Bwog Can Save Your Valentine’s Day
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog’s Comestible Correspondent Julia Mix Barrington brings you some last minute ideas for Valentine’s Day.
So you’ve managed to wrangle yourself a hot date for tonight, and, naturally, you’re longing to gaze into his/her eyes over tasty food and decent wine. But you didn’t plan ahead, and you have no idea where to do this wining, dining and gazing!
There are, no doubt, some of you who have been trying to remedy your lack of forethought by ambushing strangers in the Butler stacks to ask them for restaurant recs. Leave those poor people alone–the stacks are terrifying enough already–and rely on your trusty wing-blog for Valentine’s Day restaurant suggestions!
1. Shake Shack (Columbus & 77th)
Everyone has heard of Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s foray into gourmet fast-food. Heard of, yes, but if you haven’t been (and many, inexplicably, haven’t) you should go. The most wonderful thing about Shake Shack is the way it plays with your mind: Inside, the warm air is loaded with the beautiful smell of fried food, and you get to smell it for a long, long time, since the infamous line moves fairly slowly. Once you finally get your burger and fries, they look disappointing. They look, frankly, exactly like what you’d find in a bag passed through a drive-thru window at a highway rest stop. But they taste like the very first hamburger and fries ever roller-skated out to a car-full of sock hoppers, way before McDonald’s, before tomatoes bred for durability instead of taste, before high fructose corn syrup. American food served the way America fell in love with it.
2. Massawa (121st & Amsterdam)
Massawa touts itself as “the Horn of New York,” and its supply of delicious and exciting dishes is definitely cornucopian. Every plate is served with injera (a piquant flatbread made from Teff, “the smallest wheat grain in the world”) and designed to be eaten with the hands; conversation and merriment spring naturally from watching inexpert tablemates fumble with bread and entree. Waitstaff will bring you silverware if you ask for it, but don’t. Massawa’s intricate stews (they offer a wide vegetarian selection as well as many meat dishes) taste better when eaten the way they were meant to be.
3. Flex Mussels (174 E 82nd)
Flex Mussels is a short walk from the Metropolitan Museum, and a tour around the art world is a perfect way to prepare yourself for the culinary trip the restaurant offers. One pound of Prince Edward Island mussels become slick bombs of flavor via steaming with assorted accessories from sake to star anise. Flex’s mussel concoctions produce a strange internal conflict: a selfish need to keep them for yourself combined with a powerful compulsion to share. A warning: you may arrive determined to be dignified and classy in front of your date, but you will end the night oblivious to all your surroundings, sucking mussel broth out of hunks of bread like the world is ending. Perhaps this doesn’t sound romantic, but, from a sensory perspective, it is.
4. S’mac (345 E 12th)
Dates are about talking and, if you’re lucky, laughing over food; if you choose S’mac for the food, the time it will take you to digest the first half of your cast-iron skillet of macaroni and cheese will provide you ample time to discuss anything you like; the cozy and, for the most part, quiet tables will provide you the space and ambiance. And the meal? S’mac macaroni is comfort food to the nth degree: the cast iron keeps it warm for hours, and ingredients like roasted figs, kalamata olives, and fresh fennel add sparkle to a flavor you’d think couldn’t be improved. Confessions bubble to the surface when confronted with childhood food, so check out S’mac if you’re suffering from a love that’s just got to speak its name.
5. Pintaile’s (26 E 91st)
If you’re sick to death of the flatbread pizza in Hewitt and you want a legitimate slice, Pintaile’s is the place for you. Space is at a premium there, and tables are in short supply (not to mention that the proximity to Sacred Heart and Spence mean you’ll have to elbow your way through an afterschool crowd of next-generation Chucks and Blairs), but the crust is as crisp and thin as you could want, and their creative and eclectic toppings could make you rethink your delivery “usual.” The dough is whole wheat and the mozarella is made in-house; pizzas come with fresh plum tomatoes, so if you want sauce, you’ll have to ask. Thin-crusters wooing deep-dish devotees should go to Pintaile’s and enjoy watching their Valentines switch camps.