Clinton Street Baking Company (LES)

Clinton Street Baking Co  LES

  • Why it’s worth it: Ridiculous pancakes, obviously. Once you get past the mammoth brunch line, which resembles a packed subway car on the weekends, you must devour Clinton Street Baking Company‘s signature blueberry pancakes. Talk about starting your day off right, when it comes to pancake craving, Clinton Street satisfies. They are the. best. pancakes. we’ve. ever. eaten.
  • Vibe/layout: This cozy, intimate and charming little 32-seat eatery exudes a warm and homey atmosphere that make up for the large crowds and close tables. Upon entering, the front portion of the ‘straunt is a takeaway pastry and coffee bar featuring delicious treats.
  • Ideal meal: Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes ($14) – Three large, incredibly light pancakes topped with blueberries and powdered sugar. The warm maple butter brings this pancake-condiment combo to the next level, making it a warm, buttery sweet delight.
  • The people behind Clinton Street Baking Co: This ‘straunt was founded in 2001 by the husband-and-wife team Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, who we will now refer to as the king and queen of pancakes.
  • Address: LES, 4 Clinton St (Clinton & East Houston)
  • Prices: $9-$17

Clinton St. Baking Company on Urbanspoon

Jeffrey’s Grocery (West Village)

Jeffrey's Grocery West Village

  • Why it’s worth it: Jeffrey’s Grocery is enjoyable and bumping at any time of day and is the perfect place for your next date, dinner with your parents or solo-dining experience.
  • Vibe/layout: Although this ‘straunt can get loud and rowdy at times, it sill feels like a charming, intimate, neighborhood diner,  featuring a handsome wooden L-shaped bar that seats a dozen overlooking a minuscule kitchen, while high communal tables and smaller dining tables add an additional dozen seats. This homey corner space exudes a worn rustic-chic ambiance with high pressed tin ceilings, wooden floors, exposed brick and cookbooks scattered on distressed wood shelves.
  • Ideal meal: Crispy salmon ($25) – The salmon filet comes in a corn broth with shrimp and a ton of vegetables. Trust us, order it.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Grab a drink at The Garret (speakeasy above Five Guys), feast at Jeffrey’s Grocery and then enjoy some ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream to end the evening.
  • F.Y.I.: Gabriel and Gina Stulman, Jeffery’s owners, are also the couple behind Joseph Leonard (across the street) and Fedora (close by). When Jeffrey’s Grocery first opened, it was a kitschy little cafe that also tried selling groceries. Since then, they ditched the faux store-front, upgraded the chef and made the most out of the space.
  • Address: West Village, 172 Waverly Place (on the corner of Christopher St)
  • Prices: $5-$37 (average dinner main is $25)

Jeffrey's Grocery on Urbanspoon

Uva (UES): Mangia Monday

Uva UES Italian

  • Why it’s worth it: As you walk into Uva you are transported to a rustic style Italian villa that is perfect for a romantic rendezvous, late-night dinner or after work drink. The food is fresh and rich in flavor and texture and will not disappoint.
  • Vibe/layout: The vibe is rustic and relaxed, with seating spread between the main room, the private wine cellar and the year-round backyard patio. This ‘straunt is intimate and homey, but also a bit swanky and trendy. The decor is reminiscent of a home or dining room in Tuscany with old photographs of Italy and antique mirrors lining the walls.
  • Ideal meal: Gnocchi di ricotta ($19)
  • F.Y.I.: Uva is the direct offspring of Lusardi’s, an UES Italian ‘straunt right up the street, such that Massimo Lusardi, the owner of Uva, is the son of Mauro Lusardi, a Parma native and owner of Lusardi’s!
  • Address: UES, 1486 2nd Ave (between 77th & 78th St)
  • Prices: $6.50 – $23

Uva on Urbanspoon

Friday Night Dinner at Natural Gourmet Institute

Good Food for a Good Cause: A Friday Night Dinner to Remember

Natural Gourmet Institute

  • Why it’s worth it: Every Friday night, Natural Gourmet Institute is transformed into an intimate dining room, in which the Chef’s Training Program students and instructors prepare a three-course vegan Friday Night Dinner. The meals are innovative, delectable and exquisitely prepared. Last Friday night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to this wonderful culinary experience and the menu for our fabulous dinner was created by Chef Barbara Rich.
  • Vibe/layout: The cozy, candlelit dining room houses several communal tables that foster friendly conversation and culinary appreciation. Don’t come here to be antisocial; come here to embrace wonderful food with wonderful company.
  • Menu for the 10/10 Friday Night Dinner:
    • Antipasto: A whole Portobello mushroom cooked perfectly with pine nut ricotta; cherry tomato-basil salad with mixed greens & white balsamic vinaigrette
      • The white balsamic vinaigrette puts any store-bought dressing to shame. Period.
    • Secondo: Three-grain risotto & tempeh sausage; butternut squash, pearl onions & broccolini with parsley pistou
    • Dolce: Chocolate terrine; almond custard; raspberry coulis & ginger crisps
  • ‘Straunt tip: The curriculum is based off of the founder’s seven core principles: the food should be seasonal, local, whole, traditional, balanced, fresh and delicious. And that’s just what it is.
  • Address: Flatiron, 48 West 21st St #2 (between 5th & Ave of the Americas)
  • Prices: $48.99 (Use code TheStraunt and get 15% off – valid through 10/31/14)

A little something extra:

  • After dinner, Chef Barbara and the culinary students who prepared the meal came out for a post-dinner Q&A. Overall, I was very impressed by the deliciousness of the vegetarian meals that seamed so complex but used such simple ingredients. Not to mention that the white balsamic vinaigrette and the chocolate terrine blew me away!
  • With that said, if you are looking for something different to do on a Friday night in NYC, especially if you have a vegetarian friend or family member, we highly recommend checking out the Friday Night Dinners at Natural Gourmet Institute. The menus change from week to week, based on the ingredients that are in season. Not to mention… 10% of the proceeds from each dinner are donated to a charity.

Natural Gourmet Institute on Urbanspoon

Cafeteria (Chelsea)

Cafeteria

  • Why it’s worth it: Cafeteria, a 24 hour ‘straunt, amps up the definition of comfort food and capitalizes on a prime people watching location, making it a great option for an after work drink or tasty meal with friends.
  • Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt is decked out in post-modern white, chrome and plastic, with wooden tables and a front wall made up of glass doors that lift up like a garage… leaving nothing in common with your typical school cafeteria. The ambiance is casual, yet upbeat and trendy.
  • Ideal meal: Mac attack tasting of all three mac and cheeses: cheddar & fontina, smoked gouda & bacon, with truffle oil ($14)… the crispy gooeyness will get you.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the Phlegm mural on 17th between 9th & 10th and then indulge in amazing comfort food at Cafeteria.
  • Address: Chelsea, 119 7th Avenue (between 17th & 18th)
  • Prices: $10-$25

Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Marta (Gramercy/Flatiron): Mangia Monday

Marta

  • Why it’s worth it: Marta, Danny Meyer’s new trendy rustic Roman pizzeria inside the Martha Washington Hotel, serves Italian appetizers in a way that can’t even be imagined. Marta is a hot spot for grabbing drinks with friends or a celebratory dinner with friends or family.
  • Vibe/layout: This two-leveled ‘straunt has a mezzanine with a bird’s-eye views of the main dining room below, which is anchored by an energetic open kitchen featuring two wood-burning ovens and an open-fire grill and surrounded by a big marble bar. Marta exudes warmth and communal energy,  and boasts soaring ceiling and wooden tables.
  • Ideal meal: Polpettine di tagliatelle (fried pasta “meatballs,” tomato, pecorino – think fried mac and cheese balls) ($9) & Suppli alla terrazza (green risotto, mozzarella – think risotto mozzarella sticks) ($6) to start; Capricciosa pizza (mozzarella, artichokes, prosciutto, olives, egg) ($15)
  • F.Y.I.: Danny Meyer, the restaurateur behind Union Square Cafe, Maialino, Shake Shack, etc, has teamed up with his Maialino chef, Nick Anderer to enter into the pizza game.
  • Address: Gramercy/Flatiron, 29 East 29th St (between Park & Madison)
  • Prices: $6-$29

Marta on Urbanspoon

Hundred Acres (Soho): Brunch

Hundred Acres

  • Why it’s worth it: This relaxing yet stylish spot serves delicious, fresh and local southern inspired food, not to mention the best cinnamon buns we’ve ever had. Hundred Acres is a great spot for grabbing brunch with family and friends.
  • Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt has three rooms: the spacious front dining room boasts large French doors that open to the street; the middle room is filled with over sized photographs expanding the space to feel like a vast farm-house; the back room is a charming garden that makes you feel like you are in your own backyard.
  • Ideal meal: Gooey cinnamon rolls ($8) to start & soft scrambled eggs ($14)
  • Address: Soho, 38 MacDougal St (between West Houston & Prince)
  • Prices: $6-$20

Hundred Acres on Urbanspoon