Category Archives: Manhattan

48 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Cafe Sabarsky’s Goulash Soup: Sorta Makes Me Want to Taste the Goulash King’s Other Goulash Gems

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Sure, it makes me want to try more goulash, but only if it doesn’t cost me as much.  A $13 price tag seems high.

Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner is New York’s “goulash king,” according to New York magazine.  He apparently makes three different kinds with three different meats at three different restaurants:  venison at Wallsé, pork at Blaue Gans and beef at Cafe Sabarsky. It would’ve been a soup princess’ dream to have a sampling of all three at the same time, but my dreams wouldn’t come true this time around.  I had to settle for just the beef Goulash Soup at Cafe Sabarsky ($13).

Cafe Sabarsky’s Goulash Soup

I got over it quickly, though, since the bowl came out soon after I ordered it, and it was very satisfying, especially after taking a nice 40-block stroll over.  Potato chunks, beef cubes, scallions, and what I wrote down as “rye seeds” (but are actually called caraway seeds which are used in rye bread!) accompanied a chunky, dark reddish-brown broth that wasn’t lacking in paprika.  I’ve mentioned before how some soups would be perfect in a cabin on a snowy day, and this is one of them.  It would warm you up and make you feel relaxed and right at home.

The only downside to this goulash was the saltiness.  It became overwhelming towards the end, and I needed to wash it down with some water.

I wonder how Wolfgang Puck would feel about this version since goulash is one of the dishes he’d want to eat as part of his last meal (if you watched this season’s Top Chef, then you know what I’m talking about!).  Would he tell Padma to dethrone Chef Gutenbrunner and tell him to pack his knives and go?

Cafe Sabarsky
(part of the Neue Galerie museum)
1048 5th Avenue (at 86th Street)
New York, NY, 10028
(212) 288-0665
http://www.neuegalerie.org/cafes/sabarsky

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


47 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Allegretti’s Provencale Fish Soup Has Found a New Home

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  From what I’ve read, it sounds like I’d like it.

The bad news – Allegretti closed down around the end of 2010.

The good news – Chef Alain Allegretti took his famous Provençale Fish Soup over to his new restaurant, La Petite Maison, which opened in December 2010 in the old Aquavit space (13-15 West 54th Street).  Officially, they call it “Traditional Provencal fish soup with rouille and garlic crouton” ($14; was $13 at Allegretti Restaurant and $12 when NY mag published their feature).

The bad news – I hadn’t done enough research when I was back in NYC a month ago, so I didn’t realize Chef was already at a new restaurant AND was making the same soup there…so, this means I didn’t try it and won’t be able to tell you what I think about it right now.

The good news – Google is awesome, and lots of people have written about it.  So, here’s some info…

Soup Background
“Always Hungry New York” interviewed Chef Allegretti about his fish soup on June 28, 2010.  If you want to see how to make it, definitely visit the website.  Here’s what I learned: Chef grew up in the South of France, and his grandmother would make fish soup every weekend for the family.  Since her version was extremely fishy, he decided to adapt it to a less fishy, more “American” version for his restaurant.  The hefty price comes from the fact that making it is a long and detailed process, and the ingredients that go into it, such as saffron, are very expensive.  One batch costs about $600, which is insane!  I wonder if I would be able to taste the $$$ and love that goes into this.

Chef Alain Allegretti's Provencale Fish Soup (photo from "Evenings with Peter" blog)

What New York magazine said in their “50 Tastiest Soups” feature in 2009:
“In much the way that Marseille is not known for its pastrami, New York is not a bouillabaisse town. No matter. Not when we have Alain Allegretti’s transporting fish soup at our disposal. Redolent of saffron and garlic and the heady perfume of expertly boiled fish carcasses, it comes in a tiny white bowl but contains an ocean’s worth of flavor.”

What another blogger from “Evenings with Peter” said:
“I don’t like soup for dinner ordinarily and I didn’t like the bouillabaisse too much in Marseilles, but this fish dish demands a standing ovation! Extraordinary!”

What New York Times‘ Frank Bruni’s friend said in 2008:
“’It tastes exactly the way it should,’ she said, rushing the words out as soon as the soup was down. She wanted the rest of us to know. She wanted to crow. She wanted to be done with talking and get back to the soup. She was even making those mm-mm noises, or something oddly close to them, as in the goofy Campbell’s commercials from years ago.

What she meant…was that that it tasted of Mediterranean waters — scorpion fish, rouget — and of Mediterranean sunshine, the tomato flavor robust and true. She meant that it had some proper mischief in it: a blast of fennel, a flicker of Pernod, a murmur of saffron.”  Read full NYT article

What Time Out New York said in 2008:
“Slurping it down, I was left craving one thing: more of their croutons, Gruyère and garlicky rouille—the usual accompaniments—for soaking it up.”  Read full TONY article

What New York Times said recently on March 22, 2011 about the soup, which is now featured at La Petite Maison:
“It arrives on tables with all the flavors and fragrances of that region present and singing in tune: fantastic.”  Read full NYT article about La Petite Maison

Soooo, the good news – I’ll be able to try the soup the next time I’m in NYC.

The bad news – I probably won’t be there for a while.  Hopefully the resto is still in business by the time I get there, and hopefully Chef has the fish soup on the menu that day.  If not, I’m going to think something fishy is going on…

Allegretti – CLOSED

La Petite Maison – NOW OPEN
13-15 W. 54th Street
New York, NY 10019
212.616.9931
http://www.lapetitemaisonnyc.com

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


44 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Perry Street’s Squash Soup: Like a Jackson Pollock Painting

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  A strong, intriguing bowl.

It’s as if Perry Street and Felidia swapped menus.  I was supposed to try the Chicken Broth with Market Vegetables, Dill and Lime at Perry Street, but, instead, they were serving Squash Soup with Mimolette and Crouton ($10).

Just like Felidia turned a simple chicken soup into something unique, Perry Street spun their Squash Soup into a somewhat crazy work of art.  If you compare it to Dovetail’s butternut squash soup, whereas Dovetail’s was more minimalist and elegant, Perry Street’s was more like a Jackson Pollock painting, especially after you mixed the ingredients together.

Perry Street's Squash Soup

The pureed sweet squash was poured, tableside, atop a mix of shaved mimolette*, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped chives, and crunchy crouton flakes.  Then, just when you thought that was it, they topped that off with some foam that tasted like cheese.

Stir it all together, and what you get is a very complex – and strong – flavor with great textures.  There was even a spicy kick to it that I couldn’t figure out.  Unfortunately, after a while, I started wishing I only had a simple squash puree with some seasoning since it became too heavy and overwhelming for me.  But it’s a bowl that deserves appreciation, and some may really enjoy it.

And, after reading chef Cedric Vongerichten’s quote for his featured chicken broth, it looks like texture and tableside pouring are his things.  From what I’ve seen with his squash soup, I’d actually like to see what he does with his chicken soup.

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*According to Wikipedia, mimolette is a cow’s milk cheese originally made by the request of Louis XIV, who wanted a French cheese to resemble Edam, a Dutch cheese.  In order to differentiate it from Edam, however, he had it colored orange.  With a grey crust and orange flesh, it looks a lot like a cantaloupe.  And I’m grossed out to know that the grey crust is a result of cheese mites which are intentionally introduced to add flavor.  ICK!!!!!!

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Perry Street
176 Perry Street (at West St.)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 352-1900
http://www.jean-georges.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


43 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup: Really Just a Bowl of Chili Oil

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  *barf*

Someone bring me a puke bag because writing this might actually make me puke.  I would rather not think about Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup ($20; was $19) ever again.

First off, yes, it was $20.  They bring out a family-style bowl of it.

Grand Sichuan's Sliced Fish Sauce Soup

Below the thick, red chili oil and bushel of red chili peppers lay some thin fillets of fish (skin on and bone in), cilantro, celery sticks, napa cabbage, leeks and squares of tofu.

Here are a few things that were said by me, TK, KF and MS:

“I feel like I’m eating oil.”

“(It’s like) pepper juice.”

“I can’t taste anything else but chili oil.”

I’d rather drink a bottle of pepto.

No one really touched the soup after the first sip.  I, on the other hand, decided that the non-fish items were good enough to eat with my rice.  Without any “broth” it was edible.

My friend told me about “twilight anesthesia” this morning – it keeps you conscious but sleepy, and you forget the entire experience afterwards.  This is exactly what we needed that night while trying this nastiness.

When the waitress came by and asked me if we wanted it wrapped, I wanted to say “hellz no, it was nasty!” but I didn’t know how to express that in Mandarin.  The best I could do was say, politely, “No, it was too oily.”  I guess that’s a good thing?

Grand Sichuan
15 Seventh Avenue South (near Leroy St.)
New York, NY 10014
212.645.2222
http://www.thegrandsichuan.com/contact/7ave

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


42 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Felidia’s Chicken “Noodle” Soup: One of the Best Chicken Noodle Soups

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Far from boring.

“This is the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.”  That’s what JM said after having some of Felidia’s Chicken Soup ($15).

Zuppa Di Zucca – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – was the one featured on the list, but they didn’t have it on the menu.  I had definitely groaned in my head when the waiter told us what the soup du jour was because I was pretty tired of the same old chicken noodle soup that cost too much and was nothing special.  In fact, I didn’t even think you could really make this type of soup unique.  Well, Felidia (celeb chef, Lidia Bastianich’s, resto) proved me wrong.

Felidia's Chicken Soup

mmm, chicken

At first you see ingredients just like any other chicken soup – shreds of fresh chicken, carrots and leeks (I don’t believe I saw celery).  Then you taste the broth, which was one of the more flavorful ones out there.  But what separated this one from all the other ones

The bestest "noodle" out there

were the “noodles.”  This was no ordinary white pasta.  Instead, it was bread rolled up into dough with some cheese.  Homemade, omg-give-me-more-of-this awesomeness.  It added a whole new dimension to typical chicken soup.

But, again, it always comes back to what you’re getting for the money.  Were these noodles worth $15?  Probably not.  If it were $10 a bowl, maybe.

PS – Looks like they have the Zuppa Di Zucca as part of their Pre-Theatre Menu for $45 per person, during certain days/times, and by reservation only.

Felidia
243 E. 58th Street
New York, NY10022
212.758.1479
http://www.felidia-nyc.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


41 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – The Breslin’s Onion and Bone Marrow Soup: A Robust French Onion for the Lactose Intolerant

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If you’re not worried about your health, go for it.

Just walking into The Breslin Bar & Dining Room revealed a lot.  A wide assortment of animal figurines adorned the dark, wood bar:  deer, cows, pigs, ox, bison, chicken, sheep, ostrich and more.  If you don’t like meat, turn around and walk out the door.  That’s not to say that they don’t have non-meat options, but meat is spotlighted.

I sat at the bar for lunch and ordered my Onion and Bone Marrow Soup ($13 now; was $10 in 2009) with a side of broccolini to make myself feel better.  The baby crock came out scolding hot, which was  better than the lukewarm Kuba Soup that I got at Mimi’s Hummus…except for the fact that my tongue paid for it with the first slurp.

The Breslin's Onion and Bone Marrow Soup

It was a bolder, richer French Onion Soup made for the lactose intolerant.  A school of long, thin onion slices, a piece of fried toast and swirls of oil didn’t miss being cloaked by a thick slab of cheese.  But the bowl wasn’t completely devoid of dairy – somewhere in the murkiness, you could see bits of cheese fried to the toast.  The perfect amount, if you ask me.

I thoroughly enjoyed every last drop, but the heaviness and cost made me feel extremely guilty afterwards.  I’ll keep this as a guilty pleasure, if I’m reeeeeallly craving it one day.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
20 W. 29th Street (near Broadway, at the Ace Hotel)
New York, NY 10001
212-679-1939
http://thebreslin.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


37 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Dovetail’s Butternut Squash Soup Blew My Mind: A New Fave

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Must go there.

The northwest corner of 77th and Columbus is a diverse, yummy corner.  You’ve got a casual, down and dirty Shake Shack on one side and a fancy, prim and proper Dovetail on the other.  Perhaps I’ll park my future cookie stand right in the middle to give it a sense of completeness.

Dovetail is  a hidden gem tucked away on the sidewalk with its understated curb appeal, but what lies behind is a meal you will never forget.

I knew ahead of time that the New England Clam Chowder I was supposed to try was no longer being served.  In its place was a Butternut Squash Soup – the first course of a $24.07 Friday lunch prix fixe menu*.  This soup could very well be my new favorite, kicking out the tripe soup from Corsina.  Not only was it a beautiful piece of art, but it was also a well thought out bowl.  Every single ingredient served a pleasant purpose.  This was not a case of, yea, it’s fancy, but it’s all fluff.  Whether it provided texture or bursts of flavor, each ingredient played a role to help make this into one cohesive – and very special – bowl.

Dovetail's Butternut Squash Soup

The chestnut confit provided a subtle sweet nuttiness.  The hidden red cranberry swirl gave a contrasting tanginess to the sweetness of the squash, whereas the itty bitty pumpernickel croutons added a big crunchy texture to the silkiness.

Chestnut confit, pumpernickel crouton bite, apple pearl

And then you’re surprised with the cutest pale yellow pearls of tart apple…(love!).  This was all topped off with three fluffy clouds of rosemary marshmallow, giving it a blast of candied herbiness.

It was no doubt the perfect marriage of flavors – not too sweet, not too salty.  It could’ve veered too much towards tasting like a dessert, if an unskilled chef tried it, but somehow the chef at Dovetail created an insanely good deconstructed savory sweet pie and put it in mostly liquid form.

Needless to say, this was no ordinary butternut squash soup.  Every bite brought something new and made me ask, “Wow, what is this?”  My notes on the side said, “I WANT TO LICK THIS BOWL!”

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*I have no idea how much this would’ve cost on its own.

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Dovetail
103 W. 77th Street
New York, NY 10024
212.362.3800
http://www.dovetailnyc.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!