Tag Archives: downtown

Big Booty Takes the Cake

While searching for bakeries within walking distance of my office downtown, I stumbled upon Big Booty Bread Company, and of course, I was first struck by the playful name.  But then I scrolled through the menu, and the Latin American-inspired pastries sounded too good to resist, particularly the namesake booty buns.

The exterior
The exterior

Escaping the harsh winds of New York and stepping into a cozy niche in Chelsea was the perfect conclusion to a long day at work, and I was immediately impressed by the relaxed atmosphere of the location, devoid of the pretentious attitude that some patisseries have.  Dining alone that day, I definitely welcomed the calm.  There was an expansive display cabinet and counter at the front of the store, while the back contained simple wooden tables, topped with flower vases.  There were also some examples of apparel hanging on the wall, and I might have to return again just to purchase a shirt that reads, I <3 Big Booty.

The seating area
The seating area

I arrived with a very clear sense of what I was going to order (having already scoured the menu), but the packed display case made me pause because all of the fresh pastries and baked goods were so tempting.  Beyond cupcakes and cookies, Big Booty also offers paleo and gluten-free options with a Latin American flavor, like a cheese bun or guava pocket.  I probably could have ordered one of everything, but I decided to stick to my original order: one strawberry booty bun (a brioche bun stuffed with strawberries and topped with sugar) and a ham and cheese empanada with chimmichurri sauce, completed with a half tea, half lemonade.

Just some of the delicious looking pastries
Just some of the delicious looking pastries

The warm empanada melted in my mouth, and the sauce added that little bit of kick to put it over the top.  The booty bun was the perfect complement, with a crunchy, sugar-coated exterior with a soft bread in the middle.  I will definitely be returning to Big Booty Bread Company, so I can sample all of the booty bun flavors because one just wasn’t enough.

My empanada, booty bun, and drink
My empanada, booty bun, and drink
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A Dessert that Hits the Spot

Nestled downtown on Saint Mark’s Place, a few steps below the main street level, Spot Dessert Bar could be easy to miss to the unsuspecting pedestrian, but I had my eyes peeled for the location of my first true experience with Asian-inspired desserts.  I was first introduced to Spot by an online photo of Thai Iced Bubble Tea in a lightbulb cup, proudly held up against a backdrop of a bustling New York City street. Having just been introduced to the sweet, milky flavor of Thai iced tea, I, of course, wanted the experience of drinking it out of a lightbulb (note: a plastic one, not a real glass one), and Spot’s seasonal dessert tapas menu made the trek downtown even more compelling.

My dessert, "The Harvest"
My dessert, “The Harvest”

With its clean white tile walls and bright orange accents, Spot Dessert Bar stands out from its predominantly gray and brick surroundings, as well as from the other bakeries that I have visited.  The friendly yet relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect getaway from the Columbia bubble, for an evening with friends or a date.  Worried that the limited seating (only about 10 small tables) would fill up quickly, I chose a somewhat random time to visit – 6 pm on a Thursday evening, and my choice paid off.  It was completely empty when I arrived, yet was swiftly occupied by the after-dinner crowd in the following hours.

Spot Dessert Bar, as the name suggests, focuses specifically on desserts, and their menu is composed of everything from larger, seasonal selections like Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake or Love Fondue to smaller items like macarons or sorbet.  But it is the unique “Asian Flare” of the desserts that sets Spot apart, particularly in their combination of unexpected flavors.  In addition to the dessert options, Spot also offers a wide selection of teas and other beverages, both hot and cold.  For only $2.50 extra, I was finally able to live out my dream of drinking bubble tea from a lightbulb (and I got to keep the cup).

I finally experienced Thai Iced Bubble Tea in a lightbulb
I finally experienced Thai Iced Bubble Tea in a lightbulb

For my dessert, I chose “The Harvest,” which came in the form of a very realistic looking potted plant and accompanied by the whimsical instructions to “water my plant” before I began eating.  So I poured a tiny pitcher of black rose milk tea over the dish, which consisted of seemingly endless layers of crumbled cookies (for the dirt), cheesecake, sliced berries, and finally a moist cake at the bottom.  All of this was accompanied by a berry sorbet and puree.  Although it was a significant amount of dessert, the light and airy nature of the dish kept me from feeling too weighed down.  Unlike some of the other bakeries I have visited, Spot Dessert Bar also offers customers a charming dining experience and a comfortable setting, a secluded bubble of fun where you can embrace your love for dessert.

"Watering" my plant
“Watering” my plant

 

 

Bamiyan Afghan Restaurant

 

exterior view

One of our many new bloggers, James is bringing our readers to dozens of new spices, flavors, and just weird eating experiences.  In Curious Flavors, James will always make sure that you’ve got some new places on your New York dining bucket list.

Located at the corner of 26th street and 3rd avenue, Bamiyan is one of only a handful of places in the city where you can sample traditional Afghan fare. Because of the country’s location along major historical trade routes, Afghan food constitutes a sort of fusion between Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine along with some unique flavors. Bamiyan’s menu consists of a wide range of plates with many kabobs, dumplings, several curry dishes, a selection of Afghan pastas, and many other meat dishes with accompanying vegetables, nuts, and sauces. The menu also has a large and varied vegetarian selection of entrees and appetizers and many of the dishes are served with basmati rice to act as a base for the flavorful meats and sauces.

For an appetizer I tried the fesenjan, a “sweet and sour” chicken dish with a sauce of walnuts and pomegranate juice. The dish was wonderful, both sweet and savory, the chicken was tender, and despite the powerful sauce it was not overwhelming. I also managed to try the mosto khiar, a dish of cool mint yogut and cucumber, very light and refreshing. For an entrée I had the quorma sabz with lamb, sautéed spinach with herbs and flavorful melt-in-your mouth tender pieces of lamb served over basmati rice; while less novel than the fesenjan the dish was more than satisfactory.  I also tried…

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Weekend Getaways: Aphrodisiac Tour!

Yes, it’s after Valentine’s day, but who says that you can’t enjoy aphrodisiacs all year long? The Alliance for Downtown New York will be leading a tour starting at 120 Broadway (Pine Street) on Saturday (2/19) starting at noon and going til 3 pm. The tour will store at food markets, restaurants, chocolatiers, and other such places and will feature foods like chocolate, wine, and oysters. The cost for the tour is $25.

The catch? You have to be 21+. For more info, visit www.downtownny.com/tours.