New York Meals: The Breslin

The fifth in a series of posts about the exceptional food I ate in 2.5 days in New York.

Oh how I wish I’d taken photos of the dinner I shared with Dan at The Breslin.

The Breslin
Photo by karigee

The Breslin came highly recommended by my friend Shana – in fact, she gave a blanket recommendation to the entirety of the Ace Hotel complex: The Breslin, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and No. 7 Sub. As soon as I walked into the lobby, I could understand why Shana loves it: the space is dark, intimate, and hip, with a variety of seating, working, and drinking options. Mr Pickle and I chilled out in the AC while we waited for Dan – coincidentally in town from Chicago for work – to arrive for dinner.

Mr Pickle at the Ace Hotel

I would say – and I do – that I regret not keeping the camera out throughout our meal – but Dan and I were so busy catching up and devouring delicious things to take the time for pictures. I enjoyed the miticrema bruschetta with grilled greens and speck – thick slices of rustic bread, a smooth sweet cheese, savory greens, and thinly shaved flavorful pork – and Dan had the PEI mussels with chorizo and garlic toast.

Both of these were overshadowed by the absolutely wonderful sweetbreads, which we split because we both wanted it, but could neither commit to it exclusively nor accept the idea that we would only get to try one thing from the menu. And OMG, was this a good decision. The sweetbreads were among the best fried things I’ve ever had, and the mashed up peas provided a fresh counterpoint. Both were fantastic in flavor and texture. I would like to go back and eat five more plates.

the breslin
Photo by karigee

In the time it took us to commit to our drinks and dinner, the ladies at the next table received a very intriguing plate of – something, we weren’t sure what. Dumplings? When the second plate arrived, we decided that we should probably get some as well, especially once it was revealed that they were donuts. Brioche donuts. Brioche donuts with a trio of sauces: apple cinnamon something, chocolate, and salted caramel. I am not ashamed to admit that we ate the caramel with our spoons – and with the donuts, of course.

When I asked for New York dining recommendations, this was exactly what I had in mind: decadent but not overwhelmingly so, an emphasis on quality over quantity, the sort of food that you want to share because it’s too good to keep to yourself. I’m so glad that I tried The Breslin – and glad that I had a fellow pork, fried food, and bourbon aficionado along for the meal.

If you go:
The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
Ace Hotel
20 W 29th St
New York, NY 10001

Even if you can’t or don’t want to swing dinner, get a coffee or cocktail and a small plate at the bar. You’ll be glad you did.


25 Recipes #7: Mussels

I had mussels for the first time at Granville Moore’s, an unassumingly wonderful Belgian restaurant on H Street in DC.  I regret now that I was put off by the Moules Marinere and instead had a salad.  Since moving to Ann Arbor, however, I have seen the error of my ways, embracing The Earle’s mussels as the best and most affordable happy hour dinner in town.


I added shellfish to my 25 Recipes list with mussels specifically in mind. They’re not difficult to make at all, but the whole live in the shell thing had me intimidated.

The Non-Mussels

Other than the debearding, the recipe (from another excellent Belgian restaurant in DC) was a piece of cake: maybe 20 minutes from the start of prep to the delivery of steaming bowls of PEI mussels to the table.


My one issue with the recipe was that it called for a pound of mussels per person – so I doubled it to serve two. Now, when we go to The Earle, we usually share two dozen mussels. Two pounds and two dozen are very different numbers – in fact, we each had around 1.5 dozen mussels each, with nearly two dozen left over. We’ll definitely make this recipe again, but won’t bother doubling it.

Provençal Mussels with Tomato, Garlic, Capers, and Basil from Robert Wiedmaier of Brasserie Beck

0916 The Earle

Shane’s off to Vienna tomorrow for IPRES, so as is our custom, tonight we had a dinner date.  There are few better (or more affordable) dinner date options than mussels at The Earle, so that’s just what we did.  A glass of wine for me and beer for Shane, two dozen mussels, and some crusty bread.  A great night.

Chilli Mussels - Attitudes

0730 Hustin’ to the Roadhouse

I was at happy hour at Dominick’s when I got the message from Jenny – she and Richard were thinking about stopping at  Zingerman’s Roadhouse also en route to Detroit for the Maker Faire.  Was I interested in joining them?  Answer:  Yes please!  The only hitch? I was on campus – nearly 3 miles away – with no vehicle.  Fortunately the 30-45 minute wait gave me just enough time to hustle across town.

While I know I should’ve tried one of the many amazing meat offerings on my first trip to the Roadhouse, I regrettably wasn’t that hungry.  The three of us split a basket of sweet potato fries with a delicious spicy mayo, and I enjoyed a bowl of mussels steamed with white wine and shallots.  I envied Richard’s fried chicken and Jenny’s fancied up mac & cheese, and was thankful that we live just down the street and so can try these and other Roadhouse options at our leisure.  I also look forward to trying more of their cocktails, as my Corpse Reviver No. 2 combined several of my favorite drinkity things: gin, Lillet Blanc, and Absente.  What any of those things have to do with corpses, I’m not sure, but I certainly enjoyed it.

In addition to a great meal, it was fun to catch up with friends that I see quite rarely – and to learn about Henry Ford’s hatred of cows.  I had no idea!  A casual Google search turned up this book, which includes the tantalizing quote:

“In 1919 [Ford] advocated the elimination of horses, cows, and pigs.  ‘The world would be better off without meat,’ he said. ‘It’s 75 percent ashes anyway.  Milk can be manufactured chemically.  Every animal used on the farm these days is a waste of time.'”

He goes on to refer to cows as “the crudest machine on the world” and horses as a “twelve hundred-pound ‘hay motor'”. Thank you, Henry Ford, for the car and for allowing your ridiculous statements to be captured by the press so that they could amuse me 90 years later.  And thank you, Jenny and Richard, for inviting me to dinner!

0408 Mussels and Soft Bread

We had something planned for dinner tonight, but by the end of the work day, Shane really just felt like getting a drink and a snack somewhere downtown.  This worked out well, as I was pretty unmotivated and sleepy, and ordering off a short menu was about all I could manage.  I met him at The Earle again, where we enjoyed thick slices of soft Italian bread and two bowls of mussels in a white wine sauce – for SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS.  $6.50!  An outrageously good price for a very delicious dinner.  Even with drinks added on to the total, dinner came in under $20, and we were home and full by a little after 6pm.  Good stuff.

0323 Happy Hour at The Earle

I’m not sure what to make of happy hour here in A2.  In DC, there was a solid happy hour culture.  There are a variety of theories as to why happy hours are so popular – the most solid that I’ve heard being that the local ‘industry’ thrives on workaholics, so happy hour makes it possible to work a full day, grab a few drinks, and still get more work in after hitting the bar.  In A2, though, happy hour seems to get packed earlier while lacking the deals (and draft list) that drew us out to Birreria, for example.

We’d been told that The Earle offered one of the best happy hour deals in town – $2.75 mussels until 6:30! – so we headed there after work to have drinks and a light dinner with Shana and Eric.  I’m not a huge mussels fan, but I enjoyed the bowl that we shared, as well as the savory mushrooms stuffed with spinach, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan.  Even better was the Salt and Pepper Hendrick’s Martini – smooth cucumber gin, vermouth, and a salt-and-peppery slice of cucumber on the rim – which made me even more anxious for warm weather.  While neither our waistbands nor our wallet will allow regular visits, we both enjoyed the food, drink, and company, and hope to visit The Earle again soon!