Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Food Field Trip NYC: The Big Cheese
Cheese is generally a versatile, shareable, and affordable indulgence. So how about a breakfast, lunch, and dinner cheese itinerary for NYC? You got it!
To start, head to Viva la Crepe! on Bleecker Street in the West Village, these days also known as Marc Jacobs Land. The casual, counter-service restaurant has crepe-making down; they are most worthy of the gratuitous exclamation point in their name. Plus watching crepe creation is always transfixing. My delightful yet portable crepe provided the protein I needed for the day in a hand-held package oozing with nutty gruyere and salty ham enrobed in the sweet casing. At $8.50 this is a Parisian-inspired breakfast at a pauper's price.
S'Mac in the East Village. This year, Macbar was located not far from our hotel in Soho, so I just had to give it a try. Macbar is quite gimmicky in appearance -- the elbow-shaped interior is glaringly yellow and the dishes served in the same shape -- but despite the over-the-top aesthetics, the food is the real deal. The macaroni and cheese is made to order. Puncture the crispy topping and a world of gooey, indulgent elbow macaroni swimming in a variety of cheeses await. And the soundtrack, carried over from the adjacent bar/restaurant is really fun, maybe even hip.
Swizz Restaurant and Wine Bar, within walking distance of Broadway, boasts that "two Swiss owners will offer you culinary delights at affordable prices." This claim holds true in the surprisingly understated setting that, though near Times Square, conveys a neighborhood feel. Upon entering the street level restaurant or basement dining room and wine bar, you quickly surrender to the wonder and beauty of fondue. While a pre-theatre menu is available, B and I opted to share the classic cheese fondue, adding sausage and apple dippers to the traditional crusty bread. This authentic pot of bubbling sweet, salty, and savory communal goodness was the perfect pre-theatre meal, which was satisfying but did not risk putting us to sleep before curtain call. And the service was so warm and friendly that we decided to have another drink and stick around. For dessert, our server offered to make the Jacques Torres chocolate fondue for one (even though it was only listed on the menu for two). The for-one portion proved the perfect size for sharing; the chocolate was impossibly dark, rich, and addictive. The service was beyond friendly and efficient, and the prices are affordable -- with two drinks each, cheese fondue, and a shared dessert our bill with tax and tip was under $100 -- a rarity for an intimate sit-down dinner for two in NYC.