How to be a Morning Person: NYC Breakfast Spots

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I have a theory on why we love brunch. In this great and bustling city, we, at most, might grab a bagel with cream cheese on our way to work, so to make up for the lack of a morning meal, we go all out and feast while boozing on the weekends. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about being for or against brunch (unless you’re against, in which case this could get ugly), I’m saying we give breakfast a fighting chance to shine through our sleep-deprived fogginess every morning. You will find out how easy it is to actually enjoy waking up early with these show-stopping morning meals:

EJ’s Luncheonette

1271 Third Avenue (at 73rd Street), opens at 7:30am everyday

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I could attribute my high regard for EJ’s to childhood sentiment, having grown up a couple blocks from the diner, but I’m backed by TS users on this one and am ready to sing its praises unabashed. It’s a whole experience stepping into EJ’s, from the linoleum floors, to the shiny, light blue booths, and who can ignore Elvis’ bust staring at you as you wait to be seated? My family tends to go for the eggs, and one TS user claims the eggs benedict is one outstanding dish, but I am all about the waffles or pancakes with a layer of melting chocolate chips.

Boulud Sud

20 West 64th Street (btwn Broadway & Central Park West), serves breakfast/brunch items starting 11:30am on weekends

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Boulud Sud markets their weekend morning menu as brunch, and that’s perfectly fine if you’re looking for brunch, but when I went, I was looking for breakfast, and boy did I get breakfast. The ricotta pancakes with honey butter and lemon curd stands strong as the best pancakes I have ever had. This is not an exaggeration and I recommend you not take this statement lightly. I was not sad when I finished my pancakes, but grateful for the experience.

Clinton Street Baking Co.

4 Clinton St (at E. Houston St.), opens at 8am on weekdays and 10am on weekends

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Okay, you got me, I really like pancakes. Oddly enough, I typically have soup or toast with hummus for breakfast when I’m eating at home. The sweeter breakfast items are saved for when I go out, probably because New York restaurants make them so darn well. For instance, Clinton Street Baking Co.’s blueberry pancakes. The maple butter and berry compote are decadence at its best and combined with heavenly fluffy pancakes make for one heck of a morning meal. Other dishes praised by TS users are the fried chicken, Clinton St. Omelette, and french toast which I have no doubt are all excellent choices. Take it from one of our TS users and “avoid the craziness of trying to eat here on the weekend” and “come on a weekday morning.”

Maison Kayser – Upper East Side

1294 3rd Avenue, opens at 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends

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At last, no pancakes! Chef Filippo Gozzoli insists upon the Croque Monsieur, and while I am not about to disagree with such a fine choice, every time I’ve come here, I’ve just had to get the quiche lorraine. There’s something about the richness of the quiche combined with the acidity of the house salad that leaves me feeling perfectly satisfied and ready to start my day. What’s also a real treat about eating here is how quickly you’re transported out of the city, which every New Yorker needs from time to time. On the way out, I always grab a loaf as their bread is truly superb (that I will 100% agree with, Chef Gozzoli!).

A Lost Art Endures: The Best Breakfast Joints in LA

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Aside from Blockbuster Video and Meg Ryan, few things have fallen off the American radar more in the 21st Century than breakfast. And we’re talking actual breakfast here. Not that granola bar you grab on your way out the door during the week or the tofu scramble and mimosas you order on Sunday afternoon. As in 8 a.m. eggs, bacon, and pancakes. And a steaming pot of black coffee. Without question a product of our on-the-go society and sleep-in weekenders, breakfast struggles to find a place in the modern American schedule these days. But that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. From highway diners to city hole-in-the-walls, breakfast quietly endures. And Los Angeles is no exception. Here is our list of our favorite real-deal Breakfast spots in our sun-kissed city.

Square One Dining 

4854 Fountain Avenue, Los Feliz

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Tucked away on a strange little strip of Fountain Ave, directly in the shadow of the startling blue hospital-turned-Scientology-headquarters, sits Square One Dining. Since its opening, Square One has created a rabid following for its no-frills breakfast, accompanied by an organic, locally-sourced mantra catering to the local hipster-y crowd. Square One has thrived by establishing a place in a desperately-needed niche, all the while providing what Los Angelenos are looking for: fresh, unique, and absolutely delicious breakfast food to get anyone’s day started on the right foot.

Huge Tree Pastry

423 N. Atlantic Avenue, Monterey Park

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Did I say eggs, bacon, and pancakes for breakfast only? Well, I lied. This is Los Angeles after all, home to some of the best Asian influence in the country. So our list wouldn’t be complete without including this Taiwanese breakfast diner staple. Not exactly sure what comes with a Taiwanese breafast? Think green onion pancakes, sweet buns filled with red bean, and crispy fried Chinese donuts (topped with sesame seeds!). Yes, yes and YES. Huge Tree is smack in the middle of the San Gabriel Valley, where the city’s best dim-sum spots hold court. Sure, it’s a bit of a drive but get up early one morning and journey east to discover a truly authentic Taiwanese (and Los Angeles) breakfast experience.

The Griddle

7916 W. Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood

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Chances are if you’ve lived in Los Angeles for even a summer, you’ve at least heard of The Griddle. Love it or hate it (those long lines), it is an LA institution and one of the few real breakfast offerings in West Hollywood. The menu is admittedly a bit of a circus, but at The Griddle, the pancakes reign supreme. The portions are simply HUGE and when toppings include such things as butterscotch, cornflakes or Oreo’s, it’s best to not have much more eating planned for the day. The best strategy is to get there early (they open at 7am) because they close at 4pm sharp and those long lines are not a myth. It’s not for everyone, but The Griddle is without a doubt a Los Angeles can’t-miss breakfast experience.

John O’Groates 

10516 W. Pico Boulevard, West Los Angeles

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While brunch is the popular girl in just about every corner of this city, when it comes to the Westside, it is a science. Which makes John O’Groates and its location all the more special. In the idyllic but pass-thru neighborhood of Cheviot Hills, sits this 30 year-old mainstay that has truly endured the test of time. Walking into John O’Groates isn’t like walking into a roadside diner, it’s like coming home. Sure, they have spiffied up and expanded over the years, but the same formula of a quality, simple breakfast served with great conversation makes John O’Groates like nothing else in the city. Oh, and the biscuits are to die for. Chances are you are either a regular or have never heard of the place. And they probably prefer it that way. But do yourself a favor anyways and head over to Pico and Beverly Glen to find out for yourself what breakfast means for a different generation.

Halloween Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups

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You know that taste of Christmas? That combination of spices that immediately takes you to a happy, wintery time? I just found that for Halloween. I came across this Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups Recipe and while I was skeptical at the flavor combination it was suggesting (pumpkin AND peanut butter AND chocolate?), I decided if anything, it’s a test of my love for chocolate and peanut butter (true love knows no bounds, right?). The result were unexpectedly wonderful. The pumpkin and spice shine through making the peanut butter more of a back drop, a foundation if you will, and the lightly sweetened chocolate ties everything together making these the perfect homemade Halloween treat. When I make these each year (and I will), I will imagine crisp Fall evenings with joyful, mischievous kids running through apartment buildings in search of treats. I am ecstatic to share these with you!photo (2)

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • ⅓ c. canned pumpkin
  • ⅓ c. all natural peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp sea salt

For the chocolate:

  1. ⅓ c. coconut oil
  2. ⅔ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 tbsp molasses

Directions

  1. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients until fully combined
  3. Melt coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining chocolate ingredients
  5. Assemble the cups by adding 2 tsp or so of chocolate in the bottom of the papers liners
  6. Evenly divide filling over top
  7. Add remaining chocolate on top and lightly swirl with a toothpick (a rustic appearance makes them spookier)
  8. Freeze for at least 3 hours (6 hours are needed for them to be completely solid); Once frozen, store in a sealed container in the freezer for 1 to 2 months

Original recipe from Yummy Beet

Cooking Up Change Returns to Chicago

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With Halloween right around the corner, we can expect a lot of things: scary movies, kids in costumes, and more candy consumption than we once thought humanly possible. However, did you know that on October 30th, Chicago will be celebrating Halloween’s Eve with some healthy school lunches? Yes, Healthy Schools Campaign will be launching it’s eighth year of Cooking Up Change; a competition where high school students, a la Iron Chef, race to make nutritious and delicious school lunches. We were lucky enough to be able to ask the campaign’s CEO, Rochelle Davis, and one of this year’s judges, Chef Paul Fehribach (of Big Jones) a few questions ahead of the awesome event.

Rochelle Davis:

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1.     What has Cooking Up Change’s growth looked like in the last 8 years and more recently? Where do you see CUC heading in the next five years? 

Cooking up Change has grown from a local Chicago contest to a nationwide competition. Last year, Healthy Schools Campaign presented 10 contests in cities across the country as well as the national finals in Washington, D.C.  Over the next five years, I would expect the number of cities to increase but more importantly we plan on working with our local partners to deepen the impact that Cooking up Change has in changing school menus, empowering students and building strong support for healthy school food.

2.     How much of an impact do you believe that growing up in Chicago has had on your work?

Growing up in Chicago I have a strong affinity with Chicago public schools and the students that they serve. Living in a diverse urban environment has exposed me to great gaps in income, opportunity to education, disparities in health and unequal access to healthy food. This experience has led to my commitment to make sure that healthy food is available to everyone.

3.     2002 marks when you first began focusing on school health. In those five years leading up to the first Cooking Up Change event was there a natural progression to putting such an emphasis on the students in regards to school lunches?

Prior to our the launch of our student culinary competition, HSC’s major event of the year involved partnerships with college culinary students. As we learned more about the CPS culinary program, we started exploring the option of working with them and Cooking up Change was born. From our work on school food we knew that engaging students was important and are thrilled to create an event that reinforces and advances our mission.

4.     What can anyone new attending the event expect? For those of us who have been before, what is new this year?

Guests have the opportunity to visit each of the 17 team stations, meet these talented and amazing students and taste their delicious creations. Guests will also have the opportunity to support HSC’s work by bidding on silent auction items or buying raffle tickets. As the evening comes to a conclusion, guests can participate in the excitement as we announce the winning team. The winning team will represent Chicago at the national finals in Washington, D.C. in June 2015.

Chef Paul Fehribach:

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1.       Why was it important for you to get involved with Cooking up Change?

The number one reason is to improve school lunches, because our kids deserve better. We also know that when adults show they care and are interested in children’s well being, the kids respond.

2.       You’ve been known to work towards making nutritious and sustainable food the norm in the food industry. What specific moments in your life brought about this fervor?

When I first moved away from home, I made some poor dietary choices, and had my share of nutrition-related health problems, and so I’ve become a bit of a nutrition freak. What we put in our bodies is the number one thing that determines how healthy we are.

3.       What was the chain of events that brought you to get involved with Cooking up Change?

There was no particular chain of events, when the organization started reaching out to chefs in Chicago, I plugged in because I thought my voice could lend something helpful to the discussion and motivate change.

4.       What do you expect being a first time judge at Cooking up Change?

I expect to see a lot of team spirit, and pride. I love it when kids work hard and show pride in what they accomplish. I also expect to have a hard time choosing between so many delicious and healthy meals!

 

We attended Cooking Up Change last year and not only was it a fun event with great food but it was truly inspiring. The student teams are so enthusiastic about what they’re serving and when they announce the winners, you know you’ve made an impact. Get your tickets now and if you can’t make it splurge on a Grand Prize Raffle ticket: http://www.healthyschoolscampaign.org/cuc-tickets

We’re Expanding to Brooklyn!

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BROOKLYN!  We’ve arrived!  We are pumped to let you know that Brooklyn Taste Savant launches today on our iOS app and Website.  The Brooklyn food scene is hot and we all know it, so we are thrilled to now have an exclusive presence in Brooklyn.  Sure we’ve been covering Brooklyn within our New York City site since the very beginning but now we’re giving the Brooklyn culinary scene what it deserves; it’s own site with more restaurants and more reviews than before.

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So if you’re looking to dine out in Brooklyn, check out the new Brooklyn section on our app or the website. With more listings you’ll have plenty to choose from.

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Go to http://brooklyn.tastesavant.com and start your restaurant search.

Cheers!
The Taste Savant Team

Cajun Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

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With Halloween pop-up stores populating the city, it’s safe to say we’re tucked snuggly into Fall. Not surprisingly, the fall flavors are still going strong everywhere you go.

Oh hey, pumpkin-flavored [insert baked good of choice, eg. doughnut]:

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There’s reason to the madness though. Fall-inspired baked goods and savory dishes echo the beauty and warmth of the brightly-colored trees and comfy sweaters and scarves.

From apple cider donuts to pumpkin cheesecake, to butternut squash soup, at the very least, these comfort foods make the transition to colder weather a bit more bearable.

To spice things up just a notch, here are some kickin’ cajun roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 c raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
  • 2 tsp butter, melted
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cajun seasoning
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with butter and seasonings
  3. Spread pumpkin seeds evenly in a single layer on baking sheet
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown

Classic Late Night Eating in Willamsburg

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Williamsburg Brooklyn is known for a dynamic dining scene and endless bar hopping. But what about those late night cravings? Not to worry… Williamsburg has you covered!

Crif Dogs 
555 Driggs Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11211
Open Until 3am (Friday + Saturday), 12am (Sunday-Thursday)
Courtesy of Crif DogsA neon sign leads you into this hotdog den where the clever menu keeps you on your toes and the hotdogs keep you happy no matter the hour. Feeling fun? The bacon wrapped dogs are worth the trip. But like any late night nibbles, the more outrageous the better. So be sure to pull up a chair, grab extra napkins, and try the “Spicy Red Neck”.

Meatball shop
170 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11211
Open Until 4am (Thursday-Saturday), 2am (Sunday-Wednesday)

Courtesy of The Meatball Shop

It is hard to miss a place that specializes in slinging balls and the Meatball Shop makes sure they can’t be missed. The best part of this bustling eatery are the late hours, killer sandwiches, and array of sauces to choose from. Looking for something to satiate that 3am hunger? Look no further than the “Meatball Smash”.

Best Pizza
33 Havemeyer St. Brooklyn, Ny 11211
Open Until 1am (Saturday), 12am (Sunday-Friday)
Courtesy of Best PizzaPizza is an all day and all night kind of thing in Brooklyn but Best Pizza takes late night pie to the next level. Best Pizza knows how to adding just the right amount of flare to the classic pizza, making it a slice we have all come to love and adore. It is hard to leave Best Pizza without a slice (or two) of both the White and the Grandma but if you still have room try the meatball sub: late night food at its finest.

Pies ‘n’ Thighs
166 S 4th St. Brooklyn, NY 11211
Open Until 12am (Everyday)
Courtesy of Pies 'n' ThighsFried chicken, biscuits, sunny side up eggs, grits, donuts… the list of craveable food served at Pies ‘n’ Thighs can go on and on. But when you arrive far past the normal dinner hour be sure to pick a slice of pie to sate whatever late night sweet tooth might be coming on. But if savory snacks are more your thing reach for fried chicken and whatever your late-night heart desires. You really can’t choose wrong at this Williamsburg staple.

Fall Plum and Almond Cream Tart Recipe

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Sometimes the plums you choose don’t ripen quite how you expected. While that sounds like a life metaphor, my plums actually literally did not ripen how I expected them to. I was imagining plump, juicy fruits after a few days of sitting on my kitchen counter, and instead I got not-so-juicy, tart plums. Hardly missing a beat, I scoured Google and Pinterest for plum recipes and decided to make this delicious, rich plum and almond cream tart. It ended up being a perfect fit for the transitioning seasons.

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Ingredients

For the pate sucree (crust)

  • 375 grams (2 2/3 cups) all purpose flour
  • 46 grams (1/4 cup+2 1/2 tbsp) + 94 grams (3/4 cup+1 tbsp) powdered sugar, divided
  • 47 grams (1/4 cup+3 tbsp) almond flour
  • 225 grams (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 56 grams (3 1/2 tbsp) eggs

For the almond cream

  • 73 grams (1/2 cup+2 1/2 tbsp) almond flour
  • 7 grams (2 1/4 tsp) all purpose flour
  • 73 grams (2.5 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 73 grams (1/2 cup+2 tbsp) powdered sugar
  • 44 grams (2 tbsp+2 tsp) eggs

For the tart

  • 1/2 recipe pate sucree
  • 1 recipe almond cream
  • 4-5 medium plums or pluots

Preparation

For the almond cream

  • Sift the almond flour into a medium bowl, breaking up any lumps; Whisk together with the all-purpose flour
  • Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium-low, until it is the consistency of mayonnaise
  • Sift in the powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix until fluffy, 2-3 minutes (make sure to scrape down the bowl)
  • Add the almond-flour mix to the stand mixer in two additions, pulsing until just incorporated
  • (make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl)
  • Add the eggs and mix on low speed until combined and smooth; Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold (about 2 hours)

For the pate sucree (crust)

  • Place all the flour in a medium bowl
  • Sift the almond flour and 46 grams of powdered sugar into the bowl, breaking up any lumps that had formed and  whisk to combine
  • Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; Beat it on low speed until it is the consistency of mayonnaise
  • Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and pulse to combine, then beat on medium-low for 1 minute or until combined and fluffy (make sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula)
  • Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in two additions, mixing each time until just combined; Scrape to incorporate any dry ingredients
  • Mix the eggs in on low speed until just combined
  • Transfer the dough to a cutting board or prepped work surface; Use the heel of your hand to smear it and work it together
  • Divide the dough in half and form each into a 4×6 rectangle; Wrap each in plastic wrap and store one in the freezer to use for another tart or pastry and store one in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours
  • Roll out the dough by putting it between two sheets of parchment paper and rolling it into a round that is about 11 inches in diameter
  • Fold the dough over the rim of an 8-inch Tart Ring that is sitting on a parchment lined baking sheet; Don’t worry if it cracks or comes apart a bit, just piece it back together with any overhanging dough
  • Remove the excess dough and freeze the tart for 30 minutes or refrigerate for an hour

For the tart

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF
  • Cut the plums into 1/8-inch thick wedges
  • Spoon the almond cream in the center of the now chilled tart dough and spread so that it fills the tart crust
  • Arrange a ring of plum slices around the outer edge of the crust so that they are facing the same direction and overlap by about two-thirds; Continue with inner, concentric layers, until the center of the tart is filled with plum slices
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the crust is well browned, the filling is set, and the plums are soft and juicy; Allow to cool completely before serving

Recipe from eats well with others

 

My First and (Sadly) Last Trip to Hot Doug’s

Since the mere notion of me moving to Chicago was mentioned in my small Connecticut town, the few people who’ve ventured across state lines told me, “Two words: Hot Doug’s.” Being stubborn, I presumed a hot dog was a hot dog as far as I was concerned. Spoiler alert: I’ve never been more wrong. Each year that passed, my high school Law & Justice teacher would ask “Have you been to Hot Doug’s yet?” and, to his dismay (perhaps disappointment), I would always shake my head, spewing out some haughty, uneducated line claiming there were other hot dogs to be had and enjoyed.

And then Hot Doug’s announced it was closing. I think the panic surrounding Black Tuesday in 1929 looked a lot like a Chicagoan’s Twitter feed that week. Since that day in May, my friends and I all made casual plans to eat at Hot Doug’s but said plans always fell through. That was until one Wednesday last month (yup it’s October folks!) when my friend Rob said “Hope you’re not working on Saturday, we’re getting some encased meats.” I woke up especially early that day to a text from Rob that simply said “Encased meats. Encased meats,” and met him at the bus with our friend, Jack.

We arrived to the restaurant at 9 o’clock on the dot and the line was about half a block long. Not discouraged, we took our place in line with smiles on our faces. Jack, who was at Hot Doug’s less than a week before, mentioned that the line was NOT this long. We envied the Jack from last week, but he was an equal today. The two men in front of us turned around because they overheard Rob and I were first timers (they were seasoned professionals). After a brief conversation they mentioned that they’d be joined by “A few other people.” We were too happy for gourmet sausages that we didn’t care if a few people cut us. That was until these “few other people” added up to eight new members in line.

A sign to few; the real North Star to most.

A sign to few; the real North Star to most.

An interesting nuance about today than any other day that Hot Dougians can remember is that the store technically closed the second it opened. At 10:30, when technically Hot Doug’s opens, an employee was immediately sent to the end of the line, sign in tow, saying that they were no longer accepting people to join the line. We made it, though, that’s all that mattered.

The wait was, for lack of a better word, unique. As the day’s weather vacillated between sunny & humid and rainy & humid, the three of us were happy that we had a singular umbrella to fit under. We played handheld video games, talked about classes, and shared fun facts about Chicago to try to pass the time. An ice cream truck even rolled by. As “All Around The Mulberry Bush” played while I waited to eat a hot dog, I was finally six years old again. We perused the menu two hours into the line. I knew exactly what I wanted before noon. In hindsight, this was a horrible decision because it was all I thought about as the line attempted to progress.

The man, the myth, the legend that greets veterans and newcomers alike: Doug

The man, the myth, the legend: Doug

It was a seven hour wait before we got to the counter. I don’t even wait a half hour after I eat to go swimming, so this gourmet sausage had some pretty big buns to fill. I was next in line when I made a bold choice of adding a third sausage to the order. I almost forgot what I was getting by the sheer demeanor of the titular Doug as he took our orders. He genuinely thanked Jack for returning to his restaurant. He welcomed Rob and I as we stepped into the blue, red, and yellow interior for the first time. He told us he never liked reading reviews because he’d always dwell on a negative one (he could only recollect getting one, though). He said his philosophy was, if people returned, he was doing something right; if they didn’t, he would have to go do something else (the four of us had a nice laugh about how, despite people coming back, he was still, in fact, going to do something else despite the lines and love).

The special of the week was a chardonnay and jalapeño rattlesnake sausage with smoked swiss cheese, Revolution Rosa Hibiscus Ale mustard, duck confit, and black sea salt (I know, I feel you). The three of us agreed, without a moment’s hesitation, that the special was a must. I went with another weekly special, The Shrimp ‘n’ Grits: a smoked shrimp and pork sausage with creole mustard, hominy grits, and goat cheese. My final impulse sausage was The Elvis: A Polish sausage with your standard Maxwell Street topping (I’m true to my roots). Jack mentioned it was sacrilege to not get the duck fat fries, so, naturally, we all got an order of it.

The immediate, unadulterated euphoria that came from sitting in that chair after seven hours was the moment we knew victory. We laughed. The people that jumped in line, the classic and indecisive Chicago weather, the wait all led up to this foam cushion and the hearty chuckle we had.

We only waited a few minutes for our sausages, a feat I applaud the staff for. As the three trays rolled out, a song was playing on the stereo that we all recognized, but couldn’t identify. It wasn’t until the server finally said “Alright, guys, enjoy your food,” that Gary Wright began belting “Dreamweaver,” and our religious experience finally came. We took a bite, or at least tried through our laughter, and it was better than anything I could have imagined. Life is full of so many sublime moments: the birth of a child, standing on the altar as someone tells you, “I do,” but waiting almost a full work day to eat rattlesnake and grits in sausage form with two of your best friends is all I’ve got at the moment.

Chicago Dog (Debatably best in the city. Char grilled, of course), the rattlesnake sausage, Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage, and a serving of duck fat fries. Get your elastic waistbands ready

Chicago Dog (Debatably best in the city. Char grilled, of course), the rattlesnake sausage, Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage, and a serving of duck fat fries. Get your elastic waistbands ready

All three sausages had a quality about them that made each an experience worthwhile. Hands down, best Polish sausage I’ve ever had. As for rattlesnake, it’s hard to pinpoint through the subtle chardonnay flavor what differentiated it from pork, but it’s a whole new world: shining, shimmering, and splendid. My favorite, however, was the Shrimp ‘n’ Grits. I remember saying, “It smells like home,” (being from New England, I had to clarify that I meant the concept of home, but I digress). The fries, however, were something else. There’s something about the texture the duck fat gives them that you simply don’t have a bad fry in the batch and no two fries are the same.

What I leave you with is this: If you can get to Hot Doug’s tomorrow, it’s last day, please do. Although I think you should probably line up right now in order to do so. I can only hope my children know a fraction of the happiness that day brought me. I’d like to thank Doug and his team for two things:
1) Thank you for making something so hard to say “goodbye” to.
2) Proving that “There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘encased meats,’ my friend,” (Thanks for the mantra, Secret Robbie)

A modest treasure trough.

A modest treasure trough.

BYOB in NYC

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Bring your own booze (BYOB) is no longer a saying relegated to a high school party being throw in a dingy basement. Instead BYOB means fine dining on your terms, or at least, drinking on your terms. Below, find four establishments that will happily open your bottle of… anything… even if it does occasionally come at a small (or not so small) fee.

Joe’s Shanghai
9 Pell Street New York, NY 10012
image courtesy of Joe's ShanghaiNothing says BYOB like soup dumplings. Hence Joe’s Shanghai BYOB option. Only problem is this place charges for this, as the fee can change around. Regardless, try it out. Beer and dumplings pair perfectly well.

Garlic New York Pizza Bar
629 Second Avenue New York, NY 10016
image courtesy of Garlic New York Pizza BarPizza and beer (even wine) go together like… well… like pizza and beer, which is why Garlic New York Pizza Bar encourages dinners to come equipped with alcohol before settling in to enjoy their New York Italian fair. Best part? No corkage fee.

Poke Restaurant
343 East 85th Street New York, NY 10028

image courtesy of lovelaughterinsanity.com

Have one special wine you have been dying to drink with the food at Poke? Good news! Poke is BYOB with a first bottle free mentality that leaves you happy to pay to have that second bottle of burgundy cracked for a small price. Good news is that no one is going to judge what wine you pair with your sashimi.

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave Manhattan, NY 10010

image courtesy of Eleven Madison Park

When you pay big bucks for your dinner, you better be able to enjoy that Grand Cru you have been saving for the past 20 years. Which is exactly why Eleven Madison Park encourages you to bring up to four bottles for $65 dollars a bottle. After all, what is good dinner without good wine?

 

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