Category: Restaurant

36 Hours in New York City: Co. Pane

We had tickets to Sleep No More on Saturday at 7:00 and so decided to get an early dinner at Jim Lahey’s Co., his pizza establishment down in in Chelsea.  I love, love, love Sullivan Street Bakery (seriously, I write about it a lot) and have been wanting to try Co. for awhile.  We met my friend Phil, who I’ve known since forever and who was all over this blog during my Whitney Internship days, and his girlfriend Jaclyn down for an early bird, old person dinner at 5:30.

We ordered a chopped liver appetizer, a pizza bianca appetizer with ricotta, and a margherita pizza.  And it was all extremely yummy, especially the chopped liver, but the pizza wasn’t as good as the Neapolitan pies I’ve had at, say, Keste or Motorino.  I mean, it was good, and it worked out well since we were so close to the theatre, but it isn’t my favorite Manhattan Neapolitan pie.  In terms of Jim Lahey’s pizza, I prefer Sullivan Street’s little rectangular slices.

So after a quick dinner, Phil and Jaclyn walked us to the theatre.  And then we bid our farewells and Jon and I got ready for Sleep No More…but you’ll have to wait until later to hear about that!

Bull City Burger and Brewery

On Friday Jon and I finally got to Bull City Burger and Brewery. We went with Tammi and Scott.

This is a burgers, hot dogs, and fries place in downtown Durham.  All the ingredients are local and all the food is made in house.  You know, all that locavore stuff.

We arrived at 6:30, right before the 7:00 rush.  The place quickly became packed.  The set up his very beerhall: long tables that you share, and you really have to vulture to find a spot.  But, you know, worth it.

They do beer, but I don’t drink beer.  Jon tried their seasonal harvest flavor and said it was quite good.  I’ll take his word for it.

One of their more interesting features in an enomatic: and automated wine dispenser machine.  Tammi decided to give it a try.  You buy a card, place some money on it, and take said card to the enomatic.  You insert the card, pick your wine and voila: wine for you.

So that was good.

I was more into the Boylan soda fountain.  Their diet cola is really good!  I filled many a mason jar.

We all got burgers.  I got one with carmelized onions and gruyere.  Jon and Scott had a special burger that had lamb and tzatziki on it.  Tammi had a bacon and blue cheese burger.  They were all good: juicy, fresh, etc. etc.

We got two kinds of fries: their duck fat and their regular “dirty” fries.  The duck fat were good but I wish the fries were larger.  The dirty were also very delicious.  They know how to do their fried carbs.

I think I still like Only Burger for my burgers, simply because the Breakfast Burger is so amazing, but if I want a “special occasion” burger in a slightly more urban chic atmosphere then I’ll head downtown to Bull City Burger and Brewery.  A good burger indeed.

Antico Pizza Napoletana, or, What to Eat the Night Before Dragon*Con

If you are wise and able, you should arrive in Atlanta the Thursday before Dragon*Con officially starts.  That was you can get your badge* if you have pre-registered (or purchase it on-site if you have not), upack, settle into your hotel room and explore the host hotels to figure out where things are. And, if you are really lucky, you can take a quick drive over to the Georgia Tech area and indulge in some of my favorite pizza in America, the Neapolitan style pies at Antico Pizza Napoletana.

We were introduced to Antico by one of Jon’s friends that lives in Atlanta.  You order at the counter, snag a table in the front area or in the kitchen, and about five minutes later a blisteringly hot, freshly-prepared Neapolitan pizza is dropped down in front of you.  You are not given any plates, just an endless supply of paper towels, and if you want beer or wine you bring it yourself.

This is first rate pizza, guys.  I’d easily put it alongside Keste and Motorino up in New York City.  The major difference is that Antico’s pies are larger and meant to be shared; they are also sliced, which is not the case with Keste and Motorino.  Years of reading food blogs have made me a total snob about Neapolitan style pizza: high-end ingredients, minimal toppings, not too much cheese, tons of char on the crust and underside, a little soggy on the interior, a stellar crust.  Antico fulfills all of these requirements.

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Bliss Boutique Bakery

Okay y’all, I got spoiled in New York City.  I ate many a delicious cupcake, mainly at my Upper East Side neighbors Crumbs and Two Little Red Hens.  And while New York City doesn’t have the monopoly on all good food (there’s some pretty rocking authentic Mexican in the Triangle y’all) i’m afraid that they might have the monopoly on amazing cupcakes.

Or maybe I just havent found a good cupcake in the Triangle yet.  Sugarland, which is close to the Haines Art Center where I spent  the majority of my time the past few years, caused me much excitement when it opened but makes the most dismal cupcakes with icky frosting that sticks to the back of your throat like a high fructose plastic sheen.

Now Bliss Boutique Bakery, located in the old Three Cups space next to Sandwhich, is nowhere near as terrible as Sugarland.  Actually, bliss cupcakes aren’t bad at all–they’re pretty delicious in a pinch, all things considered.  But they do not nearly come close to the perfection of, say, Two Little Red Hens’ red velvet cupcake.

Bliss assortment: yellow cake with vanilla buttercream, yellow cake with chocolate ganache, snicker cupcake with chocolate buttercream.
Bliss assortment: yellow cake with vanilla buttercream, yellow cake with chocolate ganache, snicker cupcake with chocolate buttercream.

Bliss has a set of daily cupcakes and then specials for each day of the week.  The day I visited was a Monday, and I opted for the special Snicker caramel cupcake, which is yellow cake filled with caramel made at Bliss and topped with chocolate buttercream and a little Snicker garnish.  A good cupcake, but with a few issues: the chocolate butter cream is too light on the chocolate, the cupcake could’ve used a bit more of the really excellent caramel filling, and I feel that the cake could be a little lighter.  The chocolate ganache icing is far more chocolatey but almost too rich and thick, not really frosting-y at all.  The vanilla on vanilla is fairly solid, the buttercream icing isn’t as curiously flavorless as the chocolate buttercream.

The inside of the Snicker cupcake, needs more caramel.
The inside of the Snicker cupcake, needs more caramel.

Between 5:30 and 7:30 Bliss has “cupcake happy hour” where you can get up to six cupcakes for half price (hence the above assortment).  Not a bad deal.  I’d like to go back and try some of the other daily specials, especially Wednesday’s red velvet cake and Thursday’s dulce de leche (anyone tried them?)  Some of their other baked goods look promising.  Bliss needs to do a bit more tinkering before it achieves the cupcake perfection I found in New York, but for now it will suffice.