Meltkraft

151 E 43rd St. New York, NY 10017 (212) 380-1735meltkraft.com

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Self proclaimed as an artisan grilled cheese sandwich shop with farm-sourced everything, Meltkraft sounds like a cheesy paradise waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, if you listen closer you can also hear the sounds of wind leaving your sails, because their craft needs a little work based on the two sandwiches I tried.

The first was the Melter Skelter. I mean ya gotta love a sandwich named after a Beetles song and a movie about Charles Manson. It’s made with 3 month aged reclette, pickled green tomatoes, jalapenos, BBQ potato chips and watercress (pictured). Which sounds off the charts by description alone, and while it is certainly good, I was hard-pressed to actually taste much more than the cheese and jalapenos.

That said, at least it was far superior to the Brielle, made with Brie (obviously), as well as cranberry chutney, caramelized onions and toasted pine nuts. Again, delicious in theory, but quite bland in execution.

And so along with the ho-hum performance comes a knife count with matching syllables. For better melts just a stone’s throw away, I suggest heading down to Beecher’s in the Flatiron.

2 teeth

Little Drunken Chef

36 E Main St. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 242-8800

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Well, the fact that the chef is a self-proclaimed drunk explains a lot. And considering this place got four stars on Yelp, I’d say the chef isn’t the only one who’s plastered, because you’d have to be shit-faced to think this place was even worth three, much less two. And yet both times we have tried to go here there has been a 45 and 20-minute wait respectively. The second time we powered through it with a few drinks at the bar, which also had a wait to be seated. We haven’t had this hard a time getting a table in Westchester since Bedford 234, but at least that meal proved worth it.

So back to the bar, where we were eventually able to squeeze in and get the only highlights of the night, the drinks. Figures when you take into account where you are. The two drinks we had were the sake cucumber concoction and the Drunken Manhattan, which is far less inventive than the sake (my reco), tasting like your run of the mill Manhattan, but served in a martini glass as opposed to a lowball. Oooooh!

Then miracle of miracles happened, our table was ready in under 20 minutes. And lucky us, we scored a drunken, jovial waiter who went on to swoon about roughly 75% of the menu, which is always a worrisome sign, made only more worrisome by the fact that not one single recommendation was even just okay, much less good. I think he was just ecstatic to have a job and someone to talk to.

Starting with the Tossed Goat Salad, the kale is overdressed, the Drunken Goat (that’s the actual name of the cheese, which is available at any Whole Foods, but aptly chosen for its name) is shaved so thin you can’t even taste it and the chunks of peach aren’t even ripe! On the plus side, at least they didn’t screw up the candied pecans. But the rest of the salad should definitely be “tossed.”

Next came the jamon and manchego croquettes four ways. And sadly 75% of them sucked about five different ways by my count. The only one rising to an “eh” was the chutney, but I suppose that’s to be expected since Indian is the closest in to the chef’s comfort zone.

As the night progressed, the losers kept coming and I’m not just referring to the clientele lined up outside still waiting for a table. I’m also talking about the pulled pork buns, served with a hint of chimichurri. Not with actual chimichurri, mind you. Just a hint. That hint being in the description on the menu, yet nowhere to be found in the dish itself.

And for an entrée, I highly recommend the paella for none. I tried the Paella for one and it might very well be the worst form of Spanish torture since the Inquisition. Overcooked rice, overcooked chicken, overcooked scallops, overcooked mussels and a sprig of chorizo- granted I’m not entirely sure it was honestly chorizo, but it was definitely a sausage of some kind.

Now I know I get dramatic sometimes and take things to extremes, but to have had to wait 20 minutes for this performance should be punishable by death. I’d rather wait in line at the DMV! Seriously. And the worst part is that I had to actually pay for the mistreatment of my mouth! But what’s crazy about all of this is that I have actually been a long time fan of the “Little” franchise, going back to its humble beginnings as just a Kebab Station. Then a Spice Market. That said, I’ve noticed that the further they step away from their bailiwick, the more the seams start to show, because Crepe Street is a bit of a pass, especially compared to places like Good Food in Briarcliff. But never has anything been as bad as this place, which if allowed, I would like to rename “Little Big Mistake.”

1 tooth

Bombay Sandwich Co.

48 W 27th St. New York, NY 10001(646) 781-9756bombaysandwichco.com

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The globalization of food has to be the greatest thing to happen since the industrial revolution. It has changed everything from accessibility to diversity to the creation of hybrid cuisines, which brings me to the Indian sandwich. Indigenous to nowhere, but awesome nonetheless. Case in point, Bombay Sandwich Company.

The Chana Masala (pictured) borrows from its namesake, the traditional New Delhi dish, and puts that glory to work between two slices of ciabatta that could even make MIA go OMG.

Another sandwich reincarnation is the grilled cheese with honey and fennel. It’s so inventive, yet simple, and different from anything else out there. Plus, it packs a nice amount of heat to keep your longings for vindaloo at bay.

Another great sammy of the spice is the Veggie Mash Up. A vegan among vegetarian options that holds its own by combining beets, cabbage, carrots and a few other things into a, you guessed it, mash.

Even their quinoa salad was fantastic. And once again with twist on the norm using chutney of all things. It played such a nice contrast to the lemony dressing, the earthy grain and the leafy kale. So simple, but I’ve never seen it done before and never would’ve even thought to do it. But now I’m about to go all Hindu on my lettuce from here on out.

Though gush as I may, Bombay is not infallible. Skip the sweet potato and kale wrap. It’s just so-so. And the Organic Tofu Masala sandwich was the worst of the lot. However, with the hit ratio above, I’d say just about any sandwich shop in the city would envy that performance.

4 teeth

Little Kebab Station

31 E Main St. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 242-7000http://littlekababstation.com

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This place is like the Indian, Westchester version of Zabar’s. It started out as this tiny little four table restaurant and has since expanded into a spice market and now a creperie. But this review is primarily only for the Indian restaurant, which in my opinion serves up the best Indian in Westchester.

The decor, while expanded, still feels small and intimate, the prices are very reasonable and the service is so nice you’ll think they are smoking the saffron. But most importantly back to the food. It is so good, I can only think of one place in NYC that I think is significantly better- Tamarind, which is my favorite Indian in the entire country, if not the world. So, that’s pretty high praise. I’ve even been to India, and this rivals many of the meals I had in Mumbai.

From the various times I’ve been there we’ve ordered all of the usual suspects: Chicken Tikka Masala (ask for spicy), Veggie Paneer, Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Korma, Saag Paneer, the chickpea dish (forget it’s name) garlic nan, raita and chutney.

Everything is always so fresh you can taste the individual spices popping out of the dish. Unlike at so many other places where it all gets overwhelmed by the curry so much so that you can’t even tell apart the chicken dishes from the lamb.

So happy we have a place like this around the corner.

4 teeth

Graffiti

224 E 10th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 677-0695 • graffitinyc.com

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Apart from the inflated rating, I like Graffiti. More “Modern Indian Tapas” than “New American Cuisine” though. It’s tiny inside and spilling over with eclectic keepsakes crammed onto just about every square inch of wall space, which some might find quaint and others claustrophobic. Basically what you’d expect from the East Village.

The staff is friendly, even though they kicked us out for lingering after dinner. Not cool, but with such a tiny dining room and communal tables, I guess it’s to be expected.

As for the food and drink, I enjoyed the lychee martinis, but they were far from “amazing,” per other reviews. Granted, they did go well with the food and I ended up having two, so maybe they were amazing?

For dinner, we stuck to the Yelp consensus and ordered the mango paneer, which was good, the hummus pizza, which was just eh, the pork buns, which were also good, but beware of pits in the chutney, you could break a tooth- seriously.  And the far and away stand out of the night, which seems to get mixed reviews strangely enough, was the duck portobello. So nice we ordered it twice.

Dessert was the biggest disappointment though. The warm strawberries with almonds and pepper ice cream was SO underwhelming. I have no idea why people rave about it. It’s like they’ve never had strawberries with ice cream before? And as for the chocolate hazelnut dessert, it was equally blah.

So long story short, glad I went, but I doubt I’ll go back. Especially with such uncomfortable seating. If you have a bad back like I do, be warned!

3 teeth

Santiago’s Bodega

 802 Virginia Dr. Orlando, FL 32803 • (407) 286-2903santiagosbodega.com

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While the location is a bit of a snore, as you enter you feel immediately transported by its thematic décor is nice. And while it is a touch on the Spanish theme-y side, at least it’s done well. And speaking of things done well, the food is no slouch, starting with the Port sangria, which much richer than its vino cousins, yet still refreshing.

Unfortunately that was quickly followed by the first miss. The pear and avocado salad was no bueno. The pears were unripe and hard. And the creamy dressing overpowered the other ingredients in the dish.

Fortunately, the hits would far outnumber the misses as the scallop special arrived. Perfectly cooked and prepared with a pear puree, then sprinkled with bacon, because why not? A bit rich, but a lot good.

Next came the Spanish plate and French plate and together I highly recommend them as a great way for two people to try a little of everything. The best of the batch was the Spanish plate’s spice rubbed pork with a raisin, mango chutney and the French plate’s tarragon chicken. France & Spain tied 1-1.

The spicy potatoes with capers and olives and peppers would be my next favorite. Obviously from the Spanish plate making it 1-2 in favor of Spain. Then after that I would go with the ceviche (1-3).

Rounding out the French plate was the asparagus with prosciutto and cheese- simple, yet delicious. And the only miss of the two plates came from the French, being the pastry. Sort of a mush of flavors wrapped in filo dough. Not terrible. Just nothing in it was discernable.

But Santiago ended very strong, bringing down a little NYC for dessert with a cronut on the menu. How could I resist? After all, I’m not about to wait 2 hours outside, Dominique Ansel Bakery. So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to pop my cronut cherry. Or should I say berry as it was served with a compote of such (which was actually more like a drizzle if you ask me) and a phenomenal homemade bourbon whipped cream. And when that cream hit the berry drizzle with the sugary, dusted, warm, doughnuty center, my tongue did a flamenco in my mouth.

3 teeth

Hampton Chutney Co.

68 Prince St. New York, NY 10012(212) 226-9996 • hamptonchutney.com

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Before I begin, a caveat: DO NOT ORDER DELIVERY!

Or, should you choose not to heed my advice, don’t make any plans. I ordered lunch from this place and it took two and a half hours!!!! Shit, I could practically harvest the grains and grow the vegetables in that time. Okay, mild exaggeration, but I swear you could make and bake the cookies and brownies in that duration. Nonetheless, the point being that two and a half hours for a glorified sandwich shop is absurd. Actually, I take that back. One and a half hours would’ve been absurd. This is just balls out FUBAR.

But how was the food you ask? Not bad actually. I had the “Seasonal” with added curry chicken and I have to say, I was impressed-. Even though it arrived on the soggy side (as an aside, the chutney’s are key. Order at least two or three. I liked the Pumpkin and Mango best)

Also, the orange ginger tea mixed with the lemonade- a makeshift Arnold Palmer, was also quite good. Granted the ice had all melted by the time it arrived (shocker), but it still held up.

And as for the cookies… I’d skip them all. Not one of them was worth it. The brownie was the best of the lot, but still nothing awesome.

So… What have we learned? If you wanna stop in, go for it. If you want delivery, might I suggest ordering in advance. Like a week or so.

2 teeth