-falutin’ corruption of no-frills. It’s that it’s down-to-earth, cheap, and good. The ideal burger joint is the first place you think of when you want to just hang out for a little while, and let the day pass you by. This is a kind of atmosphere that can’t be manufactured — it’s an act of spontaneous evolution that happens when the right burgers meet the right neighborhood. Though I wasn’t expecting it, that’s exactly what I’ve found at Stand, trendiness and all.

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Dok Suni
119 1st Avenue
(betw’n 7th Street and St. Marks Place)
East Village
(212) 477-9506


by Kelly Sipos

My preamble:

I am neither Jesse Post nor Rachael Parenta. By that I mean I’m not some renowned Internet food critic or your run-of-the-mill finicky eater/stand-up comedian from Brooklyn. (See in-joke here.) Now, I don’t usually write about food. I’m more of a bar critic or hockey enthusiast. But I couldn’t resist the lure of All You Can Eat NYC any longer, and today I would like to tell you about my favorite restaurant in all of New York.

I am a native New Yorker who grew up in an Irish/Hungarian household in Washington Heights. My Irish mother did her best with the cooking but really, it was just meat and potatoes — boring except for the few “exotic” dishes (the two Hungarian dishes she attempted to make for my father). My father, regardless of what he was eating, always had a jar of hot peppers by his side. I think it was this jar of hot peppers that scared me from trying the spicier side of the dinner menu for most of my life. So that’s how I grew up to be a boring meat-and-potatoes girl.

That all changed in the fall of 1997 when I first walked into Dok Suni and my friends Holly and Jon introduced me to Korean food. Well, that’s actually a lie; my friend in high school, Chu, introduced me to Korean food back in 1988. But to be honest, we only ever went to this one place because they served underage kids piña coladas. In ’88 I was only interested in girly drinks with umbrellas, not delicious spicy food. I can’t even remember the name of that place anymore, but I’m not here to promote underage drinking anyway.

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Café Moutarde
239 Fifth Avenue
(at Carroll Street)
Park Slope
(718) 623-3600

 

 

 

Café Moutarde almost doesn’t fit the surrounding scene — even though this stretch of Park Slope is full of excellent places to shop, dine, and drink yourself silly it still all looks like . . . well, Brooklyn. But Moutarde is a gleaming, bejeweled European bistro, with shiny copper fixtures and mirrors in all the right places. I walked past it dozens of times thinking I couldn’t afford it before I actually looked at the menu. It turns out that, not only can I afford it, but in a way I need it.

I don’t think we New Yorkers are particular enough about the quality of life in our city, the simple aesthetic value of our living spaces that’s so often overlooked. We live in drafty, windowless, leaky dives in order to keep our rents below $1,000 per month. We allow our refined cityscapes to be marred by garish modern high-rise condos, parking garages, and anything else the non-residents who build this place dream up. We flock to every new Dunkin’ Donuts or American Apparel or Starbucks rather than boycott them out of the neighborhood so regular, less fluorescent establishments can open in their place. In our constant search for the deal and the trend we forget the importance of beauty and a slow comfortable pace, how those things can stimulate our emotions and thoughts and make us feel less automated. We lose that certain . . . je ne sais quoi that they capture so well in Europe. I think of Moutarde as a little way to regain it, even if only for a few hours over breakfast.

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Puebla
47 First Ave.
(btw’n 2nd and 3rd Streets)

East Village
(212) 473-6643

 


by Rachael Parenta

My preamble:

I am not Jesse Post. By that I mean I’m not some renowned Internet food critic from Brooklyn. Rather, I’m just your run-of-the-mill finicky eater/stand-up comedian from Brooklyn. Well, I was born in New Jersey but I live in Brooklyn now, just a few blocks from where my Great Aunt Ester and Great Uncle Jack resided a half a century ago. So am I gentrifier or am I merely reclaiming my roots? Exactly.

My point is that I don’t usually write about food. Usually, I date people for four to five weeks then spend two to three years telling jokes about them. The only time I write about food is when I use food in my poignant yet hysterical extended metaphors. (I have a great example where I talk about my relationship with the Chipwich.) However, there is a tiny eatery in the East Village that I enjoy so much it has inspired me to write and share with you.

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If you love New York City restaurants (and I know you do) then I have some great news — finding the perfect night out just got a whole lot easier.

Without the right information at your disposal it can be very difficult to find the spot that perfectly suits your mood, or your date’s mood, or even what you’re hungry for at the moment. Your present procedure probably goes something like this:

  1. You visit All You Can Eat NYC, your favorite food blog, to get some tips.
  2. You have fun reading our lively ramblings but realize quickly that none of these recommendations are quite right.
  3. You try to look for places in CitySearch or (gasp!) the Zagat guide.
  4. You become frustrated because, while recommendations are made, you don’t quite have a feel for what it’s like to actually be in one of these joints.
  5. You flip a coin, pick a place with a few stars, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Your woes are over! Blog Soop is a clearinghouse for New York City food blogs (and we are legion). It’s as simple as can be:

  1. Search by neighborhood, restaurant name, or type of cuisine.
  2. Sort your search results by price, average rating, or number of reviews.
  3. Select a place you’re curious about and read through the plethora of hand-picked blog posts on the subject to your right.

The posts really are hand-picked, so you can rest assured that there is a good amount of quality control. You’ll find only the best, most informative NYC food writing here, at your fingertips in a few seconds flat. After a few posts you’ll know for sure whether that place is right for you. I’ve used it myself at least thrice since I discovered it a couple weeks ago, to great effect each time.

Thanks to Blog Soop for a great service, and thanks to you for visiting us and other area food blogs for your culinary informational needs — we’re here for you!

Beast
638 Bergen St.
(at Vanderbilt Ave.)
Prospect Heights
(718) 399-6855

 

 

In Brooklyn, we treat brunch as if it were a high holiday. In other parts of the country (even other parts of the city) brunch is kind of a novelty — maybe something to do on Mother’s Day or a pre- or post-birthday party. But here in America’s fourth-largest city it’s a birthright.

The basic tenets of the meal are just — sleep late, eat a big meal, maybe get a little tipsy, certainly work up a good caffeine buzz, read the paper slowly, talk loudly. It’s an elaborate and secular way to worship something we highly value: our day of rest.

But the execution of the meal fails often, probably because of the overkill. Though they shall remain nameless here, I’ve been burned by bad Brooklyn bruncheries who rush you along, skimp on the coffee, over-poach the eggs to the point where they fall off the plate and bounce, and generally treat the food like a no frills Restaurant Week version of their regular offerings.

This is all why I’m so attracted to Beast on the weekends. Not only do they offer up great food during brunch but they understand why we like brunch to begin with.

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