Breakfast for dinner? The Clinton Street Baking Company in New York doesn't just allow it - they encourage it. That means that even after the sun has dipped over the horizon, you can still order pancakes, huevos rancheros (an egg, beans and guacamole breakfast tortilla) or eggs benedict to your heart's content. Or you can order fried chicken and waffles with warm maple butter - like I did.
Breakfast for dinner - pancakes with wild Maine blueberries and warm maple butter US$14
Clinton Street Bakery was opened in 2001 by husband-and-wife team chef Neil Kleinberg and freelance writer DeDe Lahman. Originally conceived as a bakery and small cafe, the business eventually expanded into a seven-days-a-week restaurant operation. Weekend brunches are hugely popular here, with queues regularly snaking around the block.
Sugar cured bacon US$6
Their blueberry pancakes are one of the hottest items on the menu, and when we dig into Suze's plate, we can see why. The buttermilk pancakes are light, fluffy and softer than a baby's cheek. The blueberry compote over the top adds sweetness, curbed by Suze's side order of sugar cured bacon - not as crispy as we'd expected, but still a porcine delight.
Union Square Market chopped salad US$10
We met up with Hannah from Wayfaring Chocolate here -- a serendipitous intersection of international holidaying -- who displayed a bewildering enthusiasm for her Union Square Market chopped salad, all kinds of health and crunch that we presume had been purveyed from the Union Square Greenmarket that day. Crisp lettuce, slivers of radish and chopped baby carrots had been blessed with virtuous sprinkles of sunflower seeds and dabs of feta.
Buttermilk fried chicken, Belgian vanilla buttermilk waffle and warm maple butter US$19
Because really how could you order a salad when there was buttermilk fried chicken and Belgian waffles on the menu? It's a trio of gold on the plate, a puffed up waffle supporting three pieces of golden fried chicken next to a hot tub of warm maple butter.
The chicken is tender with a satisfying crunch although the inclusion of thyme is a touch too distracting for my palate. The warm maple butter is dangerously tasty, soaking up far too easily into the pillowy waffle and fried chicken.
Key lime meringue pie US$7
Three girls and one dessert is how we finish, digging into a hefty wedge of key lime meringue pie. The filling is intense with lime, almost to the point of bitterness, but here Hannah shows us why she'd shown restraint with her main - it's game on with dessert!
We were staying in the Lower East Side and couldn't believe our luck when we realised we were staying around the corner from the Lobster Joint. There are now three locations of this popular New England comfort food eatery around New York. There's a summery beach house feel to the restaurant with white walls and a sea blue floor. Seating is casual with a fully stocked bar (and tv screens) in one corner.
Lobster claw bloody mary US$9
And hey, if you're going to celebrate lobster, why not throw some in a bloody mary? Lex's lobster claw bloody mary is nothing but piscatorial decadence, made with Icelandic Reyka vodka with a wicked peppery kick.
Lobster Mac'n'Cheese US$17
Lex pairs this with the lobster mac'n'cheese, served in a cute cast iron frypan, the cheese sauce finished off to a blistering tan under the grill.
Connecticut lobster roll with warm butter US$17
Suze's Connecticut lobster roll is drenched in warm butter, packed into a soft bun. The fries are amazing too, twice (maybe triple) fried until each baton was electrifyingly crunchy. The portion of fries are huge.
New England lobster roll with celery and fresh herb mayo US$17
I go with the classic New England lobster roll, piles of sweet flesh mixed through with a lightly herbed mayonnaise. It's a luxurious lunch concept, feasting on lobster in a bun while you perch on a stool. My salad (you can choose between fries, chips or hand-cut crisps or salad) is bountiful too.
Do you know Eddie Huang? Taiwanese American, trained lawyer, former stand-up comic and self-confessed "bad boy", Huang opened up the Taiwainese bun shop, Baohaus, in December 2009. In 2001 he relocated from the Lower East Side to a larger site in the East Village. His foodie memoir "Fresh Off The Boat" was published in 2013.
Baohaus is deliberately ghetto and it works. The blue neon lighting and graffitied interiors are the perfect set-up for the food here - Taiwanese buns steamed and then deep fried to a hangover-loving crunch.
Dine in counter with customer graffiti
Sweet bao fries with black sesame US$3.50
The sweet bao fries are a loose interpretation of "fries". A deep fried mantou bun is chopped up and then drizzled with black sesame glaze, adding a dark nuttiness to the sweet crisp glazed bread with a fluffy centre.
Chairman Bao US$4
The Chairman Bao is Huang's take on the oft-associated David Chang classic. Here the bun is wrapped around a thick slice of braised Berkshire pork belly, sprinkled with crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar and coriander. The pork is soft and tender but I'm not sure about the inclusion of peanuts which seems to interrupt the delicacy of the bun and pork.
Coffin bao fried chicken US$7.50
We also check out one of the newest additions to the menu, the coffin bao fried chicken. This one's a clever twist: a deep fried mantou bun opened up and then packed with fried chicken fillets. Coriander, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, coriander and condensed milk - yes condensed milk - are then dumped over the entire lot.
This is another super sweet dish but I reckon as a late night post-drinkies pit-stop this might do the trick.
Take a bao
We couldn't visit New York without visiting Carlo's Bakery. New Jersey is only a short train ride away from the World Trade Centre so Suze and I made the pilgrimage on our last full day in New York.
Ticketed queue to get into the bakery
Our mistake was to try and visit on the weekend. Expect huge queues. Look for the staff member handing out numbered tickets and hope it's not a blistering hot day. I've heard that weekdays are much quieter.
It takes us about an hour to get into the store - packed with about fifty customers inside so you can barely see the counters unless you sidle your way through. There's noone from the show there - no Buddy Valastro, Mauro, Danny, Joey, Mary or Lisa. In fact we overhear a conversation where one employee confesses he's never even met Buddy even though he's worked there for two years.
Carlo's Bake Shop biscuits
The shelves are stacked with baked goods but there's also a huge amount of merchandise too - t-shirts, jerseys, cookbooks and more.
The famous staircase that leads upstairs to the ovens and decorating
You can see the tiny consulting table - roped off by barricades - but I'm more excited about seeing the famous staircase that leads upstairs to the ovens and decorating.
Lobster tail US$5, sfogliatelle US$3 and mini cannoli with ricotta $2
We finally escape the circus with our precious cargo. The lobster tail had to be tried. It's superbly flaky and crunchy, filled with a vanilla custard. The sfogliatelle isn't quite as crisp but the mini cannoli is delicious, piped fresh with a ricotta filling.
Mini cannoli US$2 and mini chocolate coated cannoli US$2.50
Doughnut Plant New York City
Creme brulee donut US$3.25
And our finale for New York was one of the sweetest: Doughnut Plant, which had expanded considerably since my last visit in 2005.
Doughnut Plant in the Lower East Side
Doughnut Plant was started in 1994 by Mark Israel whose grandfather once ran a bakery in North Carolina. Mark's dad, Marvin, used to have to glaze donuts every day after school.
Just like his grandfather (who created the first cake mix in the 1930s), Mark is keen to innovate with recipes. He is a keen user of seasonal fruits and fresh roasted nuts in glazes. In 2004 he invents the jelly-filled square donut which has jelly piped into a square.
Doughnut bench seating
Today there's a Doughnut Plant in Tokyo and two locations in New York. We visit the original one in the Lower East Side which has a non-stop trade of customers, even during the middle of the day.
Doughnut display menu
Deciding what to order is the hardest thing, with a menu that includes all kinds of glazes and fillings across cake and yeast donuts.
Doughnuts round one [clockwise from bottom left]:
peanut butter and jam US$3.25, tres leche US$3, carrot cake US$3 and creme brulee US$3.25 with strawberry lemonade US$3.50 each
Suze and I rip into four donuts from the start, washed down with fresh housemade strawberry lemonade made from fresh strawberries, spring water and organic sugar.
The peanut butter and jam donut is amazing, filled with peanut butter and jam and coated in a thin glaze studded with peanuts. Their signature creme brulee donut is our unanimous favourite, a gentle puff of a donut swollen with silky custard and topped with a crackle of toffee.
Carrot cake donut US$3
The carrot cake donut is surprisingly tasty too, the spiced mixture generously packed with carrots and walnuts but not overly dense or stodgy.
Tres leche cake donut US$3
The tres leche is missing that saucy milkiness you get from the original dessert but there's still a richness to this donut.
Doughnuts round two [clockwise from bottom left]:
coconut lime US$2.25, peanut butter banana cream US$3.25 and strawberry and cream US$2.25
So, like, since one never knows when you'll return to New York, I cave in and get another round of donuts. Because we can. And they're so tasty!
Peanut butter banana cream filled doughnut US$3.25
The peanut butter banana cream filled donut doesn't have the chunks of banana I'd hoped for but it's still a dessert that I reckon Elvis would be happy with.
Coconut lime doughseed filled donut US$2.25
The strawberry and cream donut is tasty but my new favourite is the coconut lime doughseed. The zinginess of the lime is incredible!
And that's how you eat for six days in New York City! Next stop: Chicago!
Baohaus - East Village
238 East 14th Street (near 2nd Avenue), New York, New York
Tel: +1 (646) 669 8889
Sunday to Thursday 11.30am - 12am
Friday to Saturday 11.30am - 4am
95 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey
Tel: +1 (201) 659 3671
Monday to Thursday 7am - 8pm
Friday and Saturday 7am - 9pm
Sunday 7am - 7pm
Also open at Ridgewood and Westfield - both in New Jersey
Clinton Street Baking Company - Lower East Side
4 Clinton Street (btw East Houston and Stanton), New York, New York
Tel: +1 (646) 602 6263
Monday to Friday 8am - 4pm and 6pm - 11pm
Saturday 9am - 4pm and 6pm - 11pm
Sunday 9am - 6pm
Doughnut Plant - Lower East Side
379 Grand Street (btw Essex and Norfolk), New York, New York
Tel: +1 (212) 505 3700
Open daily 6.30am - 8pm
Also open at Hotel Chelsea, 220 West 23rd Street, New York, New York
Lobster Joint - Lower East Side
201 East Houston Street (btw Ludlow and Orchard), New York, New York
Tel: +1 (646) 896 1200
Monday to Friday 12pm - 12am
Saturday and Sunday 11am - 12am
Also open at Greenpoint and Rockaway Beach
>> Read the next USA 2013 post: Chicago deep pan pizza and Italian beef
<< Read the first USA 2013 post: Cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC
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10/10/2013 07:40:00 a.m.