123 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003-8319
I’ve discussed my never ending obsession with French Fries many times before, so i’ll endeavor to keep this short. In my experiences with Belgian Fries from Vancouver, and and Duck Fat from Maine, i’ve developed a pretty clear understanding of what im looking for in a french fry. Crisp outside, fluffy inside, flavourful, and a bit meatier than thin fries. On reputation alone, Pommes Frites in New York is often mentioned as one of the best.
I used to wander by this tiny storefront in the East Village all the time. It’s square on my walking path from Ippudo, to Katz’s Deli and Russ and Daughters. With Caracas around the corner, there wasn’t a hope that i’d ever have the room left in my stomach to try it. Then i heard it was really good, so i figured before Arepas, after Pastrami, Akamaru Modern, and some Lox, i’d share some fries with a friend.
1600 Westheimer Road
People will argue that Mexican food gets better the closer you get to Mexico. While this makes sense in theory, it doesn’t always work in practice. Texas, for example, is right across the border but has adapted Mexican food and made it their own – the birth of Tex-Mex pretty much means that real Mexican is difficult to find. Great Mexican? Even more difficult.
In the Westheimer area in Houston, Hugo’s Restaurant is trying to change that perception. Serving high quality Mexican cuisine that represents the best of all regional cuisines, I have to admit, I’m a bit skeptical. Places that try to represent too many different cuisines have a tendency to be good at all, but master of none.
From the large gated doors to the vaulted ceilings and chandeliers, the space is 1925 traditional with elements of contemporary. I don’t see the supposed elements of “chic” they are aiming for, but it’s a reasonably nice atmosphere characterized mostly by the slightly uncomfortably large gaps of space between tables.
MRKT (Market) Restaurant
10542 Jasper Ave NW
My poor camera was dropped at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the lens no longer retracts. I loved that camera – but after extensive research, im back in the game with a new camera! Happy to do my first post with pics from my new baby.
On a rainy dreary day, we head down the “ugly” part of Jasper Avenue to try the new restaurant by Carla Alexander of Soul Soup and Sal Di Maio who owns the gastropub downstairs, Red Star. MRKT Market is simply that – a “fresh market” concept restaurant where the limited menu provides you with a few choices in terms of sandwiches, soups, and specials. 3 sandwiches, 3 soups, one special the day we were there.
The interior feels like a wooden airplane fuselage. I’ve heard canoe, and upscale log cabin (rather generous i’d say), it is nonetheless hip, while managing some warmth. The most prominent feature of MRKT market is the long table that allows many diners to share a meal.
3945 Chestnut Street
In what many people incorrectly assume to be strictly a cheesesteak city, Philadelphia is home to a blossoming restaurant scene, with a wide range of eclectic fine dining. Nothing may better represent this scene than Iron Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant Distrito. An homage to Mexico City culture, Distrito is a combination of ethnic flare with fine dining ingredients, and solid technique.
The Mexico City theme is prevalent throughout – complete with a VW Beetle to sit in! The decor is odd, eclectic, and not at all to my liking. But it doesnt really matter. It’s kitschy, and unapologetic. However, it feels like the designer is trying a bit too hard – 250 seats is a lot of pink, green, and neon. And the decor doesnt fit the price point in my mind.
Campbell Apartment @ Grand Central Station
15 Vanderbilt Ave
New York, NY 10017
Hidden away in a corner of Grand Central Station is one of the most fascinating bars in New York. It isn’t trendy, modern, or cutting edge, but it’s an oasis of calm at the heart of a bustling train station, and its unapologetically retro style gives you a glimpse into a piece of New York’s history. That bar is the Campbell Apartment.
Once the office for railroad tycoon John W. Campbell, Campbell Apartment was a private salon for a businessman who loved to drink. During the prohibition era, he was able to entertain clients and friends in his office, conveniently attached to Grand Central Station.
The space was renovated in 1999 to recapture the grandeur and design of the 1920′s space – dark wood, high ceilings, leaded windows, leather chairs and a very prominent bar. The detail and preservation of many of the original structures is an architecture geek’s dream.
Icelandic Fish and Chips Organic Bistro
Tryggvagötu 8 / 101 Reykjavik
Food in Iceland lacks a definite diversity. With little arable land, and short growing seasons, there is a definite lack of vegetables. Greenhouses powered by geothermal energy provide the majority of the fresh local produce, and the rest is imported. However, what they lack in vegetables, they make up for in abundance with fish. Their coastal waters are some of the richest in the world, and makes up 70% of their exports – this is an island where fish and fishing mean a lot.
While there are an abundance of fresh fish, that doesn’t guarantee a great meal. Transforming that ingredient into something tasty lies in the hands of the chef. At Icelandic Fish and Chips, they have it figured out.
Across from the harbour in Reykjavik, Icelandic Fish and Chips bills itself as an organic bistro. Their menu is basic – they offer 3-4 fish of the day, whatever was caught that morning, and some basic sides like salad, fries, onion rings, and baked goods. Prices are very reasonable – fish falls between 1000 ISK and 1300 ISK – comparatively cheap relative to other restaurants in Reykjavik.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Within every food culture is a fast food identity. Foods of convenience. Cheap, quick, and often one of the tastiest experiences you can have. At a minimum, it provides very strong insight into a slice of a nation’s identity. In Iceland, that food is the Pylsur.
Near the Reykjavik harbour lies one of the most famous “hot dog” stands in the world. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur can claim Bill Clinton, and Metallica as some of their fans. But really, morning, noon, and night, this is THE place in Reykjavik to get a pylsur – and you’re likely to meet lots of locals and tourists alike.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur translates as “the best hot dog in town”, and it really is.