I always said that one of my favorite things about living in NYC is the proximity to delicious food. This weekend, I got to dabble in some of that foodie action thanks to Fourth Arts Block and the East Village Eats Tasting Tour. Hal joined me on this excursion of nums, because he supports my addiction…maybe a little too much…
First Stop: The Cart, frozen banana treats dipped in chocolate and peanut butter. Umm..nuff said. I'm actually not a huge fan of frozen bananas (the texture weirds me out), but there was PB and choc on there so…how could I NOT like it?
Next stop: Cucina de Pesce, trio of bruschetta. Traditional tomato, onion and basil; mushroom and herb sautee; and white bean spread. I think the mushroom and traditional tomato were the most flavorful. White bean spread was a little bland. We moved pretty quickly throughout this tasting, so we didn't hang around for drinks but they were offering 2 for 1 specials in addition to the tasting.
Next stop: MONO+MONO, spicy Korean fried chicken. Fried chicken? Check. Spicy? Meh not so much. This was a tiny bit disappointing because the pieces of chicken were small (think wings and drumettes) and they weren't spicy at all. The skin was great; super-crispy and salty, and the chicken was juicy, but if you're going to advertise as "spicy" make it "spicy"!
Next stop: Destination Bar, fresh pretzels with IPA-infused spicy mustard. Well, I think we found where they were keeping all the spicy – this mustard had some heat! And an alcoholic aftertaste thanks to the IPA beer. The pretzels were really buttery and they were so warm, definitely fresh out of the oven. The brunch menu here sounds awesome for a bar (chocolate chip cookie dough pancakes?!) and Hal also pointed out that they have "Mac and Cheese Mondays". Every Monday from 8 – 11pm, when you buy a $6 drink you get a free bowl of mac! Just when you thought there were no reasons to drink on a Monday..
Next stop: La Lucha, pulled pork tacos. This place was itty bitty, but the taco was not; they had no shame in piling on that pulled pork. Topped with pickled onions and cilantro (boo), the flavor was great, and fortunately they only wrapped it in one corn tortilla – some places use two. I have an issue with double-bagging tacos in corn tortillas..it's too overwhelming.
Next stop: Luke's Lobster, shrimp roll. Mmmm buttery, tiny shrimp deliciousness. The simple white bread is buttered and toasted to a nice golden brown, then given a generous swipe of mayo before piling on a healthy handful of baby shrimp and spices. Oh and more butter. It's just..glorious. Every time.
Next stop: Jimmy's No. 43 Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches. This was the only one that was a bit disappointing to me. Most of the restaurants/bars let you come inside and mingle with the other patrons. Not Jimmy's. We were sent to a back room that was equipped with a few chairs, no people, and tables with tiny bites of banh mi sandwiches. The waitress told us we could take as many as we wanted, but I couldn't even bite into it because the bread was hard and the pork belly was literally just a cube of fat. I tried and it got stuck in my teeth. Oh well. The pickle was good?? Moving on..
Next Stop: Oaxaca, mini burritos with chickenm, pork, or veggie. How this place manages to stay in business I'm not sure. The location is so off the beaten path, I don't know how they get any foot traffic. It's on Extra Place down near the Bowery. Ever heard of it? Me neither. I didn't even know that street existed up until Saturday. Anyway, the burrito was good, nothing amazing.
Next Stop: Hecho en Dumbo, carnitas de costilla (Berkshire pork ribs) topped with spicy guacamole salsa. The line for this one was out the door, and I think I could understand why. The ribs were so tender, why they tried to keep it on the bone is beyond me. Maybe because otherwise it would be called pulled pork? The ribs were slow-cooked in their own fat, so they really had a juicy flavor and that spicy salsa stung my lips. Ole!
Next Stop: Swift bar, sausage roll with Myers of Keswick sausage and smoked bacon, wrapped in puff pastry and topped with spicy beer mustard. Mustard is really making a comeback this year. The sausage was delicious, though I think if you wrapped a rock in bacon and puff pastry I'd probably eat it. The prices were pretty decent here and it was a nice bar – I liked the ambiance. It was a good place to end the tour.
Only spots we missed: Xoom (ginger-chai latte) and Idle Hands bar (tater tots and bourbon ketchup). We ran into a few people who raved about the tots from Idle Hands, so I was a little bummed we skipped it, but I think we did a pretty good job. The tour took about 2 hours (if you don't linger in one place for too long), and all that walking burned off the calories anyway right? Riiiight…