The smells don't match the scenery at Market Café. With a modest exterior and a formica-tinged, art-deco theme on the inside, the venue seems like a traditional diner. Yet the aromas sneaking from the kitchen bely a more complex story—one of daily-made flatbread dough, pork burgers stuffed with cilantro, and sautéed tiger shrimp. These are but a few of the protagonists on a continental menu of made-from-scratch plates. The café's stress on in-house prep and signature touches—such as the loin-of-pork sandwich's housemade butter pickles—defies its unassuming design, offering what New York magazine calls "culinary salvation" from the area's standard eateries.
In addition to prioritizing housemade fare, Market Café caters to dietary restrictions. Its gluten-free menus draw from many mainstay listings for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and diners can also sub gluten-free noodles and buns into regular pasta or burger dishes. Much of the café's press homes in on its generous desserts—specifically the chocolate cake, a three-layered slice big enough to split between several people or act as a doorstop until someone gets hungry. The decadent confection pairs well with offerings from the fully stocked bar. Fresh blueberry purée and lime juice mix with gin in the blueberry gimlet, and the Dirty Goose—Grey Goose vodka, vermouth, and prosciutto-stuffed olives—preserves an avian motif that began with dinner's grilled quail served in a red-wine reduction.
Over a plate of fresh Maine lobster that they brought back to the city themselves, husband-and-wife duo Ralph Gorham and Susan Povich wondered aloud, “Why doesn’t someone in New York start a fresh-seafood business?” Their destiny as restaurateurs was realized the moment those words were uttered: they opened Red Hook Lobster Pound a mere six months later. Gorham began traveling to Maine every weekend, scoping out catches and making deals with fisherman, choosing only those that partook in environmentally sustainable practices. Meanwhile, Povich experimented with recipes in order to add to an already lengthy repertoire of lobster-based recipes she learned while growing up in the Northeast. Word of mouth helped spark interest in their eatery, and before long, the demand compelled them to expand their storefront to include a picnic-style dining room. They’ve even added a food truck––nicknamed "Big Red"––that brings lobster-based dishes to diners across the city. According to The New York Times, success has had little effect on Red Hook Lobster Pound’s menu: “It tastes as fresh as can be, which matters when you’re dealing with a trend that’s growing so fast.” Their lobster rolls—served on split-top buns and garnished with just enough homemade mayo—have been lauded by Zagat, Bloomberg News, and Gourmet.com. Other popular dishes include lobster bisque, lobster mac-n-cheese, and a lobster dinner, served with homemade coleslaw, potato salad, and fresh, lake-caught corn.
At Pescatore, chef Kenneth Johnson and his team honor the deceptive simplicity of Italian cuisine's commitment to culinary fundamentals. The restaurant's menus showcase the importance of using a base of simple, vibrant ingredients, then adding flair and complexity. This is evident in dishes such as the eatery's ricotta appetizer, which is accented by chives, hazelnuts, clover honey, and mint, and its roasted red- and yellow-beet salad, dotted with pickled shallots and dressed with champagne-honey vinaigrette.
Competing on a National Stage
Whether he's cooking for a crowd of diners or competing on national television, Johnson uses basic techniques to craft delicious dishes. So, when faced with the daunting task of preparing a dessert using spiral ham, spiced rum, green plantains, and water chestnuts, he created a traditional streusel. Sticking to a straightforward dessert netted Johnson a first-place finish on the Food Network's Chopped?his second victory in as many appearances.
Key Ingredients at Pescatore
Sushi Nagasaki fuses the cylindrical sensations of sushi with the spicy servings of Thailand, creating an alluring Asian-cuisine mixture. Appease even the most cantankerous of tongue receptors with the eel-and-cucumber-stuffed dragon roll, the California roll crested with fish roe, or the spicy tuna hand roll twined with lettuce and cooling cucumber (all priced at $8.95). Thai creations such as the evil red curry ($7.75), a sinful mix of bamboo shoots, green beans, coconut milk, and basil leaves. Or try the less devious yellow curry ($7.75), a combination of savory Thai spices, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, coconut milk, and onions that can readily fill torso purses with the sustenance needed to reach the paradoxically parallel high and low branches of the world tree. And the stir-fried broccoli ($7.75) places enough green stalks on your plate to create a micro-forest for a kind-hearted troll. All curries come with a choice of beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp for $1 extra.
The Original Crab Shack hauls in fresh fish, crab, lobster, shrimp, and clams every day from the ports of Boston Harbor, often getting the seafood in less than 12 hours after it comes off the boats. In the kitchen, cooks transform the catches into seafood through the power of steam or a fryer, filling pots with clams and lobster or baskets with tender fried shrimp and clam strips. Behind their full bar, which is decorated with fairy lights and nautical décor such as anchors, cheery bartenders pour beers or wine and mix specialty cocktails. Light blue walls, punctuated with Cape Cod–style windows, surround the interior of Crab Shack, which is filled with small tables as well as two 10-seater farm tables in the center of the room.
Route 100 Wine Bar & Grill’s high-quality ingredients and generous portions have earned the bistro accolades in the New York Times, which praises the eclectic cuisine as “creative" and "carefully presented.” Italian pasta dishes and sauces dominate the menu, but chefs sneak in Asian flourishes such as ponzu sauce and wasabi-mashed potatoes. Polished hardwood floors reflect wall-mounted wine racks loaded with hundreds of international vintages and the occasional neglected genie bottle.