Lunch: TriBeCa, New York, NY
It was pouring rain, and I was supposed to meet my father for lunch. He recommended Pane Panelle (Stuzzicheria) so I told him I would meet him there. I asked when they opened because it was a little before noon, and they answered “no, noon.” So I was a little deterred from their service as I was forced to wait outside in the rainstorm for 15 minutes until they opened.
It was, however, a rustic and adorable place to have lunch. The sandwiches to order had ingredients I had not even fathomed could be between bread. I ended up ordering their signature sandwich, the “pane panelle.” The freshly baked roll was had a similar consistency and sweetness to a brioche. This sandwiched fried chickpea crisps which then warmed and melted the fresh ricotta onto the sweet and fluffy bread. It came with a sauteed and marinated eggplant salad with pine nuts. This was delicious as it added a freshness and Mediterranean flair to the rest of the Italian meal which was wonderful, but mainly “carby.” It was light, fast and fantastic, however I do wish the sandwich had more than just those two ingredients; oftentimes when I order a sandwich, even if it only has two ingredients in the description, it comes with some sort of staple vegetable i.e. tomato, lettuce, etc–this did not.
Dinner: SoHo, New York, NY
Yes, apparently there are about five of them in total, and I try not to go to even small chain restaurants; however, the outdoor seating along with steaming trays of food that went past was quite appealing to me. I ordered the farmer’s market vegetable quesadillas. These were not your ordinary quesadillas: they had several roasted vegetables such as roasted peppers, zuccini and eggplant which were then melted between cheese and crispy tortillas, along with a side of black beans and red rice. The dipping sauce for the quesadillas took a long time to figure out at first, but eventually I recognized it as a lime sour cream, although it was a thinner sour cream than I am used to. It was the perfect combination of flaky and crispy tortilla and cheese infused juicy roasted vegetables. Simple and delicious.
The staff was somewhat nice, but a little stand-offish.
Lunch: Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY
With a great outside seating area, I was already happy. Upon ordering two plates from their “bites” menu, I was promptly served a seven seed and grain piece of baguette and olive oil. This bread was delicious, but would have been better slightly warmed. I ordered the fresh radishes with salted goat milk butter and the pulled pork tacos, without knowing how good these dishes were together. The radishes were undeniably local: they were fresh, crisp and had a juicier texture than any radish would find outside a farmer’s market; the deep fuchsia color was a clear indicator of its taste. The salted goat milk butter was a creamy hand-churned slightly translucent paste that was delicious, yet it was a little overpowered by that spicy/bitter taste of the radish. The pulled pork taco bites weren’t tacos, but they were the best and most unexpected dish I have encountered in quite a while. The outside crust was a sweet and crispy shell that had a sort of crystallized syrup infused into it. The pulled pork was soaked in a sweet and savory sauce, and the cilantro-lime yogurt, leaf of cilantro and dollop of guacamole all fused together upon the sweet crispy shell for each bite. I thought at first that they had by accident dropped a little guacamole on the plate, and covered it by one of the small “tacos” when I first picked one up because the bottom of my taco had guacamole. I soon discovered that each tiny taco had a shmear of guacamole under it, which only completed the now “guac-sandwich-taco.” I believe this was done because the other flavors overpowered the small dollop of guacamole on the pulled pork, and having another dollop of guacamole hit your taste buds first simply emphasized the creaminess of the avocado against the juicy pulled pork and crunchy shell. The guacamole was spiced extremely well, and I am unsure whether people generally enjoy a smoother guac, but I do wish the guac was slightly chunkier, in order for the fresh avocado taste to be more present than the spices in it.
The service was fast for a fancier restaurant, and had generally nice people on staff. It did seem I had 5 different people waiting on me during the meal, so it was confusing who was actually receiving the tip.
Breakfast: Columbus Circle, New York, NY
On a nice day it was a shame to go into the Columbus Circle shopping center, but I was in search of a pain au chocolate, or chocolate croissant. Absolutely the most buttery and flaky crust ever created, the golden layers of crispy dough on top transforming into the moister dough toward the chocolate inside, was most likely the best croissant I’ve had outside of Paris. Between bites of this freshly baked melt-in-your-mouth croissant, sips of espresso balanced the croissant’s sweetness. The espresso was indeed delicious; unlike many espressos, Boucher’s had a natural rich flavor without too much bitterness.
Although the breakfast area is in a darker area in the building and it is to-go (they do provide tables if you desire), the employees are extremely nice and enthusiastic.