Today for lunch I checked out Totally Baked, New York's first gourmet baked potato bar, according to its take-out menu. Serious Eater Lucy Baker piqued my interest with her post on "one trick pony" restaurants. What did I find?
Extremely cheerful staff serving up baked potatoes with fourteen different toppings, ranging from the classic (chive, sour cream, applewood smoked bacon and cheddar) to obligatory obscenely expensive ($55) Truffle (truffle compound butter, truffle oil, truffle salt and fresh truffle shavings). I thought about telling the person at the register that it is not white truffle season, but decided against it.
I ordered three: a classic, a Steak (grilled rosemary skirt steak, caramelized shallots and Maytag blue cheese), and a Brisket (braised beef brisket, parsley, and marsala reduction). Ten minutes later my order was ready. I was psyched—I love a good baked potato, piping hot and filled with rich stuff like cheddar cheese, bacon, and sour cream.
When I opened the cool box containing each baked potato, I expected a steamy blast of potato air to come wafting towards me. Instead, I got nothing—just dead air as they would call it in the radio business—which was too bad, because the fillings themselves were mighty tasty, even delicious in some cases.
The classic's flavors were surprisingly muted, but the slightly dry steak was elevated by the caramelized shallots and the blue cheese. The brisket was tender, savory, and beefy, and the marsala reduction suffused the huge potato with flavor.
My conclusion: if and when Totally Baked lives up to its name and puts into its cool box a steamy, hot, hot baked potato, I would become a regular.
Address: 8 W. 18th Street, New York, NY (b/n Fifth and Sixth; map)