Thursday, March 25, 2010

Backup plan x 4 = Good eats

The original plan was to check out Pulino's for dinner last night. First, I invited my friend Annie, but she has a dog and he apparently requires attention. Also, it turns out Annie does not like dog urine in her kitchen. I then checked with Kid Sister (who is 26, but this way I can say it was dinner with Kid Sister and me, and you get that old commercial jingle stuck in your head). Aside from working late, she was getting a ride home and apparently a ride home wins out over flesh and blood. That's fine.

So I grabbed my New Yorker and headed downtown. Arriving at Pulino's the lights were warm and bright, the door was a little heavy, the host had a friendly smile to offer. And that was all I was getting - a smile. Because, you see, Pulino's is not serving dinner yet. This was a rehearsal, and there was no table for one available at this show. Disappointed, dismayed, disenfranchised, and just plain dissed.

From there I set out on a journey to find good food, much like the Israelites wandering the desert. Only this was the East Village where quality restaurants are plentiful, I was by myself and it did not take 40 years to find something.

Plan B was to try Motorino. Wait was too long and I was too hungry.

Plan C was Momofuku, having given up on pizza by now. Same result as Motorino.

Plan D was JoeDoe, though it would have been a first choice most nights. And there it was - a seat at the bar, waiting just for me. I had been to JoeDoe once before. It was for a "progressive passover" dinner that started with foie-gras-stuffed-matzo ball soup and ended with an excellent matzo brie. It was excellent because I usually do not enjoy matzo brie at all.

Joe Doe is small - probably seven small tables that seat two, and one corner table that can squeeze seven very narrow people. They have some choice beers that are not terribly priced, interesting cocktails, a few wines and "prepared beers," which can best be described as a beer/cocktail hybrid.
First come the fried chickpeas, spiced up just a little bit, served instead of bread. Fresh out of the fryer, they did not last long enough to cool down completely. I had decided on pork for dinner. Whether to go with the confit pork butt or pork belly would be left to fate, or Joe's girlfriend/partner. Once I found out that the pork butt comes with yellow split pea soup, ham hock, and a grilled cheese sandwich, the decision was made. That's right. My dinner came with soup and a GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH. Forget an appetizer - though more than one looked interesting - my meal was really two meals.
The kitchen is sparse: located at the far end of the bar, with what I refer to as the "deli grill," a fryer and two hot plates. For reals. This guy is kicking out some serious eats on hot plates. The kitchen is also ten feet from where I was sitting so Joe and I conversed sporadically throughout the meal.

This one dish was enough for me to still be full in the morning. That and the wildflower honey custard I had for dessert. It came with a Turkish flatbread, sprinkled with roughly crushed peanuts and drizzled with honey.

Say what you will about Joe Dobias and David Chang - they are constantly noted in the press for their foul language and generally belligerent attitudes. They kick out some excellent food from their respective kitchens, and that is all that matters to me. Plus, Joe didn't have anything but friendly words when we were conversing.

JoeDoe, 45 E. 1st Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)

1 comment:

  1. For the record I am put out that I couldn't go to Pulino's. I feel like there should be more Keith McNally in my life. I'm still up for going so don't go without me!