Thursday, July 28, 2011

East Village Eats: Whitman's

The East Village is known for eateries specializing in only one dish. The menu might seem mundane at first, but if they do just one thing, you better believe that they do it right.

Just to rant off a few of my favorites:
Pomme Frites boasts delectable twice-fried Belgian french fries accompanied with a wide-range of dipping sauces (my favorite of the moment is the truffle mayo). At Otafuku, they've mastered takoyakis, which are savory squid doughnuts made using a special Japanese cast-iron pan. Interwoven inside these doughy balls are ginger, scallions and salted cabbage. Across the street, sits Soba-ya, a Japanese restaurant celebrating hand-made buckwheat noodles. A few blocks away, stands Porchetta.  The deliciously messy slow-cooked, free-range pork sandwiches are an Italian street food staple. Each of these places transports you to another country and leaves you satisfied on so many levels. 

The sides are also pretty impressive: "cracklin' kale" (deep fried kale dusted with a savory spice mix) and bleu cheese french fries.

Another much-welcomed addition to the neighborhood, is Whitman's, which specializes in the two essential B's: beer and burgers. The wooden interior and laid back atmosphere transports you miles away from bustling New York. Everyone working at Whitman's looks like a surfer or skater and, they're all gentlemen! (A dying breed here in Gotham.) To top it off these beef cakes also serve the most delicious grass-fed beef burgers.  

The pimento cheese filled short rib burger called the "Juicy Lucy" is Whitman's most famous. But, the unlikely winner is the PB & B Burger. It's peanut butter and bacon atop an all-beef burger. An all-American version of beef satay with peanut sauce. Biting into this crazy concoction instantly made me think of my dad who loves smearing his hotdogs with peanut butter.

This time, I stuck with the classic Upstate Burger, but I couldn't help adding some sauteed mushrooms. The beer on draft that night was a Brooklyn summer ale. So even though Whitman's looks like it specializes only in beer and delicious burgers, if you take a second to look around, you realize that you're also supporting the slow food movement. Eating local, eating cheap, and eating well. What's not to love about Whitman's?    

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