Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Recent Eats

After a long recovery from an illness that prevented me from indulging in my normal eating habits, I returned to my gluttonous ways this past weekend.

Brunch at Egg

Third time's a charm with Egg, a popular spot off of the main strip of Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. On my first attempt, the place was unexpectedly closed because of some maintenance issue; on the second, the line was too long, even at an hour considered early for weekend brunch. So this weekend, I made it a point to arrive even earlier (10:30 a.m.) and on my own. Still, there was a 20-minute wait.You put your name on a waiting list and hover around outside until you are beckoned in by the hostess to a boxy room so spare that it feels a little like a picnic under a large tent.

A complimentary cinnamon sugar doughnut. It was light and not greasy and managed to hold up despite being served at room temperature.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do my homework before I eat. For brunch, the wisdom of the crowds had said to go with the Eggs Rothko (Easy-cooked egg in a slice of Amy's brioche and topped with Grafton cheddar. Served with broiled tomatoes and a side of meat or seasonal vegetables) and listen, I did.

The dish looks fairly unassuming and humble. But it packs a lot of punch. The egg is blanketed the thick layer of cheese, nestled in the center of the thick-cut, slightly sweet brioche. The tangy broiled tomatoes and the candied bacon I chose as my meat perfectly offset the sharpness of the cheese. The goal was to get a bit of each in every bite. I liked the candied bacon but on its own it was overwhelmingly sweet and once I finished off the main part of the dish, the last strip of bacon went uneaten.

Dinner at Otto
I have always liked Otto, one in Mario Batali's set of restaurants, near Washington Square Park as a go-to dinner — casual, not too expensive, good Italian food. The problem usually is that it's tough to get in without a reservation and with that, one made with some advance notice. As my dining companion and I were looking for eats in that area at an early hour, we managed to squeeze in.
There is a long list of vegetable antipasti: a reasonable $4 for a deep cupful.  The cucumber and farro salad did the trick for us on this hot evening. It felt healthy, was refreshing and even had a slight kick, perhaps from some hot peppers.

The pastas at $9 are generously portioned. Here, the pasta alla norma with tomato, roasted eggplant, basil and buffalo ricotta. The penne was cooked al dente, chewy and satisfying to my taste, though a bit too much so for my dining companion. But the eggplant was slightly bitter, maybe a tad overroasted.

Our other dish was the taccozette with peas, mint and ricotta salata. The pasta here was a little softer, and garden-bright but a little bit oversalted. Despite the minor complaints I thought both pastas fit what we were looking for.

I am always enticed by the interesting flavors of gelato at Otto and somehow can never escape ordering the signature olive oil. It's an amazingly creamy concoction with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. A wonderfully zesty lime curd and salty peanut rounded out the trio of flavors. The salty peanut was not what I expected. I had imagined something more like a vanilla or peanut butter based studded with salty peanuts. This turned out to be a gelato of ground peanuts that tasted faintly like sesame. 

1 comment:

  1. Lime curd gelato sounds like it would be delicious - especially on a hot day! That egg in a hole at Egg sounds fantastic - I might try to make it at home - thanks for the good idea!