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Archive for the ‘soho’ Category

What: Brunch
Where: Cafe Habana
17 Prince St., New York, NY 10012

For my last meal on Earth, I would have to include the chili corn from Cafe Habana.  It is the single best corn that has ever graced my lips.  As I am writing this, I’m trying not to drool on my keyboard, and it’s almost too hard to control.  The recipe is so simple yet so jam packed of flavor molecules, that it just blows my mind.  We’re talking serious food-gasm here, people.

I’m usually not a Spanish food person early in the morning, so Spanish style breakfast foods are usually lost on me. 

cafe habana
non-descript outside but there’s always an ungodly long wait

Corn- Ingredients: chili powder, lime, and cheese
result: It’s always a bit difficult for me to eat a whole cob of corn, and the chili burns the sides of the lips, but damn it, it’s worth it!  The saltiness of the cheese, plus the mild spice of the chili, and the extra kick of lime juice is all one needs to survive.

corn
Grilled Corn Mexican Style 

corn
more corn!

yin yang
Huevos Divorciados aka Mexican style yin yang eggs

The two salsas, thankfully, were not that spicy, or I think I might have killed myself since my whole plate was drenched in the liquid.  I think I would also appreciate this if the salsa were a bit thicker.  Instead, I had the liquid juices of the two salsas and the liquid yolks – that’s a lot of liquid-y stuff, people!

ranchos
Huevos Con Chorizo

A friend who’s obsessed with huevos rancheros for brunch ordered this scrambled egg with chorizo [Mexican style] with accompanying black beans. 

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My friend JJ came to visit from Springfield, MA and I took her to brunch before a day of shopping in Soho.  My concierge friend recommended The Cupping Room, which is conveniently located on the cusp of Soho and Tribeca.  It’s a very cozy spot, with tables squished very closely together in order to accommodate the utmost amount of people.  The restaurant is split between a cafe section in the front and a main dining room in the back.  We decided to stay in the front because there was a really long line for the tables in the back, and didn’t seem much difference except the noise level increased about 5 decibels in the main dining area.  Also, all the servers and waiters hang out around the front cafe section because that’s where the kitchen and coffee bar are located. 

cupping room, outside

cupping room, coffee bar

The item that caught my attention immediately from the menu is the espresso whipped eggs and steamed, which obviously, is what I ordered.  The very first time I read the menu, I thought it was some sort of eggs with actual espresso liquid whipped into them.  I was disappointed to find out that my imagination got the best of me, and what they meant is just eggs whipped with an espresso machine.  You should’ve seen the look on my face when the waiter clarified that for me.  It was like all my hopes and dreams crashed into the abyss.  I suppose espresso flavored eggs would be really odd, but there’s a chance it could’ve tasted good… right?

So my espresso whipped eggs came out more airy than regular scrambled eggs, but it was also more watery.  Along with my eggs, I had a side of classic home fries- potatoes with peppers and onions – nothing particularly special.  I convinced my friend to get the eggs benedict, my brunch usual, since she didn’t know what to order.  She ordered it with smoked salmon, and that also came with home fries.  Her eggs benedict came drenched in hollandaise sauce that my eggs looked mild and wimpy next to them.  I didn’t try any of the eggs benedict so I can’t comment on sauce or fish, but I didn’t hear any complaints.  Sadly, my friend has a tiny appetite, and the hollandaise is a heavy sauce, so she only finished about a little more than half her food.

espresso whipped eggs

eggs benedict

I also ordered a glass of fresh orange juice, it came in the tiniest wine glass.  Where were all the high balls?  Grr!

oj
$4 OJ ! highway robbery!

The Cupping Room is a nice brunch place for those who are in the area or plan to be in the area that day.  I don’t think it’s one of those places that you need to go out of your way for.  Aside from the egg dishes, I did hear that their brioche french toast is to die for, along with the stuffed french toast – the bread is homemade- so maybe those are worth traveling from afar for.

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soho park

I was eyeing Soho Park ever since I saw the green picnic table out back for what is now their beer garden. Soho Park sells basic grill and street foods with a menu consisting mainly of burgers, salads, and sandwiches in an “airy garage-garden” type setting.  Think: indoor park – that’s what the decor reminds me of.  Some of the seats are actually benches, the walls are exposed brick, and there’s the picnic table. 

soho park outside soho park inside

Soho Park is known for their variety of drinks, especially beers [they have a lot of locally brewed options], but what I found surprisingly good was the vanilla milk shake.  It tastes like vanilla bean ice cream in shake form- but better.  It was so rich, creamy, smooth, and vanilla-y.  I think it may be too overwhelming for those who aren’t huge vanilla fans like me though.  The person who made mine got it at the right consistency; not too thick that I couldn’t drink it with a straw, but it wasn’t like vanilla juice either.

vanilla shake

Usually, I would never order a burger that isn’t either turkey or veggie, but they don’t have either of those choices here.  All they serve are thin patty beef burgers.  Since I was craving for a burger, I decided to suck it up and try it regardless of the meat content.  I got the park cheddar cheese burger; it came, finely shredded iceberg lettuce, Gus’ sliced pickles, the house special sauce, and tomato on a warm potato bun.  One can also opt for a combo with fries on the side (which I’m sure you can see I did).  For a non-frequent meat eating person like me, the thin patty is sizeable for me but I can see this could be a cause for complaints.  When I first saw it, a picture of Wendy’s cheeseburger came to mind, but trust me when I say that the looks are the only thing similar – the quality here is so much better.  I did not like their overly potato-y, non crunchy fries, but I like that they used the sea salt to make them extra salty.  Also, these fries are handcut.

burger

We also ordered some homemade herbed buttermilk red onion rings with a homemade garlic aioli sauce.  The red onions are fried in a light batter that didn’t seem to coat each onion ring thoroughly.  The batter was a thin crispy layer that separated easily from the onion.  What stood out from this dish is the fact that they used red onions instead of white; it made the onion sweeter and more flavorful.  I did not taste any herbs though.  Also, the actual onion pieces still had their crispness in tact, as opposed to some oil soaked onion rings where the onion was just a string of sogginess.

onion rings

A friend of mine tried the hungarian spiced kielbasa.  It came with sweet caramelized onions, which I stole, sourdough toast points, and a smoked paprika mustard as a dipping sauce.  My palate can’t exactly tolerate any sausage-type foods so I can’t comment on this dish.  My friend did give me a thumbs up and said the level of spiciness was good for her. 

kielbasa

Several weeks later, I made a second visit to have yet another burger (gah! Could it be?  Miss Beancurd is a carnivore in the making?!) and my friend had the Caesar salad which came in a big metal tub. 

So, I’ve concluded that Soho Park offers some no frills fare in a very subdued environment.  The atmosphere reminds me of a hipster version of a dive bar- if that makes any sense.  If you’re in the neighborhood and have the munchies, or you’re done with a day of shopping and want to sit down with an ice cold beer- this is the place for you.  It’s a good alternative to the Mercer Kitchen and Zoe a few blocks away.  I do not believe that this is something one needs to travel out of their way for though. 

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