So it’s been a while, but I’ve decided to bring the blog back. I’ve been living here for three years now, and so I’m hoping my research and knowledge of the restaurants of NYC can help those who live here, or even those who are just visiting. I’m also implementing a new format, where my ratings will be out of 10, and I’ll list the price estimate (L/M/H for low, medium, and high). Food is such a central part of my life, and I’m hoping to tell my story of living in New York through my fantastic food adventures. Hopefully it’ll reach some of you, especially those of you out there who can barely afford to live in this expensive city and still are struggling to find affordable food that tastes delicious.
This year, my university ran out of housing, and so I’m being put up in a hotel for the semester. This is really great, because not only do I get to explore a new area of town I’d otherwise never get to know (Midtown East), but also because this has been my unattainable dream since I’ve been a child. So I’m extremely fortunate for this amazing opportunity (and even more fortunate for the free wine I drink in the lobby every day). Hopefully this will make for an amazing last year of schooling (before the five years of graduate school). But this blog is about the food, not me, and so on to the new reviews!
Zucker’s Bagels and Smoked Fish
370 Lexington Ave.
Rating: 8/10 Cost: M
I was walking back from the subway, staring at every single storefront because I still don’t know any places to eat around here, and I stumbled across a place that has “the best bagel and lox in NYC”. I tend to ignore signs like this because there are about 10 “best cannoli in NYC” restaurants in Little Italy alone, and at least 50 of the “best pizza in NYC” locations. However, this place drew my attention because:
- This is not a common “NYC” food type to advertise (although there are a million “best bagels” locations).
- The restaurant looked really nice (so I’m being a little shallow, can’t help it).
- They backed up their credentials (Time Out NY, who I trust to a vague extent, although not as much as Zagat).
- I know no restaurants around here and have nothing to lose (and this place is in a really convenient spot for me, so I’d like it to be true).
The next morning (aka 11 because it’s the weekend and I like to sleep in) I visited this place. It’s a traditional Jewish deli, but as I said a really nice looking one. Cute little faux blackboards with the food choices listed. The bagel with lox is their “famous” sandwich, not that I was really having a difficult time choosing what to eat. And it’s $10.50, which is average for New York but damn it if it doesn’t piss me off every single time. I don’t see why a little bit of fish going on my bagel raises the price from a few dollars to a huge amount, but I digress. I got it on an onion bagel, not toasted because apparently “New York” bagels shouldn’t be toasted? (I think I read this somewhere) but also because most bagel places tend to burn my bagels when I get them toasted and I didn’t want to run the risk (looking at you, Pick-A-Bagel).
So I sit down inside and bite into this sandwich, and oh my God, this sandwich. Wow. The fish is an amazing quality, not just what you buy at the supermarket but actually delicately prepared. The bagel is of perfect consistency. The cream cheese is present in perfect amount; not too much and not too little. And the tomatoes, onions, and capers really balance well with the fish to make it a much more complex sandwich, where each part seems to play off one another and nothing is overpowering. So in short, I’d highly recommend it to anyone who really loves bagels with lox the way I do.
This place also has normal sandwiches (pastrami, corned beef, etc.), and normal bagels which are not $10. They have deals in the morning and close to closing is “happy hour”, in addition to daily sandwich specials. I obviously wish the price was a little lower, but I can’t deny the quality. Overall, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s a bagel and lox fanatic like I am.
Lady M Confections
36 W 40th St.
Rating: 9/10 Cost: E
Exploring my neighborhood further, I decided to spend some time in Bryant Park. I’ve been seeking a place to hang out outdoors, and I really enjoy the high line as my favorite NYC park because it’s such an urban park. You look around you and you can see the city everywhere. And there’s enough green without there being too much (I have odd preferences). But it’s a pain in the ass to get to from where I’m living now, so I decided to check out Bryant Park, which I’ve only been to about twice previously, always in the winter. And you know what? Bryant Park is pretty freaking awesome. You’re surrounded by skyscrapers, and it’s like a nice little oasis. There’s tons of food options all around you, both in and outside of the park. Not to mention the ping pong tables, outdoor library cart, and bars. So yeah, I’m definitely a fan, and I’ll be hanging out there a lot in the future.
On the way back, I saw the awning for Lady M’s, and it sounded really familiar to me, although I couldn’t think of why. I peeked inside the window, and saw all kinds of beautiful cakes, and on the wall was a “Zagat Survey” sign. And they had a freaking 29. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at somewhere that’s got a 29/30, because it’s usually hundreds of dollars. So I obviously knew I had to try it (Zagat typically knows their stuff). I got a piece of their signature mille crêpe cake (which I pronounced with a pretty great French accent, I’d like you to know). And it was $7.50. For a piece of freaking cake that I was getting as carryout. So that part was not so enjoyable (this was turning out to be a very expensive afternoon). I sucked it up and decided I really wanted to try this cake, and so I took it home to open the cute little package (that explains the ugly plate in the photo).
This cake tasted like heaven. I’ve had a mille crêpe before, so I knew how much I enjoy them, but it’s been a really long time. As a baker I tend to be extremely critical about baked goods, but there was nothing to criticize about this amazing dish. First of all, for those of you who don’t know, a mille crêpe has about 20 layers of crêpes on top of one another, and then they’re held together by layers of cream in between. It’s such a complicated process that you don’t even think of when you’re biting into it, which must have taken them forever to prepare. I love how the lightness of the crêpe is balanced by the heaviness of the cream. The part that stands out for a really good pastry like this is the quality of the cream. I think that even a bad crêpe will taste pretty damn good, but you know if you have bad cream because it’s viscous, far too heavy, or improperly seasoned. But this was flawless. Needless to say, I’ll be blowing my bank account there again, and soon (if anyone wants to buy me one of their very expensive cakes for my birthday, I wouldn’t say no 😉 ).