On The Menu

NYC FOOD TRIP DAY 2 and 3 (Amy Ruth, Spotted Pig, Aquavit Cafe, Congee Village)


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Holiday travels have made posting difficulty. Here's some pics from our 2nd and 3rd day in NYC:

Amy Ruth's

A famous soul food restaurant in Harlem. I guess my buddy Nabeel sees tour buses on Sundays lined up outside Amy Ruth's full of Europeans and Midwestern Americans taking a tour of the famous churches and choirs and eating damn good soul food. We asked the very friendly and fast waiter what we should get and he said Chicken and Waffles...neither of us were in the mood for waffles, though they did look and smell great, so we got the fried chicken breakfast instead. Fabulous! This is what Hen House should strive to be. I give Amy Ruth's a 3 1/2 out of 5. (It would have gotten a 4, but i did get a peice of hair in my home fries. Now I know what you are all saying, why didn't I bring this up to the manager. To be honest, I didn't even care. I've gotten hair, bugs, other stuff in my food before and normally I just remove the foreign object and continue eating. If I was at a 4 star place, or some ultra trendy and swank place I would have made a stink. But this hair could have been one of Abby's that was on my sweater I was wearing, since she likes to wear that sweater too. I didn't want to dock the restaurant a full point for this mishap since it didn't really affect my meal much, but it should be known.)

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Spotted Pig

The famous Spotted Pig! Owned partially by Mario Batali and with April Bloomfield as head chef, this is a gastropub made famous by all the celeb chefs that visit frequently. (I also didn't realize Michelin has given the Spotted Pig a 1 star rating!!!) So we knew we were in for a damn good lunch. The waiters and servers were way too hip to be real. I mean, they were just dressed so cool and trendy. If I dressed liked that, I would have been beaten up and made fun of...but these guys were just so hip. Abby and I split the hamburger with shoestring fries. Nabeel gets one for himself. (We did feel a little guilty bringing our Muslim friend to a place called Spotted Pig, but after one quick glance at the brunch menu, there wasn't much pig available.) Next to us a European couple get their side order of shoestring fries...and it's a damn lot. The amount of shoestring fries you get with your hamburger is quite a bit already, so the side order is really for 2 or more people. Our burgers come out and it was damn juicy and freakishly good. I mean, there is no place in Boston I can get a burger this good...no place. Which really, really sucks. If I lived in the West Village, I would easily visit the Spotted Pig at least once a week if not more! The only knock on the gastropub is the coed bathrooms. I'm ok with coed bathrooms (hell I have one in my condo) but the fact that the stalls were sized for anorexic models. Very claustrophobic indeed. I give Spotted Pig a 4 1/2 out of 5.

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I had a lot I wanted to say about Aquavit, but due to my holiday travels I wasn't able to update the blog as much as I would have liked. Abby ordered the smorgasbord and I got the Swedish Holiday Plate (Julbord) allowing us to taste a lot of different Swedish bites. We figured this was the best way to judge what Aquavit and Swedish food was all about. Nabeel was all set to get the meatballs, until he was told there was pork in it, so he went with the chicken over mashed potatoes.

This was our complimentary starter, a salmon pate. Pretty good.

This was the cold plate of my Swedish Julbord dinner. Some hits and some misses...basically good, just nothing special. It came with some sort of hot wine drink which I did not like, but Abby did, so I gave it to her.

Abby's Smorgosbord dinner. Some similar bites that I had, along with an oyster and some other items.

Nabeels chicken dish...it looked really good and Nabeel said it tasted pretty good.

The last of my Julbord, the first picture being Jansson's Temptation. Some sort of potato dish. Again, this was basically all good, but nothing special.

We asked if Marcus Samuelsson was in so that we could take a picture with him, but he just left for the holidays. Bummer. While I was disappointed in Swedish cuisine, I cannot say I was disappointed in Marcus Samuelsson. I believe I just don't have the palate to enjoy Swedish cuisine, but when done by a master such as Marcus, I can enjoy certain flavors of the cuisine. While it may be against what he is all about, I wouldn't know since I've never met him nor have talked to him, I'd love to taste his Ethiopean heritage or maybe his own version of French cuisine. Taking the Samuelsson out of Swedish food would be a bad thing indeed, for I'd probably never eat Swedish food (other than Ikea hot dogs) again. I give Aquavit a 3 out of 5.

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Congee Village

Before our food arrived, I asked Nabeel if he had ever ordered food off a menu, thinking it had no pork in it, only to have the dish arrive and have pork. He said he has and he'd return the dish and ordered something else. Sure enough, after our little conversation, Nabeel's chicken and mushroom dish comes out with Chinese Pork Sausage in it. Luckily he ate a lot of the Chicken and Mushroom Congee I had ordered and some of Abby's Sesame Chicken. The other congee I ordered was Duck and Meatballs and it was fantastic. Both congees were in fact. Abby liked her Sesame Chicken. As always, I've never had a bad meal here, though sadly I feel bad my buddy Nabeel didn't get what he wanted. I give Congee Village a 3 1/2 out of 5.

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