It's Thanksgiving week here in New York City, and it's already getting so crowded out there that you can hardly get close to those holiday windows at Barney's. So we found three restaurants near major shopping centers where you can escape for peace, quiet and good food.
First, in Elmhurst, you and everybody else in Queens might be shopping at the Queens Center Mall, but not everybody else there will know about Ploy Thai, which is a simple, quiet, chill little restaurant a five-minute drive away. The specials that Chowhounds love are miang kana, which is an off-the-menu special of pork, peanuts and ginger, that you can wrap in edible leaves; and larb gai, a sort of spicy chicken salad.
Second, for Brooklyners rushing around the Atlantic Terminal, there's Berlyn. It's a three-minute walk away, it’s owned by a German husband-and-wife duo, and although it's still a little too early for reviews, owner Ursula tells me her favorite dishes are choucroute and a beef hash with a fried egg cracked on top.
Finally, on Manhattan's 57th Street, in between dashes from Saks to Bergdorf, look for Knave, a cathedral-like coffee house tucked away in the gorgeous Le Parker Meridien hotel. Its coffee was recently praised by Oliver Strand in the New York Times in his "Filter" app, and we love it for its soaring ceilings, comfy couches, and the fact that it was totally dead at noon on a Tuesday.
So although these places are not too expensive, sometimes you see a pretty pedestrian food with a hefty price tag that makes you stop and think – really? Isn't that...overpriced?
Usually I can get a bratwurst or an Italian sausage at a street fair for like five bucks. But then there are so-called high-end dogs and sausages that are artisanal, local, and ostensibly well-made. It's to be expected that their expenses are higher, but is there any difference in taste?
We tasted a $4.25 hot dog, an $8 bratwurst and an $8 sausage to find out.
Our first test item, a hot dog, came from Bark in Park Slope. Bark bastes them with a smoked lard butter, so I was optimistic. So how did it taste? Not so great! Kinda bland and mealy, and at $4.25, it was kind of steep. That said, I’m a grilled hot dog lover, so I may have been a little predisposed not to like it.
Next, the bratwurst from Brats in Chelsea. I just wanted a simple bratwurst. It was eight bucks. How did it taste? It was really good. It was well-seasoned, with a good punch of pepper, it was juicy and it was awesome. The Italian sausage, though, not so good. It supposedly had fennel but I couldn’t taste it, the mustard was really thin and tasted like a mismatch.
So which was worth my money? The bratwurst. As for the hot dog and the sausage – overpriced!