New York Food Guide – Eat The Big Apple
Beyond the Burger in Edible Manhattan
Who better to ask for an insider’s guide to the New York food scene than an ex-pat living in the city? On: Magazine’s Jo Keohane presents the Big Apple’s must-visit culinary creatives, with tourist traps expertly avoided…
It’s hard to think of a better food destination than New York. And while burgers, pizza and cheesecake might have put Gotham on the culinary map, so much more than those keep it there. Like the city itself, the dining scene is in a state of constant flux, so you can relax in the knowledge that you’ll never manage to sample everything in one trip. But take heed – there’s so much on offer it’s best to plan your attack. So if you want to get off the burger-and-cupcake tourist trail, here’s an insider’s guide to some of New York’s favourite foods to start you on your way.
“Look for crunch and a slightly chewy centre”
The Lobster Roll
It’s easy to see how this Maine staple made it down the coast to the Big City. The lobster roll is nothing short of food genius. Massive hunks (we’re talking a 1lb lobster) of the freshest claw and tail meat, mixed with light homemade lemony mayo, sandwiched in a warm buttery brioche bun. I know it feels wrong to put lobster in a sandwich. But this is New England lobster without the need to faff around looking silly with a pair of miniature nut crackers. What’s not to like? Plus, if you make it to New York this summer you can treat yourself for less, due to a reported lobster glut in Maine.
Manhattanites swear by the Pearl Oyster Bar, Cornelia Street, NY, 212 691 8211 and Mary’s Fish Camp, 64 Charles St, NY 646 486 2185.
Forget cupcakes – sooo ‘Sex and the City’ (which too-cool Manhattanites disowned back in the early noughties). The newest bakery on the block is the Maison de Macaron. Like Lady Liberty herself these meringue-base biscuits are a French invention New Yorkers have taken to their hearts. Don’t confuse them with the denser macaroon. For those unfamiliar, they’re two small light round cookies, with a creamy ganache holding them together. They come in all kinds of flavours and colours. You can even get gold leaf (Donald Trump’s favourite?). Connoisseurs look for crunch and a slightly chewy centre.
Best places to sample these beauties include La Maison du Macaron, 132 W.23rd St, NY, 212 243 2757 lamaisondumacaron.com and the Bouchon Bakery, 10 Columbus Circle, NY, 212 823 9364 / bouchonbakery.com
“The best ribs in town”
Pork in New York
The Pig is so BIG in this city it deserves a whole section to itself. The first craze to mention is the Bahn Mi Vietnamese pork sandwich. This is pate smeared on a French style baguette piled with ground roast pork, pickles and coriander. Spicy, fragrant and, let’s face it, a bit more exciting than a pork chop. The best in town is said to be Nickys, 150 E2nd St, NY, 212 388 1088 / nickyssandwiches.com
Originally from the south, pulled pork is also huge in Yankee land. It’s usually shoulder of pork cooked so long and so slow it’s able to be literally pulled apart (for texture think a meatier version of the shredded duck that goes in Peking pancakes). Served with smoky barbeque sauce and coleslaw it’s melt in the mouth. Try the Great Jones Cafe, 54 Great Jones St, NY / greatjones.com
The last honourable mention goes to BBQ itself. With Gotham’s residents banned from lighting up grills because of the fire risk, they have to get their fix somewhere! For the best ribs in town try Blue Smoke, owned by Danny Meyer (of Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern fame).
Blue Smoke, 116 E17th St, NY, 212 447 7733 /bluesmoke.com. Also shmoking’ is RUB, 208 W23rd St, NY, 212 524 4300
“Comfort foods have made a massive comeback”
21st Century Chicken Wings
Traditionally Brits just don’t get the American fascination with chicken wings (too much bone, too little meat, the need to gnaw in public etc.) If that sounds familiar try the unabashed boneless variety at Tailor. Recently named best in class by New York Magazine, the meat from the wing is sliced, then put back together with ‘transglutaminase’ (that’s edible meat glue, for those not up on their molecular gastronomy!) Banish all thoughts of turkey twizzlers. Cooked in a screaming hot glaze and served with blue cheese, if these can’t turn you into a wing lover, what can?
Tailor Bar, 525 Broome St, NY, 212 334 5182 / tailornyc.com
Macaroni and (Lots of) Cheese
Stay with me here because the humble mac and cheese has been elevated to an art form by the city that likes the very best of everything. Whether it was the recent financial crash or the Baltic winter, comfort foods have made a massive comeback and none is more comforting than creamy, cheesy pasta. The Kitchenette Uptown does a famed four cheese version with smoked mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan. Kitchenette Uptown, 1272 Amsterdam Ave, NY, 212 531 7600 / kitchenetterestaurant.com.
Alternatively try the salty bacon spiked Mac n’ Cheese at Dumont in Brooklyn. Rumoured to be the best in New York it’s well worth the short hop over the bridge even (or especially) if it’s freezing out.
Dumont, 432 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 718 486 7717 dumontrestaurant.com
“Perfect custard ice cream sundaes”
Ice Cream Sundaes and Floats
To round off – a sweet hit of nostalgia. Whilst the Sundae and its close relative the ice-cream float seem to be in terminal decline in the UK, they’re doing a roaring trade in the Big Apple.
If you’re man enough to stand in line (sometimes for up to an hour) the Shake Shack in Madison Square Gardens is the place to go. Aside from near perfect burgers, this modern take on a 1950’s concession stand does perfect custard ice cream sundaes, topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
Shake Shack, South East Corner of Madison Sq Park, 212 889 6600 / shakeshacknyc.com.