The Curious Pear in New York

Best friends Issy and Meg have spent the last decade sitting across tables from each other, travelling the world knife and fork in hand. Photographing bowls of steaming noodles, dusted pancakes and exotic street food, Issy makes up the photography side of the duo, while Meg records each bite in words. It was inevitable that the two would eventually combine to become The Curious Pear, intent on discovering the most delectable places to chow down across the globe. For the next three months, they will be eating their way around New York, bringing you reviews, food features and interviews with the city’s culinary crowd, as well as pieces on their favourite eating spots from around the world.

On Saturday, we arrived in sub-zero New York City and felt both instantly intimidated and thrilled in equal measure. In a city where every cuisine, culinary experiment and street food fad is on your doorstep, the choice of where to part with your dollar (and any tight fitting clothes) can be a tough one. We have been told that New York is a city of food, and we intend to spend the next months attesting this statement. Since our arrival, breakfast has become a thing of the past. In order to pass ourselves off as seasoned New Yorkers, we have adopted the sacred ritual of brunch, surely the most beloved meal of the day in the city. Here is a pick of our favourite brunch, lunch (yes we had both), dinner and drink spots from our first week in New York. Everyone said this would happen and, sure enough, food has consumed us in the short but calorie-drenched time we have been here. We’re considering joining a gym, but it may well interfere with the $1 ‘after work special’ cookie from our neighbourhood coffee shop. The sacrifices one has to make for a food column, eh?

 

 

Bluestone Lane

There is an abundance of Australian coffee shops and cafés dotted around New York, each one seemingly as cool as the last. We’d read a lot about this one, the brand’s ‘Café Collective’ situated in the East Village. The surrounding area is bricky, beautiful and packed with places to eat and drink. Bluestone remains a firm favourite for locals, adored for its fresh, airy interior and ‘awesome’ coffee. Fresh-faced families, Aussie expats and brunch daters (yes that’s a thing here, stark light of day and all) fill this breezy café. In a window seat, poised for people watching, we grazed on quinoa porridge with hot blueberries and almond butter, and homemade toasted coconut granola with poached pear and pomegranate. Also on offer are delights such as buckwheat banana bread, pumpkin and feta fritters, and a whole host of egg-based dishes such as green baked eggs or ‘egg cup sliders’ with prosciutto and tomato relish. The menu has been devised by Melbourne-based restaurateur Sappho Hatzis, who specialises in gluten-free and natural sustenance. Try their ‘Magic Coffee,’ which is created in the first 17 seconds of the espresso machine (normal espresso takes 26), resulting in a sweeter cup. (Ah, the things you can learn before noon.)

Bergen Bagels

There are certain criteria one must fulfil as a tourist in The Big Apple. Wearing ‘I Heart NY’ t-shirts, taking a yellow cab ride, visiting the Empire State Building and, most importantly, feasting on the fundamental food staple of the city: the bagel. After asking around for the city’s most beloved sandwich, we happily discovered that one of the most celebrated is about 5 doors down from us on Fulton Street. Coats and hats were thrown on, the -4 degree temperatures braved, and we were out the door on our way to Bergen bagels quicker than you can say ‘Seinfeld.’ The giant bagel shop boasts a chalkboard with lists of endless cream cheeses, cold meats, bread options, and every other accessory a sandwich-lover could dream up. In the flurry of the busy bar, you’ll join the other patrons in shouting your order across the counter. We had a toasted seed bun packed with layers of juicy ham, double mustard and tangy pickles. You can pull up a stool at the window inside, but when the bagels are this eye-wateringly delicious, you might want to finish it in the privacy of you own home. Unless you feel like re-enacting that famous ‘When Harry Met Sally’ restaurant scene for all to see.

Sisters

Open for under two months and already a neighbourhood favourite, Sisters has quenched our gin and tonic thirst more times than we’d like to admit in our first week in Brooklyn. A former hardware store, the bar has the interior that every hipster ‘mixology lab’ dreams of having, yet somehow manages to remain entirely unique. A curved concrete bar packed with beautiful bottles, bearded barmen and jars of fruit takes centre stage in the room. Super high ceilings, flawless wood finishes and an array of delicate lighting fixtures makes this place open and inviting. It sells Letherbee Absinthe, has an excellent food menu, and is also a live music venue. With this on our road, it’s going to be hard to venture further into the city for our weekly (ok, daily) cocktail fix.

Chuko

Of all the places we’ve tried this week, this has got to be our favourite. We’ve spent a good 5 years face-in-bowl at Wagamama, rarely branching out when a noodle soup craving struck. But after a trip to Chuko, we feel ashamed to have settled for so long. Amongst the achingly cool interior (minimalistic, red-lit, and warm) we finally learned what a real ramen should taste like. The staff, who approach your table like old friends, know a hell of a lot about broth and won’t hesitate to tell you if they think you’re pairing the wrong meat with the wrong soup base. We slurped soy broth (scallion, egg, bamboo) with steamed chicken, and a miso broth (scallion, egg, corn) with ground pork. They were rich, filling and delicious. The waiter caught our eyes and gave a knowing nod as we made the appropriate pleasured sounds. We went on a Monday night and had to wait almost an hour for our table, so I can only imagine what a weekend would be like. Needless to say, though, it’s completely worth the wait. Join the painfully cool crowd waiting for their tables at Bar Chuko down the street and whet your appetite with a bottle of Jokigen ‘good feeling’ sake.

Bluestone Lane

Bergen Bagels

Sisters

Chuko

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