A Culinary Adventure in New York — Day 3

2 Aug


Our third day started at one of my most anticipated restaurants of the trip: Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune. We arrived soon after opening, and the place was already buzzing. Since this restaurant doesn’t take brunch reservations, we were prepared to wait in line, but thankfully, it only took half an hour before we were seated, pretending to read the menu that we had already learned by heart.

We started off by sharing an “appetiser” of homemade ricotta served with honey, pine nuts, fresh raspberries and sun-dried figs, along with three little merveilles, lightly fried and generously dusted with sugar. I ordered the Eggs Benedict, served with Canadian bacon and a potato rösti (so perfectly crispy), and Kris went for the ultra thick Dutch-style oven-baked blueberry pancake.

Brunch has an unfortunate tendency to be overly dainty, fussy, or just plain snobby, but at Prune it is none of those things: the food is simple, honest, and tasty. There are some unusual elements on the menu (spicy stewed chickpeas and warm flatbread; sausages and oysters), some greatly rendered classics (scrambled eggs; eggs en cocotte), and many hugely satisfying options (triple-decker ham and cheese sandwich with fried eggs and red currant jelly; steak and eggs). And though the restaurant is constantly crowded, with a line-up that never fades, service remains informative, warm, and friendly.

Next door to Prune, we discovered a wonderful little community garden dedicated to “Women Who Change the World”, with gorgeous murals of Dorothy Day, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, and Grace Paley, to name just a few. When you inevitably head to Prune, or if you’re ever just strolling in the area or looking for a quiet spot to read or rest, do visit this serene and inspiring garden.

We still had about an hour to stroll through SoHo before heading to DUMBO for a play, and so we browsed the neighbourhood’s streets and exuberantly unaffordable shops, and wandered through a book-sale-turned-street-festival, complete with live music and lemonade stands.

The play we were headed to in DUMBO was part of St. Ann’s Warehouse‘s Labapalooza, a “mini festival of new puppet theatre”. Our program included four short plays: The Radium Play by Emma Wiseman, Event Erasers by Adam Shecter, The Yellow Wallpaper by Elizabeth Ostler, and Mental Hygiene by Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith. The Yellow Wallpaper, originally written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, has been one of my favourite stories for a long time, and it was wonderful to see someone else’s interpretation of it on stage, and as a puppet show, no less!

The Warehouse was being torn down the very next morning (the theatre has now moved to a new address), and it also felt quite special to be in attendance for its penultimate show; the emotion amongst the staff and artists was palpable, and understandably so, considering the multitudes of stars and legends, musicians and actors, who have made their way there: from Karen O and Cillian Murphy, to David Bowie and Lou Reed.

Walking out of the theatre, we stumbled upon Almondine, Jacques Torres’ bakery, often hailed as having the best and most authentic French-style breads and croissants in the city. We picked up a chocolatine and a cup of fresh orange juice and quickly headed to the waterfront to catch the boat that was just arriving. Turns out, this is a pretty common mode of transportation among DUMBO-ites and Williamsburg-ians, as there is no quick way to travel between the two neighbourhoods by subway. I even heard someone explain that he often took the ferry to commute to work in the morning; and if it’s only going to cost you $4, why wouldn’t you travel to work by boat? (Note: this is also a great way to reach the Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg, as it drops you off just a few meters away from the entrance).

We didn’t actually have any set dinner plans that night. Heading to wd-50 and trying to score much-coveted bar seats at Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant was an option, but because we wanted to visit some of Williamsburg’s bars that night and attend a comedy show in the neighbourhood, we decided we couldn’t be bothered with the trek to Manhanttan.

We decided on a restaurant called Bozu, a “Japanese tapas lounge” which boasts an impressively long menu and an unusual, confusing and strangely beautiful interior. We had never heard of this place before, which in itself made for a nice change, and it was exactly what we were looking for: intimate and romantic, yet also casual and fairly inexpensive.

I ordered a mango mojito, and we let the staff select our dishes for us (I say staff because there were three or four different people taking care of us at once, since it was quite early and the restaurant still fairly empty). They brought us a plate of “Pork Betty” (thinly sliced pork belly cooked in Sake and sweet soy), rice croquettes (panko-breaded risotto with butternut squash, sage, mozzarella and parmesan), and mushroom rolls (self-explanatory).

There was also a selection of sushi called “Party Bomb”: three “Pink Bombs” (salmon and scallion), three “Mc Low Bombs” (tuna, avocado and wasabi cream sauce), three “Spicy Mc Bombs” (tuna, cucumber, wasabi cream sauce and kataifi), and “Una Bombs” (eel, mint leaves and wasabi cream sauce). The use of kataifi, which I had only seen in pastries before, was a pleasant surprise.

Overall, the restaurant seemed like a fun neighbourhood joint; not necessarily one I would visit often or even recommend to many people, and definitely not the highlight of our four-day restaurant crawl, but it made for a perfectly enjoyable evening. The concept is intriguing, and the patio and decor alone are probably enough to attract the crowds.

Photo credit: Bozu

We skipped dessert at the restaurant, and instead trekked to Momofuku’s Milk Bar, where we enjoyed a cereal milkshake (it tasted quite exactly like a bowl of Special K — in a good way, but I just found out that they now have a blueberry pancake option, and that just makes me want to cry from envy) and two kinds of cake truffles: birthday, and mint cookies ‘n’ cream. Again, these did not disappoint (see Day 2 for more on Momofuku’s desserts).

After a wander and a few drinks, we made our way to The Knitting Factory for a comedy night hosted by Hannibal Buress, a standup comedian and 30 Rock writer. Around seven comics performed short sets, and I gave plenty of material for them to mock me with by inexplicably telling everyone what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: eat.

DAY 4: We spend much of the day in the Village and revisit the absolute best place in the world (hi, Murray’s!), check out one of the city’s most famous museums, and have one last fantastic meal (really, really, really fantastic).

Click here to read all about DAY 1 and click here for DAY 2!

References

Prune
54 East 1st Street
Manhattan
(212) 677-6221
(no brunch reservations)

Prune on Urbanspoon

St Ann’s Warehouse
(new address)
29 Jay Street
Brooklyn
(718) 834-8794

Bozu
296 Grand Street
(718) 384-7770

Bozu on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar
382 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn
(347) 577-9504
(multiple locations)

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn
(347) 529-6696
Comedy Night with Hannibal Buress