Friday, May 20, 2011

Recent Eats

It was a gorgeous Sunday not to be wasted. I eat like a maniac and thankfully have some friends who love to indulge in the same. What you are about to read did take place within a few hours in just one afternoon.

First up, Diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I'd heard rumors of long waits for brunch here and when I called the restaurant to ask when that typically began, I was told 11 a.m. My dining companion and I aimed to be there by that time and we made our deadline. We were rewarded with no line. Diner sits inside of an old dining car, but we passed up the charming interiors to bask in the sunlight.

Though there is a short printed menu put down on the table, it's bare bones and there are no decisions to make until the real menu arrives —a recitation by your server who fills in the blanks, listing all sorts of ingredients for each dish and scribbling crib notes on the paper tablecloth. Ordering brunch turns into a memory game, which isn't the thing most people are in the mood for on Sunday morning. Restaurants, if you want to change your menu constantly, at least give us a chalkboard.

The raisin scone with creme fraiche and rhubarb compote was the most worthy thing we ate at Diner. It was delicious, from the buttery scone topped with large crystals of sugar to the creamy center and the fruity accoutrement.

The dandelion salad with lardons and pickled ramps was a tasty enough interlude.

The country breakfast of the day was scrambled eggs served with a biscuit slathered in pork gravy and a side of kale and black-eyed peas. Our first impression was drawn with the first bite; the plate was way too salty.


 Despite the Southern food revolution engulfing New York City, Pies 'n' Thighs, has remained my favorite for fried chicken. My dining companion's first visit also brought positive results, despite just sampling a single piece of the crispy, moist legs while standing on the street corner. We also tried the chocolate donut, after being lured in by New York Magazine's crowning of a "Best Donut" title to them. It was good, but tasted mostly like a brownie with the fried, oily quality of doughnuts.

That might have been enough for most normal people, but we didn't stop there. My dining companion and I were surrounded by too many potential eats. We made another stop at Dumont Burger. My dining companion had recalled a delicious burger and fish sandwich from some previous evening here. So we tried to recreate that. We compromised and settled on a mini burger, which came with a choice of fries, onion rings or the soup of the day, chilled cucumber soup, which is what we got. The burger, unfortunately, was a little overcooked and dry. And the soup was essentially pureed cucumber — it had a gritty texture that made you wish it had decided to either be a creamy soup or a chunky soup, not somewhere in between.

The fried skate sandwich with fries was delicious. I might have preferred the fish grilled instead of fried, but I was still happy with what we got. And the thin-cut fries were also to my liking.

I recommend eating tours as a good way to enjoy various areas of New York City, but go with a good guide (someone who knows how to eat, meaning me, if I'm available) or just go hungry and take it easy.

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