I discovered Menupage to be a pretty unreliable source or at least for Istanbul Grill. The reviews on menupage was better than it actually is. It is located on 14th street between 8th and 9th avenue and it is divided as half takeout and half dine-in. I have past by it a few times on my way to West 14th street but have never eaten there nor have I ever eaten Turkish food. What intrigued me in Turkish food was New York Times recent travel section article on Top 30 places to visit in 2010. Turkey was not listed though users named Istanbul, Turkey as No. 1. In addition this past Monday’s episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation was taken place in Istanbul, Turkey and the intern from work had returned from her one week winter study abroad where else but in Istanbul, Turkey.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I was in good company Ashley, Cynthia, Jane and I venture out from our comfort zone of Asian cuisines and trekked from Union Square over to Istanbul Grill after the free performance of Vampire Weekend at Barnes & Nobles. When we arrived, I hesitated to walk in as it looked different than during the day time. It was candle lit and emptied…hmm, perhaps it was early since it is a 24hr. On the menu was a list of kebabs in sandwich or platter dishes. We all ordered sandwiches since it was more budget friendly. Cynthia and Jane got the Adana Kebab Sandwich (lamb), Ashley got the Chicken Shish Kebab Sandwich (?) and I went ahead indecisively, the Chicken Gyro Doner Sandwich with Turkish Coffee. When our sandwiches came it was wrapped in the restaurant Chickpea paper bags. The waitress brought three giant bottle of sauces, ketchup, hot sauce, and yogurt. My Chicken Gyro Doner came semi-cold. It had shredded grilled chicken, with lettuce, tomatoes, if I recalled correctly cucumbers too in a pita. It is a pretty hefty portion of chicken and tasted rather bland so I added a lot of yogurt sauce bite after bite but still did not enhance the taste. I ordered a Turkish coffee as well since I have never had one and was always curious what Turkish coffee is other than a coffee grind option button back in my Starbucks barista days. If what I had was an authentic Turkish coffee, I do not ever want it again. It was in an espresso size cup and with one sip the texture was thick and bitter as if I had chugged mud. So I still prefer Mamoun’s Falafel / Shawarma on St.Mark’s Place or MacDougal Street or thanks to Cynthia for reminding me how delicious Taim is I am now dreaming of going back to Taim.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Continuing with sandwiches, my sister decided to initiate a gathering with my cousins Lily and Nancy for brunch and bowling on Saturday. I wanted to try Clinton Street Bakery since walking by on a snow day rather than our usual Dim Sum brunch. When we arrived to Clinton Street Bakery at 12:30pm the wait for a table of 4 was going to be for 1 hour and a 1/2 or more. Since we had further plans in the day, we decided to explore Lower East Side some more and by random we settled for a less crowded restaurant for lunch, Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop. The decor of the sandwich shop is painted in black with a giant tenement house mural growing from a corner, the table tops were black and so were the chairs. The only in color was the wait staff and the diners and thankfully the food. The menu was limit to and pretty simple just sandwiches and salads. I ordered a Spicy Rizzak which was turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, onions, chipotle mayo on a semolina sesame hero. It came with a side of wavy chips in a basket, kind of like a local college hangout or style. I split my sandwich with my sister’s Southwestern chicken which is pretty much the same except her is breaded and sweet. The sandwiches were pretty homemade and nothing special but overall quite satisfying.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I walked by last weekend the grand opening of Paris Baguette on Grand Street, a sister branch from the original Mott Street location. The Chinatown Paris Baguette is different than the Flushing, Queens location where it serves pastries and desserts. Je’ Taime Chinatown Paris Baguette! I love Vietnamese Banh Mi’s and Paris Baquette is one of my favorites. It is amazingly inexpensive and amazingly delicious! Everything even the baguettes are made fresh to order. At this new location the menu remains the same with various Vietnamese deli cold cuts with the exception of the French inspired baked goods corner as soon as you walk in. The new location introduces a new system with a loud speaker with numbers on the flat screen in reference to your order number. My sister and I ordered the No. 1 Baguette to share which is the traditional Banh Mi with Vietnamese pate cold cuts with shredded carrots, cucumber and cilantro with a thin spread of Vietnamese mayo. We also order a Vietnamese coffee which tasted like regular coffee. For 2, we spent only $5.70, amazing deal! This new location also introduces a combo meal that includes a Grilled Chicken Banh Mi, a green tea waffle and a coffee for only $5.00! — now this is what I call a recession special. Paris Baguette has done it again.
Istanbul Grill /// 210 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014
Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop /// 129 Rivington St. New York, NY 10002
Paris Baguette/// 113 Mott St. New York, NY 10013 ( original) & Grand St. Between Mott street and Elizabeth Street (Grand Open)