Don’t Get Pancakes at a Place Called egg

This is a story of lessons learned in New York City, featuring two NYC brunch spots, and my large appetite for sweet things biting me in the butt.

When my friend Ally was back in town for the weekend, we had an excuse to do brunch. Back when I was exploring Williamsburg and the Mast Brothers chocolate factory, I spotted this quintessential Brooklyn brunch spot, further proving its hipster-dom with its name: egg (all lowercase). It looked quite chic judging by the interior: glass doors, white walls. I made a mental note for trying another day.

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Luckily, Ally was down to try out egg on the lovely 50° December weekend she was around.

I had arrived early, so I put our names down and took a stroll. It looked like we made it right on time. After we sat down at 9:30, the strollers started rolling in with their entourages. We ordered, and were given fresh beignets to share.

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Sad looking, but pretty good.

The interior was in fact cute, with wooden benches along the wall, paper tablecloths, and crayons for drawing. I ordered pancakes and one egg. This will come as no surprise to most, as I have a particularly strong breakfast sweet tooth. Ally got Eggs Rothko: “Easy-cooked egg in a slice of Amy’s brioche and topped with Grafton cheddar”.

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Ally reported making a good choice on her brunch. One bite into my pancakes, and I regretted everything.

The pancakes were flat and rubbery, as if they’d had their life beaten out of them – which I guess they did. Something in between a pancake and a crêpe, but nowhere near the satisfaction of either.

This was the universe telling me to work on my self-discipline when ordering breakfast. An apparent oversight, ordering something other than eggs at a place called “egg”was not my best brunch move. But I learned my lesson and am prepared to tell the tale.

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It was real, egg. Illustration by Ally H

Onto bigger and better things.

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In the Lower East Side of Manhattan, there’s a place called “Egg Shop”. Now at least I’d heard good things about this place, and bothered to check that the Yelp reviews weren’t terrible.

My OG brunch buddy Megan and I met up there this morning to do what we do best: eat good food.

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The interior was super cute, and surprisingly small, which partly explains the average wait time of 40 minutes at most hours. Side bar: you can often tell if a restaurant is good if it doesn’t take reservations. Did I make that up? Possible….but we think it’s legit.

I came close to ordering the French toast, but I recalled the last time I tried ordering sweet breakfast – !!red alert!! no bueno! I instead went with the Reformer + avocado: egg whites, feta, spinach,and heirloom tomato on multi-grain bread. Megan got the Pepper Boy: soft scramble, gruyère, bell pepper, maple cured pepper bacon, and caramelized onion aïoli on a panini roll.

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It was SO GOOD. I quite barely finished both halves of mine, and was grateful for the knife and fork at my seat to help in the mess. The first thing I tasted was the avocado – smashed to spready-lemony perfection. I thought the sprinkling of Maldon salt on the bread was fairly comical, and would probably been more useful on the egg whites, but I really, really enjoyed this sandwich. Megan loved hers, too. I would say that I’ll try the French Toast next time, but there are so many other egg sandwich possibilities to try first.

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Takeaways:
1. Read Yelp reviews for a general overview of a restaurant before assuming it’s good based on its interior design.
2. Don’t order anything other than eggs from a place with egg in the title.

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Rolled Ice Cream at Juicy Spot

Last week (yes, last week!) after work, my home-friends-in-the-city and I braved the 50 mph wind gusts and ventured into the Lower East Side for some rolled ice cream. Some time ago, you may have come across the latest fad in frozen desserts on Facebook or Instagram. Last summer, a new spot opened up in Chinatown where New Yorkers could try the traditional Thai street food and eat the heat away. It’s been on my list ever since, and I somehow convinced my friends to go on a mid-January night. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Saturday night: that famous rolled ice cream joint

Xiao: I know a better place, this place has a 2 hour line

Danni: Take us

Me: Where when

Xiao: Let’s do Sunday, it’s called Juicy Spot in the LES

Needless to say, we did not go that weekend but synched up later in the week to explore the hype in a lesser-known rolled ice cream spot.

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Xiao got raspberry!

There are four steps to having your rolled ice cream.

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First, choose a base. This is the flavor of cream that they’ll place on their cold plate for rolling, along with step two: additional fixings that will be mixed in with your base, like fruit and red bean. Step three is picking your topping, so in addition to all the ice cream itself and the innards, you get more fruit, nuts, Pocky, and more on top of your swirls. If all that weren’t enough, you get a top off with your choice of “drizzle”.

Think Coldstone Creamery, but rolly.

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My choices: original cream base (like vanilla, minus vanilla), Oreo cookies, mochi topping, and caramel drizzle. Was it a lot? Surprisingly yes. It doesn’t look like it when they start spreading it out on the cold plate.

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Was it overly sweet? Yes. Did I finish it? No. Was it enjoyable? Yes, though I imagine it would be better with the sun and a heat advisory. But it was a fun textural experience, and it sure was pretty to look at.

Do you love or hate rolled ice cream? Divulge in the comments below!

The Levain Bakery Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you A. live in New York City or B. do a lot of cookie research, odds are you’ve heard of or been to Levain bakery in the upper west side of Manhattan. They are most famous for their hugeangous (walnut) chocolate chip cookies. There are countless copycat recipes online, of people trying to recreate the masterful baked good of NYC. Hearty banter about corn starch, refrigeration time, chocolate size, and flour type fill the blogosphere, and I don’t know if anyone has arrived to the real deal, $4 cookie-scone wonder.

It’s a cookie I promise

Luckily for me and some colleagues, one of our editors lives a few blocks from the 21-year old, tiny establishment and planned on making a trip for a friend’s mom in San Francisco who requested some from her east coast contacts. I asked if she would get me one too so I could try these allegedly amazing cookies for myself.

 

Large lady-hand for reference

After waiting in a 30 minute line at the time of opening, she gets into the office and hands me the bag of what looks like scones, and feels like rocks.There’s a solid thud when I put the paper bag by my laptop. I was warned that some are intimidated by the nearly half-pound cookie, but I was ready.

 

The Empire State Building of cookies

When I finally took a bite, the edges of the cookie crunched, but I could tell that a soft gooey chocolatey center was waiting. There are a couple key characteristics to these cookies. First off, the mere dimensions of the thing. Not only is it several inches wide, but it stands very tall, showing off the second important factor: its just-barely-done inside texture. Because of the size of the cookie, there’s a window in the baking where the outside gets golden brown before the inside has solidified completely. And hours later that consistency keeps, melted chocolate and all.

 

Texture game: strongest

Even though I haven’t made it very far in my cookie journey of the city, this chocolate chip cookie will easily rank in my top 5. I wouldn’t exactly aim for a Levain interpretation in my own chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I take due note in their techniques and values, and plan on standing in that 30-minute line myself some time warmer.

Take pride in your approach? Tell me what makes your chocolate chip cookies special below!