Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Announcing: THE 2008 FORKIE AWARDS

You’ve waited all year, and here they are… in all of their glory!

What the hell are the Forkies?

Well, the Forkies are the awards delved out by myself, sole owner and proprietor of Fork New York. I spend all year roving the city looking for good eats, and well... this is where I can share with you what I think is the best of the best. Lets get started.

To view the 2006 Forkies (there was no 2007).... click here!

To view the 2008 Top 10 Dishes Not To Miss.... click here!

To view the 2008 Top 10 Dishes Under $10... click here!

Best Steakhouse in New York City

This is a debate that will never see a clear cut winner… but for my money in this year, the winner is CRAFTSTEAK. With perfect bone marrow, a killer wine list (many by the glass), both corn and grass fed beef and the most incredible mushrooms in Manhattan, this place is simply pushing all of my buttons.

Runner(s) Up: Keen’s, Quality Meats

Best Chinese Food In Manhattan:

Easy. Szechuan Gourmet on West 39th is making some of the best Chinese food, well, anywhere. Yes, it is somewhat of a hole in the wall… but when you walk in for pork dumplings in chili oil and see Matthew and Sara Jessica noshing in the corner, the place must be doing something right.

Runner Up: Wu Liang Ye (midtown location)

Best Street Food:

Tough one. Of course the famous Chicken and Rice Cart at 53rd and 6th holds a special place in my heart… but the truth is the Biryani Cart on 46th and 6th has claimed my #1 spot this year, simply for their perfect, buttery King Koti rolls.

Runner Up: Moishe’s Falafel (east side of 46th and 6th)

Best Morsel To Put In Your Mouth:

Easy. Ever had a rice ball from Faicco’s Pork Store in the West Village? If not, quit reading this blog, hop in a cab and get there. These gems are fantastic right of the deli shelf in this Italian butcher shop… but even better is getting them home into a warm oven and serving them with a little homemade marinara on the side.

Runner Up: Hen of the Woods Mushrooms at Craftsteak

Best Pizza – Non-Traditional:

And the winner is….. Two Boots. I was sad to see the Rockefeller Plaza store close, but thrilled when I moved to Chelsea and realized they now delivered to my door. The toppings are amazing, but even better is the crunchy, sandy, cornmeal crust.

Best Pizza – Traditional:

Yes they are a dime a dozen, but my money is on the Grandma’s slice at Rosa’s Pizza on 27th and 7th. Ive always loved their stuff but when my movers told me that they drive in from Brooklyn for the stuff, I stopped what I was doing and ordered a large.

Most Delicious and Filling Sandwich:

For those who need 2 pounds of food in their stomach, head to Olympic Pita… the schwarma and falafel masterpiece on 38th. Their pita is good, but their homemade lafa bread, fired in their own stone ovens… are amazing. Filled with hummus, fresh chicken, red cabbage and onions…. well, there you have it.

Runner Up: The #1 Combo from Lenny’s (any location).

Best Sweets:

Beard Papas Cream Puffs. Don’t get me started.

Best Hunk of Cheese to Impress:

And the Forkie goes to…. Murrays Cheese in the West Village, and their wheel of Roomano. That’s right, ROOMANO… and aged gouda with crunchy flecks of magic. Teamed with Eli’s Rosemary and Olive Crackers (also sold there) and you’ve got one heck of an appetizer at your next shindig.

Runner Up: Robusto, at Whole Foods in Time Warner Center, anything from Artisinal

Best Restaurant Appetizer:

Italian eatery Cesca on West 75th has been a neighborhood mainstay for years… and while they aren’t known as an “elite” destination, their Cauliflower Fritti may be one of the best dishes in New York City. Think crisp, fresh cauliflower, delicately battered and fried, sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and served piping hot. For me, a cocktail and a bowl of this stuff is all I really need in life.

Best Baked Item:

Love them or hate them, Empanada Joe’s has an impressive little pie that can hit the spot. Although some of the flavors can be hit or miss, the beef are worth the trip and are sold in boxes of a dozen if you have a crowd at home.

Runner Up: Cheese puffs from Murray’s Cheese

Best Turkish Joint Nobody Knows About:

I still believe Zeytin is serving NY’s best Turkish food, but Akdeniz on West 46th is a terrific place to discover. Their falafel is moist and crisp, their hummus tangy and nearly perfect… and their kababs delicious. The kicker? It’s all affordable.

Best Item to Bring Home and Grill:

I hesitate to write this, as I consider it my secret… but the parsley and cheese sausage at Faicco’s Pork Store in the West Village (home of the rice ball) may be the best sausage in New York City, period. Buy it in their “ring”, bring it home and grill it. The flavor is one of a kind… and that’s coming from a crazy sausage eating Cajun like myself.

Runner Up: Dry Aged Rib Eye Steak from Ottamanelli's on Bleeker.

Best Falafel:

The king, and still champion… Maoz. With a new location on the Upper West Side, more New Yorkers are starting to become believers. If you haven’t tried it, you owe it to yourself to make a visit.

Runner Up: Olympic Pita

Best Slice of Old New York:

Keen’s may have years of history… but a trip to Frankie and Johnnie's in Midtown is like falling into one of the Godfather movies. Yes, years ago you needed to whisper a password through the front door… but today, after a climb up the stairs – a delicious pre-theatre steak awaits… and a decent crabmeat cocktail at that.

Runner Up: Peter Lugar in Brooklyn.

Best Bar to Close A Deal:

Stone Rose in the Time Warner Center may be the sexiest bar in Manhattan. The drinks are crazy expensive, but the view over Central Park is worth the coin…. and the snacks are good as well.

Runner Up: Mini Bar at The Muse on 46th.

Let The Mobile Blogging Begin!

That's right... Fork New York has gone mobile! So stay tuned for faster updates about all of your favorite eats in and around NYC!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Danku: Not For Me

As the fast food craze continues, Danku sets up shop and looks for their crowd....

As I have mentioned before, I am all about fast food. Especially fried food. I am from Louisiana. We fry food, then we fry it again.

That's why when I saw that Danku, the new sudo-euro-strangemenu-thingy opened in midtown, I was excited. Yum! Fried stuff.

Well, the excitement didn't last.

What I learned was that the fried egg roll looking thingy was actual a Kroket... a food I was familiar with traveling in Northern Europe... and not that fond of.

What is a kroket? Well, picture this.... a large, egg roll shaped object, fried crispy on the outside, filled with raw goo. And when I say raw goo, I mean pasty, snotty, raw flavored goo.

Danku offers many flavors of their raw goo rolls.... beef, chicken curry, salmon dill, mac and cheese (they were out of this one), spinach and artichoke... you get the picture.

To make matters worse, they offer these in a "meal deal" with a fancy boxed salad.

Let me first say that while I wasn't thrilled that the kroket had emerged in the USA, I went in with an open mind (and palate). Surely, you can make a kroket 10 different ways? But sure enough, this was the same kroket that I had tasted in Amsterdam, and thought... ugggh. That's when I hit the Maoz stand and became a lifelong fan of their falafel, the best in the world.

While I am no big fan of the kroket (and I eat everything fried mind you) the rest of the menu looked ok.... a few satay choices, some salads and sandwiches, etc..... lots of organic garb. But when you hang your hat on serving the kroket, well, you have a problem.

So the final grade? Well, for the kroket itself, I bestow a healthy D+, as while this isn't my thing you may certainly have a taste for these. For the rest of the joint, when you take away the kroket, it becomes one of a hundred "healthy choice" stores that litter Manhattan.

47 W 57th St - Btwn 5th & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019

212 888-3777

Thursday, December 11, 2008


With A Glut Of New Joints, Let's Take A Look At Who's Making A Mark

Let's face it, we all do it. Sure, I'd like to tell you I had a Chef Salad for lunch, but the truth is I likely had 2 King-Koti Rolls from the Biryani Cart on 46th and 6th.

Fast food, cart food, you name it.... is part of our lives. From the celebrated "regular slice" to the Grays Papaya Hot Dog, NY is famous for fast eats.... and now the marketplace is changing.

For some reason, fast food concepts like trying out their wares in Manhattan. I'm not completely sure why, as New Yorkers can be the most difficult to please in the world... but as the song says "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere".

To begin my series on funky new fast food joints, I'll begin with a food that is near and dear to my heart.


Two weeks ago I was a few blocks west of the office and stumbled upon the new chain of sublime fried pies, "Empanada Joes".

Let me first qualify these remarks by letting you know that I basically exist for anything a. in the shape of a dumpling or pie, and b. fried, baked or steamed in any way (this would include deep fried, pan fried, wok steamed, boiled in butter, etc, etc).

Let's break it down shall we?


Empanada Joes is a sterile, funky little space. There is no thoughts of a far away land (or even Mexico) and certainly no romance here. There isn't even a comfy seat... but I am guessing they planned it that way - eat your stuff and kindly get out. Grade: C-


People at the location I went to were overly friendly... which in New York, could get you killed. It is the ultimate cheese factor when management insists you greet some guy at the door 30 feet away with a "Hi, What Can I Get You", when you can't even see the freaking menu much less have a plan of action. Grade D


The menu is poorly designed and conceived. They basically offer an array of empanadas you can order ala carte or with possibly the worst tasting, undercooked side dishes ever created. The menu doesn't offer as many meal options as you would like, or add-ons (extra this or that, without ordering a whole new meal)... and for this they are losing money. GRADE: C-


Well, here comes the good news. Aside from the side dishes.... and I'll expand here.... a black bean and rice dish that was described as well seasoned if not spicy, was actually unedible.... and nearly frozen as it had been in the cold case for a day or two..... anyway, ASIDE from the side dishes, the empanadas are solid. These pies aren't "oh my god pull the car over there is an Empanada Joe's" good, but I would certainly consider grabbing a dozen of these for a football party.

I had two pies, one Argentine Beef which was very good.... and one "CheeseSteak" which was average, and had nothing to do with a cheese steak in anyway. The verdict?
FOOD: B (except the sides, that get an F)


This is a good effort and idea, but these guys need to forget about the bells and whistles and sell freaking empanadas. You should have about 20 different ways to order as many or as few as you want in a value pack, and they should give the nutritional/healthy spin that surrounds this place a rest. Note to Empanada Joe's: YOU SELL EMPANADAS. This eat beautiful, feel beautiful ad campaign you have needs to be rethought. I don't know about you, but after I eat 4 or 5 large empanadas, I don't feel beautiful.

OVERALL: C+ Go for the pie, and forget the rest. And oh yea... get it to go.


After being contacted by Empanada Joes (who were not actually thrilled by this post) I stand corrected... the pies are actually baked, not fried. So , I offer and extra kudos for their ability to bake and NOT fry these tasty treats..... but please, fix your side dishes... they are still unedible.