Eating the city: New York City, USA

In a city as big as New York and a stomach that can only physically expand so much, it’s impossible to eat everything. So, in order to save precious gut real estate for the good stuff, let me run you down the goodies you need to save space for when you visit.

 

1. Walnut chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery
Multiple locations
https://www.levainbakery.com

Not particularly cheap at USD$4.00 but they’re the size of grapefruit, FULL of melty chocolatey and nutty goodness, and can you really put a price on happiness? If you want to eat in, get there early or prepare to wait around – it’s a tiny space, so it fills up and the line ends up out the door pretty fast!
Read more here

 

2. Patrami & mustard on rye from Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston St
https://www.katzsdelicatessen.com

This is one of the classics of NYC, and there’s a good reason for that. Family run for several generations, they’ve served everyone from Harry & Sally to NYC Mayor de Blasio and Senator Bernie Sanders (I know that because they were sitting at the table next to us a few weeks ago!). And if the USD$22.00 price tag puts you off a little, remember how much you’d pay for that much meat at a BBQ place – just because its between bread doesn’t mean you’re not getting your money’s worth!
Read more here

 

3. Brisket and burnt ends from Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
Multiple locations
http://www.mightyquinnsbbq.com

Tender, juicy meat with soft, melty fat… and those perfect burnt pieces off the ends to finish it all off. Heaven! These guys know how to make meat perfect, and don’t forget some mac & cheese on the side. Prices vary depending on your order, but it’s good value for money for such high quality.
Read more here

 

4. Any and all of the pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Brooklyn
439 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn
http://www.birdsblack.com

Brooklyn’s amazing, but even if it wasn’t, it’d still be worth going to just to get your pie fix from these guys. They have a sweet little pie shop on a street corner, with a chalkboard hanging over the counter announcing the day’s offerings (around USD$6.00 per slice), and REAL tea and coffee to go with it!
Read more here

 

5. A salmon & cream cheese bagel from Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St
https://www.russanddaughters.com

This is the bagel dreams are made of, in whatever combination you decide on. I can’t go past the scallion cream cheese, and while it’s damn near impossible to narrow down the fish, I’d strongly recommend the cured Scottish salmon and the smoked sable. Prices vary depending on your fish, but they’re kind enough to slice off a bit for you to taste before you commit.
Read more here

 

6. Hot dogs from Papaya King or Nathan’s Famous
Papaya King: 179 E 86th St
http://www.papayaking.com

Nathan’s Famous: Coney Island or at a Bulls game at the United Center
https://nathansfamous.com

Two NYC stalwarts, two great dogs. From Papaya King you’ll be wanting the two hot dogs with sauerkraut & mustard and a papaya drink combo. I wasn’t sold on the papaya juice drink with a hot dog, but its actually a weirdly good combination! And at Nathan’s, you just want a dog with a little ketchup and mustard. Amazing!
Read more here and here

 

7. Tea and scones at Alice’s Tea Cup
Multiple locations
https://alicesteacup.com

I’m a big fan of Alice, so I was stoked to find this wasnt a completely tacky themed cafe. They do breakfast and lunch, too, but I was there for tea and sweets. You can get a large pot (6 cups) of tea with two scones of your choice (they have a rotating selection daily) for USD$20.00, and they’ve cleverly switched to a tip-included-in-the-price system to make things even easier. Selecting you tea is the hard part, with dozens to choose from – I like the Mauritius black tea with a hint of vanilla, and of course their signature Alice’s tea; you can also purchase any tea from their menu to take home!
Read more here

 

8. Deli sandwich near Sunset Park, Brooklyn
5th Avenue between Green-Wood Cemetery and Sunset Park

It doesn’t really matter where you get it from or what’s in it, the whole walk up 5th Avenue to Sunset Park is lined with these little delis. It’s a bit of a climb to the top of the park, so grab some sandwiches on fresh bread piled high with just-sliced deli meats for a picnic in a spot that overlooks the Manhattan skyline.

 

9. Noodles and dim sum in Chinatown

Let’s be honest; where there’s a Chinatown, there’s good food. And New York’s is no different. Get yourself over there and just start walking. It’s just like being in Asia, which means the menus are often difficult to decipher, and there are more options than you’ll know what to do with. And, it’s cheap. Enjoy!

 

10. New York Cheesecake from Eileen’s Special Cheesecake
17 Cleveland Place
https://www.eileenscheesecake.com

Because how can you possibly go to New York without trying the namesake cheesecake?! You can get a little personal one for yourself (USD$5.00), or a nice big one to share (or, for yourself, no judgement), and in all sorts of flavours as well as the original.
Read more here

 

11. Crack pie & birthday truffles from Momofuku Milk Bar
Multiple locations
http://milkbarstore.com/main/

We live in a time where sugar’s been proven to be more addictive than crack anyway, so may as well skip the drugs and go right for the sweet stuff! The pie is basically pure butter and sugar, and the truffles are sugar with sprinkles, but they taste so damn good you just can’t help yourself!
Read more here

 

12. Bomboloni from Sullivan Street Bakery
533 W 57th Street
http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com

Soft, airy, pillowy balls of dough, fried to golden perfection and filed with silky smooth custard. Off you go.
Read more here

 

13. A bit of everything from the Chelsea Market
75 9th Avenue
http://chelseamarket.com

There’s a whole basement full of food here, from vegan sushi to Aussie sausage rolls, herbal teas to artisan pastries, pizza slices to microbrew beer. If you can’t find something here you like, there’s something wrong with you!
Read more here

 

14. Gyro platter from The Halal Guys
Multiple locations
https://thehalalguys.com

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and a gap in the market for halal food in NYC led to one of the city’s greatest creations in the Halal Guys. The meat (served street side from a cart) is probably better than any you’ve had in a restaurant, and starting at around USD$8.00 for a platter, you won’t even need dinner later!
Read more here

 

15. Burgers! Fancy ones from Five Napkins, simple ones from Shake Shack.
Five Napkins: multiple locations
https://5napkinburger.com

Shake Shack: multiple locations
https://www.shakeshack.com

I’m a real burger lover, and my two NYC favourites fall on both ends of the spectrum. For something a bit fancier, try the Original 5 Napkin with gruyere and caramelised onions (around USD$17.00), and for a quick and cheap option, get yourself a ShackBurger for just USD$6.00. Both amazing. Just get both.
Read more here and here

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My favourite Chicago eats

I had fun mentally re-eating all the good stuff I had in New York… let’s do it again!

This week, I’m going back to Chicago. Initially, I only agreed to add it to the itinerary because husband wanted to go; I really didn’t know much anything about the city, other than it’s home to the Chicago Bulls, and as children of the 90s/the Jordan era who both grew up playing basketball, that’s obviously our NBA team of choice. Other than that, it was a bit of a blank city for me.

After spending almost a week there over Christmas, though, my opinion changed completely; I loved that city. I can’t tell you why, either – it was just one of those places that felt good to be in. Beautiful buildings, the gorgeous river than runs through it, friendly people, and amazing food. The food scene reminded me a lot of Melbourne, actually, which may be one of the big reasons I loved it so much! We ate a lot in that week, and it was hard to narrow it down to the favourites, but here they are….

 

1. Do-Rite Donuts (donuts)
The food: A traditional buttermilk glaze
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The memory: Ohh I loved this place! Our first day in Chicago, it was cold like I couldn’t believe, and it was Christmas Eve! We were on our way to the Christkindl Christmas Market, and noticed a giant donut pointing the way to a cute little store. We grabbed a donut and some hot tea, pulled up our hoods and sat out the front in the cold to take it all in… a kindly old man sitting on the table next to us struck up a friendly conversation, and it was the most wonderful welcome to any city we’ve ever had!
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2. Au Cheval (diner, burgers)
The food: The Au Cheval cheeseburger with a fried egg; same thing everyone else was ordering!
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The memory: The wind was like little frosty daggers this day, and after a morning of sight-seeing, we couldn’t have been happier to get into Au Cheval and escape the cold! After much pre-trip Googling, Au Cheval’s fried egg cheeseburger seemed to be the must-try burger for Chicago, and it didn’t disappoint. We were lucky enough to get a seat at the counter where we watched the most well-oiled machine out together the most spectacular looking (and smelling) food for the Saturday lunch crowd; it was mesmerising, and really made us think of Chicago as a proper food city.
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3. Portillo’s (hot dogs)
The food: A Chicago dog. Obviously.
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The memory: Another day of walking and walking and more walking, we finally found ourselves in the neighourhood of a Portillo’s, and it was finally Chicago Dog time. I remember sitting on the second level of the restaurant watching over all of the happy people and families with their tables of dogs and fries, and thinking how lucky we were to have made it all the way across the world to enjoy something as simple as a hot dog, which so many people would completely take for granted!
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4. Billy Goat Tavern (burgers)
The food: Double cheezborger. No fries, CHEEPS! No Pepsi, COKE!
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The memory: This was another exciting one – we love watching travel shows, especially the ones that are food heavy. And on all of the travel shows about Chicago and food, the Billy Goat Tavern shows itself. We sat there in the crowded sub-street level diner with our burgers re-hashing the Bulls game we’d been to the night before, and talking about how long ago it felt that we were sitting on the couch watching this place on TV wondering if we’d ever actually get there…
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5. Lou Malnati’s (deep dish pizza)
The food: The Malnati Chicago Classic – sausage, cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce. Simple.
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The memory: I know that “real” Chicagoans don’t do deep dish pizza, but to enjoy it, you just need to not think of it as pizza. It’s a quiche pizza hybrid. A quizza, if you will. This was one of the deep thoughts that was discussed over dinner, sitting at a high bench table, finally out of the -15°C cold. Sometimes we just act like kids…
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6. Rubi’s Tacos (street food – tacos)
The food: Pork tacos – amazing!!!
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The memory: Market and street food are two of my favourite things, and when we came across Rubi’s with a massive line, we figured we should probably join it – I remembered reading somewhere they did the best tacos. When we realised no one in the line was speaking English and there was no real menu, we figured a) we were definitely in the right place for breakfast and b) it was lucky I knew how to order pork tacos in Spanish. Sitting among the crowd, we stood out like green elephants, and really enjoyed feeling so out of place – that’s what travel is all about!
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7. Doughnut Vault (donuts)
The food: A vanilla glazed raised and a buttermilk old fashioned
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The memory: A tiny little place with the delicious smell of fried dough in the air and nowhere to sit – it felt just like being back in Melbourne! Another freezing day, we got there nice and early, grabbed our donuts and enjoyed them outside – I remember my butt being freezing against the cold concrete sidewalk we were sitting on, my fingers being sticky as all hell, and the two of us giggling like we were two kids who’d stolen a piece of birthday cake. Good times in Chicago! 🙂
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Eat here: Burger Project, Melbourne (burgers)

Burger Project
Shop 2.05, Level 2, St Collins Lane, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD
http://burgerproject.com/

You certainly can’t complain about a lack of burger options in Melbourne. We have a horrendous hot dog shortage, but we’re good for burgers. I wrote last week that my fellow burger buddy and I were going to try out Burger Project, and try it out we did.

It’s perched atop the newly fancied up St Collins Lane on Collins Street, and going up the elevators, it kinda felt a bit Crown-casino like – big, la-di-da chandelier lighting, security guards doing laps outside designer stores, and a lot of suit-clad businessmen.

Getting to the top of the building and into Burger Project central really didn’t do much for me – it felt so white and clean and sterile. But the menu looked decent; Burger Project prides itself on quality, with their philosophies centering around sustainability and community support. They’ve sourced an impressive list of suppliers, including Cape Grim Beef (36 month grass fed Cape Grim beef chuck and brisket for the patties), Lilydale free range chicken, and Murray River Salt. And Mr Perry’s reputation for the infamous Rockpool Burger is obviously helpful when establishing little side ventures like this.

So, our orders. She got the CHEESE (grass fed beef patty, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce, $9.90). Unfortunately, didn’t quite hit the mark – she likened it to a fish and chip shop burger. She did enjoy the chocolate thickshake, though!

As for me, it was the AMERICAN CHEESE (grass fed beef patty, cheese, onion, pickles, secret sauce and rose mayonnaise, $9.90) plus bacon, $2.00). I liked mine more, with the pros being the outstanding pickles, great sauces, patty cooked medium and nice salty bacon.

But, there were flaws:
– Wayyyyy too much sauce = soggy bottomed burger bun
– Cheese wasn’t melted. You cannot present a cheeseburger with unmelted cheese. Inexcusable.
– You can kinda make it out from the photo below, but patty to bun size ratio was way off, which, after the non-melted cheese, is my next biggest pet burger hate. The patty needs to extend out to the bun perimeter. It just has to. But this one didn’t  : (

Points for service, though – quick and friendly. And the food has potential, but honestly, I expected a hell of a lot better. When you’re in the CBD and competing with places like Royal Stacks and Grand Trailer Park Taverna, you gotta lift your game! Nice burger, not crap, but not amazing.

Burger Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Juanita Peaches, Melbourne (burgers & fried chicken)

Juanita Peaches
12-14 Edward St, Brunswick
https://www.instagram.com/juanitapeaches/

So, I wrote earlier in the week about the epic Saturday morning breakfast date that turned into a full day outing; Juanita Peaches was one of our stops, for first lunch. Husband and I had both been wanting to try them out for a while, having been enormous fans of All Day Donuts (and all of Raph Rashid’s other ventures, for that matter) for quite a long time. And let’s be honest – anywhere you can get a cheeseburger, fried chicken and donuts has to be a good place.

We ordered a cheeseburger and 2 pieces of fried chicken to share. The fried chicken, at $4 a piece, was actually pretty good value considering how big  the pieces were. I have no idea what they were coated in, but it was probably the best fried chicken coating I’ve ever had. Flavours of amazing. They were also nice and crispy without being as oily as most other fried chicken I’ve had, which was another tick for me. And tender, white, juicy chicken. Trifecta.

The burger ($12) was a 120g grass fed beef affair, housed in a brioche bun, with double cheese, onion, mustard and pickles. My only fault with this was the excessive onion (which meant I couldn’t have more than a couple of little bites), which is no fault of the burger, but of my own stomach’s inability to handle fructose. Otherwise, fantastic cheeseburger. Perfectly seasoned patty, buttery delicious brioche bun, lots of tangy pickles, and all of the melty, molten cheese. Loved it!

They’re open daily from noon, and tonight they’re open until 10pm. Dinner sorted!

 

Juanita Peaches Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Fish & Burger Co, Melbourne (burgers)

The Fish & Burger Co, Melbourne
1001 Doncaster Rd, East Doncaster
http://www.thefishandburgerco.com

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Happy Friday! Never thought I’d be so happy to be back at work for the week! Last Friday was the tail end of migraine central, so after working from home for the day, I was excited to finally venture out of the house for a movie night with dad 🙂 he can’t cook though, so he told me we were going out for dinner. When he told me dinner was going to be a new burger place in Doncaster, I was skeptical; Doncaster isn’t exactly known for their amazing burgers. That’s more Fitzroy and Collingwood’s territory. But dads pretty good at spotting a good burger, so off we went.

We arrived at The Fish & Burger Co, and it looked just like something you’d likely find in a more hipster area. Big modern space with light bulbs dangling off chunky ropes looped around ceiling beams, and some crazy looking freak shakes on the menu. Touché, dad.

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As you might expect, the menu has fish and burgers, but also some fancy salads, tapas, and a pretty decent range of kids meals. The fish coming out of the kitchen looked great, but dad and I were there for burgers. We both went with the ‘Ol School Cheese – 150g Wagyu beef brisket patty, American cheese, lettuce, pickles, Spanish onion, ketchup, mustard and mayo ($10.00) plus bacon ($2.00) because obviously. And a small fries.

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They came out quickly, and they looked impressive. Any remaining skepticism I had was dashed pretty quickly after the first 2 bites – cooked a perfect medium, the patty was still a little pink, juicy, and well seasoned. The cheese was perfect, the bacon was crispy, and extra points for using my holy trinity of condiments. To say I was a surprised was an understatement. The fries were great too, all golden and crisp, no soggy spuds. I even got a bad dad joke out of them with a “don’t even think about leaving the table until you finish your veggies” when I left a handful of fries…  >.<

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It’s nothing over the top or la-di-da, but for a simple and extremely well priced bacon cheeseburger, this is certainly up there for me. Dad, a fellow burger lover, agreed in between mouthfuls. A welcome addition to the eastern suburbs, and most definitely in my sights for another visit!

Also, Star Wars was marginally better the second time around, though it still felt like too much of a re-make of the original. Dad’s homemade Nutella Baci ice cream was the biggest winner of the night, though – he may not be able to cook, but he can make some serious ice cream!!

The Fish & Burger Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Longhorn Saloon, Melbourne (American)

Longhorn Saloon
118 Elgin St, Carlton
http://www.longhornsaloon.com.au/

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The husband made it through another birthday last week. And while he doesn’t like to celebrate it, he does very much like good American BBQ, so (much like my birthday) we had a bit of an unbirthday dinner at Longhorn. Another brain child of the Balleau (Le Bon Ton) family, it’s got that gorgeous Southern feel to it, which was only helped along by the awesome playlist of Rebirth Brass Band and Trombone Shorty, that homely decor and the loveliest staff.

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The birthday boy chose a few dishes to share and we sang along to Trombone and reminisced about the good times we’d had in New Orleans while we waited (which wasn’t very long). First up were the fried chicken tenders with a cheddar biscuit & cracked pepper white gravy, The chicken was crazy good – tender, white flesh coated in the most delicious crunchy coating. Plus a fluffy biscuit and creamy gravy; it’s really good stuff, and the birthday boy’s favourite.

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Next up was the 5 Points Deli Brisket Reuben (on dark rye, with corned brisket, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing). It was one of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen, and the brisket was delicious, especially the rendered, melty fat pockets in there. There was probably a bit much sauerkraut and dressing for my liking, so I pulled mine apart and ate all the meaty goodness. And the pickle was unreal.

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Last up was the Le Bon Ton Cheeseburger (Wagyu beef patty, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy ketchup, aioli), which I really liked. Good choice with the iceberg lettuce which kept things crunchy, perfectly cooked bacon with molten cheese on top – it’s what you want in a cheeseburger.

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The service was quick and super friendly, the food was delicious, the setting was gorgeous, the tunes were on point – it was the perfect unbirthday dinner  : )  And if you can make it through another Monday today, you can treat yourself to dinner there tomorrow night!

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Longhorn Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne (burgers)

The Spotted Mallard
314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
http://spottedmallard.com/

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Live music and burgers. When they’re done well, there’s really not much better, and The Spotted Mallard does them both exceptionally well. Monday night saw a few of us gather there to see the very talented Harry Hookey followed by the equally talented The Audreys, and eat some burgers.

While it doesn’t look like much when you’re coming in off Sydney Rd, climb the stairs and you’re in a stunning ex-ballroom, complete with fancy wallpaper, nanna-style lampshade lights, perfectly mismatched old chairs and couches, and cavernous stained glass skylights. It’s got so much character to it – the perfect place for live music.

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And burgers. We all ordered one. They have other stuff, too, but it was 96% burgers coming out of the kitchen. What you’re getting is the Wagyu Beef and Bacon Burger: 150gm Wagyu beef patty cooked pink with streaky bacon, molten gryuere, caramelised onion, pickles and chipotle mayo. And fat, chunky chips.

The burger was actually cooked to the perfect medium-rare, a thick strip of pink inside. Heaps of bacon, and the molten gruyere was an incredible choice. I was stoked when half the table handballed their pickles over to me – tangy deliciousness! My only partial fault was that the bread wasn’t quite strong enough to hold by the time I neared the end, but that’s better than having a crappy, dry burger patty. This guy has stormed straight into my top 5!

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If you haven’t got plans this weekend, maybe consider taking in a set (there’s live music every night) and a burger…

The Spotted Mallard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato