As I promised last week, I’m here to fill you in on some of the other meals I enjoyed on the cheap (relatively speaking) while I was in New York. For the sake of order, I’ll begin at the beginning.
I had a meeting at Columbia the day after I arrived in Manhattan. Mango Mama and I figured heading uptown would give us a good excuse to stop in at Dinosaur Bar B Que in Harlem, which was recommended to me by the same friend who suggested Otto. He had particularly extolled the glories of the fried green tomato BLT, calling it the greatest sandwich ever created.
Let’s just say I wouldn’t go that far about the sandwich or about anything else I saw or tried at Dinosaur, which turned out to be a chain. The fried green tomato sandwich was good— made with thick slices of green tomatoes, heavily battered and deep-fried and a few large swaths of crispy bacon. I never imagined that the tomatoes would be so breaded, but hot out of the oven, they tasted great. The major drawback of this sandwich was the bread, a run-of-the-mill hamburger bun that got too soggy from the special sauce. Crusty sourdough toast would have been a vast improvement. We also ordered a fairly tasty Cuban sandwich that was packed with sweetly sauced meat. Still, I can safely say I’ve had better.
The next day, after feasting at Otto, Daddy Salmon’s cousin Maple Syrup offered to lead the way to Hummus Place, a small Israeli-run restaurant in the West Village that specializes in just one thing— you guessed it— hummus. Daddy Salmon was skeptical, asking: “Hummus is hummus, isn’t it?” Actually not, as it turns out. This stuff is phenomenal and bears almost no relation to the plaster-like substance found in most grocery stores and health food restaurants. We ordered a takeout version of the hummus fava, which comes with a stew of whole fava beans, tahini, a hard-boiled egg, olive oil and spices. Every takeout order also comes with pita bread and pickles, which we mixed in with the rest of it. We ate it later that evening as an appetizer on Auntie Pasti and Corn-y Uncle’s rooftop patio.
Next came Daddy Salmon’s party. It was a blast and excellent food was had by all. My grandma, Rice Pudding, was one of the guests of honor. She stayed in Long Island (or the ‘Guyland as my cousin Ketchup likes to call it) at my aunt and uncle’s house, so we took the train back out the next day to see them. They live in Plainview, which is undoubtedly a nice place to live but leaves something to be desired in terms of entertainment. It’s nice to see my cousins, but the thing I most anticipate about the area where they live is eating bagels from Bagel Boss.
Legend among Bagel Boss fanatics like my cousins Black Cherry Soda and Bagel with Lox (who used to eat very little else) is that the bagels here are so good because of the mineral content in the Long Island water Somehow I have a hard time buying that, but these are among the best— if not the best— of any bagels I’ve ever tasted. They have just the right density and the perfect tooth-feel. Other wonderful things about Bagel Boss include: top-notch bialys, great spreads and fish salads, a 100 percent kosher kitchen and excellent black and white cookies. Best of all— it’s open 24 hours a day! Relatives or no relatives, this is reason enough to come to Plainview (or neighboring Hicksville, to be exact).
I love my Long Island relatives, and I love Bagel Boss, but two days in the ‘Guyland exhausts most of the great culinary and cultural opportunities. The next day it was back to New York for a trip to the MoMA before flying to Chicago. Before viewing the awesome Richard Serra sculpture show, Mango Mama, Flava Flav and I joined Uncle Second Breakfast and my cousin Momotaro for lunch at Cafe 2, the casual second floor restaurant with an Italian theme. Mango Mama and I shared this salumi platter with olives and flatbread along with a salad. Flav had a fig and Gorgonzola panini and Uncle SB had a delicious looking salad with a quartered cured tuna sandwich. Overall, I was highly impressed with the quality to price ratio, especially considering the price increase factors of dining at a New York museum.
New York is known for being one of the most expensive cities to live in and visit. I don’t doubt that it is. But I am more and more convinced that a New Yorker can at least eat well without paying an arm and a leg. After all, those limbs might come in handy when it comes to paying the rent.
Dinosaur Bar B Que
646 W. 131st St.
New York, NY 10027
109 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10003
432 S. Oyster Bay Rd.
Hicksville, NY 11801
11 W. 53rd St.
(between Fifth and Sixth Aves.)
New York, NY 10019