The Cheesecake Factory

Although I knew about the Cheesecake Factory for over a decade now, I never really had the opportunity rise at the same time as a want to go and eat there. The last time I was in San Francisco, I tried the Macy’s store but remember the ever long queue. I never checked to see if New York had one with so many great eateries and the when I stumbled across the Las Vegas outlet, I had just eaten breakfast and eating was the last thing on my mind.

We came here for dinner and I can tell you the line up hasn’t really changed. Constant streams of people come to put their name down at the reception area. Large families wait. Couples wait. Sometimes an individual comes and heads to the bar where you can watch sports on their giant TVs and probably fight your way for a seat pretty much immediately. We were told it’d be about a thirty minute or forty minute wait, and it was closer to an hour by the time we finally got seated. We got this buzzer where we headed outside (where you could also get seated immediately but had to brave the chilly evening air that I didn’t have the right clothing for).

Fortunately we had enough things to do to occupy our time. We took some pictures from the terrace as the sun went down, stood around people watching and trying to predict how much of a queue we had. Another thing we did was to peruse through the long menu. It’s a good thing we did as well because the menu was almost like a book with so many pages. I have no idea how big their kitchen is to deal with all the food and worried a bit about exactly how good the food was going to be.

They had sections for pizzas, pastas, salads, asian food, mexican food, mixed food, some american diner classics and a “small plates” or “appetiser” section that spanned at least four pages. The dessert offerings had at least two full pages describing all the types of cheesecakes on offer. They brought bread, although I tried to avoid it considering they had a reputation for bringing huge servings of food. The table next to us ordered the burrito almost the size of my head. The gentlemen didn’t finish it though made a good dent on it.

We split a popcorn shrimp as an appetiser. I was drawn in the by thought or rock shrimp, but instead turned out to be an extremely generous serving of medium sized shrimp battered and served with a spicy mayo and tomato sauce. A good starter and worried about the main meals to still come.

My sister ordered the Madeira chicken that I never really tasted though it looked pretty good. I couldn’t fathom exactly how many calories sat inside the humungous scoop of mashed potato that landed on the plate. No need to say she didn’t finish it.

Not sure that I’d make it to any restaurants serving southern fare, I decided to go for the bowl of gumbo. When the steaming bowl I arrived I was very impressed by the size. I immediately shoved the bowl of rice away, choosing to savour the tender chunks of chicken, prawn and sausage dotted throughout the succulently dark gravy. I’m no expert but it was pretty good and had a good enough heat throughout the dish.

Although many other desserts looked enticing, I’m not sure we can visit the Cheesecake Factory without having a cheesecake. I love key lime pie (it’s hard to get in the UK) and so while my sister ate a weird carrot-cake chunk cheesecake, I tucked into a huge slice of pie that I failed to finish. I told the attendant that I didn’t want any whipped cream and asked if I could replace it with ice cream. As you can see from the photo, it failed and he managed to bring both.

Anyway, despite the bustling crazy speed of the restaurant, it was nice to be seated and the food was pretty decent. I’m not sure it’s the sort of food you really want to line up for, but the experience is one you probably won’t forget for a while.

Name: The Cheesecake Factory, San Francisco Outlet
Found at: 251 Geary Street (in the Macy’s building), San Francisco, CA 94102, United States

In-N-Out Burger

Out of all the different burger joints, the most I ever heard about overseas was the In and Out burgers typically found in California, or at least the west coast. They are known for the freshness and not shipping meat in from factories, hence haven’t made a huge nationwide rollout to all other parts of the US or the world. The other thing they are well known for are the secret menu combinations although I failed to remember any of them when we ordered.

We went along to the one by Fisherman’s Wharf since we were in the area. As we found a table, I found it surprising that for a fast-food joint, this store almost appeared like an oasis of calm. No crazy crowds, things were clean and bright and things just seemed to be pipe along instead of the crazy atmosphere you typically find in a place with Golden Arches. Perhaps it’s because they don’t go overboard on the menu and the secret is a pretty limited menu including burgers (plain, cheese and double cheese burgers), fries and drinks. No bacon. No desserts. No happy meals.

I probably should have skipped the shake with my meal as a double cheeseburger and shake combo (fries included), whilst cheap, was significantly crazy with calories. I have to love the US for forcing large chains to put calorific information on the menu. Whilst it didn’t change my purchase on the day, I would definitely avoid doing this even more than once a month with the total calorific input summing to about 1700 calories.

The burger was pretty decent. Wonderfully melty American style burger cheese and a great special sauce with onions, tomato and lettuce. The fries were probably the biggest let down that started off nice and fresh and crisp but quickly tasted a bit bland. A good thing too as it was a disincentive to eat valueless calories.

Name: In-n-out Burger
Found at: 333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States

The French Laundry

When my sister and I booked our trip to stay with our cousin in San Francisco, she was almost immediately on the phone trying to get a reservation for The French Laundry. Like many top class restaurants in the world, finding a reservation is difficult – you need to book in advance at least a month and even then chances are the bookings will already be taken by the time you get there. She’s a lot more dedicated to it than I am, and managed to get a lunch time booking for Sunday, the day after we arrived in the city.

We arranged to hire a car for the day (it only ended up being about £25 for the day hire), drove up to Napa Valley (or Yountville to be more precise). The weather forecast predicted gloom and rain but instead the day welcomed us with bright sunshine and moderately warm temperatures. Our cousin equipped us with a GPS and that turned out to be really valuable as we took a number of wrong turns off connecting highways and intersections.

We arrived with plenty of time before our 11am booking, so took a quick walk around the area. Directly opposite from The French Laundry’s location is a big open area where they grow and harvest their own vegetables, herbs and even have a chicken coop that I’m guessing is more for the eggs than for the meat.

We could see them rotating crops with a number of the crops already completely harvested and other sections most likely to be harvested sometime soon.

This part of the US is wine country, so the surrounding buildings are either a combination of residential places, or a number of wineries offering samples of their wares. We walked into one place that was had an interesting combination of both indoor and outdoor art with the wine that they would serve. We even saw someone buy a painting, where the lady purchasing immediately demanded for it to be taken down to prevent others from even looking at it.

The French Laundry itself loos like a converted house. The building is made up of two floors, the downstairs floor appearing darker with the blinds semi-closed for privacy. The top floor is more bright but the ceilings much closer giving it the appearance of being slightly smaller. The tables are not pushed together like other popular restaurants with plenty of space for people to walk around. In fact, one table even brought their child (probably about one or two years old) although we were commenting on how it probably wasn’t much of a great experience for the child.

Here’s the door that you enter and exit through. A comfy courtyard welcomes you just outside with chairs if you want to sit and sun yourself whilst waiting, or maybe needing to digest more of your meal.

We walked around the premises a bit and even found this interesting Michelin branded thermometer.

We sat alongside one of the walls with the centre tables reserved for parties greater than two. We felt we were probably the youngest group of people with most people in their late 30s/early 40s and many tables significantly above that age as well. They have a dress code including jacket and no jeans or trainers and they really keep to it as well. A gentlemen, upon being seated, went to go take his jacket off and hang it on the chair when their waiter immediately asked him to, “Please keep your jacket on at all times sir.” They didn’t really explain but I guess it helps make the experience feel more special.

Everything about the experience is immaculately thought out and the decadence presented in a subtle fashion. Much to its namesake, the napkin folded at the table had a French Laundry branded peg. I have no idea whether or not you were supposed to take them home, but they left them about. When you left for the restroom, a waiter or waitress would remove your napkin only to have another one almost seemlessly appear.

Their degustation offerings both priced at a fixed USD270 including service came in two flavours. The first was a chef’s classic and the second, a more vegetarian friendly though not exclusively vegetarian with one or two of the nine courses including meats. I’m sure they could probably substitute for vegetarians but I’m guessing the combination of a French restaurant and a place like this isn’t exactly their target market. We went for the classic menu as well. Parts of the menu offered an alternative between two different dishes and I think we almost went for different alternatives that didn’t involve a supplement. Some choices, like a foie gras, added another USD50 to the overall cost. The price probably wasn’t so much the problem for me (since when are we going to do this experience again) but I decided against it since I am not the biggest lover of foie gras.

My sister also ordered a bitter lemon drink, whilst I perused their iPad wine list to pick a glass of red from the area. Of course the wine list was exhaustively comprehensive but I was surprised there wasn’t as many choices by the glass from the local area. No zinfandel reds by the glass either but I would have more chance later in the trip to indulge.

On choosing the menu, almost instantly two cheese gougères appeared at the table. Perfectly crisp, light and full of cheesy flavour, there was nothing wrong I could pick.

Shortly after arrived an interesting minced salmon cone filled with cream cheese. I like the playfulness of these two classic ingredients paired together in an entertaining manner and all the flavours indeed hit the spot.

Our first course from the degustation menu arrived. “Oysters and Pearls” or Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar. This dish was amazingly rich and was a great thing that it came in such a tiny bowl. The sabayon had plenty of thickness to it that it was able to easily hold up the caviar and the oysters laid on top. Creamy, rich and it almost felt like eating a thicker hollandaise I was glad to not how much butter or cream went into it. A very lovely start.

With this dish, we had been offered a brioche from the Bouchon bakery just down the road to go along with two types of butter, one from a local farm and the other flown from in from Maine.

Our next course, the “Creme D’Asperges”, Jidori Hen Egg, parmesan, chervil and garden blossoms. I forgot to take a picture of the lovely components underneath the asparagus soup but this was a really nice dish. I was surprised at just how much asparagus flavour they managed to extracta and the poached egg wasn’t too big or too small for this dish.

The bread offerings started to open up. We had a number to choose from including a french loaf, a seeded loaf, sourdough and then a pretzel. Throughout the meal I think I tried everything but the french roll preferring the chewy sourdough and the salted pretzel bread.

I didn’t have this next dish, but my sister did. This was the “Smoked Shad Roe ‘Porridge'”, Lemongrass, charred ginger, tempura sea beans and shiso so I don’t really have comments on this one.

My alternative was the “Sauteed fillet of Atlantic Striped Bass”, Sunchokes, fava beans, nicoise olives and serrano ham. As you can see from the picture, part of the delight of this dish was the perfectly crisped potato crust providing an additional crunch to the texture of the dish. The ham added salt to the dish and this was a very impressive dish. The fish remained juicy and the flavour combinations really worked well.

Our next course together was the “Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster ‘Fricassee'”, spätzle, pickled beef, French Laundry garden beets, petite radish, tarragon and “Sauce Borscht”. I laughed and commented to our waiter on his efforts to pronounce spätzle based on my own experiences last year. It was a pretty good effort. You could taste the buttery richness imparted on the lobster by itself and though I didn’t really note a strong pickled flavour from the beef, the “borscht” was an amazing reduction of so many complex flavours. I have no idea how to describe it other than layers and layers of deep flavours impacted on a thick sticky sauce. The spätzle was also pretty good though I couldn’t pick the odd flavour imparted so I asked them if they added a sauce around it. Upon returning from the kitchen I was informed they’d been covered with some sort of reduced creme fraiche.

We both chose the next dish together, “Four Story Hill Farm Poularde Breast”, Nettle ‘gnocchi a la Parisienne’, crosnes, Nantes carrots and Black Winter Truffle Consomme that I think may have been the dish with the most subtle flavours. The poularde had, of course, been perfectly cooked. It looked cooked sous vide as it remained juicy and then its crispy outer finished off in a pan. Tiny fresh vegetables dotted the plate and the nettle gnocchi providing an alternating softer texture though without any distinguishable nettle flavour.

The truffle consomme, was of course, poured at the table with great effect and smelt wonderful imparting soft earthiness to the other dish. I found the truffle consomme not as rich in flavour as I expected but I think that more has to do with the black versus white truffle whose flavour is less pungent and sharp.

I wasn’t quite sure how the next dish was going to go for my sister as she’s not a big fan of lamb. “Elysian Fields Farm lamb saddle”, Merguez sausage, farro, “Ribettes”, broccolini and “Piperade au Saffron” however I certainly enjoyed it. I did think there was a bit too much going on the plate – underneath the lamb sat roasted peppers turned into a mash spread across the plate. The sausage was crisped up to provide texture and tiny pieces of meat that I guessed as some sort of lardons crisped up on one side added more texture and richness to the dish. I liked the small slices of a chile that added a subtle heat to the overall dish. Much to my sister’s delight, the lamb had a very subtle flavour and many other strong-flavoured components helped prevent it from dominating.

We finally moved on beyond the main courses, and first hit the cheese course. “Chaconne”, “Pruneaux d’Agnen”, pecans, petite onions, oxalis and black truffle “Aigre Doux”. As you can see more black truffle infused honey smeared across the plate and a salty, creamy cheese that went well with all the other components.

Or first official dessert arrived, a “Sierra Beauty apple sorbet”, toasted oats and ginger “nuage”. The ginger foam effectively had a very subtle flavour – very surprisingly considering how it normally dominates and I love the crunch provided by the toasted oats at the bottom of the plate. A great way to cleanse the palette and an enjoyable dessert.

My sister opted for the alternative dessert, a “Meyer Lemon ‘Parfait'”, Oregon huckleberries, sicilian pistachios and poppy seed ice cream. It looked really great and I had a small taste of the “parfait” that was just as tart as I would hope.

Being a lot more predictable when it involves hazelnut and chocolate, I ordered the “Marjolaine”, praline Mousse, “Dacquoise” and roasted banana sorbet. Tiny merengue discs sit atop some of the components, caramelised and toasted hazelnuts adorn the plate and a lusciously rich praline mousse was devine. The roasted banana sorbet was a surprising winner as well helping bring more caramel tones to the final dish.

We hit tea and coffee (included in the overall meal cost) and even more food arrived. We thought we were done. First in the bowl at the back, caramelised, sugared macadamias had a crisp caramel shell and made even more decadent by a dusting of icing powder. I couldn’t stop myself eating these as I love macadamia nuts and they were really, really, really good. In the dish to the right were tiny brioche beignets or simply donuts. The brioche bread made them even lighter than a normal donut. Finally the cup in front isn’t a cappuccino as one might expect. Instead it was a coffee ice cream set with foamed milk to resemble one. Delicious and very playful.

Just as we thought we were done with food, they brought yet another plate of food, this time petite fours in the form of various chocolate. They were beautifully made and contained flavours like coconut, praline, peanut butter and jam, mint and lemon. I can’t really remember the other one.

We asked for the bill and another container arrived. I assumed it was some sort of toothpick container.

But I was wrong. More food although this time, we could bring this shortbread home to keep in the French Laundry embossed container.

I stepped out to use the restrooms and then when I got back (and paid), my sister told me that they were going to give us the tour of the kitchen. I was really excited as I still clearly remember our kitchen visit at Eleven Madison Park and love seeing the “behind the scenes”. I think this was because my sister asked about the rumours of a two-way camera and monitor linking the French Laundry with its sister restaurant in New York, Per Se. The rumour is true as we were about to be shown.

Our waiter showed us to the kitchen, asking for staff with large plates of food to graciously move out of the way. Unlike Eleven Madsion Park, I’m guessing kitchen visits weren’t that regular because I felt like we were constantly in the way even though we were pretty much up against the wall.

We got to shake one of the chef’s hands and our waiter told us about the various stations and what they were all doing. This visit to the kitchen really made the visit. I was surprised at how small the kitchen was with many chefs not having much more space than to turn around. The waiter pointed out the preparation area, a small room at the back of the kitchen where it literally looked like chefs worked shoulder to shoulder to peel, cut and prepare for the evening’s meal.

I count myself lucky every time we get to dine at places like this. It’s an experience many people do not and cannot have and appreciated every bite.

Name: The French Laundry
Found at: 6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, United States

Chicago’s Stetson’s Steakhouse

As part of the working week we had a group, my company organised for a dinner in the hotel we were staying at. The result was a dinner at the surprisingly inventive Stetson’s Steak house. We had the private dining room booked and they had a fixed menu for us with a number of alternatives to choose from. We also had two types of wines, but taking the chance, I asked for a glass of Zinfandel instead (which I got and enjoyed very thoroughly).

Our first cocktail was an inventive shrimp cocktail with shrimps almost appearing mutant size – they were really that big. It come straddled across a fresh tomato sauce with a background of wasabi kick and cleverly kept cold through some dry ice in the bottom container. Spectacular to look at and a very great combination to start with.

I opted for the lobster bisque that was a very good bowl of soup indeed. Nothing very surprising here but an extremely enjoyable bowl with lots of flavour.

They brought around tiny coronets of lemon sorbet to cleanse our palettes for the oncoming main menu. I wasn’t expecting this and was delighted by the zesty citrus flavours.

I ordered a 400g steak that arrived with a lovely BBQ sauce and they brought around a number of sides to go along with it including some onion rings, asparagus.

I had to try the mac and cheese as well though there was already a lot of food. The steak was perfectly cooked to medium rare and it was very deliciously juicy and meaty.

The cheese course arrived looking grand with an interesting assortment of prunes, fruit and honeycomb as well as some toasted bread to eat the cheese.

Dessert arrived in the form of a platter with tiny cakes and chocolate dipped strawberries. Too much decadence here but I couldn’t resist trying some of the cakes and blueberries.

I really enjoyed the dinner. Although I don’t know how much the dinner overall cost, looking at their website, the US$100 seemed reasonable for the sheer number of courses that arrived and the quality of the food. It’s definitely not an every day sort of place to eat. Or at least, not to do the tasting menu every day of the week but would definitely head back to have a steak there.

Name: Stetson’s
Found at: In the Hyatt on Wacker (151 East Wacker Drive Chicago, IL 60601, United States)

Chicago’s Nomi

Nomi, Not to be confused with the world’s number one restaurant in the world, Noma, you can find this Chicago based restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel offering effectively regionally sourced foods with the theme of being served from the “Kitchen” as you would make at home. Of course, it’s a lot fancier than that.

They served us a few rounds of some lovely crusty bread and butter. Unusually the butter tasted a lot more creamy than what you get in most other American restaurants (a good thing). I remember the bread being especially warm as well helping the butter to melt and to start our appetite for the things to come.

Opting for a theme of mushrooms, I started with the Forest Mushroom Soup. It arrived drizzled with truffle oil, and the perfect use of sourdough bread to provide crisp croutons to contrast the soup’s texture. Although still welcome to provide bite, the use of goat’s cheese to add salt and a melting creaminess seemed a tad excessive although the additional pan fried mushrooms were very good. The others split a plate of jamon iberico ham and cheese to begin.

The mushroom theme continued with the hand cut linguini served with black truffle cream, parmigiano-reggiano and fresh herbs. A generous serving of pasta with lots of cheese, but surprisingly light on the flavour. I expected more saltiness or sharpness from the cheese, and a rich earthy flavour from the truffle but both were a little bit too subtle for my liking. The truffle aoili chips we ordered to share was good and the pasta aided by a side of foraged mushrooms pan fried in probably a little bit too much butter.

My fellow diners ordered a wide range of dishes although I was only able to successfully take a picture of the skate ala plancha that looked amazing served atop its bed of dauphinoise potatoes and assorted roasted vegetables.

Our waiter teased us with a board filled with the offering of today’s tarts but we were defeated as a group to even attempt dessert. If I had space for it, I probably would have tried the brioche beignet although they had a huge menu to choose from. Not the cheapest of the meals I had, this one, even with two bottles of wine between the five us cost about US$98 including service.

Name: Nomi
Found at: 800 North Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611, United States

Chicago’s Bristol

One of the final places I ate at during this trip to Chicago was The Bristol. It’s one of those places that focuses on nose to tail eating and the pig features heavily in their menu in a wide variety of forms. It’s not too far of a walk from Bucktown towards a more polished neighbourhood filled with high end independent stores.

As you can see from the picture below, they take their pig seriously.

I had a hard time picking something on the menu as I wanted to try quite a number of dishes. I think it’s the sort of place I could go back to. We were seated immediately at the bar, and I think was almost preferred to the crowded noisy shared tables behind us. We also got to see the bartender make some of his brunch drinks including the Bacon Manhattan we tried.

A mixture of bourbon, maple syrup and a bacon infusion plus a candied streak of bacon with oversized ice cubes worked up a charm. It’s not the sort of drink I would have too many of, but its a decadent drink that makes you think about what exactly a mixologist can make. A great balance and a perfect start to a brunch.

Here’s the crowd behind us.

Ajit ended up with the burger. Not a huge sized burger, but definitely a good portion size as well as the duck fat fries topped with parsley, salt and a number of other tasty seasonings.

Not content, I had to order another cinnamon roll just to try it from this place. As you can see, it seemed a bit more cooked and less fluffy as the ones we tried at ann sathers. In a way, I preferred this one as it focused more on the cinnamon flavour and the roll rather than the sweet glaze poured all over it.

I went for a braised pork chilaquiles, salsa verde, cilantro, lime, fried egg. Continuing on the mexican theme, what turned up was a soft pork belly bits of meat through softened tortilla chipps and lots of flavour all throughout. I put on quite a bit of the home made chilli sauce that was reported “very spicy” but turned out to be slightly more than a typical tabasco. Still a great addition to it though.

Name: The Bristol
Found at: 2152 N Damen Ave Chicago, IL 60647, United States

Brunch at Ann Sathers

Although London’s offering of great brunch places continue to increase, they still cannot match those on offer in some other major cities. Chicago has no shortage of these places and Gaz and Molly suggested a brunch catchup at Ann Sathers, who has four different spots about town.

They are apparently especially known for their massive cinnamon rolls (above) as well as other baked goods that you can order at the counter to go. The above two rolls came as a “side” to a pretty big breakfast offering.

We met at the Lakeview restaurant made up of two huge rooms constantly turning tables over but never feeling rushed. I think we met pretty early, about 10 or 11am to avoid queuing up, but there was a significant queue stretching out the door by the time that we left. The menu offered some pretty classic american fare ranging from the eggs benedict, omelettes and pancakes to a grilled breakfast including bacon and eggs.

I opted for a slight twist on the eggs benedict opting for the “southern style” where instead of hollandaise sauce, the poached eggs came with a gravy and in place of bacon, was an american style sausage patty. Yum.

It felt a bit lavish but went down a treat. It also tasted much better than what the picture shows above.

Name: Ann Sathers
Found at: 909 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL 60657

Clinton Street Baking Company

With all of our big meals in New York, I only ever really ate twice a day. Rather than doing a lunch, we decided to go early to get a table at the Clinton Street Baking Company where I met a couple of friends for a weekend brunch last year. We didn’t have to worry about coming before they opened because it wasn’t the weekend this time, although we still hit it shortly after they opened and we didn’t have to wait. Good thing too because a line did shortly form about 5 minutes after we arrived.

I remember the huge cups they serve their coffee in. And the local sourcing they do. Good stuff!

And rather than go for something with their famous buttermilk biscuits (they were really good!), I decided to go for their pancakes for which they are also very well known for. They come in three varieties (chocolate chunk, blueberry and banana walnut) but I went for the latter after a recommendation by our waitress. The huge stack of fluffy, American style pancakes came with accompanying maple butter (I didn’t really want to know how much went into them).

The pancakes were great. Super light, and went well with the side of bacon that we got (crispy american style). My only worry was really how big they were and I didn’t even try to finish it this time.

Name: Clinton Street Baking Company
Found at: 4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton), New York, NY 10002

Berlin Ying Yang (Veggie Chinese Gourmet and The Bird)

In going over my photos during the holiday break, I realised I didn’t write about a couple of pretty great places in Berlin to try and they really couldn’t be more far apart. The first, is the most aptly named restaurant, Veggie Chinese Gourmet that I found via the wonderful Happy Cow website. It’s located right across town in Charlottenburg (the west) and does purely vegetarian Chinese meals although they do a number of mock-meat substitutes. The food portions are enormous and we ended up taking some of them to go. The eggplant dish one over my dining partner who doesn’t really like the stuff.

On the other side of the coin, for my farewell meal with my work colleagues, we had dinner at Berlin’s infamous The Bird. In true American style, they do everything to excess and the burgers are massive, just as the steaks are (starting at 300g and going up in increments of 100g!)

They don’t really do their burgers very well done – believing that it ruins the flavour, and I have to admit the burger was pretty good (except for the fact they used an english muffin for their burger bun!) I’d highly recommend a taste of the extra hot sauce if you’re looking for a chilli challenge. Don’t get the wings drenched in the stuff though as a small teaspoon is enough to burn your mouth pretty well for a while. Bookings are recommended in advance here, as they two sittings a night and seem to be constantly full.

Daisy May’s New York

There was a lot of press about the joint venture of Jamie Oliver and the “BBQ King of NY”, Adam Perry Lang when they first opened up Barbecoa. Unfortunately most of that press hasn’t been good and I hadn’t really expected to given that it’s a formula that caters for the banking crowd. I figured that we should go straight to the original source, to Lang’s original Daisy May’s BBQ on 11th Ave.

This particular place could not be further than from the modern monstrosity that is Barbecoa. Wooden panels line the walls, communal dining areas, and more of a canteen style serving area where you order first and then take a seat takes priority over atmosphere. Having said that, it seems appropriate when you’re talking about this sort of cuisine and fits in aptly with it all.

The most logical choice when arriving is to get one of the plate combos – something from the BBQ and two sides. I opt for the sweet and sticky pork ribs with coleslaw and baked beans with burnt ends.

To drink, a sarsaparilla made by Wild Bills.

Some signage showing you how it works.

And a beautifully large and patriotic sign.

Hilarious tip jar.

Most importantly the ribs were really good. Smoked as you could taste it, and the meat easily falling off the bone. I’m surprised that the portion size was quite big, but not big by classical American standards. I think the sticky sauce was great as well. I think without it, the ribs would have been much drier and definitely needed something saucy on it. It was a really cheap meal and some great sides that we couldn’t finish either. Be warned though, this is not really the place to bring vegetarian friends.

Name: Daisy May’s BBQ
Found at: 623 11th Ave, New York, New York