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LES HOT SPOT
GETTING THERE (11–11:55am):
Leave my apartment in central Park Slope. Reduced weekend service on the D line extends the journey to an excruciating 55 minutes.
Arrive at Clinton Street Baking Company, survey the horrifying mass of hungry, whiny people and check in with the hostess. She estimates a one-hour wait for a table for two. I give her my name and buy a muffin to nibble on.
STILL WAITING (1–1:20pm):
The hostess comes out bearing a plate of plain pancakes cut into bite-size pieces. We dip into the maple-butter syrup and she tells us it should be "any minute."
Starving, we overorder: coffee ($3), fresh-squeezed orange juice ($3.50), a plate of blueberry pancakes ($13), a country breakfast ($13) and a side of bacon ($4). The eggs are light and fluffy. We pile them on the soft, warm biscuit with a few bites of ham and experience savory nirvana. The experience is topped by the pancakes, which we soak in the creamy and rich maple-butter sauce. Only the bacon—passable but ordinary—disappoints.
GETTING BACK TO THE COUCH (2:10–3pm):
After another 50 minutes on the train, I'm in my apartment, ready for some late-afternoon digestion in front of the TV.
Drew heads to Just Like Mother's
110-60 Queens Blvd between Ascan Ave and 73rd Rd, Forest Hills, Queens (718-544-3294)
GETTING THERE (11am–noon):
Tangle with the disjointed weekend L service or hike over to the Broadway G stop? Neither option looks promising, but ultimately we give it up to Big Baby G-sus and then the F.
We emerge in Queens at Just Like Mother's, a welcoming destination with about a dozen tables and a reputation for delicious brunch staples and Polish cheese-blintzy treats ($5.75). No lines, no people offering to trade their firstborn for a four-top, no hungover NYU students talking about how wasted they got last night, bro. The place is half full, and we wait exactly zero minutes for a seat.
Once we have coffee, we order a country omelette filled with tomato, green onion and pepper ($6.95), blueberry pancakes ($6.50), cheese blintzes ($6.75) and the silver-dollar potato pancakes ($7.50). I dig into the blueberry pancakes first, and am in no way disappointed. But my girlfriend and I agree that the potato pancakes, with just a hint of onion and topped with sour cream, are perfection in both form and function and the highlights of an excellent meal.
GETTING BACK TO THE COUCH (12:40–1:30pm):
Knowing I've already won this competition, I could draw out my triumph and head to the Meadow Lake Promenade (which is only a few minutes' walk from the restaurant). But we're full and tired, so we trek back to Brooklyn and decide not to eat again for a while.
2 hours, 30 minutes
Eating in Midtown can be tough. There are so many restaurants, and yet the prospects still seem bleak. When you find a place that’s consistent and tasty, you stick to it. one such restaurant is Norikoh, located just a few blocks south of Bryant Park. Though the restaurant’s interior is reminiscent of any Asian fusion restaurant in the city (stone walls, deep woods and the like), the food is not—it’s better. An order of shrimp cilantro gyoza ($6.75), pan-fried dumplings filled with the aforementioned seafood, scallions and celery, emerged from the kitchen piping hot and extremely enjoyable—these fresh, thin-skinned pockets went quickly. Also delicious was an appetizer of sweet bun sliders ($7), a riff on the ubiquitous pork belly bao sound in many Asian restaurants in New York. This time, though, you get to choose your meat (barbecue ribeye, braised pork belly or spicy pork). They’re garnished with pickled cabbage, cilantro and peanut powder, all of which help cut through the unctuous, fatty meat. Sushi is dependable here—a tuna avocado hand roll ($6.50) was fresh if a bit unwieldy. The namesake roll of the restaurant ($16) combines spicy salmon and jalapenos with tuna and tops it off with lemon, cilantro and tobiko. A volcano roll ($14) of crunchy spicy tuna, avocado, and cucumber topped with spicy kani salad, scallions, sesame and sweet Thai chili sauce was less successful, overwhelmed by its cloying sauce. In case you need warming, the restaurant offers an array of ramen a
Venue says: “Daily Happy Hour selections of our finest beers, sake, wines, & food 3pm-6pm”