A short list of memorable meals, plus an update for our Where to Eat newsletter.
By Nikita Richardson
I strongly believe that a little leap into the unknown is healthy for the psyche, which is why I’m taking a leap of my own: Starting this week I’m temporarily leaving the Food section, and this newsletter, to spend three months editing and reporting on The Times’s Live desk, which you may know as the home of breaking news.
I’m leaving you in the most capable hands: Pete Wells, The Times’s restaurant critic, will take over in my absence, sharing all the dining knowledge he’s acquired on the job but can’t always fit into a weekly review. Exciting, right?
So, this isn’t goodbye — it’s au revoir, see ya soon, brb. And, as something of a parting gift, I thought I’d leave you with a rundown of the best dishes I’ve eaten these last eight months. I’ll be back with you in November.
My favorite neighborhood joint
I spent a lot of time traipsing across the city while putting together our recent guide “Where to Eat in New York City This Summer.” My favorite day by far was the afternoon I spent in Queens. I started out at Empanadas Cafe in Corona, where the vibes were immaculate as folks from the neighborhood gathered for helados made with real fruit. So, too, were the empanadas, especially the sweet-plantain-and-cheese version in a white flour shell.
A treasure in TriBeCa
I think because it’s tucked away in a hotel in TriBeCa and there are sooo many options for French food, we haven’t given Brasserie Fouquet's New York its proper due. This Parisian import is the closest you can get to dining on the Champs-Élysées without actually hopping on a plane, and the proof is in the Dover sole meunière. N’hésitez pas.
The reason for the beason
Before you know it, bean season, or beason, will be here. You don’t want to be caught out not knowing where the good beans are. In a pinch, get the butter beans at Leo, but be sure to make an appointment for the tender, soul-warming Sorana beans run through with herby salsa verde at Foul Witch. Ask for crusty bread to go with.
Dessert of the year (so far)
I have a complicated relationship with bananas. I would never eat one straight up, but I love their flavor (thus my love of banana Laffy Taffys). I don’t usually seek them out as a dessert, but the banana tart with caramel and salted Nilla Wafers at Cafe Camellia in Williamsburg shook me out of my apathy. I’m now on Team Banana.
Gone but not forgotten
Not one, but two of the best brunches I had this year are no longer with us. First was the short-lived brunch at Bonnie’s, which was understandably more of a headache for the restaurant than it was worth. I’m just happy I got to try the golden lava French toast with salted duck egg custard and the brunched-up version of their naw mai fan sticky rice. (The nonbrunchy version lives on in dinner form.) I’m also holding out hope that Gjelina New York will reopen soon — its Instagram account says “late 2023” — because I need that smoked salmon plate and those lemon buckwheat ricotta pancakes stat. And where else can you watch the city’s most beautiful people eat its most beautiful brunch?
That’s it for now, but I’ll see you all when I return. In the meantime, be nice to Pete and keep taking advantage of all the great eats in New York. Be brave!
In Other News …
Openings: Nar, near the Flatiron district, brings Turkish cooking and wines to Manhattan; Púsù, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, serves up vegetarian Chinese dishes with Shanghainese, Cantonese and Northwestern Chinese influences; and the Tipsy Baker, at Rockefeller Plaza, is the latest project from Pain d’Avignon.
Priya Krishna and Eleanore Park reported that the lifesaving drug Narcan is being stocked by more and more bars and restaurants as fentanyl overdoses in public spaces spike.
Is your restaurant check starting to look like a CVS receipt? Christina Morales reports that there is yet another charge that restaurant owners are deploying: a credit card fee.
If you’re a hot dog completist, save J.J. Goode’s field guide to 15 regional American specialties and the spots that sell them, and start planning your next trip.
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