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Bouchon Bakery, Pearl Oyster Bar, The Spotted Pig and Jing Fong - all in 24 hours

bdachow | Aug 31, 200910:19 AM

Spent a whirlwind weekend in Manhattan and thought I'd share my experiences at the aforementioned places with anyone who cares.

Bouchon Bakery for late lunch
Ordered the pate, the fluffernutter sandwich, mocha and cappucino. The pate was so tasty on toasted crostini with a little dab of mustard. Server with some micro greens and radishes. The bitterness of the greens were nice with the citrusy/vinegary dressing. My quibble with the pate was that it came wrapped in bacon which I thought was a little overkill, I understand the need to keep it moist and all but I thought it detracted from the appearance (raw bacon fat does not look appealing to me) but that's just me. The fluffernutter sandwich was divine. I only managed half of my half of the sandwich. I think it was pecan butter, carmelized bananas, meringue served with a nutella like chocolate spread all on brioche I think. Of course the sandwich is grilled to warm it all up but wow, that was one seriously awesome sandwich. Or is that dessert? So hard to tell sometimes. I did find that the bread was a little dry, could have used a little extra butter to lube it all up but then it becomes greasy on the fingers, guess there’s a fine balance between the two.

Pearl Oyster Bar for early dinner
The DP and I managed to nab two stools right away around 7ish. We split a dozen oysters, the famous lobster roll and the blueberry crumble for dessert. Oysters were so sweet and juicy, god I love oysters. And the shuck job was pretty good, not too much shell in mine although my DP seemed to have managed to find way more than I. And the lobster roll, it’s ridiculously yummy is all I have to say, and even better than I remembered. The creamy mayonnaise, big chunks of sweet lobster meat perfectly cooked all on a roll, I think it’s an egg bread type roll as it’s a little sweet, all served with a big pile of matchstick shoestring potatoes, perfectly fried to crispiness and seasoned with salt, not super greasy. Finished it all off with the blueberry crumble, pie with a crumble topping, I think I like it more than regular pie. Warmed up and served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, home style food, not anything fancy and with a couple of glasses of wine, the bill came out to around 80ish excluding tip.

The Spotted Pig for late dinner
A real neighbourhood feeling kind of place. So this is now our second dinner but of course, everything on the menu sounds soooo good. We settle on 4 dishes. 2 "plates" and 2 sides. Sheep ricotta gnudi with brown butter and sage, poached duck egg with lamb tongue and flageolet beans, summer succotash and duck fat potatoes with marjoram. The gnudi were these plump little pillows filled with the ricotta and just about melted in your mouth. The tongue dish was marvellous. The duck egg was perfectly poached with no hint of vinegar (hooray!) and blended in with the little studs of tongue which were perfectly cooked, tender and melty, almost spam like in texture with not too much gaminess. So an A+ in the cooking of the tongue, I was worried that it would be chewy and tough. Summer succotash was perfect, crisp corn, crunchy green beans, bursty cherry tomatoes all cooked in what we suspect was coconut milk and basil with a hint of heat. The flavors were really robust but I think it might have been a bit oversalted for my taste because I kept getting blown out of the water by the flavors each time I took a bite compared to all the other dishes. The potatoes. Rustic chunks of potato that were nicely cooked on the inside and so crispy on the outside. The DP likened it to Thanksgiving where the potato has been cooked using the drippings (must be the marjoram talking). The contrast of textures was just amazing and oh so yummy.

Jing Fong for dim sum
I preface this by saying I grew up in Vancouver on dim sum so I hold dim sum to a higher standard. Meh...it was middle of the road. The DP's and I ordered, har gaw (shrimp dumplings), braised eggplant stuffed with shrimp, rice rolls with shrimp, steamed chicken rice in lotus leaves, spring roll. I normally eat way more but was still suffering from the overindulgence from the day before. The hai gow wrapper I found to be too thick and really doughy, it really stuck in the mouth and was all I could taste. Same applied to the rice rolls which I found to be too thick as well. The braised eggplant was pretty decent, greasy but the flavour was nice. Same for the chicken rice but definitely have seen better proportions of filling, some Chinese mushrooms and dried shrimp would have definitely added to the flavour profile a bit more (there seemed to be one piece of Chinese sausage, which is pretty standard, and a lot of minced pork, less chicken). Spring rolls were ok, well fried, not too greasy but filling was not really memorable. The atmosphere is lively and the place is action packed, typical of a dim sum restaurant. When we left around 11:30, the crowds were packed and waiting at the bottom of the escalators. I can't say I'd recommend it if you can get out to Flushing instead. I've had 2 better hits (Jade Asian and Perfect Team, thanks Lau for the recommendations) than the 5 different places I've been to in Manhattan. But having said that, Jing Fong is reminiscent of my childhood, carts rolling around, people everywhere and the loud din of alot of people. It's an authentic old school experience but for flavours, middle of the road.

Thanks again everyone for letting me lurk on this board, it's always very informative!

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