Monday, January 25, 2010

Bouchon Bakery

Malls are typically not a New York City feature - something I first loved about this city when moving here. I could finally walk through open air and in the streets to take care of my shopping needs. Gone were the days of getting lost in a huge parking deck only to enter a closed interior overwhelmed by smells of the food court and teens lining up at Piercing Pagodas. However, as with most things no matter what they really are, when you can't have them, you actually want them or even crave them. And now, the thought of heading to a mall secretly excites me! Sure, I prefer the more upscale, open-air ones, but there is something I find charming about knowing I can cater to all of my shopping needs in one fell swoop.

And so, it came as no surprise that when I was en route to a holiday lunch at Bouchon Bakery, my boss that lives out in Westchester, home to one of the greatest malls around, hardly shared in my excitement of heading to a mall for lunch. I have no doubt that images of food courts and frantic holiday shoppers were all that came to mind during that subway ride. However, the Shops at Columbus Circle are truly unique. Whether it's the fact that this shopping mall is home to a three star Michelin restaurant or to the Samsung Experience where no products are actually sold, these shops have figured out how to charm and can still be called a mall! It certainly did not take long after we were seated at the communal table at the Bakery for my boss to feel both at ease and still far from the 'burbs.

There is no denying that part of the charm of Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery is indeed its setting in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a mall (in traditional food court fashion). However, unlike most mall dining, this restaurant overlooks Columbus Circle and the base of Central Park - a NYC setting at its best. On a rainy day, the scene below can actually be quite romantic. And, on a sunny day, the scene is spectacular. No matter the weather, time of day, or day of the week, the food measures right up to that magnificent view. The menu is made up of soups, salads, sandwiches, and bakery selections. I almost always struggle with my decision since I so rarely lunch out - especially in this area. However, I've quickly learned, that you truly cannot go wrong as I have yet to leave The Shops unsatisfied (that is, only after dining there).

My all time favorite option is the tomato soup and grilled cheese - a San Marzano tomato soup with grilled fontina and gruyere cheese sandwich. This is comfort food, at its upscale best - one of my all-time favorite lunch combinations done to perfection. On my last trip, I ventured out and tried the wagyu beef brisket with house-made cole slaw and pimento aioli on caraway rye. This was an excellent, gourmet variation on a classic pastrami sandwich. The vegetarian option, roasted squash with brie, arugula, and pear marmalade on toasted country bread, was a seasonal treat, new to the menu, but hopefully sticking around for at least another season - a great combination of fresh flavors. I recommend ordering one of their sandwiches as this is an excellent way to sample their bread - one of the highlights of the bakery. And each one is accompanied by a simple French salad, dressed with a light vinaigrette that is reminiscent of the classic French topping. However, it is always tough to pass up the homemade quiche of the day. No matter the filling, this French delicacy will be light and fluffy with both a buttery and flaky crust that will melt in your mouth. If you do order this, I still recommend indulging in the bread and butter as they are truly not to be missed!

And, since you are at a mall where no meal would be complete without TCBY, Dippin' Dots, or Cinnabon (yes, I did just give a shout out to Dippin' Dots), dessert is a must at Bouchon Bakery. The homemade cookies with ice cream are hard to resist. But, for a real treat, ask for the macaroons from the take-out bakery - the caramel and chocolate are the ultimate sweet. I never imagined I could be transported back to Paris while seated in a mall - but Bouchon Bakery has done the impossible. If only every day I could eat in a food court!

Bouchon Bakery
10 Columbus Circle
Third Floor
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9366
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oh Haiti! (A Quick Follow Up)

I just wanted to post a quick follow-up to my post last week. I'm proud to report that numerous NYC restaurants have banded together in response to the disaster in Haiti.

On Sunday, January 24th (or Monday as noted), the restaurants listed below will donate 10% of their restaurant proceeds, voluntary donations from their staff (which have been highly encouraged), and any additional donations from diners to Haitian charities of their choice.

A Sunday night dinner out is always an excellent way to prolong the weekend. And, in the wake of a long weekend, this coming one already feels a bit too short. While it's only Tuesday, it's time to start planning - time to make sure you get the most out of this weekend. And as the days continue to pass since the January 12th earthquake and our days become filled with our normal routines, we still need to make sure the momentum of our efforts continues to remain as strong as ever.

See you Sunday at....
  • Aldea (Monday)
  • Bar Breton
  • Cabrito
  • Fatty Crab
  • Hill Country
  • ilili
  • Rouge Tomate (Monday)
  • La Esquina
  • Tribeca Grill
  • Cru
  • 10 Downing Food & Wine
  • 5 Ninth
  • The Mermaid Inn
  • The Mermaid Oyster Bar
  • Otto
  • Babbo
  • Lupa
  • Del Posto
  • Tarry Lodge
  • Casa Mono
  • Bar Jamon
  • Pizzeria Mozza
And check out the official website for more information!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh Haiti!

I don't even know where to begin. Each time I even think about all that is going on down in Haiti right now, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. And I know I'm not the only one that feels this way. It has felt weird to even think about food, not to mention writing about it. In an effort to try and actually do something from a seemingly helpless New York City, I have started to feel a sense of comfort by the impact that words alone have been making.

After learning that the American Red Cross earned over $4 million in $10 donations simply by cell phone users texting "Haiti" to 90999, I felt my first glimmer of hope. This effort, which could not be made easier, has been made possible through messages spanning from Facebook to Twitter to local news stations - and continues to ask for donations. I have also heard directly from earthquake survivors in Haiti who reiterate that donations to the Red Cross and Partners in Health are the best way for us to truly help from afar right now.

I have since been reading about efforts within the New York City restaurant scene that have slowly made me realize this town has more to offer than at first glimpse. While certain restaurants are offering individual specials, such as at Hearth where on Tuesday, January 19th they will be donating 50% of the gross revenues from that evening to relief work, there are also plans for the entire restaurant community to band together in charity initiatives. There is currently a push to have all restaurants donate 10% of proceeds and 5% of gratuity earned on Sunday, January 25th. has been promoting the citywide PR initiative, so check it out here for updates. If that isn't a reason alone to dine out next week, then we should probably all never leave the house!

And so, I still continue to sigh. There is certainly a long long long road ahead. Although, it is up to each of us to play some part (large or small, whatever it may be) in the days ahead. And whether that means spreading the word, directly donating money, hopping on a plane to Haiti, or even dining out in New York, we can at least do our best to keep up the hope during these beyond tough times.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Mouth Watering Line Up for 2010

Happy New Decade! It's hard to believe that the Teens are here. And without fail, with the popping of the last bottle of bubbly on January 1st, the anticipation of the start of the year is right before our eyes. While a new year almost always stirs up anxious feelings of new beginnings and goals, a new decade takes those emotions to the next level. However, after all that we were dealt in 2009, I think a new decade sounds glorious - and I say, Bring It On.

This is the time of year when we reflect on the last year and look forward to the next. And this year, instead of dwelling on the past (I've already given you my Top Ten back in September), I am looking straight ahead with excitement - and yes, I'm talking about in the food world. One of the best aspects of living in New York City is knowing that my list of restaurants to try will never run dry. At times it can feel as though the list gets a little shorter and other times, a little longer (usually dependent on the size of the wallet). But, at the end of the day, there is always a list - and one that without even visiting the restaurants often makes my mouth water.

And so without further ado, I give you the Hungry Roach Top Ten Line Up for 2010. Below you will find restaurants that passed me by in 2009. Some of these are old, however, most are new - spanning cuisines throughout the world. For very different reasons which I briefly explain below, these restaurants have all caught my attention. As I visit each and every in upcoming months (that would be this year's resolution as well as making yoga part of my weekly routine), I will of course share my experiences with you. However, in the meantime, I encourage you to venture out and try out these spots. No guarantees except for satisfying a little curiosity. And after all, curiosity is what has probably powered me through life thus far.

Here's to 2010, the Teens, and New Year's Resolutions that keep us active, curious, and eating well!

(And, as always, thanks to Brian of the Blue Hour for his amazing photography!)

1) The Breslin - Sister to the Spotted Pig. The latest in the gastropub scene, highlighting all exotic meats, but in a grander setting.
2) Minetta Tavern - A revival of the 1930's tavern by Keith McNally. The burger and speakeasy ambiance must be worth the wait.
3) Dos Toros Taqueria - West Coast Mexican. A simple, affordable menu of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas transporting you straight to the sun.
4) Queens Chinatown - Asia in Flushing. Cheaper and even more authentic than Canal Street with vendors scattered throughout malls.
5) Momofuku Ko - A real treat with only 12 seats. This may be a splurge, but with Michelin's 2 star rating, this fusion feast should be well worth it.
6) Motorino - Neapolitan pizza at its best. Started in Williamsburg and now open in Manhattan - the hunt for the best NYC pizza continues.
7) Marlow & Sons- Williamsburg's American bistro next door. I am almost embarrassed to admit I haven't eaten here. No excuse. Enough said.
8) Flex Mussels - Seafood on the UES. I am always looking for an excuse to venture uptown, especially when excellent reviews of seafood are involved.
9) Maialino - Danny Meyer's latest. Swanky Italian at the Gramery Park Hotel - dress up just a tad and treat yourself right in 2010.
10) The Standard Grill - Another bustling hotel restaurant. With the opening of the High Line, the setting, scene, and attractive bistro-fare has drawn me in.