Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Perfect for: A snack!
Price range: $ Cheap
My rating: 9.5/10
Food: 9.5/10 Service: - Ambience: -

Are these the most delicious doughnuts I've had? Yes. Are they the most delicious doughnuts to exist? Probably not. But if you're near the Doughnut Plant, you most certainly need to try them. Even if it's just to embrace the American culture like I did (that's what I tell myself, I eat doughnuts to fit in, yeah.)

And because we're so lucky in this city, there are actually two locations, making it just that much more accessible. What's even better is that if you're not going to the Doughnut Plant, you can still get them from cafes and such all around the city. For example, my favourite coffee joint, Joe, stocks plenty.

I got the creme brulee doughnut. It tastes exactly as described - the shiny coating resembles the hard cracked surface and the filling inside is like the part underneath. I could eat five more in a heartbeat, but that wouldn't be so good for my heartbeat, would it?

They have square-filled doughnuts, yeast doughnuts, cake doughnuts and more. Seriously, just go and get one.

Creme brulee filled doughnut

Meal: Snack
Cuisine: American
Address: LES (379 Grand Street) CHELSEA (200 W 23rd Street)

Monday, February 24, 2014


Perfect for: A beer and pizza with mates after roaming the graffiti-filled streets of Bushwick
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 8.5/10
Food: 9/10 Service: 7.5/10 Ambience: 9/10

Widely touted as New York's best pizza, you'll find Roberta's tucked away in a lesser known neighbourhood in Brooklyn, and one of my favourites, called Bushwick. Bushwick is probably only known for Roberta's - your average Manhattanite has probably taken the L train to the Morgan Ave, stepped out of the station and walked a block to wait in line for the famed prize at this hipster joint, but nothing else. 

It's not just brilliant to those from outside of Bushwick - the locals love it too. The hipster dude that runs Mary Meyer, a boutique / vintage store across the road from Roberta's said to me "it's pretty much where all the Bushwick-ers go for all their meals". (This was a somewhat alarming statement - I mean, all their meals? But then I remembered that this was America and let it go.)

So I came here after a full morning of exploring the outdoor gallery space that is Bushwick itself, and was feeling pretty peckish at 3pm on a Saturday. Luckily, because it was such an obscure time, there was no wait for me and my lunch companion. But inside the large space, it was still packed at such a time - it felt like we got the last free table. And it was a pretty good table too - outside in the courtyard, next to the heater.

This isn't one of those hipster blogs where I shy away from the most typical order - OF COURSE I'm ordering a pizza. I get the Speckenwolf (mozzarella, speck, mushroom, onion, oregano) because I'm a fan of all those things listed, and my lunch companion gets the roasted carrot salad with smoked ricotta and radish. We're sharing people, so we share. 

Speckenwolf (mozzarella, speck, mushroom, onion, oregano)

The pizza was delicious - you really can't go wrong with any of them. The base is thin and crisp - but not too thin that you've got nothing to chew on. The topping was also perfect - not too scant and not too generous. I sound like I'm drinking the kool-aid, but really it was quite perfect. The only thing I would've changed was the speed at which I ate my pizza - I would've preferred it to be warm the whole time, but that's really my own fault isn't it?

Roasted carrots with smoked ricotta and radish

The carrots were also pretty good. I am typically not a huge fan of carrots, but these were highly recommended by my fellow exploring partner-in-crime, so I had to give them a go. Honestly, they were pretty delicious with the smoked ricotta, and the presentation was definitely ace. If it were up to me, I would've added a bit of sweetness perhaps in the form of a jus, just to wake it up a little bit more.

I thought the ambience was fantastic - it's always fun when there's plenty of people around to liven up the place but you can still hear your own conversations. The heated courtyard setting was wonderful as we got the natural light without freezing our mitts off, and it made it a lot more relaxed and casual which perfectly matches the feel of the menu. 

The service was more so-so, it wasn't very streamlined and we did have to wait a while to order drinks, to order food, and to get the check. Granted they were quite busy, but... aren't they always this busy? 

The bill ran to no more than $30 per person including drinks, tax and tip. For a damn good meal. But when you visit, make sure you do more than just visit Roberta's - there are lots of amazing streetart all around Bushwick not to mention great thrift stores and a very interesting community of Central and South Americans so you're bound to find some delicious and cheap tacos if you're still feeling peckish after your pizza.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Address: 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Friday, February 21, 2014


Perfect for: A nice meal with friends after a day of wandering the shops of Park Slope
Price range: $$ Not bad
My rating: 9.5/10
Food: 9/10 Service: 9.5/10 Ambience: 9.5/10

It's not often I give a 9.5 rating. You should all know it usually defaults to 8.5. But for al di la, this was quite an exceptional Italian trattoria. Let me explain...

al di la is a very renowned Italian joint in the fancy brownstone lined, hipster yuppies turned millionaires, Surry Hills-esque suburb of Brooklyn. I.e. Park Slope. The beautiful brownstone houses easily run for over a million here, but you're not paying for just the houses - the suburb is speckled with cafes, bars and restaurants - and one of the go-to trattorias here is al di la

I had heard it mentioned numerous times - by trendy Brooklynites, yuppy Park Slopers, and on numerous lists of 'what-to-do-in-Park-Slope'. I decided that my adventures in Park Slope had to end with a dinner here. (note: al di la does do lunch, but from the one Yelp review I had read, I decided that dinner was the safer option.)

The restaurant opens at 6pm and I got here at 6.15pm, and about a third of the restaurant was already full - this is only a Thursday night. I got seated and my waiter told me about the specials - the pork loin with polenta jumped at me and so did the house-made pappardelle with duck ragu. I had also heard great things about their beetroot ravioli, but I'm a sucker for not just pappardelle but also duck so the decision wasn't that hard - especially if this duck ragu pappardelle was a once-off thing. And of course, no Italian meal comes complete without a glass of vino. 

The service was incredibly fast - my glass of wine pretty much appeared at the table. Followed swiftly by the bread (only disappointment was that it didn't come with olive oil, but with butter - it was warm, however, although it was definitely heated not fresh). Very soon after that, my pasta arrived. 

Now, I'm no Italian (surprising, huh?), but I've had my fair share of pappardelle and if there is a pasta that I could choose to be an expert on, this would be it. The pappardelle was perfect - silky yet with enough bite. The ragu was creamier than I expected - the duck fat definitely contributed to it, and probably made it richer than I would've liked. And the duck had been roasted with the skin still crispy, so the crispy skin had been added to the ragu for an interesting almost-smoky flavour, and additional texture to spice up the creamy ragu. 

Special: House-made pappardelle with duck ragu

I considered getting dessert but there was nothing on the dessert menu that really took my fancy - and to be completely fair, I had also had a slice of salted caramel apple pie three hours prior to dinner so I thought I'd behave. If I hadn't had that slice of pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, I probably would've opted for the cheese plate or the dessert special of flourless chocolate cake with walnuts and whipped cream. 

The service was superb throughout - definitely worth of the 20% tip I gave them. The waiter gave me some space while I drank my wine, without rushing me by bringing the check. That's one of my pet peeves in most waitstaff and this guy was very graceful.

The atmosphere here was also excellent - the crowd on this Thursday night is mostly Park Slopers, and the acoustics in the restaurant are great - the noise isn't so loud that you need to be shouting to be heard.

By the time I left, the restaurant was packed. Expect long waits if you're coming in a large group - but it's definitely worth the wait.

Meal: Brunch / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Address: 248 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215


Friday, February 7, 2014


Perfect for: A lazy Sunday morning brunch, dragged out for most of the day
Price range: $ Cheap
My rating: 8/10
Food: 6/10 Service: 9/10 Ambience: 10/10

After a somewhat mild hiatus from posting, I'm back, and blogging from New York. So far, it's been an incredible food adventure - name any food, any food at all, and you'll find it in this cauldron of cultures. Okay, maybe not Harkarl (Icelandic fermented shark...) but that's probably for the best anyway.

One of the things I've been doing since I've got here is exploring some of the more interesting outer-boroughs of New York. It's a huge city, and it's not confined to just Manhattan - shock horror! Brooklyn has become my go-to weekend spot, and having been to Red Hook twice now, it is really what I consider a low-laying gem in the city. 

Red Hook is one of those suburbs where it feels like it's a destination in itself (some call it a 'staycation') and this neighbourhood cafe, home/made, certainly adds to the feeling. home/made is the local go-to spot for locals for brunch and as soon as you step inside you'll know why. It has a very distinct I'm-hanging-out-at-my-best-friend's-house sort of feeling, with the comfy couches and the somewhat communal-like dining room. And by dining room, I mean the 5 metre by 4 metre space where the hipsters of Red Hook would lounge and sip freshly brewed coffee. It really feels like your home away from home.

I am not going to rave about the food - because it will go to prove my theory that I will never find good brunch in New York. I ordered the truffled egg and parm scramble, which came with grilled walnut toast and potatoes provencal. I'm constantly in search of good Australia-like brunch in New York and haven't succeeded - it feels like every brunch meal here is overloaded with oil and butter, not light and fresh like the brunches in Sydney or Melbourne. (I will continue this rant in a separate post, I'm sure of it.) Anyway, the scrambled eggs were fine - definitely by no means the best I've had, in fact, I know I could scramble better. But I did enjoy the walnut toast - the texture was similar to a sourdough but the bits of walnuts were quite a treat.

Truffled egg and parm scramble

But this place is much more about the atmosphere than the food. The fact that you can come here and lounge on the couches, people watch and sip on freshly brewed coffee is the drawcard for me. When we came here, the owners were perched at the counter, browsing a design website. That's the sort of vibe only your local cafe would have.

Meal: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: Modern
Address: 293 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Hours: Tue-Sun 9am-4pm; Fri-Sun 6pm-10pm