EXKi

76 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10016 • (212) 447-1874exkinyc.com

EXKi_tartine

Having walked past this place about a hundred times, I finally mustered up the cojones to venture in. Inside, it sort of feels like a healthier, Europeaner version of Pret (granted Pret is from England, so go figure). Everything is pre-prepared from sandwiches and salads to soups and quiches, as well as desserts.

So, after a thorough perusal of the offerings I decided to go with the spinach quiche and the mini Greek salad cup. Of the two, the salad was the more impressive, mostly due to its inventiveness, made with a chive emulsion and Israeli couscous. Unfortunately, all it was for naught, because it was just okay- as was the quiche.

On the plus side, the free sample I got of the Belgian cheesecake was incredible. Might be an Ultimate, but I’d have to go back for another sampling to be certain.

The only flat out miss was the lemonade. It was spoiled. Shocking too, because the expiration date on it was two weeks out. Maybe it spent too much time under the quiche’s heat lamps?

Well, whatever the case, I can’t really say this place is worth walking past a Pret to get to, but if you’re only going for the cheesecake, I have only one thing to say, can you get some for me too?

2 teeth

Gryphon Tea Room

337 Bull St. Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 525-5880 • scad.edu/experience/gryphon

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Savannah is no stranger to stunning, historic architecture, but when you combine that with the skilled eyes of the interior designers as SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) you wind up with something truly special. And so, this apothecary from the early 1900’s has gone through an extraordinary transformation to become a lunch destination not to be missed. From the leather bound library encircling the dining room, to the rich, ornate, hand-carved wood moldings, to the original stained glass windows you can’t help but fall in love with the setting.

But what makes the Gryphon truly worthy is that it doesn’t rest on its traffic-stopping decor, although it easily could. No, just like its overachieving owner, the Gryphon delivers in spades. My onion, apple and leek quiche was excellent, upstaging a rather good goat cheese salad which I ordered to accompany it. And equally impressive was the smoked salmon club sandwich. Fresh and perfectly balanced, I honestly don’t know which I liked better. Plus, the cucumber salad as a side was a great choice next to the salmon.

Our lattes of both coffee and chai lineage were also delicious, but I suppose that should be expected from a place entitled a “tea room.”

Dessert was the only thing we had that wasn’t a “wow face.” The apple and pear crumble with spiced ginger ice cream, while good, lacked the strong contrast of texture and flavor that makes for truly memorable crumbles. But then, as a nice holiday surprise, one of the waiters brought us their own, homemade holiday ginger cookies along with the check, and have to say, those cookies were as good as any I’ve ever had.

So I’m going with a rock solid 4 knives, standing tall… If only they were also opened for dinner too… sigh.

4 teeth

Cookshop

156 10th Ave. New York, NY 10011(212) 924-4440 • cookshopny.com

cookshop-huevos-rancheros

I went here for Mother’s Day brunch, so the stakes and expectations were high. My wife had already tried it once for dinner and was underwhelmed, but I kept hearing so many people rave about it that I convinced her to give it another try, and on her special day no less… (gulp!)

Fortunately, the place, and the Yelping, lived up to the hype. The bread basket alone is worthy of poem. That zucchini bread? Oh daddy.

As for the actual courses, for starters we tried  the deviled eggs and the chocolate, banana croissant and both were quite good. Personally, I was partial to the eggs though.

Then for the mains, I got the scramble with salmon and it was fantastic. The eggs were light and fluffy, and the biscuit they serve it on goes so damn well with the flavors and texture of the eggs, it’s like eating a charming, old married couple.

Speaking of married, wife also went with eggs, choosing the special quiche of the day, which was also quite excellent. Leeks and ramps I believe.

And my Mom, yes, she was there too, she got the cinnamon apple pancakes… and WOW! So good, but a bit much for an entire meal. Fortunately we did sharsies and got to have a little savory and a little sweet. The only way to fly.

But gun to my head, I’d stick with egg dishes. They REALLY know how to do their eggs at this joint. For example their huevos rancheros (pictured) is money as well. Granted I had the huevos at a subsequent visit. I mean c’mon, I’m not that much of a pig. Well, unless it’s on an expense account. 😉

4 teeth