Monday, January 28, 2013

Restaurnt Week - DBGB

We are in the middle of Restaurant Week here in NYC. I am a big proponent of Restaurant Week and lunch is my move. Less crowded, easier to get into the most popular restaurants. I usually use it as an excuse to try out some spots that I have not been to yet (Riverpark is on the schedule). It also a good time to hit some favorites without a big hit to the wallet. One of my go-tos is DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Daniel Boulud's comfortable, casual restaurant in the Bowery that offers refined food for lovers of sausage, burgers and beer. Daniel Boulud is a big supporter of Restaurant Week so you can be sure his Restaurant Week menus will not be mere afterthoughts.

DBGB is a large room with a masculine feel. Nods to the Lower East Side and the days of punk are limited to the restaurant name (a play on GBGB's), The Clash playing on the website and the jars of Marky Ramone's Tomato Sauce on the restaurant's shelves. The rest is Daniel Boulud, tie loosened, doing his take on comfort food. This means an enviable beer list, a great burger and one of the best collections of house made sausage in town.

All that said, I didn't go for any of the above in my recent visit. The burger is featured on the three course Prix-Fixe Restaurant Menu but I had other things in mind.

Celery Root Soup

1st Course - Celery Root Soup. The soup, with "lambcetta", hazelnuts and huckleberries, was the perfect start on a frigid day. Deeply flavorful and creamy, the soup was silky without inducing a lactose haze. The hazelnuts added crunch and texture, the huckleberries a touch of sweetness. This soup was worth braving the arctic winds howling up Bowery.

Potato Gnocchi

 2nd Course - Potato Gnocchi - This screamed comfort food so I listened. I am always wary when it comes to gnocchi but I knew I was in good hands so I rolled the dice. As you would expect, the gnocchi was perfect. Light, chewy and fresh, DBGB's version reminds you why people love gnocchi. DBGB's potato gnocchi features slow cooked chicken, grilled broccoli rabe and black truffle butter sauce. Need I say more? Once again, DBGB shows a light touch. Comforting but refined, the chicken is rich and moist and works in tandem with the gnocchi. The black truffle butter adds a touch of elegance and decadence desperately needed on a Wednesday afternoon on January.


Chocolate Only Cake.

3rd Course - Chocolate Only Cake. How else could you end this meal? DBGB's cake is comprised of a flourless biscuit, bittersweet chocolate mousse and white chocolate whipped cream. Layers of delicate crunchy biscuit are spread with airy, luscious chocolate mouse. And once again, the deft hands in the kitchen shine through. The Chocolate Only Cake is sinful with out hurting your teeth or sending you into a sugar induced coma and the need for confession is minimal.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar is the perfect place to indulge the gourmand in you without feeling the need to pay penance afterward. In the dark days of January and February, that is something we all deserve.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar - 299 Broadway (Between Houston and 1st Street) -

NYC Restaurant Week continues through February 8. Check here for details -

Monday, January 14, 2013

First Taste - Mighty Quinn's Barbeque

New York's burgeoning brisket scene continues to grow. Smorgasburg favorites Mighty Quinn's Barbeque have turned the old Vandaag spot on Sixth Street and Second Avenue into their first brick-and-mortar spot. Fans of Mighty Quinn's Texas-Carolina barbeque hybrid can now get their brisket on seven days a week. I stopped in to get my first taste.

The large corner space has been refitted with dark wood, metal and concrete. The space is sleek and minimally done but comfortable. Large windows along sixth street lighten up the room. Standard seating takes up the front of house while the back of the room near the food counter has window seating and a large communal table.

 The main event at Mighty Quinn's is the smoked meat and their beast of a smoker has pride of place behind the counter. It immediately grabs your attention.

Smokin' some chicken.

 A giant rack of hardwood sits close by, fuel for this monster.

Like any self respecting BBQ joint, Might Quinn's offers counter service only. You order, get your tray full and pay. First up is the meat menu.

Brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and spare ribs are available in a single serving, "naked" or as a sandwich, or by the pound. Beef rib and half chicken are only available as a single serving.

Once you have placed your meat order you move onto add-on's and sides.

You start with the free add-on's to go with your sandwich. Pickled cucumbers, pickled onions or pickled chilies for some heat. Two styles of coleslaw (creamy and vinegar) are available and can be had as a side or as an add-on. Other sides are Burnt End Baked Beans, Sweet Potato Casserole and Edamame & Sweet Pea Salad.

(One thing to note: Mighty Quinn's is still waiting on a permit for a second hood to vent their fryer. Until that comes through they do not have their wings or pommes frites. You can sign a petition while you are there to help them secure the permit.)

Along with water, sodas and home made iced tea Mighty Quinn's also has a nice selection of beers in  bottles and on tap.

So let's cut to the chase. What did I go for? Brisket of course.

The brisket sandwich to be exact. An over-sized brioche style bun is filled with the house brisket.  Moist, lean and smokey, the brisket is light and brightly flavored. You will be asked, as I was, if you want burnt tips. You will of course say, "yes, please." For the add-ons I went with the pickled cucumbers (cool and sweet), the pickled onions (slightly sour with a soft edge) and creamy slaw.

Every table has a bottle of the house barbeque sauce.

It is a nice blend of a tomato and sugar style sauce with a vinegar based sauce. Use it.

The brisket sandwich is a winner. No surprise since this is what the empire is built on. The brisket is delicious to begin with and the add-on's are no afterthought. This is one example of the benefits of the pickling craze. The add-on's raise the brisket sandwich (or any other meat I would imagine) to another level. The meat is warm, rich and hearty. The sides are cool, crisp, light and bright. Any combination would be a winner.

I also went for a side of Burnt End Baked Beans.

Smokey, meaty goodness. You may think that a brisket sandwich is more than enough brisket. You are wrong. Get these.

The jump from food truck or flea market food vendor to an actual restaurant is becoming more and more common. That does not mean it is easy. At first glance it appears Mighty Quinn's has made the jump and landed on their feet. The restaurant looks good, the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful and the food delivers.

Hello brisket.

Might Quinn's spice rack.

I cannot wait to get back and try some of the other meats and sides, although I am worried I will just go for the brisket again and again. Not that that would be so bad.

Mighty Quinn's - 103 Second Avenue - (212) 677-3733 -

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lucky 13

I winced as I went to write this, my first post of 2013. My last one was on December 15th. That sort of sums up 2012, at least the end of it. We all know the new year really starts on January 2 so here is to the New Year! So long 2012, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

In retrospect last year was a battle. There were certainly some highlights but overall it was a fight to the finish, and once Sandy hit, life became triage. What has to be done today? Don't worry about anything else. So we kept our heads down and spirits up and moved forward.

So I sit here on January 2 with a hangover from 2012 still lingering. Not a hangover in the "way to much on NYE" sort but a hangover from getting through the year. I am still sick from the nasty bug laying waste to NYC. Should have shook it by now. It is the coldest day of winter so far outside. There is a dead Christmas tree to be un-decorated and tossed. There is the to-do list for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day that went undone because of the cold. The Giants are out of the playoffs. And there is a trove of posts that never got written in 2012.  Ugh.

All that said, I am bullish on 2013. I am one of those people that thinks 13 is a lucky number. I love Friday the 13th. So I am pushing forward. This cold will go away. It will warm up. The days are getting longer. Pitchers and catchers are a handful of weeks away. So spirits up. I already have a few things to look forward to (you need to have something on the calendar to get through January and February). Here are a few things I am already looking forward to and a few goals for the New Year.

On The Calendar:

The Opera - My wonderful wife Karen surprised me with Opera tickets for Christmas. I love the opera. My father is a huge opera fan so I grew up listening to it and was introduced to the Metropolitan Opera as a kid. Growing up my parents always had a subscription. Going to the Met seemed like the height of what being an adult in New York City meant and I would eagerly await my father's review of the previous night's production the next morning. When I was old enough, and had a job where I was paid enough, one of the first things I did was get a three performance subscription to the Met. I proposed to Karen in front of the fountain after a production of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci (I barley remember the Pagliacci performance I was so nervous).  Karen and I had it for years, until we had kids and it got harder to make it there and harder to justify the cost. But I missed it, and Karen clearly picked up on that. So, in  just two weeks, we are seeing Puccini's La Rondine. I cannot wait.

Here is the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear -

New Orleans - Any reader of this blog knows I am crazy about The Crescent City. Outside of NYC it is my favorite place on earth. So you can only imagine how thrilled I am that I have a trip on the books to go to New Orleans. However, there are two things about this trip to NOLA that are different than any I have done before. The first difference is that I was apathetic about going. This is more proof as to how nuts this fall was. When Karen suggested we take the family to New Orleans for our February break my response was "Sure, whatever. Let's just book something." Thank goodness she had the good sense to follow through and put it together. Great lady. I still can't believe I didn't jump at the chance the moment she suggested it. Like I said, triage.

As luck would have it, of course, Sandy hit and the geniuses at the NY Board of Education decided to cancel our February break (did I mention how much 2012 sucked?). Undeterred, and thanks to Delta Airlines for waiving all change fees, we rescheduled for our spring break and, ultimately, may end up with better weather because of it. Suck it Sandy, DOE and 2012.

The other difference with this trip is that I am going to New Orleans with kids. Karen wont even go to New Orleans with me because she can't keep up. So I realize I am going to have to completely change my expectations for this trip. No bars, late night sets or other standard New Orleans night time activities. I was initially concerned, but now I am excited. I see it as a challenge and a new way to see the city. I have never done the major tourist routines in New Orleans. I am not sure I have ever been awake before 10 am in New Orleans. So who knows? I will see a side of the city I haven't seen before. Maybe we will do a swamp tour. I cannot wait to introduce my girls to one of my favorite cities. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes that make New Orleans so special. To quote the song,"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" I do. And soon my kids will as well.

2013 - Hitting my wall here so I will be quick.

More focus - Time to dispense with the pointless and frivolous. Get to what is important.

Write more - Obvious. Make it a priority. It is important.

Plan ahead - It is easy to let the days slip away lost in your everyday routine. I will put more things "in the book" to make sure I don't miss as many things as I did last year.


1 Art - I saw a fair amount last year, but missed even more that I wanted to see. Right now the Guggenheim has Picasso "Black & White", MOMA has "Inventing Abstraction" and The Whitney has "American Legends: Calder to O'Keeffe. This is why we live in New York. Take advantage.

2 - Food & Drink - The list of places I want to try is too long. Need to hit more spots (see plan ahead). But this also means be more social.

3 - Friends - Be more social. Tie it in to #2.

Less:  Couch. Get butt off couch and in gear.

So here is to a great year. Lucky 13. As soon as I am better I will drink to that.