New Year, New Eats, This is New York!
Yes, I’m still alive, just been MIA for a little while. The end of 2010 and early 2011 involved separate trips to Vietnam, Chicago and London, Thanksgiving, Christmas, NY and CNY celebrations and snow blizzards. Oh those snow blizzards were painful! Although the falling of snow is extremely beautiful, wearing 5 layers of clothing and walking through 12 inches of snow hoping I don’t come across any nasty “surprises” underneath is not too great…
So what will 2011 entail for “Hello from NYC”? Most posts for one! More on food-related life in NYC in general. So first up is something I’ve come across lately and wanted to highlight.
The Evolution of Gastropubs
Is this the next trend? Is pub grub becoming more gourmet? From Chicago to London to Sydney, pubs are not longer just pubs, they’re now called Gastropubs. In my opinion, I love this evolution. I’m not saying this is a new concept, I’m saying this is now a popular concept. A type of fine dining along with a pint. No longer can you get $10 steak and chips, but now you get $20 Angus beef burgers with foie gras and truffle shoe string fries. On my recent trips to Chicago and London, I came across a few delightful Gastropub places. In fact, I only dined at these places in those cities (not that I was there for that long).
I know there are lots of opinions out there on even the over-use of the term “Gastropub” by establishments. According to Wikipedia, a Gastropub refers to a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food, originating from England. So has the term “Gastropub” been used too often and the meaning is now lost? I don’t know! But… I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
However, here is a preview of the Gastropubs I’ve visited in…
I’ve heard Chicago is best in summer, but for some reason, I always end up visiting in the colder months of the year. From what I’ve experienced, Chicago IS the windy city!
The food culture in Chicago is ginormous. I’ve seen Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods – Chicago episode 3 times in the last 2 weeks (it’s always on travel channel). If you get a chance, definitely check it out! The Chicago-style hot dog is something from a difference world; the Mexican food is far from what we get back in OZ; and I don’t need to explain the work of Grant Achatz at his Alinea restaurant… two words: Bizzaro chemistry. But the growing trend in Chicago is what pubs are putting on their menus. Roasted bone marrow, eaten straight from the bone, dolloped on some bread with a sparkle of the finest sea salt. Dessert of Foie Gras Torchon w/ Apricot jam, Pine Nut Fritter and Powdered Licorice Root. This is just a brief intro to the food at Longman and Eagle.
Longman and Eagle, presented with it’s first Michelin star in 2011, is an old-style pub hotel, serving some of the finest creative foods I’ve ever encountered. They even have rooms available for overnight stays. Each room is uniquely designed with a modern feel, far from the pub-hotel style of the whole complex. The service was super-friendly, the food creatively tasty and a great selection of beer to chug down with the delicious grub. If you’re in Chicago, this is one place to visit. So the question is… is this a Gastropub or a variant of one with hotel rooms upstairs and the fine-dining pub establishment downstairs?
Another restaurant, more in the center of Chicago located on “The Magnificent Mile”, is The Purple Pig. Voted Bon Appetit’s one of 10 best new restaurants in the US for 2010 and awarded a Michelin “bib-gourmand” award in 2011, this place is reflects its tagline “Cheese, swine and wine“. With a half-communal style setting, The Purple Pig serves up some of the best Mediterranean-esque food in Chicago. Apologies, I really shouldn’t put this in the “Gastropub” category because this isn’t really a pub at all, but the food served here reflects a Gastropub-style. Also, I really wanted to showcase this place. Being on Michigan Avenue, you’d think this was another tourist trap. But The Purple Pig is far from that. It’s a destination for the food-tourist.
At The Purple Pig, the menu ranges from Fried Brussel Sprouts with Thyme, Lemon & Chili Flakes (one of my favourites) to Salt-Roasted Beets with Whipped Goat Cheese & Pistachio Vinaigrette and Fried Devilled Egg to Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs. There is something for everyone.
At the beginning of January, I took a quick 3-day trip to London. Being only 6 hours from NYC, London has been on my “want-to-visit” places. London is known for it’s pub culture, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to me that at least one of my meals would be at a Gastropub. Unfortunately, on this trip I wasn’t able to go for Sunday Roast (big sob!) but there’s always next time!
The Princess of Shoreditch, located in near London’s Old Street, is known for it’s sunday afternoon roasts but I so happen to come here for dinner instead. This place reflects the true meaning of “Gastropub”, pub on the lower level, fine-dining restaurant on the upper level. I opt to dine on the lower level, to sample London’s finest and famous pub-style food. So what do I think about it? D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.
After being away from Sydney for nearly a year now, I’m introduced again to a pub-style pie and an angus steak burger with hand-cut chips. Boy do I miss pies an hand-cut chips (and a whole lot of other foods…), so I felt some of my cravings were satisfied in London.
The food-scene in London really does do Gastropub-styles the best. Well I guess the term did originate from England, if they can’t do it well, noone else can.
Unfortunately, New York’s gastropubs are really far from it’s meaning, or maybe I just haven’t come across the right ones. The Spotted Pig, a gastropub in the West Village, is probably the closest, but still lacks the “fine-dining” factor. They do, however, do a mean and tasty Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings. (It was basically pitch black, so no photos).
A place with a very Gastropub-esque feel is The Fat Radish. The English cuisine establishment reflects the pub-style atmosphere, serving food like Brussel Sprout & Collard Green Bubble and Squeaky, or Eggs Purgatory with toast. The main concept of The Fast Radish is to serve simple and healthy dishes made from well-sourced, seasonal ingredients. The interior reflects London’s Convent Garden marketplace feel. The Fat Radish do not call themselves “Gastropub, but with their interior reflecting London’s Convent Garden marketplace feel, it definitely feels English.
Some other pubs are serving weekend brunch w/ your choice of alcoholic beverage, most likely being a mimosa. Places like the English pub, The Clerkenwell on the Lower East Side or Nolita House, pub by night, pub restaurant by day. I’m not sure whether I’d call Nolita House a “Gastropub”, but it’s been categorized as that on Yelp.
There’s a “Boozy Bluegrass Brunch” on every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-4pm (12pm-4pm on Sundays due to NYC law not serving alcohol before 12pm on Sundays) and they claim to have the “best” macaroni and cheese. Brunch in NYC mainly involves alcohol, that being mimosas or bloody mary’s, so with brunch at a pub, what an awesome mix!
So that’s the end of a quick look at Gastropubs in 3 major metropolitan cities. What are your thoughts on this trend?
And don’t worry, I’ll be back with more New York City eats!
Longman & Eagle
2657 N. Kedzie Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60647
Unfortunately, no reservations
The Purple Pig
500 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Ph: +1 312-464-1-PIG
The Princess of Shoreditch
76 Paul Street,
London, UK EC2A 4NE
Ph: 020 7729 9270
The Fat Radish
17 Orchard Street,
New York, NY, 10002
Ph: +1 212 300 4053
47 E Houston Street,
New York, NY 10012
Ph: +1 212 625 3242