The situation is as follows: it is six o’clock on a Saturday in the East Village, you’ve just arrived into the city, you have approximately eighteen hours before the nine hour car ride home, and you’re hungry. So what should you do? The answer, for those who may one day be caught in the same circumstances as I was this weekend, is as follows:
Porchetta on 7th street is a good start. Everyone gets a sandwich of fennel and herb laden pork, you split some potatoes tossed with more porchetta, maybe you get one of the vegetable sides. Sometimes the sandwich is a bit dry, sometimes it’s not, but it’s always really tasty. This will tide you over for a bit. Pop over to your friends’ place where you’re staying. It’s probably a walk up. Your hands smell like pork and you’re a bit sweaty from trudging up seven floors. Shower. Get dressed for the night.
Next, go for a walk; put your name in at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The wait will be around an hour. Pop over to The Immigrant, a wine bar on 9th Street, for a drink. If there are, say, four of you, split a bottle of the jammy Beaujolais they’ve got right now. It’s easy to drink in case a table opens up at Momo faster than anticipated. As you’re finishing up the wine, Ssam bar will text you. Head over.
Ssam Bar is the restaurant that made David Chang. It’s dark, loud, LCD Soundsystem blares, the chairs have no backs, and the food is first rate. Get a bottle of Momofuky Sake, or maybe the 2010 Loire Sauvignon Blanc, and start ordering. First, naked cowgirl oysters to go with the wine. Then order some classics - the pork buns, the fuji apple kim chees with maple labne, the oily, spicy, crispy rice cakes with Chinese sausage – to figure out why Ssam Bar became such a big deal. Order something new as well – uni with chawanmushi and mustard oil, the McRib-esque bbq pork bun, Bev Egglestone’s amazing pork shoulder with cauliflower, octopus with chicharones – to see why it still is a big deal. Finish off with one of Christina Tosi’s desserts like her grapefruit pie. That, and a vieux carre. Now you're sated and ready for a night out.
Jump in a cab. Head further downtown. Meet friends. Have a few drinks. The where doesn’t matter. Reemerge back in the East Village at 3:30 am at Veselka and soak the night up with a plate of fried pierogies stuffed with braised short ribs. Dip them in sour cream and apple sauce. Be happy. Go home and sleep for six hours.
Get up. You’re probably not going to feel great. A shower helps, so does Abraco, my favourite coffee bar in New York. It’ll become yours as well. Beyond espresso, their baked goods are also off the charts good. Order a cortado and a slice of olive oil cake. You’re feeling a bit better now. Keep walking until you find yourself at Russ and Daughters. Go in, grab a number, watch the chaos, stare at the cases of smoked fish, and contemplate what you want to eat. What you want to eat is this: a sesame seed bagel, plain (or scallion!) cream cheese, Scottish smoked salmon, beefsteak tomatoes, and onions. DO NOT GET THE BAGEL TOASTED. Sit on a bench outside and eat. See? Zero to sixty in an espresso, a slice of cake, and some smoked fish.
Walk through the Lower East Side over to Soho. Pop into Freeman's Sporting Club and consider buying some clothes. Go to Uniqlo and actually buy some clothes. It’s good quality, criminally cheap, and, unless you want to cross an ocean, only in NYC. If you need shirts for work, it’s probably cheaper to fly Porter in the morning, shop at Uniqlo, and fly back to Toronto in the evening than it is to shop here. I’m not kidding. Walk up Bowery. Get some coffee from Think. While you’re at Think, think about what you need for the road.
H&H Bagels travel well. Get some of those. You need sugar too. Some cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar should do the trick. Compost cookies, cornflake marshmallow cookies, blueberry and cream cookies are what I would go with. Maybe a slice of crack pie. And some fried apple pie soft serve because it’s really good, though it (obviously) is not for the ride. If you’ve got any money left in your pocket, swing by Italian Wine Merchants on the way out and buy something you can’t get at the LCBO.
It’s now about one. You’ve got a long trip ahead of you. Pack up. Jump in the car. And get out. Another day of this is not sustainable.
by Adrian Myers
our latest staff member, future lawyer and passionate eater!