The more I think about it, the more this sounds like the perfect metaphor for the New York City restaurant scene. New York has a little bit of everything. The spots you know and love, the spots you’re dying to try, and the spots that test your palate. You have to do your research before committing to a restaurant, because with so many options to choose from, why settle for a mediocre overpriced meal?
This is also how you tackle a food fest like Smorgasburg, one of my favorite excuses to cross the river and head to Brooklyn.
First, you do your research
Much like an all-you-can-eat buffet, you have to scope out the options first. There is nothing worse than committing to things too early, and missing out on all the better options down the line. So do a quick lap. See what others are eating, what looks good and smells good to you.
Next, you make a game plan
Most likely you’ll be able to bucket your options into three categories. You’ve got your tried-and-true go-tos – the things you’ve had before and never disappoint. Then there’s the bucket list bites – dishes you’ve suffered food envy over, or have read about and are dying to try. And of course you’ve got your adventurous eats – the foods that push you out of your comfort.
Then, you stuff your face
Sure we could walk up to the first few tents we saw and ordered whatever caught our eye. And I’m SURE it would be good enough, or it wouldn’t hold prime real estate at such a renowned food festival. But why settle? With so many GREAT options, why waste your time on just “good”?
So when Nick, Peter and I went back to Smorgasburg, we followed those very steps. We assessed, made a game plan, and scarfed down some pretty damn great food, including:
Hand cut fries from Home Frite
The fries fell into the “safe” category, and were a good way to dip our toes in the water. Speaking of dipping, rather than dipping our frites into regular old ketchup, Home Frite makes a bunch of dipping sauces to choose from, all of them delicious.
Maple lemonade from Vermont Maple Lemonade
Something salty needs to be followed by something sweet, and since it was a hot day we picked up a refreshing maple lemonade. This is a tried-and-true favorite, and something I crave on many occasions and cannot seem to replicate.
Maine style lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster
lobster lobstah roll from Red Hook has been on my food bucket list for awhile, and exceeded my expectations. It had huge, tender chunks of sweet lobster claw in it, and was served on the most glorious buttered toast bun.
Yakitori skewer and bacon-wrapped asparagus from Inglorious Yakitorius
At this point, we’d sufficiently waded into the culinary deep end, and it was time to experiment a little. Inglorious Yakitorius is not something I would have selected, but how can you go wrong with skewers on a charcoal pit?
Brown butter coffee caramel ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch
Salty. Sweet. Salty. Salty. Sweet! No trip to Smorgasburg is complete without an ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch. Having already tried their standard “goodwich”, I experimented a little bit with their brown butter coffee caramel ‘wich. I was not disappointed. The ice cream was rich in flavor and each bite was rounded out with the perfect amount of salt from the cookie. If it wasn’t swim suit season, I might have had two.
Luckily, my time exploring the food scene in New York has prepared me to tackle challenges like Smorgasburg — my own mini-NYC food challenge.
And why bother with good when you can have great?