Archive for the ‘Yale’ Category

Top 5 Tastes of New Haven: Food Finds around Yale

December 20, 2006

When you’re tired of the usual suspects, here are 5 underrated and undervalued instances of Elm City deliciousness.

1) Bar Salad at Bru Room@Bar (Crown): Only non-pizza dish on menu and well worth ordering. Bar Salad has lightly dressed greens and sliced pears, thus qualifying it as a salad, but they’re really just background. It’s the hunks of gorgonzola and the richly candied walnuts that make the dish so tasty. If you’re not that hungry, push the greens to the side and focus. I like to have the salad after my pepperoni and hot pepper pizza. It cools the mouth and is as close to a non-liquid dessert as you’ll get at Bar.

2) Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato at Caffe Bottega (Chapel): The look of this place is food-court chic, but the Bottega Giuliana gelatos are extraordinary. I’ve yet to order a bad selection here, so the above is merely my favorite. It’s a great closer to a dessert-less Bar meal or a pick me up on the way back to campus from Bentara. If you have a big night planned, add a scoop of espresso gelato affogato.

3) Gougères at Union League (Chapel): The perfect French condensation of all that’s best about bread and cheese. These slightly salty light little pastry puffs taste like a seventies cocktail party canapé…as prepared by your best friend’s disturbingly seductive Parisian mom.

4) Welsh Rarebit at Mory’s (York): Not a big fan of most of the menu here, but Welsh rarebit is great old-school roadfood. Cheddar-inspired cheese sauce broiled atop bread-inspired flour wedge makes for a greasily satisfying dish. Even better with egg and bacon add-ons. Paired with a noon beer on a Thursday, it’s a great way to begin a Yale winter weekend. If Toad’s is a 1970’s rock and roll time-warp, this is the 1870’s corollary, especially when the a capella groups are holding court. Pick your poison.

5) Belgian Frites at Rudy’s: Great fries, better condiments. The selection is vast, especially in the homemade ketchup, mustard and mayo families. A pitcher of beer per order is standard.

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5 Most Overrated Restaurants in New Haven

December 18, 2006

(And Where to Go Instead)

1) Skappo: Small plates, big prices and brutally overbearing service. Forced jollity and intrusive conversation from owner will wipe the smile right off your face. Mawkish Medieval Town décor may be authentic, but it’s also authentically awful. Go to Modern or Bar for a far less Italian but far more delicious and high-value meal.

2) Louis’ Lunch: An historic restaurant with prehistoric food. “Soup Nazi”-style shtick with customers is paper-thin and unpleasant for locals who want the burger, not the bull. Patties are often not cooked to temperature and tend towards the dry and crumbly. Sliced bread in lieu of bun is a bad idea, even if it’s an old bad idea. Go to Yankee Doodle, eat better for less and leave smiling.

3) Gastronomique: Owner is genial but sometimes distracted by more compelling recreational interests. Some nights he’s made me high-grade steak tartare; others he’s been unable to make change. Super-slow even when empty, especially when sous-chef in training is at the stove. Go to Union League and get what you pay for.

4) Zinc: Promises too much and doesn’t deliver. Overambitious Asian fusion is incoherent, imitative and outdated. Erratic service does nothing to help. Nonetheless, generous portions, decent bar and cheap wine Sundays are pluses. Go to Pot au Pho instead or hop on Metro-North to NYC.

5) Claire’s: Putumayo Presents sensibility with grade school cafeteria execution. An unfocused amateurish EPCOT Pavilion of mediocre vegetarian options. Even the bagels are a disaster. Sidekick “Basta” will leave you saying “Enough” well before the check arrives. Bribe an undergrad, and eat in Berkeley College instead.

5 Yale Food Sluts: Top Talkers of the Table

December 16, 2006

1) The Sterns(PhD): The Alan Lomaxes of hearty American eating. Their travels along the byways of backroad American dining have produced more great food finds than all the Times critics combined. Perhaps the most joyful and unpretentious food writers in America.

2) Ming Tsai (BS): Greatest squash player in American haute cuisine. Never flaunts Andover-Yale pedigree, but definitely picked up something about great teaching on his tour of New England higher education. Along with Batali, one of the most creative, cogent and convincing culinary educators.

3) Harold McGee (PhD): Cal Tech BS meets Yale English Lit. doctorate. The French do things comme il faut. From searing meat to baking soufflés, McGee shows the why behind the what. Gave up the academy, but not a love of teaching. Extracts endless points of interest from apparently esoteric food industry trade journals. Has educated more professional and home chefs about the science of food than anyone else.

4) Dave Lieberman(BA): Bobby Flay meets Rachel Ray. Accessible, baby-faced, consummately amateur(ish) chef.

5) Bill Clinton (JD): Never met an attractive person, policy or plate to which he wouldn’t devote his full attention. Impressively egalitarian enthusiasms extend from McDonald’s cheeseburgers to Laurent Tourondel’s tuna tartare to Crabtree Kittle House’s foie gras. No president in recent memory has taken greater pleasure from the joys of the table. Somewhat chastened by heart problems, but still keeps his fork up. Admirable involvement in food education efforts directed towards obese children.

HALL OF FAME:

Calvin Trillin (BA): Took New Yorker house style and applied it brilliantly to profiling food and food-inspired travel. What others have produced since is largely a footnote to Trillin’s early work. Misguided claims to superiority of Bryant’s Barbecue over Gates are partly understandable if wholly unforgiveable.