[Photo: Kathy YL Chan]

A dish of Hete Bliksem ($8) at Vandaag in the East Village is a blessing on rainy days. "Hete Bliksem" literally translates to "hot lightning," an apt description. Individual cocottes are filled with an appealing combination of cubed smoked, hearty bacon, apples (in the tiniest dice you could imagine), and halved crispy fingerling potatoes. A glossy sheen of housemade stroop syrup ties it all together, a sweet and slow-moving caramelized wonder. It's a flavor combination that's easy to love: the salty bacon chunks laced with syrup, tart apples, and the snap of a roasted fingerling, all tender and soft inside.


Pair that side dish with one of their many smørrebrød, open-faced sandwiches, offered during lunch—perhaps the Mushroom and Hazelnut smørrebrød ($10) to keep things "light" after that decidedly heavy Hete Bliksem. Two slices of the mushroom terrine, earthy (if under-salted) and hazelnut-speckled, are layered over a handful of red spinach and a thin slice of crusty, toasted bread. A spoonful of paprika-dusted buttermilk dressing, simultaneously tangy and creamy, is the ideal accompaniment—and the single best bite is one in which the insanely rich dressing has soaked through the bread, crushed hazelnuts on top.


Finish lunch with a glass of the Nopaloma ($5), a bright salt-kissed concoction of grapefruit juice and lime, barely sweetened with agave nectar.


103 Second Avenue, New York NY 10003 (map)


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