Ms.Muchie and I invaded NYC this week and set out to try some new places and re-visit a couple old favorites. A couple of our findings really surprised us. Here we go.
First Meal: Co.
We touched down at around 3pm, zipped up to our hotel in Columbus Circle, dropped off our bags and immediately hit the trains for Co. When we arrived around 5:30 we were surprised to see that we were the first people there. From earlier reports we were prepared to wait for a seat.
I flat out LOVED Co. I don't think Ms. Munchie was nearly the fan of Co. that I am, but I'll let her speak for herself. I thought the pizza was really delicious. I don't know that I'm a pure Neopolitan pizza lover (though I did love UPN), but Co. seems to mix in some NY pizza flair along with the Neopolitan touches. What I really loved about Co. was that the crust retained its integrity throughout the meal. I didn't have to wolf the pizza down in 39 seconds in order to avoid it turning into a bowl of mushy farina.
Ms. Muchie ordered the lardo pie, and I went with the sausage pie. Hers, as she proudly pointed out, was better than mine. The crunchy lardo bits imparted a delicious smokiness to the entire pie. The char was perfect. All ingredients worked perfectly.
The sausage pie was also delicious but didn't have that special little oomph that the lardo gave the other pie. The sausage was high quality though, and the sauce was tasty too. It wasn't a bland, "traditional" Neopolitan sauce at all.
At the end of each review, I will tell you what I think means the most, and that is whether or not I'll return to the establishment in the future. I will gladly return to Co. In fact, I will look forward to returning to Co.
Big Booty Bakery:
After walking around for a little while and digesting the pies, we decided to make the trek to Big Booty Bakery for a couple cupcakes and maybe a cookie. We heard some good reports on the red velvet cupcake and decided to have one. We also grabbed a dulce de'leche and a peanut butter cookie.
The red velvet cupcake was INCREDIBLE! The cake was super moist and actually had some flavor to it unlike most red velvet cakes I've tried. And the frosting was the perfect mix of sweet and tasty. A really really good cupcake.
The dulce cupcake, on the other hand, was pretty tasteless. It was made very well and was really moist, but it lacked any discernible flavor. The peanut butter cookie, on the other hand, was ALL FLAVOR. If you are like my dogs and love a giant spoonful of peanut butter to gnaw on, then this is your cookie. PACKED with peanut butter flavor.
I will likely return to Big Booty for the red velvet cupcake. Will I seek it out? Not so sure. But if I'm in the area, I will definitely grab one.
Day One Dinner:
What a beautiful restaurant. Really nice digs. They did a great job of keeping the old flavor of the place and just polishing it up a tad.
We had a 10:30 dinner reservation, and the place was completely full when we got there. So, people must love this place. We didn't.
I'll start by stating that one of my pet peeves is when a restaurant allows the temperature of the room to get too warm. And it was REALLY warm in our section of the restaurant. So, Minetta started off on the wrong foot with me.
We started with a couple drinks, which were very tasty. I think they were some sort of punch drink or something. I forget the name, but they were good. We thought it was a prelude of good things to come. It actually turned out to be the highlight.
Ms. Munchie wasn't starving, so we shared a bone marrow app to start. It was OK, but there wasn't anything special about the preparation. The breads that accompanied the dish were rock hard super thin slices of bread that were heavily toasted to the point of losing all bread flavor. They were basically breadsticks. The accompaniment to the marrow (I think it was a really sweet carmelized onion concoction) was overpowering and wiped out the super subtle marrow flavor. The portion was really small for the price.
For her main dish, Ms. Munchie, who is a huge liver/pate fan, went with the oxtail and foie gras terrine. I'll let her give her own thoughts on it, but she didn't appear all that impressed.
I went there with one thing in mind--the black label burger. As a monster burger nut, I had been dreaming about this thing for a few days. As is often the case when you hype something too much in your mind, I was let down.
I decided to put nothing on the burger in order to really get the entire experience the way the creators of this dish intended. As I made my way through the burger, I found myself wishing for a couple slices of creamy American cheese on top of it and maybe some ketchup or something. In other words, after all this build up and the whopping $26 price tag, I found myself longing for a DIFFERENT burger.
I'm going to be completely honest and will probably be viewed as a heretic by the hype brigade, but I'd much rather sit down with Five Guys cheeseburger and keep the extra 20 clams in my pocket.
I can see the appeal of Minetta Tavern. It's located in a nice area of town. It's a beautiful restaurant. Perfectly lit. Well appointed. It's a spot that would certainly appeal to some of the hipsters and cellphone set that we saw eating there. But the dishes we had just didn't measure up for folks more concerned with flavors and less concerned with telling their friends about the hip new spot they "found".
In fact, we were so let down by the meal not matching the hype that we skipped dessert. And we only skip dessert when we are completely stuffed and feel like the Monty Python character who exploded after ingesting that final thin wafer.
As you might guess, we will not return to Minetta Tavern although we wish them no ill will. They were pleasant to us, and we wish them all the best. We just didn't feel the hype was met at all.
Day 2's adventures to follow later!!