Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Kathy's West Village
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Editor's note: In the Serious Eats Neighborhood Guide series, we've asked SE editors and staff to tell us about where they eat in their own neighborhoods. Here's Sugar Rush columnist Kathy YL Chan sharing her go-tos in the West Village.
Morning Croissants: Mille Feuille
Patisserie Claude used to have the city's best croissant, but no longer. For that honor, visit Olivier Dessyn's Mille Feuille on LaGuardia. Olivier's croissants are among the many viennoiserie, macarons, sandwiches, and pastries offered at the French bakery, but they're the highlight. The plain croissants in particular are simply perfect, baked a deep golden brown, with a crisp and flaky body and an exterior that shatters at first bite. It's remarkably buttery, though not excessively heavy, the interior layers flaky and yielding to each bite with light stretch. The flavor is pure butter, with only a touch of salt—dangerously light on the stomach.
Dosas on the Go: N.Y. Dosas
On nice days I'll pick up lunch from Thiru Kumar's food cart along Washington Square Park. Come very early or late to avoid the guaranteed lunch crowds. The Special Pondicherry Dosa is most popular, filled with warm masala potatoes and vegetables like onions and peppers; ask for it spicy. Comes complete with sambar and coconut chutney. The vegan drumsticks (made with soy protein) always sell out by noon, and for good reason. They're boldly spiced and served on sugarcane sticks with dipping sauce; three pieces make for a light lunch.
N.Y. Dosas: Washington Square South and Sullivan St., New York NY (map); Open Monday-Saturday, 11-4
Gelato: L'arte del Gelato
I've written about L'arte del Gelato countless times but I don't intend to stop; it's the perfect consistency with pure, memorable flavors. They make my favorite pistachio gelato and if you spot the banana stracciatella, get a double scoop! The banana gelato streaked in thin crunchy shards of chocolate is unforgettable. Also keep your eye out for seasonal flavors like pumpkin, eggnog, and grape. Waffle cones are housemade, and delicately constructed gelato sundaes, hot chocolate, and frappes alone are reason enough for a visit or two.
Tea Time: Bosie Tea Parlor
An easy-to-love neighborhood favorite (come on weekdays if possible, weekends are crowded) where a complete afternoon tea service will set you back just $25. The tea includes made-to-order tea sandwiches, scones, macarons, teacakes and your pick of tea from their in-house tea line, l'Âge de Thé. Bosie also offers a full lunch serve complete with housemade soups and four takes on quiche; the Lorraine and Flamiche are my favorite. Sometimes I come for just hot tea and dessert—Darjeeling Tarts, Paris-Brest and Matcha Eclairs are always at the top of my list.
Solo Lunches: Buvette
This tiny space is packed during dinner, but peaceful at lunch. I like to come in the afternoon for a beautiful entree-sized salads—think escarole salads with big garlicky croutons and sieved egg, or another of shredded chicken (skin included!) and haricot verts, a light mustard vinaigrette tossed with frisee. Options change frequently and include many daily specials. I haven't had a bad salad yet. Linger a little longer and follow up with tea and something sweet; for dessert, take your pick between a lush chocolate mousse with a cloud of whipped cream, warm apple tarte tatin, and housemade ice creams.
Everyday Dinners: Otto
Where to begin? First, sit at the bar or don't bother going. The bar and tables feel like two completely different restaurants. And it's bar seats you want; the amazing bartenders make the large restaurant feel like a neighborhood hangout. Start your meal with the Sformato di Parmigiano (a warm cheese flan), and a Sunchoke and Escarole Salad. Some of my favorite dishes include Taccozzette con Stracotto and Caprese Salad (offered during the summer months), and cheese plates complete with truffled honey, apricots and cherries. There are two fresh pasta dishes on the menu; try the goat cheese agnolotti if you've got room. Whatever you do, make sure to finish with the Olive Oil Copetta. And if you live nearby, Otto has a great delivery service, the efficient delivery guys never miss a beat. And you can get gelato delivered by the pint! Life doesn't get any better than that.
Everyone needs a neighborhood go-to sushi spot and mine is Ushiwakamaru. It's not top quality sushi—it can't compare with the likes of Yasuda—but the prices are more than fair given the quality. Their $39.50 sashimi special is my standard order, 13 pieces of sashimi with rice and soup. But before you dive into that, start off your meal with one of the daily appetizer trios, which include anything from uni-shiso tempura (pictured) to a "salad" of raw octopus and scallions. Reservations are recommended, but I've often had luck dropping in for a seat at the sushi bar on a walk-in basis.
Ushiwakamaru: 136 W Houston Street, New York, NY 10012 (map); 212-228-4181
Falafel and Fries: taïm
Hands-down my favorite falafel (and fries!) in the city. Most people order the falafel sandwich, but I prefer the falafel platter, which allows you to sample all three falafel flavors, as well as their warm pita and hummus, tabouli, and Israeli salad. Split the platter with the friend so that you'll have room for thin-cut fries with saffron aioli. Fries are served hot straight out of the fryer in a paper bag. And make sure to squeeze in a Sabich Sandwich while you're there. Can't go wrong with fried eggplant and sliced boiled egg tucked into a pita with hummus, tahini and amba sauce. To drink? Smoothies! Unusual and consistently delicious flavor combinations such as date-lime-banana and tamarind-apple-cane sugar have turned me into a forever loyal customer.
So Much More
Those are the spots where you'll find me most often, but of course there are hundreds of other restaurants in the West Village. Where do you like to eat in the Village?