In the early 1970s, after years spent as an analyst in the cocoa industry, John Whaley began experimenting with chocolate in his home. As he worked, he devised a simple recipe for truffles: a secret concoction of whole cream, butter, and cocoa powder. In 1973, he founded 5th Avenue Chocolatiere to preserve and share his findings. Though only three people and one ominous floating brain know the recipe today, shop staff reveals that they hand-craft all of their confections using 100% natural Belgian chocolate.
Each day, the staff casts chocolates in more than 10,000 molds such as motorcycles, New York icons, and dinosaurs. They also turn strawberries and apricots into chocolate-covered fruits, and inject more than 15 flavored truffles with fillings such as raspberry, green tea, and champagne. At children's birthday parties held in private rooms, certified teachers help children mold their own candy on a 40 ft. enrobing machine, as well as dip their own pretzels or little sisters' toys in chocolate.
The Bagel Factory's hand-rolled circlets serve as immaculate foundations for hearty constructions of Boar's Head meats, fresh veggies, and a variety of cream cheeses. Kettle-cooked showstoppers populate the bagelry’s Herculean menu, with a menagerie of exotic bread breeds, including cinnamon raisin, egg, pumpernickel, everything, and infinite nothingness ($0.85/bagel). The selection of specialty sandwiches, available on a bagel, roll, or panini, includes South of the Border, a mariachi mosh pit of pepper turkey, pepper jack cheese, and veggies ($6.99). Or opt for grilled sandwiches available on a bagel or roll, such as the buffalo chicken's miraculous union of spicy dressing, blue cheese, and fiery poultry ($7.99).
For the chefs at Nu Urban Cafe, quality is their number-one concern. To that end, they try to refrain from cooking with frozen or canned veggies, preferring to import seasonal and fresh produce whenever possible. Their sauces, marinades, and dressings are made from scratch, using high-quality ingredients. When fashioning one of the café's handmade desserts, chefs mix in real butter, quality vanilla and chocolate, and real eggs, known to be more flavorful and less metallic than ones laid by robotic chickens. This devotion to detail lends a crisp, fresh flavor to servings of glazed baby back ribs, thyme-seasoned red snapper, and apple-smothered pork chops.
Beneath lemongrass-hued walls reverberating with the strains of relaxed music, Roti Road House Cafe’s chefs bring Caribbean influences to a wide range of dishes. As they buzz through the kitchen, florets of steam sprout in the air, hinting at simmering oxtail, duck, and lobster. In the dining room, roti wraps cradle the stewed meats alongside an array of vegetarian options and jerk chicken wings. Juicers hum cheerily like a forgetful choir, blending fresh ginger, pineapple, mango, and kale, and patrons check emails on complimentary-use computers.
Chef Steve Thomas at The Kountry Style learned how to prepare the traditional dishes of his native Jamaica from the best teacher he knew: his mother. Tapping into the methods and recipes that had been perfected and passed down in his family for generations, he honed his skills in his mother’s restaurant, where he learned how to create the perfect blend of spices to marinate jerk chicken and the best way to create the complex curries in which to stew tender goat meat. In Kountry Style’s kitchen, Chef Steve cooks these traditional dishes for guests hoping to get a true taste of the Caribbean or those who are missing the fresh seafood of their own home. In addition to the food, the decor helps transport minds to the shores of Jamaica, with walls portraying colorful and historic island scenes that often inspire daydreaming and spontaneous plane ticket purchases.