I survived the blizzard of 2010 in Manhattan. I did it by shopping and eating my way through the city. What else?
The plan was to spend two days in NYC with my daughter. My husband and son opted to stay home. Something about not wanting to hang around stores waiting for us. We would do it for them, but that’s ok. We weren’t taking it personally.
Since my daughter only eats in Kosher or strictly vegetarian restaurants, my usual intense restaurant research was not necessary. Although I must say that there are far more options than you might imagine. I used this website as a reference tool: http://www.nachas.org/BethYehuda/kosher.html#
It’s quite handy. There is also a kosher dining board on Chowhound.
I must confess that before I met up with my daughter, who was already in the city, I make a quick stop at Shake Shack. I’ve been there previously for a shake, which I enjoyed immensely. But I want to give the burger and fries a try, particularly since Shake Shack is headed to DC in the near future. I am not a fan. The options are basically hamburger or cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, pickle and onions as toppings. They do have a ‘shroom burger and hot dogs on the menu as well. I have no complaints about the meat, but I want more variety in my toppings. The fries and shake are both fine, although nothing exceptional. Shake Shack is a simple concept. It’s just one that I can’t embrace.
The rest of the trip is designated for kosher food all the way. My plan for our first night is dinner at Mike’s Bistro on the Upper West Side. The only problem is that the storm is kicking in and it is tough to walk a block with all the snow blowing in our faces. I worry that we will be stranded uptown, and we have theater tickets. We shift gears and go to Le Marais in the theater district. Le Marais has a nice steakhouse vibe–dark walls and leather seats. This is a serious meat restaurant. I choose spicy lamb sausage with couscous for my entree, while my daughter selects the lamb shank with spaetzle. My dish is plentiful but not so very different from the kosher spicy sausage I often make at home. The lamb shank is also a generous portion of meat, tender, and full of flavor. Le Marais is definitely a perfect option for Kosher pre-theater dining. I suspect I’ll eat there again sometime in the future, and look forward to trying a steak.
Monday morning the city is a winter wonderland. Our plan is to head down Fifth Avenue for some shopping and eventually make it down to Soho with a stop for lunch. When asked what it was like on Monday in the city there is one thing I can tell you to put into perspectivehow bad of a storm it was: Lord & Taylor was closed. This is two days after Christmas, so you know it’s a big deal when a major department store can’t open. Thankfully, most of the other stores are open. We call the restaurant where we plan to lunch and they tell me they will not open. Our back-up plan is Chennai Garden, which has a Kosher/Indian/vegetarian buffet for $6.95. I am pleasantly surprised by the warm, pretty atmosphere of the room. The buffet is a blend of hot and cold dishes, with varying degrees of spiciness. I sample as many dishes as I can, and there’s not one that isn’t delicious. This is a fantastic lunch option and I would go here again in a heartbeat, even though it’s right across the street from Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke barbeque restaurant (have been and it’s good!)
|it looks like I took alot of food. I guess I did, but I swear I didn’t finish it all!|
Our dinner plans for Mike’s Bistro are again thwarted. The restaurant cannot open due to the weather. My daughter takes over the research and is excited when she comes across Abigael’s on Broadway, a Kosher, theater district restaurant, with a celebrity chef. I am dubious. A Kosher celebrity chef? But a google search
reveals that Chef Jeff Nathan is the host of “New Jewish Cuisine” on PBS and has even beatBobby Flay in a throwdown challenge for matzah ball soup. He won aBobby Flay throwdown? He was also the recipient of the James Beard National Chili Cook-off award for Abigael’s Venison Chili. Now I’m intrigued.
Abigael’s on Broadway is a bit of a mystery to start. You can’t find the place. There are no signs. It’s in the basement of an office building and we almost miss it. But the lobby of the building is staffed and they seem accustomed to pointing people in the right direction.
I am a bit deflated once we get into the restaurant. It’s a little shabby and dated. I feel like I am in a second rate hotel restaurant. In fact, it reminds me of a second rate hotel restaurant where we dined during Passover last year in Tel Aviv.
|Abigael’s on Broadway|
There are two menus. One has an international flair and one is more traditional. We go for the international menu. I order Vietnamese chicken with a cilantro rice and my daughter orders Argentine short ribs with scallion mashpotatoes. The food is delivered and unfortunately both dishes are cold, particularly the short ribs. I hesitate to do this, but we send them back. They come back piping hot. My dish, which is a crispy chicken, may have been a little crispier the first time out. It has a nice flavor, and I particularly enjoy the rice. My daughter’s short ribs are absolutely delicious.
I hate to apply different standards to Kosher food but often the quality of the food isn’t as good as non-Kosher food, and my expectations are usually lower. The short ribs here are a dish that stand up to short ribs anywhere. I am happy to say that. Both sides- my rice and my daughter’s potatoes are so tasty that it’s hard to leave any of them uneaten. We want to leave room for dessert, so we do leave a few bits on the plate.
|short ribs at Abigael’s|
(For the record, one of the best dishes I’ve ever had anywhere are the short ribs at the Kosher Solo restaurant in NY. They were prepared by Top Chef winner Hung Huynh, who cooked there for over a year.)
We end our meal with creme brulee. I don’t know how it’s possible to make a creme brulee with no dairy products, but this is an excellent version of one of my favorite desserts.
Abigael’s on Broadway turns out some high quality food. I do think it’s time to invest in some new decor and a sign.
I expected to be a little disappointed to be in NYC and have restrictions on my dining choices. Instead I found that it is deeply satisfying to be able to indulge my daughter on a foodie journey of her own. There’s nothing quite like mother/daughter bonding over theater, shopping, and of course food. And learning that Crumbs Bakery is Kosher is just the icing on the (cup) cake.
Zagat rating: 22
Chennai Garden, 129 E. 27th Street
Zagat rating: 21
Abigael’s On Broadway, 1407 Broadway (at 39th), NY, NY