Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Southern Food for the Soul -- Egg and The Redhead

This spring I had the pleasure of dining at two fairly hyped Southern cuisine spots with short cutesy names: Egg in Williamsburg and The Redhead in the East Village. While I did not indulge in any grits, black eyed peas or other super traditional south of the Mason-Dixon favorites, I must say that both experiences were pretty enjoyable.

Rob and I visted Egg both for breakfast and dinner over the past month, and as you probably guessed, its breakfast is much better. The OJ tastes like you're sucking on an orange still ripening on the tree, and the coffee is strong and comes in individual french presses. I am a big fan of this. I also like to draw palm trees on the white tabletops with crayons while I wait for my food. A few drawbacks though -- the wait for brunch on the weekends can be insane and the barren white wall decor leaves something to be desired. And no credit cards.

As for the brunch itself: Rob had the chorizo and salsa verde and it came with an insane amount of chorizo. I didn't think there was enough to offset all the spicy meat, but I don't really remember because I forgot my camera that morning. I had the biscuits in sausage gravy. I believe the biscuits had the right amount of stick-to-the-inside-of-your-mouth-ness to satisfy the craving, and the cream base was good and satisfying, if not a little heavy.

We headed back for dinner, when we knew it'd be quieter. I had the chorizo sandwich and I should have known, they sure like to give that chorizo away! It was impossible to pick up the sandwich because it was heavy and chorizo was falling out and the bun was sticking to the plate, so I had to eat it with a fork and knife -- not quite what you want to do when you just want to pick the thing up and take a bite. It was tasty and all, just the same chorizo from brunch on a roll. Yawn. Rob's duck breast and duck leg in "dirty rice" (which included duck heart) was pretty amazing though. Nice juicy meat that soaked into the rice for the perfect soppy bite... man, I should have ordered that. Next time. Maybe.

135 N 5th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 302-5151

We headed over to The Redhead sometime during March Madness when our friends Sam and Virginia came to visit. There were two reasons we chose this place: 1) I've heard good things and 2) it was only a block away from Momofuku Milk Bar, which we had yet to try. I was underwhelmed with the bakery but very happy to have experienced The Redhead.

The place is cozy and warm without being pretentious -- brick walls, tv in the corner of the bar, family patrons of all ages. Also had a really hard time choosing something off the menu because I wanted to eat it all. We finally narrowed it down to a reasonable amount of apps, and The Redhead did not disappoint. I loved the bibb salad with hazelnuts, bacon and cheddar dressing. The perfect amount of salty and sweet to spice up a salad. The homemade waffle chips with homemade onion sauce was surprisingly addicting. Seared scallops were good, but standard -- no frills.

I would have thought that this was one of the places where the apps outshine the entrees, but then they placed the fried chicken in front of me and I knew I was wrong. I'm not normally a fried chicken person (well, I haven't been since sophomore year...) but this might be enough to turn me back. The friendly people next to us claimed they were fried chicken fanatics and that this was the best they'd ever had. Good enough for me. Super crunchy on the outside and extra juicy on the inside, salty all around. Fantastic. Rob got the grits with shrimp and andouille, which I thought was phenomenal. The grits were "gritty" in just the right way, and the cornbread had the perfect amount of butter baked into them.

Sam had the salmon, which he said he enjoyed. He gets salmon everywhere he goes, so he knows what he is talking about. Sorry I cut your eyes out of this picture, Sam. Virginia got the well-done burger which I did not take a picture of because it hurts me to see overdone meat. I am sorry for that, too.

The Redhead
349 E 13th St (between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-6212

So we weren't really hungry for it but of course we had to check out Momofuku Milk. The complete opposite of what we had just experienced. The place was so overcrowded that Sam said it was more like a nightclub than a bakery. He was right. Kind of obnoxious when you just want something sweet and quick. Rob's chocolate chocolate chip cookie was too bitter for me and needed milk -- which we did not buy because it was so overpriced to begin with -- and my bavarian cream soft serve was unique and all, but not worth elbowing your way through an overdressed crowd to get to the surly counter people.

Momofuku Bakery/Milk Bar
207 2nd Ave (between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500

In summary: I think I'm turned on to Southern cuisine now and would like to try a more traditional, non-NYC-fusion spot next time. However, I'll be back to Egg to sample their famous Eggs Rothko, and I will definitely be back to the Redhead to have one of everything. I will probably skip dessert.

No comments: