Last night, I went on a girl date with my friend, Emily. (Emily works with Travis and she is completely brilliant, and into literature, and has lived in the city for a year longer than I… so she is pretty much way out of my league. Thanks for hanging out with me, Emily!) We had planned to just go out to dinner, but picking restaurants in New York City is difficult! There is everything from mom and pop deli’s, to Applebee’s, to super-expensive, elite-only places, and everything in between. I don’t go out often, so I wanted to make the night count and chose two extremely trendy and popular spots: Bar Jamon and Momofuku Milk Bar.
Bar Jamon is a Spanish tapas (appetizers) bar in the Union Square neighborhood created by Mario Batali. I have been intrigued by Batali ever since watching Spain – On the Road Again and wanted to try out one of his many restaurants in the city. I thought a tapas bar sounded like a fun spot for girl chat and light snacks – I must have been right because the place was packed exclusively with women. You stand in Bar Jamon around counter-height tables and order from a menu that is heavy on cheese and thinly sliced, cured ham – i.e. jamon. We had the waiter/manager/host suggest three items for us to try: Pan con Tomate, jamon, and a mild, cow’s milk cheese. All three were delicious, and I was afraid I would not really like the jamon (which is kind of raw-ish). The Pan con Tomate is a bruchetta-style garlic bread and it was awesome. Next time, I want to try out Casa Mono, Batali’s sister, sit-down restaurant right next door. (You can read a real review of the two restaurants from NY Mag here.)
After the appetizers, we walked over to the East Village to check out two of the five different restaurants in the confusing Momofuku family, the adjoined Momofuku Ssam Bar and Momofuku Milk Bar. The wait for dinner at the Ssam Bar was longer than we had hoped, so we headed next door to the Milk Bar, which is pretty much a bakery/dessert bar. Like Jamon, you stand in the Milk Bar around tall tables. The place was packed, but I had anticipated that since the young Momofuku restaurants are pretty much the hottest things going on the NYC foodie blog scene right now. The crowd turned out to be fine, though, because the order line went fast and our Pork Buns, Chocolate Malt cake, and Crack Pie (seen above) came out almost immediately. The Momofuku Pork Buns have a cult following, and they lived up to their hype. I definitely recommend fighting the crowds to try them out. Yum… Pork Buns. I could definitely see myself getting addicted to them before the Crack Pie, which was very good, but not quite what I was expecting. (Don’t worry, it does not contain any real crack cocaine. Supposedly, it is a type of pie they made in the Depression with condensed milk… or something like that. For more info, here is Martha Stewart visiting the Milk Bar.) Emily ordered the Chocolate Malt Cake, which was delicious, but extremely rich. I definitely want to go back to the Milk Bar to test their other desserts and try out the other Momofuku restaurants. I hear the Noodle Bar has the best ramen in town…
It was a really fun night. It reminded me that I just need to have the courage to go to the super-trendy places even though they totally intimidate me. Maybe I’ll even try Minetta Tavern someday!