Our on-going Cheesecake Mega-Safari continued last week with Phase Seven. Four venues were sampled, all from Manhattan.
All locations had been mentioned by either a Chowhound poster or sources such as the recent New York Times "Best of New York" article, etc.
All tastings in this safari were side-by-side with coffee. All cakes are the "plain New York Style" without fruit or other flavorings. This was truly a Marathon tasting as these cakes were "sampled and re-sampled" over as many as 4 days... one consistent hallmark of great cheesecake is that it usually improves as it "ripens" for several days after baking. A cheap, commercial product on the other hand will dry out and be unappealing very quickly.
Tasting notes follow in order of TASTING, not ranking:
1) LINDYS. Hotel Pennsylvania 7th Ave near 33rd. On first day my notes read "caky... not substantial texture... okay with coffee". GF writes "delicious but..." Day2: "More substantial, mild lemoniness... still a hint of caky powderiness. Nice w/ coffee overall unremarkable". Day 4: "Nice lingering light lemon flavor. Bit of powder in otherwise nice cake-style texture" GF: "lemony taste improves with age"
In the end, very close but not quite a cigar.
2) SUGAR SWEET SUNSHINE. 126 Rivington, (N of Delancey, 3 blocks east of Orchard). Day 1: "Like it better than others... Somewhat creamier... yummy taste very nice with coffee" GF: "Ohhh, good, great with a moist, rich taste" Day 2: "Quite gooey and dense, don't over-refrigerate... lip-smacking good though and coffee warms it up and releases the flavors" Day 4: "Yum... thick creamy texture... great pair with a rich coffee... Overall the favorite of the tasting and will move on in the tasteoffs
3) BRUNO Ravioli. "Mild taste, creamy, somewhat unusual backnotes. Not alot of flavor, good with coffee."
4) PAX. "Multiple layers... cake/cream/sugarbase. Somewhat gummy taste effect in the mouth. Fair with coffee." GF noted somewhat powdery then sticky/gluey.
Day 2: "Pleasant medium-dense texture. Very mild flavor. Caky top layer seems a distraction. Okay with coffee"
Overall the Sugar Sweet Sunshine was our clear favorite. Not sure if this is baked on premises or delivered by a 3rd party baker.