Archive for March, 2011
The breakfast sandwich can be a beautiful thing when done right: some type of bread, eggs, and cheese and/or meat if you so desire. I’ve had a lot in my day, from hole-in-the-wall delis to food carts to fancy sit down restaurants. I’ve had them on bagels, croissants, English muffins, biscuits, and rye bread. I’ve had the eggs scrambled, poached, microwaved, and sunny-side up. I’ve had them with cheddar, Swiss, American, and provolone cheese. The only thing I can’t comment on is the meat–not my thing!
If you’re looking for something more creative, if you’re in Manhattan head to Sub No. 7, where they have such concoctions as the General Tso’s Soft Boiled Fried Egg and an egg and cheese sandwich with broccoli and smoked Gouda cheese. The one time I ordered that, however, the egg part was inedible–it had been drenched in salt, in what I can only assume was an unnoticed kitchen accident. I ended up removing the egg part, which is a sad fate for a breakfast sandwich, and everything else was perfect. For a more comprehensive review of Sub No. 7’s breakfast sandwiches, check out Ashley Muir Bruhn’s (of Hither and Thither) post for Serious Eats.
On to the task at hand: Prime Meats vs. Bark. These two restaurant are extremely different: Prime Meats is a fancy-ish sit down affair in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn with an Americana menu and waiters in vests, while Bark is actually a hot dog joint with counter service and communal tables located in Park Slope, Brooklyn. However, they both happen to serve a mean breakfast sandwich.
We’ll start with Prime Meats. The space is beautiful, with dark mahogany walls, exposed brick, tin ceilings, and high windows. The wait on a Saturday morning actually wasn’t as bad as it could have been–at 11:30 am Buttermilk Channel’s wait was an hour and half, while up the street Prime Meats ended up being less than a half hour. Our waiter was slightly clueless–he had no idea what was in the Brunch Punch (I’m still unsure), but I still ordered it and it was yummy. Their Bloody Mary was excellent as well. Unfortunately, the kitchen was out of all the bakery items (like Apricot Danish, Stout Cake, and the Pretzel Braid, which I was looking forward to ordering), except the croissant which our waiter informed us was “not so good”–um, thanks for the honesty I guess?
On to the main event: the breakfast sandwich. Billed simply as Egg & Cheese Sandwich on the menu, you have the choice of having it on a homemade buttermilk biscuit, pullman bread or kaiser roll. Clearly, I got it on a biscuit–duh. It comes with a side salad, so I added a side order of their Herb & Gruyere Cheese Spatzle ($7), which is actually on the lunch menu. The sandwich was pretty darn good: the biscuit was buttery and sturdy and they managed to pile a lot of scrambled eggs on there. The cheese was cheddar I believe and complemented the other components well. The sandwich was actually a lot larger than I expected and at $6.50 it really is a deal in that environment. The spatzle was delicious: plump and tender and gooey with cheese.
Now on to Bark. Bark functions as an excellent, if expensive, hot dog bar, with your choice of meat (pork, all beef, vegetarian) and various delicious combos. The husband and I love hot dogs and we love Bark, even though we always feel as though we are overpaying. On Saturday and Sundays until 3 pm they also have a breakfast menu, which includes various breakfast sandwiches and granola. They serve their sandwiches with a “slow cooked egg on a Bay’s English muffin.”
They start at $3.75 for just the plain egg and you can add bacon ($4.25), sausage ($5), veggie sausage ($5), and Grafton cheddar (add $1). I’ve had it just plain with cheese and with cheese and a veggie sausage. Both were delicious, the egg soft and runny with the English muffin’s nooks and crannies perfect for catching the yolk. The Grafton cheddar is nice and sharp and I thought the veggie sausage was delicious and added a lot to the sandwich (no limp Morning Star sausages here!); I can only assume the actual meats do as well.
In the side department, Bark offers biscuits and gravy, grits with cheese, and hash browns. I can only vouch for the hash browns ($3)–tater tot like creations that were very crispy on the outside and soft and molten on the inside–perfection. I only wished there were more of them.
So in the end, it all comes down to preference of atmosphere: do you want a nice, sit down place where you can also get some cocktails and other dishes, or do you prefer a grab and go type of environment? The choice is yours, but either way you should be pleased with your sandwich.
We’re cutting it close, I know, but it’s just that time of year. If you’re already down in Austin for SXSW, we’ll see you soon! Devo LT and JudyJams will be running around trying to catch as much music (and as many delicious tacos) as possible. Some of the bands that we are looking forward to:
1. Wooden Birds
Probably one of the best shows that I saw in 2010, The Wooden Birds are an Austin based band containing members of the much loved, now defunct American Analog Set. This is a softer, more sentimental incarnation with Andrew Kenny at the helm. When they played Mercury Lounge in New York in September,they performed highlights from their beautiful debut Magnolia. They previewed some of the songs from their new album, Two Matchsticks, out this June and it sounded fantastic. Can’t wait to see them live in their hometown. They are playing four shows, two of which are free: Sunday 3/13 @ Club DeVille, Found Footage Festival, 8:30 *free show, Thursday 3/17 @ Homeslice, 2:15 *free show, Thursday 3/17 @ Red Eyed Fly, Barsuk Showcase, 10pm, Saturday 3/19 @ The Hilton, KUT performance.
2. James Blake
Having made a rather large splash in the indie-electronica scene over the past year, his position was cemented (and lamented by some) when Pitchfork gave him the thumbs up on his self-titled debut. The album is subtle yet moving on headphones or even stereo; I’m quite curious to see how it will translate live. He is playing three shows at SXSW, the first at Stubbs tomorrow (Wednesday March 16th), the second on Thursday March 17th at Central Presbyterian Church, the third on Friday March 18th at French Legation.
After putting out a few albums here and there, most notably in 2009 on Woodsist, The Fresh and Onlys have made a big impact at the end of last year withPlay It Strange (on In the Red). Their cheerful pop sensibilities recall the 60’s surf rock era, with less edge. It’s been one of my favorites from the last few months. They are all over SXSW this week, so it would be hard to miss them: Wednesday March 16th, Windish Agency Showcase @ 501 Studios, Thursday March 17th, Pitchfork Showcase @ East Side Drive In, Friday March 18th, Dickies/Filter Showcase, Saturday March 19th, Mess With Texas show @ East Side Drive In
Seattle tripped-out hip hop group on the rise. One of the only hip hop acts to be signed to Sub Pop, the group is made up principally of Palaceer Lazaro, a member of Digable Planets, who controls the vibe with his cool, calm, and utterly entrancing lyrical abilities. Combined with a Middle Eastern bounce to the beats, it is not hard to recognize why they have the indie-music world aflutter. They will be playing three times at SXSW: Thursday March 17th, Pitchfork #Offline Festival @ East Side Drive In, Friday March 18th, Gorilla Vs Bear SXSW Day party @ Klub Krucial, Friday March 18th, Sub Pop SXSW Showcase @ Red 7 Patio
5. Wild Flag
A super group of sorts (at least in my mind), seeing Wild Flag was one of my favorite music moments of 2011 so far. Made up of Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney (among others), Mary Timony of Helium (and others) and Rebecca Cole of The Minders, they rock very hard in the best possible. These women are such talented musicians, and their powers combined, especially when each of them have such special voices, makes nothing less than magic. Album out sometime this year on Merge. See them if you can! They are playing only one show, on Sunday March 20th at Brofest.
6. Grass Widow
Of the slew of all-girl pop groups that came out in the past year, Grass Widow is one of my favorites. Their debut LP Past Time came out on Kill Rock Stars at the end of the summer, and it was a highlight of my Fall. They are playing about seven shows at SXSW, so if you try, it would be hard to miss them: Wednesday 3.16 1:15pm Beauty Bar w/Ty Segall, Thursday 3/16 6:15pm International Tapes @ Cheer Up Charlie’s, Friday 3.17 4:30PM Night of Rage w/Weird TV, The Carrots, Yellow Fever, more, Thursday 3.17 10:30pm Panache SXSW Showcase w/Thee Oh Sees, Bare Wires, and more Red 7 (Inside Stage), Friday 3.18 3:00PM Other Music Showcase W/!!!, Cults French Legation Museum, Saturday 3.19, Volar Records Party – Nerves Cover Day! Trailer Space w/Hunx & His Punx, Davila 666, Shannon and the Clams, Ratas Del Vaticano, more.
Needless to say, there are so many bands playing that you won’t be disappointed just to stroll around and catch whatever is playing on Red River or 6th Street. Check the Austin Chronicle and Do512.com for a more complete list of events!
We here at TNJ have been longtime fans of Blue Sky Bakery, an excellent bakery in Park Slope. DevoLT and JudyJams used to live across the street and let me tell you it was dangerous. And amazing. Those folks know how to make a mean muffin. We haven’t gotten around to reviewing them yet, but James over at The Eaten Path recently wrote an excellent review and graciously offered to share it with us. Check it out here and visit Blue Sky soon!
Blue Sky Bakery
53 5th Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
Happy March! I am beyond pleased that February is over; it is up there as one of my least favorite months (except for some good birthdays). Thus, explaining my lack of posting picks; sorry! As a glimmer of Spring presents itself, here are the picks:
I was a big fan of their sophomore album The Visitor, but haven’t really kept up since then. On the new album, they keep up their driving, boisterous pop/rock vibe, and I fell in love with the new song “Black Night.” You can check that out on their site, and listen to more songs here.
Plainspeak was made in collaboration with Tim Hinck and features members of the Chattanooga Symphony, Lambchop, The Cherry Blossoms and Silver Jews. This record has a beautiful, calming flow; the key is its balance between instrumentals and folky, quiet singing. The whole thing sounds delicate yet borders on experimental, especially when it meanders off into improvisation (like on “Improvisation for Two Guitars”). I found this record perfect for a relaxed Sunday morning.
Third pick is Telekinesis, code name for Michael Benjamin Lerner (with backing musicians), who just released his sophomore album on Merge.
This record is pretty straightforward indie-rock, but really well done. Almost flawless, actually. My favorite tracks are the more energetic ones, like “I Cannot Love You” and “Car Crash.” Merge is streaming the entire album on their site, so check it out! Hopefully you’ll agree.
This was a shortened picks post, but there will be more soon for our SXSW post. Stay tuned!