Follow the eater
Four of the city's trendiest gastronomes lead us on tours of their favorite wallet-friendly food spots.
Thu Jul 10 2008
Reiner chows on a chicken kebab sandwich at Mamoun's
Photograph: Dan Eckstein
Late- night eats with Julie Reiner Co-owner, Clover Club
Julie Reiner, Flatiron Lounge's cocktail celebrity, has been staying up late serving New York's lushes for 11 years—and has no problem designing a food crawl of wee-hours edibles. No problem, that is, other than a little separation anxiety. The new mother—who has been "too busy to eat" for weeks—is taking her first steps away from her "five-day-old infant," Clover Club (210 Smith St between Baltic and Butler Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-855-7939. Open Mon--Thu till 2am; Fri, Sat till 4am; Sun till 1:30am). Lucky for us, she's hungry.
Tiny Italian wine bar 'ino (21 Bedford St between Sixth Ave and Downing St, 212-989-5769. Open daily till 2am) has been Reiner's postwork pit stop since it opened ten years ago. "If you get your order in by 1:59am, they'll serve you," she says, tucking into the popular truffled egg toast ($9), a thick slice of bread laden with fontina and a runny, saffron-yellow yolk, all drizzled with a deliciously funky truffle oil. "This is one of those things that you try once and then start dreaming about," she effuses. The seven-table 'ino also turns out famously excellent panini—Reiner likes the tomato, mozzarella and prosciutto variety, which "you have to have with basil pesto"—for $11 each.
At Mamoun's (119 MacDougal St between Bleecker and W 3rd Sts, 212-674-8685. Open daily till 5am), Reiner orders her usual: a chicken kebab sandwich ($4.50) and baklava ($1.50). "The sauce in this is ridiculous," she says of the smoky tahini that coats morsels of browned chicken, slices of tomato and lettuce inside a warm pita. "And the baklava is absurd." Indeed, the so-moist-it's-dripping piece of nutty pastry makes her eyes roll with delight. The one problem: At 3am on a weekend, the small cave is usually more crowded with drunks than any bar Reiner has managed. "Yeah, see, I only come during the week," she laughs.
Loosening our belts, we settle onto high stools at Reiner's cozy Spanish "wind-down spot," the candlelit Bar Jamn (125 E 17th St at Irving Pl, 212-253-2773. Open daily till 2am). There we opt for pan tomate ($5), a toasted baguette rubbed with a healthy dose of raw garlic and tomatoes—perfect vehicles for translucent slices of the buttery jamn serrano ($15 for a plate for two people). Why stop there? To complete the round of traditional Spanish fare, we order churros ($12)—fried flutes of dough rolled in sugar and served with a cup of warm, cayenne-spiked bittersweet chocolate.
While the ambience at the gritty, cafeteria-like Great NY Noodletown (28 Bowery at Bayard St, 212-349-0923. Open Sun--Wed till 3:30am; Fri, Sat till 4:30am) isn't worth a midnight pilgrimage, the steaming-hot, flavorful fare is. "Recently, I randomly ordered the Chinese flowering chives because I'd never heard of them, and now I'm hooked," Reiner says. The novel kelly-green veggies—flatter and thicker than Western chives, with a much milder taste—come with a choice of shrimp, sea bass chunks, scallops, squid or beef ($10.95--$13.95). At Reiner's urging, we order the house's succulent roasted pork ($6.50) and a plate of crispy panfried noodles with chicken and black-bean sauce ($9.95) that alone could have sated four hungry diners. "Thanks!" chirps Reiner, as she heads back to Clover Club for the last few hours of service. "Now I don't have to eat for two days."Kate Lowenstein